Tag Archives: California

Road Trippin’ With Señora Part 3– Mendocino to Redwoods National Park

Winding up Highway 1 out of Little River/Mendocino and then hitting Highway 101 in Leggett, we made our way through more beautiful landscapes, but nothing prepares a person for their first time entering Avenue of the Giants.  IMG_0648This drive up 101 is one of the most awe-inspiring stretches on the planet.  Stop often, take photos, IMG_0647and just simply walk and stare upward, taking it all in.  IMG_0636Once we had reached stimulus overload, we continued on past Trinidad to the Lost Whale Inn https://lostwhaleinn.com/ near Patrick’s Point State Park.  The Lost Whale takes hospitality to a new level.  We were welcomed with a spread of food in the dining room that was substantial enough to be our dinner: cheeses, crudités, clam chowder, cookies, fruit, and shrimp.  This type of evening appetizer buffet is put out every night from 4-6 pm.  Did I mention the wine?  IMG_0658That also flows freely starting at 4:00 and is kept out the rest of the night.  Beer, soda, juices, and water are also complimentary to guests.

The rooms of the inn are top notch with all of the comforts you’d expect at a place of this caliber.  Our room, the Agate Room, IMG_0657was on the main floor off of a small living room that is closed off in the evening and becomes a nice extension of the guest room.  Wandering the gorgeous grounds of the property was a highlight of the stay here.  There are so many cozy spots to stare out at the Pacific—the deck, the patio, the hot tub, the sauna, and the fire pit, where a basket with s’mores supplies is put out every night.  IMG_0665The sunset watching here, accompanied by the never-ending sound of sea lions barking, makes for an unforgettable farewell to the day. We were lucky enough to stay two nights at this magical place.

After a great night’s sleep, we rose early to walk the beach at Patrick’s Point.  IMG_0681Unfortunately the entire inn got an early wake-up call as well when we accidentally hit the panic button on our rental car.  Sorry, neighbors!  In the park, a walk along Agate Beach is a must-do.  Absolutely stunning!  I am not great at agate spotting, but I picked what I believe were some– free souvenirs of a special setting.

Back at the inn breakfast was about to be served, starting with the ringing of a bell and a description of items and ingredients by chef/owner Brian.  Guests with dietary restrictions were also well accommodated with additional gluten and dairy-free options.  That morning’s menu consisted of a Caprese frittata, crepes with strawberry rhubarb filling, apple strudel, a peach almond cobbler, sausage and bacon, and fresh fruit.  The breakfasts here were a total extravaganza!  I’ve never seen anything like it before.  In fact, I was so overwhelmed both mornings that I failed to take any food photos.  Did I mention the ongoing stimulus overload?

So what does one do after a breakfast of that magnitude?  Hike, of course!  And so we headed off to Redwoods National Park.  There are so many great trails to choose from so your schedule will dictate where you should go.  We started at Lady Bird Johnson Grove, a very popular spot.  From the main trail, we branched off on my favorite trail of the trip—Berry Glen Trail—where we saw not one other person!  This breathtaking stretch of woods had quite a drop in elevation so we had to be wise about how far down we went, knowing we’d have to go uphill to get back out.  IMG_0701Later that afternoon we also hiked the underwhelming Redwoods Creek Trail, a nice enough spot to have our picnic of gourmet deli sandwiches from Murphy’s in Trinidad.

After that we braved the extremely rough road back into Fern Canyon.  It takes an effort to get there, but is well worth it.  Fern Canyon was a setting for Jurassic Park and the otherworldly feeling of the place shows why. IMG_0707 Sheer canyon walls covered with ferns and trickling water and a rocky creek cutting through the center create a magical place, especially for children with all the trees and rocks for them to climb on.  Bring extra socks.

Once stimulus overload once again reared its head, we were dreading the drive back on the awful road, but were rewarded with another great evening appetizer spread back at the Lost Whale.  While the inn is high on a cliff, they do have a VERY rustic and steep path IMG_0722down to a rocky beach and I ventured down there with my wine.  Maybe not my best decision after a day of hiking, but I did it!  When I returned a family we met was talking about getting some burgers to go from The Lighthouse Grill and asked if we wanted some as well.  As we had already eaten 10,000 calories that day, the answer was of course…yes.  In addition to the burgers we ordered, they brought us an added surprise treat: the restaurant’s signature item of a waffle cone filled with mashed potatoes, bacon, beef and gravy, topped with cheese.  Do the calorie math on that one!  I should have gone right to bed and let my body begin to prepare for the onset of Type 2 Diabetes, but instead we joined some other guests for wine and excellent fireside conversation until 10:00.  What an amazing, full (pun intended) day!

