Monday, April 25, 2016

Golden Gate & California 1

I'd intentionally scheduled our transit through San Francisco for a Saturday morning hoping for something less than rush hour traffic. The traffic was sane, and flowed well, but I was constantly thankful that we have a small (and narrower than normal) rig.

People, including my eldest offspring, said I was crazy, but I still recall my first view of the Golden Gate bridge when I was in 4th grade, and I wanted to drive it, just because I could. Since we were northbound, there was no toll. Online info said trucks and RVs had to stay in the right lane, but bridge signage said the right two lanes. In any case, it was anticlimactic.

We stopped at the viewpoint on the north end to get a couple pictures and get the info we needed for a virtual geocache at the nearby statue.

So far, we'd closely followed the coast and we intended to keep doing so, even though 101 veers away. Our route would follow Highway 1.

In order to follow the coast, the designer of Highway 1 drew a squiggly line on a piece of paper and then crumpled it up into a ball. Straightening it slightly, the contractor assumed it to be a 3D model and built accordingly. Since there was only one line on the paper, he apparently assumed things like shoulders would be unnecessary!  In truth, while the road is slow, and rigs over 35' total length are discouraged, the drive is beautiful!

We stopped at Bodega Head for a lunch break so that I could chase another old cache. This one was a large size and easy to find. Rather amazing that it's still there after 15 years. Bodega Head was beautiful, and Doran Regional Park (a Sonoma County Park) on the inland hook, looked inviting, especially with the kayaks on board, but we wanted to get some more miles under us.

More small towns that left me wondering what their economy was based on,

and some tired looking, rusty-roofed farms were seen along the way, most often on the high side of the road. Some were running cattle, others were questionable as to their continued operation.

Our (my) plan was to stay at the casino in Port Arena, but Kate, our British voiced Garmin, failed us twice while trying to access it. Given that the casino had no advertising to be seen and the challenge we were experiencing in getting to it, we decided to leverage a pull-out on the dead-end Windy Hollow Rd between Port Arena and Manchester. It was a nice quiet location,

and the neighbors didn't bother us at all. That's the top of the trailer seen through the trees. The cemetery had stones from the 1880, with most from the early 20th century, but I did see one stone from 2014. The whole place was badly overgrown.

Continuing north, we stretched our legs on the beach in Elk. The offshore rocks had an amazing number of open arches. I can imagine good sea kayakers having lots of fun playing in this area.

Further north, we stopped at the Point Cabrillo Light Station for lunch and a walk. Turk read the sign and decided to stay close to us.

The Light Station claims to be the most complete example surviving. The barn was burned by the Fire Department in the 80's as a training exercise, but the rest of the buildings have been restored. The homes and outbuilding are rented for vacations.

I thought that this lighthouse might be the most picturesque yet. The only disappointment was that when I got the building framed, I was too low to get the flash from the third order Fresnel lens that continues operation.

We decided that Kate was getting dizzy. This is not the most twisted section, but is fairly typical of what we'd experienced the past two days.

Eventually, we joined back up with Highway 101, gaining shoulders (usually - except where the trees were close to the road) and often had 4 lanes.

Our home for the night in Fortuna was complements of our membership in Harvest Hosts. Harvest Hosts arranges overnight RV parking at farms, breweries, wineries, and museums. This was our first experience with it. The stay wasn't free since we ate dinner there, but it was an excellent dinner! Their onion rings are on my short list for the best I've had, but no one has yet matched my memory of the onion rings from the Short Stop of my childhood.


  1. I'm guessing that was Eel River Brewery? Somehow we missed that one! I checked their menu and was surprised at the vegetarian options. Next time...

    1. Good menu and list. Parking was ok. For a while I thought we were going to have a truck running all night about 40 ft away but that didn't last long. Looking forward to using HH some more on this trip if possible.

  2. OOhhh, I am so glad to hear you made the GG Bridge and Highway 1 with no problems, as this is my chosen path northbound. I really want to drive Hwy 1, but have been a bit apprehensive. Relieved to hear it's no problem for the Kayak Carrier!

    And oh, that Lighthouse??? :::sigh:::

    1. You'll do fine! Take (much!) more time that we did - we missed so much but loved the waves. Had to clean the mirrors every day because of the buildup of salt spray on them. The trailer is still looking for a bath! (And watch out for the bicycles.)

  3. Beautiful country. Thanks for sharing. We were there 3 years ago in October..and it was so foggy north of the Golden Gate that we drove (in a car) about 15 miles and turned around. No sense making that curvy drive when we couldn't even see the ocean! :) :) :)

    1. We hit the jackpot on weather all the way from Ventura to Coos Bay. Once we left the coast we had a week, more or less, of rain.