Oct 29 and Oct 30, 2008 — Decision time — do we go north, south, east or west? Well, without a boat, we couldn’t go West. At least one option was eliminated!
Since our original goal was to go to Portland, Oregon we decided that we really ought to go check it out since we were so close. Also, Carl pointed out that we could pick up our mail, which is sitting at the Beaverton, Oregon address that I arranged before leaving Nashua. That settled it. Although, I must say I was missing the hot Tucson air by late afternoon and if it wasn’t for wanting mail, I would have begged Carl to turn the car around.
We drove north on 101, which brought us through lots of wine country, pumpkin patches, and other vegetable fields. 101 goes through Santa Maria and then veers left to some beach towns and then back east to San Luis Obispo. While near the ocean, we could see that there was a thick marine layer (fog) and that visibility was poor. Still, we decided to take the Pacific Coast Highway (route 1) anyway and just hoped for the best. If you look at a map, you can see that PCH hugs the coastline. Most of the time the road does not descend at valleys but goes around the valley, making for a very curving ride. Once you commit to this road, you are on it for the duration, that is until you reach Monterey.
Even though it was fogged in, it was still a pleasurable ride. We saw a few interesting things like Elephant Seals and even Zebras (near San Simeon where the Hearst Castle is located.) Carl surprised me with a late lunch at Nepenthe in Big Sur. Actually, he did tell me we were going to do this, but since I didn’t know what he was talking about, I was surprised when I saw it. Basically, it is all about the view — and since this is in Big Sur — it has a cool factor.
We stayed on the PCH until we met up with 17 just before Santa Cruz — we went up through Silicon Valley into San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. The rush up this road was very intense — I was more than happy that Carl was driving. Unfortunately, our plan to go over the Golden Gate Bridge had two problems — first, it was fogged in. Duh! And second, by the time we made our way through the rush hour traffic, it was dark. Good thing that this was not the first trip over the bridge for either of us!
If you have ever driven this, you know that 101 ends just as you approach downtown San Francisco and picks up again just before going over the Golden Gate Bridge. There are signs for “GG Bridge” but you have to be on the lookout. We were very pleased with “Miss Pris” and her GPS system and how well it guided us through the city and over the bridge. Still, it was tense.
Once we got over the bridge, we continued north until we felt we were out of the big rush of the city. We finally pulled off the road and took a hotel in Petaluma. This turned out to be one of our worst night’s sleeps. It was one of those hotels so close to the highway exit ramps that it sounds like the trucks are pulling into your room. The Internet was so weak that it wasn’t even worth getting e-mail. And, for a non-smoking room, I thought the bedding stank. So, I hardly slept all night. Fortunately, Carl is not as light a sleeper and he managed to get enough sleep for another day’s long drive.
So today, we drove from Petaluma up 101 until Crescent City, and then on 199 to Oregon. Today’s highlight was seeing the Redwood trees. We drove through several Redwood groves today — these trees are awesome. We also saw a lot of color today — like having our second autumn (as you might recall we experienced the first one a month ago in Colorado). 101 feels like the Pacific Coast Highway in several spots as it hugs the coast.
I actually was on this road 25 years ago with my friends Cindy Barstow and Barbara Durling. We flew to San Francisco and borrowed Cindy’s brother’s van and drove from Marin to Seattle, Washington and back. We spent a couple days with my sister Debbie. So some of today’s trip was recalling that first trip for me.
Route 199 was the most fun from a driving point — it was a fast curvy road.
We quit driving for the day when we reached Grants Pass — we are now on route 5 and have a quick shot up to Portland. We should be there within 4 hours.