Friday, October 5, 2012

California’s Central Coast

Time to work our way further south.  At 8:55 a.m. on Monday, October 1, we pointed the rig toward Santa Rosa.  We stopped to fuel up the rig before leaving Redding.  At $4.24/gal. it was the most expensive fuel since Alaska and Canada the summer of 2008.  When getting ready to leave, we also noticed a burned out taillight on the rig, so we also stopped in Anderson, CA at a Camping World to pick up a replacement and quickly got that fixed.

We pulled into the Sonoma County fairgrounds in Santa Rosa at 2:45 p.m. after driving 242 miles.  We got settled in for a four-day stay.

On Tuesday, October 2nd, we went to check out Point Reyes National Seashore.  I had been here briefly with Eric back in 2005 and I was anxious to show it to John.  First, we stopped at the Bear Valley Visitor Center for a quick look-see before heading over to Point Reyes Beach North.


SOOOO good to be back on a beach again!  We spent a long time just hanging out and enjoying the warmth, sounds of the surf, the sun bouncing off the waves, and just being lazy.


Beautiful fall colors here, too.


We took a different way home, along Tomales Bay on Hwy. 1 and then on the Bodega Highway through Sebastopol.  Always fun to see new areas, although we were sure hoping there wouldn’t be an earthquake because a submerged portion of the San Andreas Fault is right down the middle of narrow Tomales Bay!

Time to knock off one of John’s bucket list items: Alcatraz.  On Wednesday the 3rd, we headed to Sausalito to catch the ferry to Fisherman’s Wharf.  Little did we know how busy that ferry is!  We had already purchased our tickets online for a 12:30 tour, so when we were totally unable to find a parking space, we just gritted our teeth and headed across the Golden Gate Bridge.  Fortunately, traffic wasn’t too bad…


…and we managed to find our way to Fisherman’s Wharf and easily find a parking space.  We even had time to wander around a bit before catching a bite to eat and hopping on the tour boat.  The weather was gorgeous and everyone was in shirt sleeves and shorts.


This picture, which we saw upon arriving at the dock, shows remaining signs from the 1969-1971 Native American occupation of Alcatraz by the “Indians of All Tribes” (AIT) group.


The tour was amazing and the use of recordings on individual headsets was really nice because it allowed us to go at our own speed.




Here’s John checking out one of the six isolation cells in D Block, nicknamed “The Hole”.


The 1946 escape attempt and the 1962 escape by Frank Morris and the two Anglin brothers are well documented, as are more famous inmates such as “Scarface” Capone and “Machine Gun” Kelly.

About halfway through the tour, we looked out one of the windows near the old superintendent’s office and, WOW!  What happened out there???  Fog, rain going sideways and chilly!!  By the time, we were at the gift shop, everyone around us was busy buying jackets and sweatshirts for the trip back to the mainland.  But us Alaskans have previous experience and we just dug our jackets out of the backpack and even sat on the open upper deck on the way back to the wharf!  Here’s the San Fran skyline from the tour boat:


‘Course by the time we docked, we were out of the rain and fog and it was beautiful again.  Weird…


I think this is the Bay Bridge.


Loved the architecture here…


…but not so much the traffic going home.


Oops, here’s that fog again.




Much better.


Fun day!

On Thursday, October 4th, we drove down to the town of Napa for lunch and then headed up the valley on Highway 29 to do a couple of winery tours.  Napa itself is very trendy and fun and we probably could have spent all day just wandering around.  Besides, there were flowers there that I hadn’t seen before…

P1160044 - town of Napa




After a yummy gelato for me and some coffee for John, we headed north to the Robert Mondavi winery.  Beautiful SoCal kind of place with some interesting artifacts scattered around.  The tour was well done and the wine pretty good - until I priced it in the shop later and decided it wasn’t THAT good!





Next up was the Castello di Amorosa (Castle of Love) winery.  This one we picked because of the building.  It’s a medieval Tuscan-style castle and is very cool!  There are 8 levels and 107 rooms and it was built as authentically as possible based on 700-800 year old methods.


Quite an imposing entrance…


…and quaint little side buildings, too.


Here’s John checking out the moat.


The views from the tower area were outstanding!


There were lots of interesting architectural details.




Time to head for home…


Moving day: Friday, October 5.  Years ago - I believe it was October 1996 - John & I made our first visit to Yosemite National Park.  We fell in love with it and we finally get to go back for another visit!

After crossing the Bay Bridge…YIKES!!!  We have to cross that in the motorhome????


Good thing we made it across safely, because otherwise we would have missed this spectacular sunset at the Escapees RV park near Coarsegold, California.


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