The following morning, our last at the inn before heading up the coast to Oregon, began with another walk down the steep path to the rocky beach below.  IMG_0721Returning to the inn just in time for breakfast, you can imagine how much we were starving!  Thankfully they had prepared a light breakfast of puffy pancakes, apple-filled pastries, a triple berry pie, Southwest frittata, sausage and bacon, fried potatoes, and fresh fruit.  I decided to be responsible and just have the fresh fruit.  Just kidding.  Fruit was actually the only thing I didn’t have (unless it was inside of a baked good).

After that we rolled out of the Lost Whale Inn, or should I say Beached Whalin’?

Next stop—the Oregon Coast!

 

 

 

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Road Trippin’ with Señora Part 2– San Francisco to Mendocino

IMG_0624Within minutes of crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, heading north on Highway 1, you feel the stress of the city dissolve.  This highway makes you …slow….down.  Mentally and literally.  Part of our slowdown was due to the annual Dip Sea race through Muir Woods area, ending at Stinson Beach.  This detoured and delayed us for a couple hours and to be honest, I don’t exactly know where the detour took us, but the forests and curves IMG_0560were breathtaking and a great introduction to Northern California.

Once we finally cleared the race area we made our lunch stop at The Marshall Store on Tomales Bay.  At this tiny roadside shack IMG_0567that was packed midday, we ordered a dozen Oysters Rockefeller and a half bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.  IMG_0569Unfortunately the wind coming across the bay was fierce and any purchased wine had to be consumed outside on the picnic tables.  IMG_0568And so I donned my down jacket and hat and enjoyed the fabulous lunch and wine, wishing for the ceasing of the gusts.

Following lunch we continued northward through rural areas for several hours before arriving in Little River, just south of Mendocino, at The Glendeven Inn.  The sign boasts “A Luxury Farmstead”—someone has an English degree!  IMG_0610It was a spot on description though.  From the moment we pulled into our personally marked parking space to the time we entered our room, East Farmington, perfection continued until we pulled back onto Highway 1 the next morning.  Special touches, besides the beautifully appointed room overlooking the Pacific, IMG_0580the gardens, and the llama pasture, IMG_0591included a personalized note with homemade welcome brownies, IMG_0616the wood burning fireplace—prepped and ready to light, the wine and gourmet appetizer reception at the Wine Bar(n), and the piece de resistance, the over the top breakfast IMG_0620IMG_0619delivered in a picnic basket to our door at 9:00 am.  We were able to squeeze in one more crackling fire while enjoying the best breakfast accompanied by a carafe of hot chocolate that must’ve had two candy bars melted into it, it was that rich!

We spent a lot of time during our stay wandering the grounds and having tea and cookies in the main house, a place that boasted former guests Bill and Hilary Clinton.  We also found the beach pathIMG_0608across the road that led down to a quiet beach IMG_0604where we strolled in the afternoon and early morning.  Sadly after our lovely breakfast we had to pack up and continue northward.  We could’ve spent weeks at The Glendeven.

Next stop—Trinidad and the Redwoods!

Road Trippin’ with Señora Part 1–San Francisco

For over a decade, the “West Coast Roadtrip” has been on our list so to further celebrate our 20th anniversary we made our plans for June 2017 with the route of San Francisco to Vancouver.  The game plan was as follows:

1.Fly to San Francisco and stay two nights

2. Rent a car for six days upon leaving the city, drive up Highway 1 to Mendocino for the night

3. On to Trinidad/Redwoods for two nights

4.Drive the Oregon Coast, stop for one night in Yachats and one night in Astoria

5. Continue the drive to Portland (end of car rental) and stay two nights

6. Fly to Victoria, British Colombia and stay one night

7. Take the ferry from Victoria to Vancouver and stay two nights there

8. Original plan was Amtrak train back to Seattle (**more about this snafu later)

9. Two nights in Seattle and fly home

The idea was to cover highlights of the Pacific Northwest in a two week period and overall it was a success.  Exhausting, but a success!

This trip will be broken into five blog entries: San Francisco, Northern California, Oregon, British Colombia, and Seattle.

And so begins Part One—San Francisco

The arrival to San Francisco went off without a hitch.  They really know how to do public transportation in SF. The BART is a great way to get from the airport to the Union Square area.  Our hotel, the Taj Campton Place https://taj.tajhotels.com/en-in/taj-campton-place-san-francisco/ was about one block from Union Square.  IMG_0440Every hotel on this trip, with the exception of the inns/B&B’s, was booked on the Hotwire site so they were basically blind picks that turned out great and we saved hundreds of dollars.

