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Sunday, January 10, 2021

Travel Memories: And On To California

MENDOCINO, known from the days of the hippies, is west of us on the coast. We intend to take Highway 20 but probably because we are looking for a supermarket, we miss the turn-off at Willits. So we go on, on Hwy101. The road is a roller coaster. We climb and we descend on and on again.

Again our surroundings change significantly. The road leads through a dryer area where the grass is brown and spotted with old dry oak trees. We now also spot the first palm trees. Wineries are stretching out in every direction with the grapes still hanging on. And as if Falcon Crest becomes reality we make out some beautiful "Wine castles" on the properties.

We start looking for a campground but we are getting close to Santa Rosa and the traffic is increasing. We try to follow the sign to the California Welcome Center but end up downtown Santa Rosa and are choked in traffic. Narrow town roads make the maneuvering difficult and we get into a residential area. Somehow I manage to get through it and find back to the freeway. Just another experience as a full rig driver. Then we find the turn-off to Highway16 which leads on west towards the coast. At Sebastopol we turn towards Bodega Bay, a little village by the water. This road is partially very steep and very, very narrow. But we slide through here as well.

Here, at Bodega Bay we learn that angels guarded our safety today as well. As we read about Bodega Bay in the local tourist brochure we understand that Highway 1, which we would have taken, had we ever found the turn-off from Willits, contains a very dangerous steep stretch of 11 miles south of the village of Jenner, which lies just north of Bodega Bay. 

Bodega Bay is connected to Highway 1 which runs all along the California Coast. It was the backdrop of Alfred Hitchcock's "BIRDS" in 1962.

The bay is named after Don Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Cuadra, who took refuge in the natural harbor in October 1775. Bodega y Cuadrao is the first known European to have landed at Bodega Bay. The harbor was known for many years as Porto Bodega.

By 1874 it had two hotels, three stores and a livery stable.

Today the place lives of tourism coming west from Highway 101, from the close-by San Francisco and from the north over Highway 1. In 1976 the well-known Artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude chose Bodega Bay for putting up their "Running Fence". Both had become famous from their various projects of wrapping buildings. Needless to say that they met a lot of local resistance here in Sonoma County. Their art can still be seen as documentation at the Bodega Landmark Gallery.

The only RV-Park we can spot is the Bodega Bay RV Park. Here we have Wireless Internet and a full-service camp site.

October 30

We decide to leave Bodega Bay and proceed to the Olema Campground which is a little farther down the coast and close to San Francisco. Luckily we have no idea what the road to Olema is like. It goes up and down and by all means with this incredible traffic from behind us and meeting us it turns out as the big adventure. After reaching Point Reyes National Seashore we miss the entrance to the campground by the length of the rig. Since we cannot turn we have to back up against the traffic. Bea is stopping cars and I back up. Almost hitting a fire hydrant but no we come clear. 

The Olema Campground is beautifully treed and with 400 sites it is one of the bigger campgrounds. Howev

er it's only sparsely populated. We book in for 2 nights but decide to stay a 3rd night. There is plenty room for dogwalks too. A U.S. Postoffice and a grocery store is also available. Unfortunately, it is here we get some terrible news. My Dad in Germany had a heart attack and was flown to a hospital. He was 80 yrs. at the time, yet the docs fixed him up with a couple of stents over the next day. So he survived the ordeal.

October 31

Today we go to San Francisco. U.S.Highway #1 runs from Olema down the coast and joins up with the Hwy 101 north of the Golden Gate Bridge. We travel without the trailer but Bea gets the creeps, because this is the narrowest and most dangerous road i have ever seen in my life. DON"T DRIVE IT WITH A TRAILER!!! The lanes are smaller then our truck is wide and the curves way up on the high cliffs have no rails. A moment of missing attention and you'll find yourself down below the cliffs. Trouble is, this is also the most scenic road I have ever seen. A rolling landscape shaped of dunes, with Eucalyptus trees in between. Little farms for vegetables can be seen down the road. So keeping you attention on the road and NOT on the nice blue way-down Pacific Ocean is not easy. The locals seem to use this road as a test drive to show their chauffeur-skills to out-of-state-drivers. The entire part of Hwy 1 is one endless slalom-drive and roller coaster. Most curves follow directly after each other and many have only straight parts in between not longer than our vehicle.
                            Stinson Beach

Down by the water we come to Stinson Beach, a beautiful little place with a very scenic main street and a true bird watchers paradise. 
The smell of Eucalyptus trees are accompanying us along the roads

We are caught by a steady stream of traffic racing towards the Golden Gate Bridge. Before entering the bridge we turn out to the right and go up to the Golden Gate Bridge Recreational Area. 

From a couple of vista points we can overlook the entire San Francisco Bay. Here, we have been standing once before, back in 1997. The remains of old WW2 military batteries can be seen on top of Hawk Hill and down at the first turn-out directly over the bridge.

After having our lunch we go for the City. 
There is a $5.00 toll to pay when passing over the bridge. We enter the downtown over famous Lombard Street, then turn down to the water and the piers.

A beautiful park with palm trees attracts our attention. 
Through it we walk over to the piers. 
Looking over to Alcatraz, the known island where a U.S. penitentiary housed the most ruthless ciminals in history. Today Alcatraz is one of the big Touristattractions and you can ride over for a visit with one of the regular tourist shuttles. 
We recognize Fishermens Wharf from our 1997-stay. Fishermens Wharf is the other tourist attraction everyone has to visit when coming to San Francisco. We simply love to hang out in this mixture of a fairground, seaport and fishery harbor.
We had the pleasure to see the Sea Lions occupying a big part of the boat docks at Pier 39. However the stench coming from them is not very inviting. Though a big crowd of people is watching them.
                         Sea Lions at Pier 39

You can eat your way through Fishermens Wharf then visit the San Francisco Aquarium or linger in the park by Pier 39 and watch the proud cruise ships coming by. 

Down here you'll meet a breed of people marked by an incredible relaxation and friendliness. While waiting outside for me to come out of a market, Bea got into a conversation with a lady who was commenting on our nicely behaved dogs. Everybody is so open-minded as you'll hardly find people other places.

Speaking of our dogs, I must mention that they were attracting a lot of attention. Walking with us as if they never had been living a rural life in the back country they turned out to be perfectly fitted for the big city. Little kids stretched out their arms for petting Molly and Boomer, adults tried to touch Boomer when meeting us at the curb. We were mesmerized to watch it all.

But walking the big city is exhausting too, and Boomer was getting tired when we returned to our truck. After all it was a hot day under a deep blue sky.

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