Saturday, June 9, 2012

Ocean Day Trip after Change of Plans

Our intention when we went to bed was to wake up and move over to Clearlake.  But after sleeping on it, I figured out that when we leave the Sacramento area around the 22nd, we can drive right through the Clearlake area on our way to the Oregon via the north California coast.  So we decided to stay here in Napa for two more nights, and return to my sister's house on Monday, a day earlier than we first planned.  (So family, we will be back on Monday, not Tuesday)

So today, the new plan was to take a short, ummm, 200-250 mile drive.  I figured we could drive over to Bodega Bay, and then up Highway 1, then over to Highway 101 and down to and back to Napa.  We left at 10, got back at 6....a good 8 hour day, just under 200 miles.

Our route took us through Petaluma, which was an original Coast Miwok Indian village.  Later it was founded by the Spanish in 1776.  It was the Spanish Governor's summer home in the 1830's.  The Bear Flag Rebellion removed the Spanish leadership. The Gold Rush brought a flock of pioneers in 1849, and it became a key agricultural area due to the ability to ship by boat the agricultural goods.  The town is home to many old, historic buildings and houses, and many have been used in movies throughout the past 50 years.  Here is a picture of a bank and old business that we saw along our route.

We probably could have driven around and photographed many buildings in this city, but our goal was the ocean, and it was going to be a long drive because I knew that for much of it, we would be luck to be able to go 35 miles per hour.

About 20 minutes later, we made it to Bodega Bay, and we got our first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean.  Bodega Bay is the for the 1963 Alfred Hitchcock film, The Birds.  Today was a brisk 60 degrees, and 15-20 mile wind gusts, and yet a few people were out on the beach...although we did not see anyone in the water.

Below is a picture looking back at Bodega Bay.  The water was very low with low tide being about an hour before we got there.
We continued north along Highway 1.  This area from Bodega Bay up through Fort Ross was first claimed by the Russians in the early 1800's.  There are many places you can stop and view the ocean, and at one, we stopped to eat.  Below is just one of the many views we had.
The waves can really batter the rocks in this area.

Another great stop was at Goat Rock near the mouth of the Russian River.  You get off of highway 1 and travel all the way down to the ocean-beach level, about a 1.5 mile drive.  There are some amazing views, including Goat Rock, which is barely attached to land by a narrow isthmus, as shown in the picture below. 
Below, near Goat Rock, is a group of rocks out in the ocean, with one having a arch in it.
At one of vehicle pullouts, you can walk to the left and get a picture of the shoreline to the left....
....and then you can take a few steps to the right and get a picture of the right shoreline.
At that stop, we met a couple from England who come to the states every year for the past few years.  This year they had visited Mount Lassen, Mount Shasta, Crater Lake, and then drove down the coast of California.  In previous years they have visited Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier, along with sites in Washington and Oregon.  They were headed back to San Francisco where I think they fly out on Monday back to England.  The lady said that it was always wonderful...after you got over the long flight to and from.

In this picture below, there was one rock that was white, as if someone painted it...but I don't know who would have braved the ocean waves to do such a thing.  And it is way to much white to have come from birds either....  :)
We finally made it to Stewart's Point.  If we traveled any further north, we would have to go another 26 miles to Manchester Beach State Park before we could head back east towards highway 101.  I figured that it would take us till 5:30-6:00 to get home as it was, and if we went another 26 miles north, that could add up to 2 hours more to our time.  So we headed east from Stewarts Point along a road called Skaggs Springs Road.
Other than the store above, there is not much else to Stewarts Point.  It was named after a family which moved into the area in the mid-1800's.  There were a few homes in the area, and this store is a favorite stopping point for those traveling up and down Highway 1.

Now traveling along Skaggs Springs Road was an experience all unto itself.  Very quickly the road turned into a 1 1/2 lane road, moving through a vast forest of trees, including some coastal redwoods.  There were a few cars moving along to the west, most faster than they should travel, so I did not stop to get a picture of the forest other than this one since I emerged from out of the darkness for a quick few seconds.
It is 46 miles from Stewarts Point to Highway 101, and it took 90 minutes to travel this distance.  For at least 40 minutes we were driving in forested area where the road was very narrow, and one always had to be on the look out for cars coming the other way.  Many times I blew the horn as I rounded blind corners.  But eventually we emerged into a sea of golden hills, typical of the California Coastal Range and Sierra foothills.  Here is a picture of the forest line and the golden grass.
Eventually there was a sign for a turnout to view Lake Sonoma.  It is formed by a earthen dam which was finished in 1982, so it is a relatively new lake.
It took so long to get from Highway 1 over to Highway 101, my co-pilot started to get a bit antsy as to how much longer it would take, when are we going to get there, are you sure you took the right road, and many other nagging questions.  So I told her to roll down the window, stick her head out the window and see if she could do she did.
Marcia, on the other hand, slept for a good portion of it, and enjoyed everything except the bumpy roads, which seem typical of much of California.  Hmm...what do they spend all that gas tax money on?

It was another glorious trip.  We are both amazed at how much we have seen in less than two short months...we look forward to seeing so much more.  We both feel very blessed.

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