California Road Trip Days 10 – 13: Northern California Coast, Anderson Valley, Point Reyes, and San Francisco

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We’ve hit the home stretch!!  I’ve decided to pile our jaunt down the Northern California coast back to San Francisco in one big post.  Enjoy the rest of the trip!

Day 10 – October 7, 2016

We took a morning walk with our coffee to check out Russian Gulch State Park and then packed up and hit the road.

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Morning in Russian Gulch Campground, Mendocino
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The campground was damp and full of these guys!  

This was a pretty busy day on the road!  First stop:  Glass Beach in Fort Bragg.  A century ago it was commonplace to heave all sorts of trash into the ocean, off of the cliffs in the meany seaside communities along the coast.  Years of pounding waves turned some of this trash into treasure, in the form of sea glass that has washed up and covered small sections of beach.  This makes for a pretty cool place to stop and take some photos.  Remember – take photos, enjoy the beach, but leave the glass behind for others to enjoy as well!  From a distance it doesn’t look like much – once you get down to the beach you can really appreciate the sea glass.

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Stepping down to the beach

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From there it was on to a stop in Mendocino, for a quick walk around and some lunch. Cute town with lots of shops to visit, it reminded us a lot of New England.

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From Mendocino we headed south along Route 1, taking in the rugged coastline, and then headed further East  down route 128 to our next campground at Hendy Woods State Park in Philo.   We LOVED this area!!

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Checking out some redwoods along rt 128

Route 128 is peppered with wineries – turns out Anderson Valley is an area well known for its Pinot Noirs, and we had no clue!  We stopped into 3 wineries for tastings (Greenwood Ridge, Tuolouse, and Foursight) and finished the evening at the Anderson Valley Brewing Company for some craft beers before settling in to our campground nestled among the redwoods.  It really doesn’t get much better than that! (Except Yosemite.  Sorry.  Nothing beats Yosemite).

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Great outdoor beer garden area at Anderson Valley

Day 11 – October 8, 2016

We started the day with a trail run among the redwoods in Hendy Woods State Park before hitting the road and heading south again.

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After a glorious campground shower (seriously… it was fantastic.  spiders and all.) we headed down route 128 through the wineries, down 101 south, to a pit stop at Russian River Brewing Company.  We are beer people and they are well known, especially for their IPA “Pliny the Elder”, so we couldn’t pass through without stopping.  It was busy but we managed to sneak a place at the bar for a tasting and some lunch.

Next up was Point Reyes, and our campground for the next two nights, Samuel P. Taylor State Park.   We made a pit stop for some cheese at Cowgirl Creamery (if you like cheese, you HAVE to stop there.  If you don’t like cheese, we can’t be friends and you should probably stop reading my blog),   took some photos at the Point Reyes Shipwreck (can you imagine, a shipwreck just sitting around in New England somewhere? Nope.), and then set up camp for the night.

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Day 12 – October 9, 2016

This day will forever go down in history as the day I (TOTALLY accidentally) nearly killed my husband with a trail run that went a weeeeeee bit over the planned mileage.  Like… it was supposed to be a 13 mile run/hike to Alamere Falls…. but…. it may have ended up being more like 23 miles after a SLIGHT wrong turn.  I blame Instagram for this shit show – that’s where I saw that damn waterfall in the first place!

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Alamere Falls is a waterfall that… falls?  I guess?  right onto the beach.  Beautiful!  So beautiful, in fact, that when you decide to run or hike out to it on a HOLIDAY WEEKEND you will be joined by every college student that has a car and can make the trip there.  And they will have brought footballs, blankets, and speakers to play their music.  Ah, nature.

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Frat, party of 30?
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Route plan: Bear Valley —> Glen —> Stewart trails

The trail we chose was about a 13 mile round trip.  Not bad, and very scenic.   The last portion to get to the falls is a mile down the beach.  Beautiful, but a bit of a pain in the ass.  So we opted to climb the sketchy trail  that goes up from the falls onto the trail. Which was not the way we came.  And thus begins the 10 mile wrong turn……… oops. (pro tip – this way leads to a much shorter trail to a closer parking lot.  This is the way the frat bros came.)  At least we didn’t get lost for real.   Just, ahem, a scooch off course.  No big deal.  Sadly, these trails weren’t that interesting.  And there was a dead horse skeleton on the side of one which upped the sketch factor a hair.  Moral of the story?  We survived.  And on that note, we ended our magical week of van camping in California!

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This picture cracks me up every time.  Thank goodness he’s fit… and a good sport. 

Day 13 – October 10, 2016

Our last day!  Such a sad face.  We packed up camp and headed over the Golden Gate Bridge (in the fog, of course) back into San Francisco to drop off the van. We were SO sad to see her go!!

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From the Escape Campervans depot (pictured above) we caught an Uber into the city to our hotel.  We stayed at the Hotel Rex, a smaller boutique hotel near Union Square.  We were very happy with it and would definitely recommend a stay there.  The room was on the small-ish side but with only two of us for one night, it was perfectly adequate and had a nice big, clean bathroom – so exciting to take a long, hot shower with no spiderwebs and bugs! The hotel had a literary theme with quotes painted on the wall of each floor – made taking the stairs fun, to see all of the quotes!  My favorite one is below 🙂  We also got a free glass of wine for happy hour, great little bonus!

With only one day/night in the city we decided to just cruise around and do some touristy things.  First up was lunch and some craft beers at Hogwash, right next to our hotel.  Very cool place with vegetarian sausage options that were delicious!  We hopped on a cable car for a ride, stopping to check out Lombard Street (aka the twisty street) before continuing down to Fisherman’s wharf for a walk and some people (and sea lion) watching.

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We then rented bikes and rode the bike path out to the National Park Service warming hut at Crissy Field  to take in the views of the bay and get some photos of the bridge.

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From there we returned the bikes and meandered our way back toward the hotel, stopping in to check out the Cable Car Museum, which was a pretty cool accidental find. We hoofed it up and down the steep hills back for our free happy hour wine and then to dinner at Hopwater Distribution (great tap selection and delicious pickled veggie plate!) before crashing for the night.   It was hard to believe our trip had come to an end and we would be hopping a flight at the crack of dawn back home!

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Aaaaaaaaaaand that’s a wrap!  This trip was FANTASTIC and I had a ton of fun revisiting our stops for the blog posts.  I hope you enjoyed it as well!

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2 thoughts on “California Road Trip Days 10 – 13: Northern California Coast, Anderson Valley, Point Reyes, and San Francisco

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