Thanks to everyone for the suggestions about traveling north from San Diego to the Santa Cruz/Monterey area. We ended up taking the 15 north, to the 210 west, to the 5 north, to the 99 north. Those of you that aren't from Southern Cal. this must sound like a code of some kind. To those that know the area, understand that this lingo is just a fact of life for us.
Anyway, the trip north was great with little traffic and smooth sailing. We ended up staying at the KOA in Watsonville. The park was a terrific place to stay. Good professional management, clean and lots for kids to do. Our grandson never stopped smilin' for 5 days till I told him it was bed time each night.
Also, plenty to do for adults at the park and not far away (10 minutes) were two beautiful California State Beaches, resturants galore in both Monterery and Santa Cruz (30-45 minutes). If you're traveling through that area the Watsonville KOA is a good stop.
On the trip back we took the 5 south, to the 210 east, to the 15 south. Now this was Southern California driving at it's worst.
We hit about 10 miles of bumper to bumper around Magic Mountain and another six plus miles of the same stuff around Pasadena. My recommendation is driving south on Interstate 5, Saturday morning, heading to San Diego, bring your patience and make sure you've got plenty of diesel.