Monday, March 10, 2014

Road Trip - The California Coast

My blog is calling and I find myself feeling guilty for never finishing this fabulous road trip.  So let's shuffle back to September of 2013 and make our way down the spectacular California coast.  Growing up in Reno, with relatives in several areas of Northern California, I spent many happy times  all along the coast, so I am always thrilled with the opportunity to go back. 

From the Oregon coast, Highway 101 took us into California's magnificent redwood forest, where the quiet and a feeling of reverence surrounds you.  How happy we should be that mankind finally came to its senses and quit logging the oldest growth redwoods, and protected huge areas of forest in national and state parks. 

There is nothing quite so peaceful as a stroll among these giants.

South of the redwoods, Highway 1 takes off to the coast and takes you on a wild ride to the little town of Fort Bragg, where the abalone diving used to be great, twisting and turning its way along the rocky shoreline.  Just make sure you are the passenger on this ride so you can enjoy the unrivaled scenery without having your eyes locked on the narrow road.

So many lovely little stops - Mendocino, Gualala, Fort Ross, Bodega Bay, Point Reyes, Tomales Bay and then along the headlands of Bolinas Bay, past Mt Tamalpais before finally descending into the madness that is the San Francisco Bay Area.  On a warm, cloudless Sunday, Sausalito was teeming with people, cars and bicycles, a stark contrast to the lonely, peaceful places we had just been.  Crossing the Golden Gate we decided to stop and see the America's Cup headquarters near the terminus of the bridge.  It was a non-racing day for the big boats, so finding a parking space was easy and we enjoyed strolling the grounds and being awed by the size and technology of the boats.

With too little time and too many places yet to see, we forged south through the intense San Francisco traffic, back onto Highway 1, stopping for the night at funky little Half Moon Bay.  So many places I want to spend more time, like Santa Cruz and Capitola, but we'll save those for another time.  It's not like I haven't been there before.  Rounding Monterey Bay, we stopped at Elkhorn Slough, a birder's paradise.  How I would have loved to be out there on a kayak, among the sea otters and a dizzying array of birds.

In Monterey, a walk along Cannery Row, a classic car show, lunch overlooking the bay, and gray whales breaching in the bay.

Winding along the Cabrillo Highway, the magnificence of the Big Sur coast will take your breath away.  Again, just be sure you are not the driver!  After the big rock slides of recent years, a new tunnel is being constructed, an engineering and construction marvel.

Just before San Simeon, you reach the Piedras Blancas bay, where the elephant seals are hauled out on the beach, mostly juvenile males, resting, basking in the sun, playing in the water, honing their fighting skills.

Next stop, Morro Bay, where our hotel overlooked the big Morro Rock, the harbor and all the people action on the streets below.  

Just east of Morro Bay lies one of California's lesser-known wine regions that, in my humble opinion rivals Napa Valley for quality and diversity.  Spend a couple of days touring the vineyards and tasting the zinfandels and you will be equally impressed.  

Last stop before San Diego - our favorite campground, San Elijo State Beach to check out our site for our Christmas camping trip.  

And then, one of our favorite big cities - San Diego and our farewell to the Coast. A wonderful meal in Little Italy capped off our weeks of indulgence in all the bounty that California offers.  And then we were Arizona-bound.  All too soon.

May all your travels take you to the places of your dreams.


  1. I may be in your neck of the woods next winter. I'll try to visit the Desert Museum on a day that you are a docent. :)

  2. WOW!!!!! Spectacular. Superb post. Thanks!!!!!!!!

  3. Hi Carole, I really enjoyed your photo tour of your California coast trip. Those redwoods look amazing!

  4. A fabulous drive along the coast. I remember some of those places. Your photos are super and I love the sea otters.


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