Checking Things Off: Monterey to Tomales Bay

Trip Start Jun 22, 2010
Trip End Dec 15, 2011

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Flag of United States  , California
Friday, June 17, 2011

Most of the time, it is difficult for my husband to get vacation time. In past navy jobs, he often worked through the weekends to. Currently he is getting his MBA, and has a well-deserved two and half week break in school. With orders to move to the East Coast early next year, we knew we had to take this time as an opportunity to do as many things on the West Coast as possible. We have set off on a two-week road trip heading up the coast to Northwest Washington then looped back down through Seattle, Portland, etc. We have a flexible itinerary as we want to be able to explore at whim, and we admittedly didn't do a lot of homework about the trip.

We decided to begin the trip with a night in San Francisco. On an earlier trip to San Francisco, we had to bring our puppy Ries and that limited what we could do. We thought we would start the trip by checking some things off our list.

Drive up Highway One from Santa Cruz to San Francisco.  We have driven to Santa Cruz from Monterey several times yet on previous trips to or through San Fran, we opted to take faster routes. One of my goals of this trip is to drive along the coast as much as possible. I crossed my fingers that it would not be too foggy (they will remain crossed for every coastal drive. as luck would have it, the sun emerged just we passed Wilder Ranch State Park, our previous northern most stop in Santa Cruz. Huge waves crashed against the shore. Mike unexpectedly made a turn off the highway in Pescadero.  I asked if he needed to use the restroom. "No, we are getting cheese." I was not sure whether or not to believe him. So I patiently waited to see where we were going. After a couple minutes we pulled in front of Harley Farms Cheese Shop. So that wasn’t sarcasm. I smiled, these were the kinds of things I wanted to be open to on this adventure.  In a historic home, the cheeses shop was very quaint. A working milking station was next store in front of a large pasture filled with goats. A small corral held three baby goats that welcomed our nuzzling.  We bought some fresh goat cheese and continued on our way.

 In general, the drive was easier than in the Big Sur area, as in many places the road was fairly straight and flat and very little traffic. The most spectacular part of this stretch of the one was north of Half Moon Bay around McKnee Ranch State Park. I really wanted to stop and take pictures, but knew that we had a long way to go. Also, I decided that I will have to drive back up here and go hiking someday. Shortly after this park, things began to get more developed and it seemed like suddenly we were in the suburbs of San Francisco. I think this is where the drive begins to take longer. All of sudden the drive went from being idyllic to congested. This only increased as we neared the Golden Gate Bridge. We needed to cross that to cross the next item off our list.

Sausalito. We have heard wonderful things about this little Mediterranean-like town situated just across the bay from San Francisco. Something about it conjured up images of a sleepy fishing village for us. Instead we arrived into a hubbub of tourists. We drove through the main strip, and after the crowds subsided Mike parked in front of a small almost empty park. Starving we stopped for an un-scenic yet yummy lunch of crackers with chive & herb goat cheese and tomato & basil goat cheese.  We then moved the car and walked around. I was quickly realizing that I was very much looking forward to the nature part of this trip. Crowds of tourists were annoying me and I had no interest in the luxury shops. The town definitely had a Mediterranean feel to it, and might have been a nice place to enjoy an overpriced meal at a local café, but it was not what we were in the mood to do. After a walk through the area we decided to check into our hotel in the city. 

Ferry Building Marketplace. As dogs are not allowed here, this was another missed experience on our previous trip. Inside the ferry terminal are multiple restaurants and shops selling fresh fish, meats, produce, cheese, pastries etc. I walked in and instantly my culinary libido was on overdrive.  A whole shop selling different mushrooms. A pork shop with the subtitle “Salty Tasty Pig Parts”.  Homemade gelato. Olive oil sampling. My half-glass-empty husband was more annoyed than delighted like me. “This just makes me want to cook and we are so far from a kitchen,” he explained. Not surprisingly we ventured in to a wine store and bar and decided to have a glass. We first split a glass of a yummy Rhone. Then we tried the Barrack Brand Red blend from Happy Canyon. We taste buds danced.  Until this point, I had been questioning our decision to stay in San Francisco as we could do that anytime. This glass on wine made it worth it. We finished the evening with a return to China Town to satisfy my husband’s appetite and an early bed time as we wanted an early start.

San Andreas Fault. Point Reyes National Seashore is located about an hour north  of San Francisco on Hwy One. Somehow on our previous trip here, I had missed the Earthquake Trail and the opportunity to walk on the San Andreas Fault. Luckily, the trail was only a half mile loop about a half mile off Hwy. One. I learned that 20 million years ago, Point Reyes was actually south of San Francisco as it is located on the Pacific Plate. Right on the fault line itself, we saw a where a fence had split and jumped 16 feet across in one minute during the Great Earthquake of 1906. The geography nerd in me was satisfied.

Tomales Bay Oysters. When driving from Healdsburg to Point Reyes in the fall, we had passed a very cool looking place on the bay for fresh oysters. We had already eaten lunch, so didn’t stop. As it was lunch time, we pulled over and got a tray of smoked fish and oysters as well as some fresh on the half shell. We sat at a redwood bar right on the water and devoured the delicious meal.

Although we did see several things on our list in a little more than twenty-four hours and we do plan to see a lot on the days ahead, I suspect that we may add more items as we hope to return on a future trip for the things we don’t get to. But to look on the positive side, we may check some things off the list that  we weren’t even anticipating.  Case in point, just as we were approaching our uncharted stretch of Highway One, we spotted a bald eagle soaring over the majestic landscape. It wasn’t on my list for today, but it was the first time I had seen one. Check.

***There is an post from our first San Francisco trip in this blog.

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Aunt Roxanne on

So good to hear from you... where are you moving to?

gingerschilling on

Lexington Park, MD area. We'll have to get together after we move.

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