Buenos Aires, by Noelia Diaco. Photo is not visible, used only for sharing on social networks.

Road trip part 1: Up the coast

October 10, 2012
We've been remiss in posting about our September road trip. But here we go: the coastal highway, redwood forests, a dormant volcano and a brewery tour.

Day 1: San Francisco to Sonoma Coast State Park
golden gate bridge san francisco

When we planned our cross-country move, we hoped to find an apartment in time to take off for a few days before we had to return to the world of limited vacation time (in Argentina we could take off for weeks at a time). Happily we found a place and were able to escape early from our terrible AirBnB rental with five days to explore our new state.

We decided to head north since it was still summer. Followers of this blog know how obsessively I've planned past trips, but in this case, we actually set out with a car, a map and not much else for a plan. We tried to rent an economy-sized car but ended up with a full-size sedan instead, which Ben had fun trying to parellel park in the city.

We headed north over the Golden Gate Bridge and up the coastal highway, stopping frequently to take photos of the coastline.
coastal highway route 1 california

We stopped at Point Reyes National Seashore to see the San Andreas fault line and the epicenter of the 1906 earthquake, but we took the wrong trail and admired some trees instead.

We stopped for the night at the Bodega Dunes campground in Sonoma Coast State Park, where we were shocked to discover that camping cost $35/night (you can get a hotel room for that in Argentina). We didn't have another choice though, so we paid up and pulled out our handy tent, which hadn't gotten much use for the past few months. Our camping stove, however, finally gave out, leaving Ben to cook over a real fire. Even with such a diffuse heat source, we managed to enjoy some sausage, tomato soup and s'mores.

When we returned to our tent after getting washed up, we had a visitor: a raccoon rummaging through our trash! Ben scared him away by making hissing sounds while I hid in the car hoping he didn't have rabies (when I was a kid, rabid raccoons were Winchester's biggest villains).

One of the biggest benefits of a road trip is that you can pack a whole car's worth of stuff. In Patagonia we were carrying everything on our backs so our espresso maker was an unaffordable luxury. This time we brought along plenty of "luxuries": pumpkin beer, coffee, cranberry juice, a giant chocolate bar. Our stuff was still in storage though, so we lacked necessities like a towel. Our small microfiber camping towel didn't quite leave you feeling dry.

beach surfers sonoma county state park
Surfers at Sonoma County State Park

Day 2: Sonoma County State Park to Russian Gulch State Park

We woke up in a cloud of fog that morning. We kept driving north and finally found the sun (and some cows). The roads were winding and rising and descending rapidly, which was slightly nauseating in a car but would be a blast in a motorcycle. Ben wanted to mark the winding roads on the map with a squiggly line so we would know to come back, and also know to avoid the ones labelled with a straight line.

We tried to stop at Fort Ross, a former Russian fur trading outpost, but the fort was closed so we headed on to Salt Point State Park. We pulled in at the visitors center to ask for directions. The park ranger pointed us on our way and when we asked about a bathroom said, "There's one at the picnic area, but I'm not sure whether or not it's open. There have been lots of budget cuts."

Salt Point State Park visitors center
ocean coast Salt Point State Park

We walked along the coast for a couple of miles to Stump Beach Cove. One signed warned us that even touching the water could result in us being swept out to sea and killed. Once we got back to our car, a British woman advised us of some seals sunbathing on the rocks. Can you spot them in the picture? (Ben thought I was pulling his leg when I asked him to point them out.)

seals sea lions Salt Point State Park

We camped north of Mendocino at Russian Gulch State Park, where our $35 fee didn't even include hot water. Still without a stove, Ben managed to cook pasta with sausage, onion and garlic over an open fire.

Day 3: Russian Gulch State Park to Humboldt Redwoods State Park

waves pacific ocean california coastal highway

The next day we stopped in Fort Bragg to replace our stove (Ben wrote about that here), after which the coastal highway ended and turned into Highway 101 heading inland. Away from the coast, we wound through redwood forests heading toward Humboldt Redwoods State Park. On the way, we came upon three motorcycles, driving rather slowly and flying what appeared to be Argentine flags. The road was too curvy to pass them, so we tailed them for several miles while I leaned out the window taking pictures. Finally they stopped at a rest stop, we pulled in to introduce ourselves, and then continued on our way.

motorcycles harley davidson eel river

We're not sure what this was about...

confusion hill northern california

Keep reading...

- Steph

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