Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunset at the City By the Bay

(NOTE: Scroll down this posting - it covers two days of travel).
Up in the morning to beautiful sunshine – yahoo!

Our plans for the day were fairly loosey-goosey; neither of us could come up with a real firm decision of where to go and what attractions to see. Santa Rosa didn’t quite present any real thrilling options.

We finally decided to take a trip down the coastline and cross over the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a beautiful day, and we knew this might be the last of our views of the ocean for a while. Plus, we were only 55 miles from San Francisco. We headed down Highway 101 and exited through the City of Petaluma on our way to the scenic route south.

Petaluma is a town that I’d like to have spent some time snooping around. The city centre, which we drove right through, is full of amazing historical buildings. Apparently many of these buildings survived the 1906 earthquake.

On to the scenic coastal highway, which is very similar in parts to the road to Hana in Maui. The road is perched along the high cliffs overlooking the ocean, and extremely windy. Taking the RV on this road would have been suicide or, at the very least, have given me a heart attack.

There was either a bike race or rally of some sort going on; we passed many, many bikes snaking their way up the winding hills and converging on Point Reyes Station, a small (population 350) town that pops up out of nowhere and seems to be a catch basin for tourists. In addition to the groups of pedal bikes, there were also groups of motorcycles that obviously rallied their way up there.

We made a stop at Stinson Beach, a beautiful long sandy stretch, and obviously a popular day trip for people from San Francisco. The surf was very rough, and there was a warning that great white sharks were known to be in these waters. An attack had occurred in less than 6-feet of water. No thanks! We carried on, but made a few stops to take pictures of the unbelievable views.

Our path took us into the Olema Valley, which sits ‘uneasily’ on top of the San Andreas fault, and is the site of where the North American Plate and the Pacific Plate meet. Apparently the ground shifted 16’ in 45 seconds in the 1906 earthquake!

Finally, over the Golden Gate Bridge ($6.00 toll!) and into San Francisco. Terry was extremely nervous about accidentally driving into the ‘gay’ section of the city. I had told him about Haite-Ashbury, so he kept checking street signs to make sure that we never came near this area of the city.

We were starving, so decided to head to Fisherman’s Wharf for a bite. While looking for a restaurant, we saw a booth that was advertising sunset catamaran cruises. We booked the cruise, but only had about 15 minutes before we were supposed to be boarding.

Starving, Terry bought some fries that we could eat while waiting. We got about halfway through the fries, when we moved closer to the railing to look at the seals that made the marina their home (so this is where the buggers were instead of at the Sea Lion Cave!!).

All of a sudden, a seagull swooped down and stole the plate of french fries right out of Terry’s hand – potlicker!!

The sunset cruise was great.

We sat outside and enjoyed the tour past Alcatraz and to the Golden Gate Bridge.

From there, we had supper at one of the seafood restaurants in Pier 39. Turns out our waiter was flamboyantly gay (so much for avoiding Haite-Ashbury). Terry ordered crab legs, and the nice waiter asked him “if you don’t object, I’m going to put this bib on you”. If I’d have had my wits about me, I would have quietly pinched Terry’s butt when the waiter was behind him tying his bib. I’ll bet Terry would have gone straight through the roof!

Back home now, and planning the next stop. We’re headed for the Napa Valley and ultimately Palm Springs. But more later.

Sorry – no pictures in today’s blog entry!

Today was a travel day. We said goodbye to Klamath at 9:30 a.m. It had rained hard all night, and our morning started out dreary, but warm.

We tuned into both CFL games and were heartened to hear of the -14 degrees (with windchill) that Winnipeg was experiencing!

Our drive carried us along the Redwood Highway, where we passed a number of elk viewing sites (resident herds of elk).

Much of our travel was bereft of ocean views – we passed through intermittent stretches of low lying agricultural regions, and heavily forested freeways. At some spots the redwoods were splitting the highway, and it was a little tight going by with our rig.

The small town of Benbow was very pretty – it brought us back into areas of trees exhibiting fall colours. Another interesting town was Willits; it is best described as a ‘cool hippy town’, with lots of head shops, natural food stores and colourful murals. AND – it was the place of our first sighting of palm trees! (Oh, and diesel was $3.08/gallon or $0.81/litre.)

Willits calls itself the ‘heart of Mendocino County’. Not knowing what that all entailed, I Wikipedia’d it – turns out that the county is noted for its "distinctive Pacific Ocean coastline, redwood forests, wine production, and liberal views on marijuana" (which accounts for the hippy scene and all those head shops!).

After Willits there were miles and miles and miles and miles and miles of vineyards. Unfortunately, we didn’t stop for a picture, which was a crime. The leaves were all turning colour, so it was very beautiful. Hopefully I can catch some pictures of this on the next leg of our trip. We even came upon strawberry fields that were producing fruit (u-pick).

We made it to our scheduled stop of Santa Rosa at around 4:30 p.m. We booked two nights in the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. It is basically a huge parking lot, but we have all amenities.

Now to plan our activities for tomorrow!

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