From Yosemite we decided it was time to hit the California coast… or thereabouts. As with most of our drives they are longer (and in this case hotter) than we expect them to be. We knew that Napa and Somoma are deemed expensive and with only one campsite even remotely in the area we got rather panicked when we drove up at dusk to a sign saying ‘full’. However, being the seasoned campers we are now, we drove on into the site to see around 5 of the 30 sites occupied. Phew. Even at $35 a night and showers extra – still phew! And so the budget starts to crumble. We’ve done pretty well until now, say a 7/10.. we have a feeling that California is going to destroy that. Especially the vineyards. (Can’t call them wineries as they seem to here, sorry!)
Sonoma is a lovely little town with Mexican roots, which is evident in the architecture. We had a fabulous afternoon meandering around the town after a somewhat boozy lunch then waited for the farmers’ market to start… which involved a variety of food stalls and a band playing in the town square. A great way to hit civilisation again after so many national parks. Of course, we managed a visit to a vineyard or 2 as well. It’s hard not to want to stock up on a bottle or 3 but we’ve already learnt that 40+ degrees in car does not do wine any favours!
We had booked an airbnb for San Francisco as camping within city limits is nigh on impossible. We found a lovely place in the suburbs where we felt the car was safe while we explored the city. As you can imagine all the sights had to be seen… Chinatown, Balmy Alley, the trams, trollies and an array of piers too numerous to number. We took a catamaran trip on the bay which passed under the bridge and past Alcatraz. For once the fog was kind and we could see most of the Golden Gate Bridge… certainly beats driving over it in thick fog.
And so continued the theme of the California coast, allegedly it’s beautiful and the parts we saw through the cloud certainly were but no vista shots from us over the next few days.
One thing to note: don’t leave SF and plan on finding a camp site in the Santa Cruz to Monterey area on a Saturday night. Therein lies another story.
Due to the Hwy 1 bridge closure at Big Sur we were forced to turn inland via Paso Robles, another wine region. The vines along the road appeal to Richard’s OCD apparently. We called in at Red Soles – a small vineyard set up by a couple who named it after their stained feet as they crushed their first grapes by foot. We had what turned out to be a lovely afternoon there (we only stopped for a quick taste – honest!) hiding from the 43degrees outside and left with a parting gift of a bottle of their signature Cab Sav to drink at our final destination. Back to the coast for a cooler night at Morro Bay and to visit a colony of elephant seals before turning back inland.