Tag Archives: California
May 6, 2012

POTD: Big Sur

One of my favorite places in the United States; I’d live here if I could. That would likely require a few million dollars, though, so I might have to be content with moving to one of the larger California coastal cities and taking the occasional weekend trip to Big Sur.

The last time I made the drive up the coast was in January 2010. There wasn’t much traffic then, but in the summer it can be pretty crowded with droves of tourists in rental cars and motorcyclists outfitted in gear from surdyke packing the two lane highway, gaping at the amazing views and pulling over to take the occasional photo. On a pleasant weekday in the winter, though, it can be miles before you pass another car. The weather is still relatively warm during the winter (compared to much of the U.S., anyways) so it is a perfect time to visit. Pack a picnic lunch, fill up the gas tank, and bring your sunglasses – you won’t regret this roadtrip.

May 2, 2012

POTD: False Klamath Cove

Taken during a morning drive through the Redwood Empire located on the foggy Northern California Coast.

October 12, 2011

POTD: Happy cow on California One

This fellow was standing in the middle of California State Route 1 while we were driving from San Francisco to Eureka, California last year as part of our 1,500+ mile road trip up the West Coast. While the vast majority of California State Route One is devoid of livestock, this particular portion wound its way through miles and miles of dairy farms. With its beautiful rolling hills and proximity to some of the best coastline in the country, it is no wonder that California is home to the happiest cows in the country.

Next to train travel, road trips are one of my favorite ways to travel. If embarking on your own road trip, always make sure that your motor insurance is valid and up-to-date (in many states, proof of insurance is required by law). A policy that includes car breakdown cover is also very worthwhile to have, as you may find yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere if your car encounters mechanical difficulties. Carrying one of these policies definitely ensures peace of mind.

July 15, 2011

POTD: The Sonoma Coast

Here is another photo from January’s West Coast road trip, when we drove 1500 miles up the coast from Southern California to Seattle using a discount car rental we snagged online (here is a small bit of advice, though – if the rental agency gives you a Chevy HHR as your rental car, ask for a different car. It is horribly uncomfortable).

While Central California’s Big Sur seems to grab all the glory when it comes to panoramic ocean vistas in California, I think the coast of northern California is just as beautiful (and certainly far less crowded). Sonoma Coast State Beach is located just off Highway 1 approximately 80 miles north of San Francisco. If you are lucky, you may be able to spot the gray whales, harbor seals and California sea lions that live in this area. Just be careful of the cliffs and don’t enter the water unless you are a strong swimmer, as the rip current can be deadly (also, the water is incredibly cold up here).

As much as I loved this place, we didn’t spend much time here, just stopping briefly at this spot to take a few photos before continuing 100 miles northward to Fort Bragg, where we had a delicious dinner of beer and fish and chips at the North Coast Brewing Company. I would definitely like to return to the Sonoma Coast sometime in the future to explore it further.

May 25, 2011

The Redwood Empire

The tallest trees in the world can be found in the Redwood Empire, the strip of land that stretches along California’s northern coast from San Francisco to the Oregon border. While driving from Eureka to Portland, we stopped in the Redwood National and State Parks to walk amongst these giants.

Elk everywhere

The redwoods were incredible. This place is definitely on my list of destinations I will be returning to sometime in the future.

More photos here.

May 24, 2011

Take a long drive with me on California One, on California One

After leaving Point Reyes National Seashore, we continued our journey northward on California State Route 1 to Eureka, where we would be staying for the night.

Sonoma Coast

More happy cows

An escapee

Fort Ross was the headquarters of the southernmost Russian settlements in North America between 1812 to 1841. Unfortunately, Fort Ross was closed due to state budget cuts, so we couldn’t see the actual fort. I was really disappointed, because I am huge Russophile.

You can see a tiny bit of the fort off in the distance

If you ever rent a car and the agency gives you a Chevy HHR, ask for a different car.

A little over halfway through our drive, we stopped for dinner at the North Coast Brewing Co. Taproom in Fort Bragg. I had the beer battered fish and chips with a pint of Blue Star Wheat Beer. Both were delicious.

By the time we were back on the road, night had fallen, which made the remaining 130 miles to Eureka slow-going. We still had to traverse over 40 miles of State Route 1, which winds along the rugged coastal cliffs and redwood forested mountains in complete darkness, before turning inland at the beginning of the Lost Coast and terminating at the US 101.

