Thursday, June 19, 2014

Randall & Debbie’s California Vacation, Part V

Randall & Debbie’s California Vacation, Part V

Northern CA and back home

After the Avenue of the Giants, we hit the road again and headed north, through Eureka and into Arcata where we met Rachel and Bruce for a wonderful Japanese dinner.

Rachel and Bruce live in Trinidad, CA and after dinner they took us to their local beach.

Rachel and Bruce live in a small community that shares a lush 80 bed garden and greenhouse.

They also have two adorable cats...  Munchie and Shanti who calls Debbie her godmother (Debbie picked her out in the shelter all those years ago in Denver).

Rachel Randy and Debbie headed even further north the next day and saw Elk, and more big trees.

Did a nice walking tour of some ancients and then heard about a local whale siting.  
We jumped into the car and headed to see the whales.

After the whales we went to Paul Bunyan's place (Trees of Mystery) and rode the gondola up to some amazing views.  This was also as far north as we got.

We ate another delicious dinner out in Arcata, decided to take a group photo at another beach and were treated to a spectacular sunset and 10 cute puppies!

On our last day we said a sad farewell to Rachel and Bruce (and M and S) and headed south looking forward to one last night in the Bay area.

We were treated to a fog free view of the Golden Gate Bridge and then treated ourselves to yet another delicious meal at Gracias Madre.  Debbie tried the El Burro. Yum!!!!

Spent the night in Palo Alto (repacking everything from two weeks on the road), got to see the pristine Stanford University campus the next morning and flew out without incident back to NJ and finally home.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Randall & Debbie’s California Vacation, Part IV

Randall & Debbie’s California Vacation, Part IV

Mendocino and Redwoods

Heading north from the SF Bay area we stayed on 101 until Cloverdale and then took the twisty/windy 128 up to the coast.  Yes, we know we mostly bypassed wine country - we did stop at a winery but it wasn't the focus of our trip.  

We explored the Russian Gulch State Park just north of Mendocino - another beautiful location.  

We stayed at another Airbnb - a small cabin in someone's yard.  It was a nice experience even though there was no room for our suitcases.  For dinner we went to The Ravens which is an upscale vegan restaurant associated with the Stanford Inn - a vegan resort.  The food was wonderful!  We returned the next day for a great breakfast.  Mendocino is a small town right on the ocean with lots of artists.  We walked along the beach, which is right near the main street.  

It was a morning with lots of fog/mist over the shore and this made for some nice photography on our drive.  

Next we turned inland and hit the Avenue of the Giants - Redwood country!  We stopped at various places to walk among and shoot these beautiful trees.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Randall & Debbie’s California Vacation, Part III

Randall & Debbie’s California Vacation, Part III

San Francisco and Berkeley

In our last post we didn't quite make it to San Francisco.  After we left Palo Alto we drove to an area where we thought we would be able to hike on the San Andreas fault.  After looking over the warning signs for rattlesnakes, mountain lions and ticks we decided to skip that portion of the program.  We drove towards SF along the fault on Skyline Blvd (but at no time in CA did we feel any shaking).

We stopped at a park to see if we could catch a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge but it was fogged in.  We did see Alcatraz...  Later we had a fine meal at Herbivore in SF with Danny Brook and his family, with a stop at Dandelion Chocolate afterwards - yummy!  Our Airbnb was located in Berkeley and was a nice house with friendly people.  The next day we took the BART in to SF and walked around.  The first stop was at the Coit Memorial Tower which gave a nice view of the city and had great depression era murals painted downstairs.  

We also stopped at the cable car museum which is a fun,
SF favorite.

 The Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill was beautiful!

 We also took some time and explored the majestic SF City Hall.

 We had lunch in Chinatown at the Loving Hut and for dinner we went to Gracias Madre in the Mission District.  Gracias Madre was really outstanding - what a wonderful place!  I hear they will open in LA as well.

After a long day we wound up in Oakland because we got on the wrong BART train but made it back to our Airbnb OK.

On our way out of Berkeley heading towards Mendocino we had breakfast at the Berkeley location of Herbivore.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Randall & Debbie’s California Vacation, Part II

Randall & Debbie’s California Vacation, Part II

Big Sur, Monterey and San Francisco

We left SB and drove up the 101 towards Monterey, Big Sur and the coastal highway.  The coastal drive is slow but beautiful!

Our first major stop was the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, on the Big Sur coast.

As you can see from the photos, this is a magical place.  Here is a short video as well.

We capped off a beautiful day with a delicious dinner at Julia's in Pacific Grove and then a sunset over the Pacific Ocean.  Earlier this year we saw a beautiful sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean in FL, what a nice companion experience.

The next day brought cloudy skies but our day was brightened by a 3 hour guided kayaking adventure in Monterey Bay.  We saw (and smelled) seals, saw and (heard) sea lions, and were treated to a playful otter.

After spending the morning paddling, we went back down the coast to another magical place - Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.  Again we were treated to stunning views of water, surf and rocky coast with lots of wildlife.  We decided to eat dinner at Julia's again because it was so good!

On Sunday we checked out the famous Pebble Beach 17 mile drive and then headed up to Palo Alto to visit Marcy, Levent and baby Derin.  Thanks to Levent we enjoyed a deliciously prepared lunch and spent some time catching up.