01 April, 2012

And we're off! SF to Crescent City, CA

On a rainy late Saturday morning, on Bernal Hill, we loaded our SUV and its new roof box (I panicked last week that not everything would fit and it's a good thing I did), and after many hugs and waves and smiles, headed down into the Mission and on towards the Golden Gate Bridge. Two and a half years ago, we drove into SF for the first time over this bridge so it was thoroughly appropriate that we left that way too. Fortunately it was also the right direction.

We are heading north. Day one, saw us driving up 101 past Santa Rosa (our furthest point that way to date) and on, hoping to turn off onto 128 towards Mendocino. It wasn't to be. We got to the junction and the road was closed, advising us to use an alternative route. In Britain that would usually involve a minor detour of say, 5 miles. Not here. The nearest decent road to the coast off 101 was a further 35 miles north, and once we started down 20 towards Fort Bragg we discovered that this was blocked by a fallen tree. A brief delay and on we went. And we started checking on road conditions...

Turns out what was a bit of rain in SF was a big storm blowing through northern California - big enough to have a name, I think. Trees down, power lines down, mud slides and so on. We are at the tail end (I hope!) so the weather is showery, foggy, rainy, by turns or all at once. Dramatic but not so great for stopping to potter on scenic beaches.

We spent last night in Fort Bragg. Fort Bragg is a resort town but not chic as I imagine Mendocino may be. It's a little rough round the edges, with some interesting buildings like the Union Lumber Company Store, and a tourist train line called the Skunk Line.

 We slept long and soundly last night. This morning we set off up 1 in lovely but temporary sunshine.

Highway 1 hugs the coastline for a short while and then turns inland alongside a creek amongst redwood trees, before climbing up and up and up along very very winding roads. After that stretch of glorious but motion sickness inducing road, I'm afraid we skipped the Avenue of Giants (road that goes through more particularly huge redwoods though I wonder whether you get to a point where you can't really tell they're bigger).

We did however stop at Leggatt to drive through the tree you can drive through. Or at least that was the plan, but turns out that while an Impala would have fitted through, an SUV with a roof box wouldn't. (If you have no idea why I mention an Impala, read this.) So we did this instead.

Two years in SF without a car - of course we walked!
We stopped for lunch in Garberville in Humboldt County. Our cafe (Woodrose) had signed letters and pictures from Joan Baez and Angela Davis and across the street there was an organic building materials company, so I think we were in the wild and woolly hippy part of California. There were some pretty wild and woolly residents too. Felt more at home than on the stretch of highway adopted by the Conservative Evangelical Christians - do they approve when people like us drive on it?

After lunch, we pushed on through fog and rain and deep green forests dripping with moss and lichen, towards Eureka and past there to Crescent City. The trees are stunning, the fog drifting through the hills was beautiful. We stopped briefly at a long beach of dark grey sand littered with huge pieces of drift wood.

And now here I am sitting in another motel in Crescent City. Crescent City seems to be most notable for having an unusual sea floor formation which focuses tsunamis here, meaning there's a rather ominous safety notice in the bedroom. Good thing we're only here one night. Tomorrow - Oregon!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hannah says: I want to walk through the tree!

Hope you're having fun!