Our mission for today was to get North as fast as we could and then cut over to the Pacific Coast Highway and head South for a nice drive home along the wonderfully scenic PCH. Like all of our California trips so far we were surprised by the scenery, both on the PCH and while getting to it.
We drove Northward diving deep underground through the tunnels through the mountains on HWY 24 and then across the San Francisco Bay on I-580. I was completely surprised to see San Quentin located right on the bay. Man this is some high dollar real estate put to use as a retirement home for criminals. What a view they have. Well, they WOULD have a great view I guess.
We stayed inland and fought the weekend traffic through Novato, Petaluma and Santa Rosa Continuing to stretch our legs ever Northward. Finally after we cleared Santa Rosa, HWY 101 narrowed to four lanes and the traffic thinned out making the driving a little more enjoyable and less like a massive session of "Dodge Car." HWY 101 is scenic enough but I was eager to get off of it and onto some smaller and more interesting roads.
We finally did that at Cloverdale where we veered West by Northwest on Hwy 128. Now that is a great road; two lanes of smooth pavement winding its way toward Booneville where we stopped for an "organic hand made" lunch. Booneville looks to us like sort of a hippy holdover, full of interesting looking people and more cafes and restaurants per capita than anywhere I can recall. Nice town and it is in a good spot in the road for a day trip. Just far enough away to have us wanting a little break.
After lunch we hung a hard left on Mountain View Road where we enjoyed the 30 mile meander over the last mountain range before we hit the coast. Mountain View Road is a beautiful run through a redwood forest and allows speeds less than 30 mph with no penalty. Go faster than that and you are either a really good driver or about to meet a new group of doctors. While still about 8 miles from the coast we broke out of the forest and saw the Pacific Ocean in the distance. Cool.
We stopped at the lighthouse and snapped a few pics. I have learned that I have to budget my time at these ocean overlooks because I could really just sit and watch the swells all day. After the photo session we headed South on the PCH and alternately caught spectacular views of the ocean and ducked into the forest as this famous road shared it's multiple personalities with us. At one minute you are at sea level and could walk down to a secluded beach not even seen from the road, and the next moment you are 1000 feet above the surf on a road carved out of the cliff. Top a hill in the forest and ease down into the next glade and the temperature can drop 10 degrees. Now we know what a micro-climate really feels like.
We were in the convertible today but this ride would have been a great bike trip. It was a long day at 330 miles and much of that in the 30 - 35 mph range. Any serious exploring along the PCH North of San Francisco is going to require a multi-day trip but I am absolutely certain that it will be worth it.
Remember, you can click on any of the pics in this post and go directly to my web albums where you can see full size versions and a few that I didn't have room for here.