After settling in, we embarked on a walk through Chinatown, IMG_0508IMG_1151just two blocks from the hotel, and after meandering through the area stopped for lunch at Great Eastern Restaurant http://www.greateasternsf.com/. Dim sum is the hot ticket here and the place was packed, but we ended up going with a dinner for two of hot & sour soup, short ribs, shrimp balls (insert middle school sense of humor here), Cantonese beef, and shrimp with scallops. Yum.

To burn off those calories, we walked to the Cable Car Museum and then jumped a cable car for the requisite, short, pricey ride back to Union Square.  IMG_0532After a change of shoes we caught a public bus to Fisherman’s Wharf. I must add here that even though it was June, it was very windy when we were there and we were glad to have packed our down jackets!  The wharf is a touristy area but on a Friday was enjoyable and not too crowded.  We drove past on Saturday and it was a Disney-esque hell. As we love boats, we took our time strolling along the wharf until ending at the famous Pier 39. IMG_0473Here we checked out the sea lions barking away IMG_0469and grabbed bowls of clam chowder at Boudin.  Sorry, no trip out to Alcatraz Island—we aren’t interested in going to prison.  Even voluntarily…IMG_0463

And so we called it a day and returned to the hotel via a vintage streetcar. IMG_0461

The following day we were blessed with perfect weather and did a hop on, hop off City Tour bus with our first stop being the Golden Gate Bridge.  IMG_0486The views from this spot will leave you breathless: the bridge, the cityscape, Alcatraz Island, sailboats—perfection!  As you can imagine this is one of the most popular stops of the bus tour so when we got back on the bus, there was only one other couple continuing on in the loop so we all had a “private tour” upstairs in the front row for the next hour.  It was great!

Stomachs began growling so we hopped off at the North Beach stop and dined in the Italian neighborhood at Caffe Sport, http://www.caffesportsf.com/ an adorable Sicilian restaurant.  IMG_0509Because we ate lunch so early (no breakfast!) we were the only ones in the place and we received excellent service and were able to soak up every bit of the old country ambiance inside.  We had one of the best lunches of the trip here—Caprese salad, IMG_0522followed by cioppino bianco (I’ve never met a cioppino I didn’t like!) IMG_0527and rustico penne with shrimp and scallops, IMG_0529washed down with a lovely bottle of Montepulciano wine.

Walking out of the restaurant the City Tour bus was pulling up so we had a nice food nap while we rode to Golden Gate Park. This huge, beautiful urban green space was an excellent place to walk around, complete with a statue dedicated to Cervantes, Don Quixote, and Sancho Panza.  IMG_0544(Hmm..I teach about this. Suppose this trip is now a write off as a business trip? Maybe not.) Moving on from Spanish literature, we were able to sit by the band shell for a bit to listen to a classical music competition and we checked out the DeYoung Museum and their Summer of Love 1967-2017 exhibit. It was fascinating to see their comparison of social issues in 1967 and social issues in 2017.  Sadly, not much has changed.  A big change, however, was when Russell and I went to use the bathroom facilities in the museum.  It was our first encounter with gender neutral bathrooms.  The signs were up, but in reality the men were in one and the women in another although they were not marked as such. I headed into the one with women by the entry and turned and told Russell to follow me and he froze until another woman at the sink said, “Come in! They’re all genders.” And so he did. Reluctantly.  It was great! As many couples know, there is always that post-bathroom confusion when couples separate for their respective bathrooms. (Did he already come out?  Am I waiting in the wrong place?) So, bravo, San Francisco!  This hetero cis female found it very convenient.

Leaving the park we headed to the bus stop in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, the center of the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. IMG_0497 IMG_0533IMG_0495Our bus returned us to the Union Square area after passing through the rest of the city and all of its architectural gems.  IMG_0498From there we checked out a huge Indian festival going on in the square and then tucked into the Last Drop Tavern http://www.lastdrophappyhour.com/ for their excellent happy hour specials.  With the jaw-dropping price of drinks (and food) on the West Coast, we began to make happy hour our new friend on this trip.

Afterward, we walked all over downtown for one last soaking-in of San Francisco.  The following morning we picked up our rental car and made our way out of the city, hitting Highway 1, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, and heading north toward Mendocino.  Stay tuned for Part Two—Northern California!