Sunday June 10th
Driving at dawn out of Lincoln City, OR; we drove due south along the winding & picturesque shoreline of Hwy 101 through harbor towns & distant beaches sprinkled every 5-10 miles along our path. Coffee is indeed king in WA & Oregon…so we enjoyed the unique & excellent drive up, micro sized coffee huts that each little town supported. From espresso to coffee shakes & “cheetah beans” ( white chocolate & Carmel covered coffee beans) we “zipped” our way through the morning haze of sleepy forests & foggy curves.
Southern Oregon has some amazing beaches and we stopped at several as we drove! Very very very windy (45-60 mph) gusts on some of the beaches made the experience even more memorable as we would bundle up with our hats and jackets and glasses before venturing out into the windblown sandy beaches snapping pictures as we went . One of my favorites was the abundance of great old art deco iron bridges that stretched out over the rivers & bays.
As we left Oregon, we were determined to go find the iconic redwoods of Northern CA ! We did. Not a problem if you stay on Hwy 101… We found several massive groves of trees and even stopped at one of my childhood favorites… a drive through an actual super huge living redwood tree ( Chandelier tree in Leggett CA )
Further south into California we saw some of the beautiful vineyards along the famous Sonoma & Napa valleys – as the sun started to set we found the heat we had left behind… so at a dry 98F we stopped at a place I had to take Jessica to try. An In-N- Out Burger we found with our GPS about an hour north of San Francisco … Man I miss those in Nashville…YUM!
As the dusky night slowly stole the day we finally arrived at our destination for the night and slowly drove over the Golden Gate Bridge with a beautiful view of the beautiful city skyline.
Our hotel ( Sheraton on Fishermans Wharf ) featured a very modern nautical themed hotel and multi-striped spacious room! Unfortunately we arrived just in time to be caught up in a fire alarm /evacuation of all the guests and huge San Francisco fire trucks and firemen wandering the grounds everywhere looking for whatever sparked the smoke someone smelled! (seemed ironic that a city known for its famous fires would welcome us in such a similar fashion)
Monday June 11th
Discovering San Francisco : After the super helpful Priceline.com allowed us to grab a 4+ star hotel on Fishermans Wharf for $99.00 ( Sheraton Fishermans Wharf) Jessica & I had found the perfect spot to begin our exploration of the iconic sights & sounds of America’s “Paris”!
Up early, we grabbed a taxi to Dottie’s True Blue cafe ( a diners drive-ins & dives pick) and enjoyed our best breakfast of the trip by far! French toast two inches thick & a serving of their famous whiskey fennel ham – cheese & spinach omelet with chili-cheese cornbread toast & jalapeño jelly! Yum!
Took the trolley from downtown back to the Wharf & discovered China town – Lombard street & Nob Hill along the way. Fun Fact… The San Fran Trolley is a National Historic Register vehicle & managed by the US Park Service! Very cool going up & down the streets on super steep hills & all of the amazing sights, sounds and of course…views. We were blessed with perfect weather – 75F with blue skies & cool breezes, no fog, no clouds…a rare event here we were told!
So we did the typical touristy thing and booked an hour cruise in the San Francisco Bay with the blue & gold cruise line – went chugging under the Golden Gate Bridge & around the island prison Alcatraz with 200 other paying customers crammed into the almost big enough boat! Despite the crowds it was Very Cool – Figuratively and literally – it was a chill 45F with a stiff breeze & some begining-to-get- rough seas. Did I mention it was a BEAUTIFUL day for pics & the sapphire sky above was almost the exact same shade of blue as the sea below… we LOVED it, soaking up the fresh air and views of the city the entire time. Jessica really liked the views of famous Alcatraz Island as we motored by. EPIC and ICONIC and AMAZING come to mind… but words fail me. Suffice it say we had a really good time 🙂
Took another taxi to Union Square & Chinatown for some trinket shopping & snacks. Had a fish taco lunch on Pier 23 ( another D DIN & Dives pick) before we drove north across the Golden Gate Bridge again & walked from Vista Point to the pedestrian bridge on the massive red bridge! Decided to go see Hwy 1 & a genuine California beach while we were here.
After Jessica almost fried her bare feet on the gray-black sand of the beachfront California seashore, we decided to find a small town south of Sacramento ( Winters, CA) for dinner at a special Diners-Drive in’s & Dives cafe. ( puntah creek cafe) It was kind of… on the way to Yosemite, but after two hours of driving we found out it was unfortunately not open… Jessica was bummed. But all was not lost…we were starving so went across the street to a superb steakhouse instead. ( we found out later, both were owned by the same people!)
So after filling up on genuine California Angus and Fresh veggies / bread and copious amounts of butter we drove another two hours before we crashed in Stockton CA at a local Best Western. We were pushing hard today to get close enough to mighty Yosemite to beat the –sure – to- be -there- waiting– afternoon summer crowds… whew!
California… loud, fast, full of traffic, electric cars and $5.20 a gallon gas… beautiful and crowded and iconic it was hardly a dream, but for sure we had a whole lotta fun. Tomorrow… one of the greatest National Parks in the world was waiting to be introduced to my Jessica ! I could hardly wait to have the honor 🙂
Peace out RTP!