More photos here.

May 23, 2011

Point Reyes National Seashore

“It is no longer a question of whether or not we should set aside some more of the yet remaining native California landscape as ‘breathing space’…If we do not, we will leave our children a legacy of concrete treadmills leading nowhere except to other congested places like those they will be trying to get away from.” – Former Congressman Clem Miller, author of legislation to create Point Reyes National Seashore

We left San Francisco early in the morning, as we had a grueling 300 mile drive up CA-1 to the city of Eureka. On our trip north, though, we made a slight detour to Point Reyes National Seashore, located 50 miles northwest of San Francisco on the Point Reyes Peninsula in Marin County.

One of the first things you will notice about Point Reyes is that it is inhabited by cows. A lot of cows, most of them looking quite content to live on some of the most beautiful real estate in California. The cattle ranches and dairy farms within the National Seashore were established in the mid-1800s, and produced renowned butters and cheeses that were used in high-end hotels and restaurants in San Francisco. When the National Park Service created Point Reyes National Seashore, the agreement allowed many of the remaining dairy farms and cattle ranches to continue operating.

This is why happy cows come from California.

An escapee. Be careful when driving through Point Reyes, as there are many cows on the loose.

It was foggy, of course

Point Reyes is the windiest location on the Pacific Coast and the second foggiest place on the North American continent. The Point Reyes Lighthouse was built in 1870 to warn mariners away from the treacherous rocks that define the Point Reyes Headlands. Due to the high fog that plagues the Headlands, the lighthouse had to be built very low so that mariners would be able to see it.

It’s a tough climb, but it’s worth it. And you won’t feel as guilty when you dig into some tasty fish and chips with a pint of beer later in the day.

Local wildlife

Drake’s Bay, named after the explorer Sir Francis Drake. According to many historians, Point Reyes is the site where, during his circumnavigation of the world, Drake landed in 1579, claiming a portion of the North American Pacific Coast for England.

Elephant seals

Point Reyes beach. Beautiful, with good surf, but pretty sure the water is teaming with Great White Sharks.

More photos are here.

May 19, 2011

The Marin Headlands

After driving through Big Sur, we stopped for some delicious clam chowder in Monterey and continued north to San Francisco. The following morning, at my friend Adam’s suggestion, we drove to Battery Spencer, in the Marin Headlands, for some amazing views of Golden Gate Bridge and the city.

Other than seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, we didn’t have any particular plans for that day, so continued driving along Conzelman Road, further into the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. And I’m glad we did, because the views were incredible.

We decided to park the car and hike down to the beach

We drove out to the Point Bonita lighthouse, but it was closed.

We came across SF-88, a former Nike Missile Site. I was surprised to see this well-preserved piece of Cold War history in the midst of such beauty. SF-88 is the only restored Nike missile site in the United States. Opened in 1954, this site was part of the last line of defense against Soviet bombers. With the advent of ICBMs, these missile batteries became obsolete, and this site was decommissioned in 1974.

The ranger on-site gives a very thorough tour, and even allows you to ride the missile elevator down into the storage area.

Heading back into the city

The rest of the Bay Area photos are here.

May 18, 2011

Hiking Joshua Tree National Park

When I was back in California during the Christmas holidays, we went hiking at Joshua Tree National Park. Much like the Salton Sea, Joshua Tree is another desert wasteland favorite that I try to return to every few years.

During our recent visit to Joshua Tree we hiked the Lost Horse Mine Trail, a 4.5 mile roundtrip hike that takes you to a well-preserved former gold mine site.

The tree from which the park takes its name.

Mine cart remains

The Lost Horse Mine. This mine produced 10,000 ounces of gold and 16,000 ounces of silver between 1894 and 1931.

The mine’s stamp mill

After our hike, we drove through the rest of Joshua Tree National Park.

Skull rock

Cholla Cactus garden. Stay away from the cacti. Trust me on this one.

More photos here.

April 20, 2011

The Beauty of Big Sur, Part II

More photos from our drive through Big Sur.

It is hard to make out due to the lighting, but this is McWay Falls in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Big Sur is home to several cattle ranches

One of many reasons why California cows are the happiest in the world

Bixby Creek Bridge

We stopped at Monterey Harbor on the way to San Francisco and enjoyed a breadbowl filled with clam chowder.

The rest of the photos are here.