Good Morning from the Bay Area!
Up and blogging relatively early from another lovely Holiday Inn Express and Suites in sunny Berkeley, CA. Today is about San Francisco. Kim and I have visited on several occasions and it is one of our favorite cities. We are super excited to show the girls the city.
Yesterday was largely a travel day, trying to get to the Bay Area so we could settle in for a full San Francisco day. In our travels, though, it was largely about one thing - Redwoods!
We took off from Klamath mid-morning after sleeping in a bit and hit the road south.
Side note - we took Hwy 101 basically all day. Legendary road, probably 2nd only to Route 66 for me when it comes to American Roads. With its pretty non-stop winding through Redwoods in the No. Cal stretch, its an 'active driving experience'. Also, when the family has some strong motion sickness tendencies, it can be a challenge. All heads were up and focused on the road and scenery for most of the day and we tackled it without problem.
The first stop was at Fern Valley in Humboldt County, CA. This is part of a larger group of Redwood National Parks. Even though we were all about Redwoods, the hotel staff gave us this tip, and what a tip! I had never heard about this place, but it has been added to the long list of things I would highly recommend if you are in the area.
To get to Fern Valley, do the following: Take 101 South of Klamath, CA. Exit and wind around the Scenic Parkway, then exit on Davison Road. But it's really a road in 'quotes' - more like a 10 MPH, barely two-cars wide dirt path that winds, climbs and dives through old growth Redwoods. Take Davison FOR 4 MILES until you hit Gold Bluff Beach Road. But that's really not a road either, more of a bouncy gravel path that takes you along the Pacific Ocean for ANOTHER 4 MILES, including crossing a small creek (when you enter the park, the Ranger eyeballs your car and tells you that it looks like you have enough ground clearance to make it across the creek. You don't cross it on a little bridge, you CROSS IT in your car...) and then you arrive at the parking area with about a dozen other dirty cars in it.
A short quarter-mile hike gets you to the small valley. They filmed part of Jurassic Park here - the parts that they wanted to feel immediately pre-historic. I was looking around every step for a crafty little Velociraptor to poke its head out and try to snatch my children. The canyon is narrow with 50+ foot high nearly vertical walls completely covered with ferns and mosses. Unbelievable, and a total highlight. Thanks for the tip, Holiday Inn front desk lady!
Back in the car, back through the jungle safari ride to a paved roads and on to the Avenue of the Giants. This well known road is right off 101. 30 miles of gorgeous Redwoods, winding roads and lots of places to stop and hike. We took one particularly nice stroll around Pepperwood, CA and then hit a gift shop near Redcrest. As with so many other Big Trip stops, we could have spent days here, but after soaking in the amazingness of the trees, we continued the trek southward.
Our final destination was getting as close to San Fran as possible for today, but since we were so close, we made a swing through lovely Santa Rosa to see Kim's Aunt and Uncle Linda and Jack. They met us with hugs and opened their lovely home to us. And we got...wait for it...A HOME COOKED MEAL! Such a strange feeling to have being in someone's home feel so foreign. A month in hotels an restaurants will do that to you. A great dinner on the grill, some long catch-up conversations and a walk around their mountain-surrounded neighborhood got us to about 9:00, so back in the car and another hour got us here. Thank you so much, Linda and Jack, for the hospitality. Great to see you. Keep tapping ;-).
We're off to be tourists. Have a great last day of your weekend. It is Sunday, right? I seem to have lost track...