San Francisco

Trip Start Dec 22, 2006
Trip End Feb 10, 2008

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Flag of United States  , California
Friday, January 12, 2007

It's kinda funny - just yesterday we were remarking on how simply crossing an ivisible border does not guarantee better weather - and today we met a rancher from Oregon who was shocked that Canada has a summer season.  He was convinced that we would "boil" in Mexico as we are not accustomed to anything but freezing cold.  We had a good giggle.

We tried to drive 'Nilla through the Chandelier Tree.  Unfortunately, she's a tad too large.  We'll have to come back with the Triumph at a later date.  The Triumph is old as well, but perhaps we won't have to make a roadside stop to let her brakes cool off.  These hills....I tell 'ya....poor 'Nilla has been getting a work out.  At one point, the brakes were actually smoking.  I guess trying to stop a large and heavy vehicle on a 10% downslope of a mountain can take it's toll.

We continued on the highway to Fort Bragg, which is the site of the famous "Glass Beach".  Apparently, back in the day, the beach was used by the locals as a dump site.  Although the beachfront has been reclaimed, we were told that there are reminders of a time when California was not so "enviro-friendly".  Most notably are the smooth pieces of glass that are strewn along the beach.  Years of water washing bottles along the shore have created an interesting array of sand, rocks and glass.  On closer inspection, we found numerous signs of the dump still remained.....nails, spark plugs, etc. were imbedded in the rocks along the shore.  Check out the photos for a first had look.  We acutally saw parts of a car bumper and a gas tank wedged into the beach.  


From Fort Bragg we made our way to Point Arena, CA.  We were focused on climbing the Point Arena lighthouse, which is a 115 foot tall structure that was built in 1870 and later rebuilt in 1908 following a massive earthquake in 1906.  The lighthouse was deserted when we arrived and in our opinion the secenery did not warrant at $14 price tag for the two of us to walk up numerous steps.  Maybe we were just low on energy!   The travel guide boasts of mountain views to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west, both of which are clearly visible from the ground....not to mention visible for great distances.  We were eager to get to San Francisco and decided to drive east to reach Highway 101. It was expected to speed up our travels since the coastal highway was littered with sharp corners that 'Nilla took at a slow speed.  What we did not expect was highway construction.....arrrgghh!  When we finally reached Highway 101 it was peak rush hour...AWESOME!  Some people call us lucky and blessed to be on this trip, however at 4:30 on January 12, 2007, we felt a bit defeated.


Taking it all in stride, we cruised at 20 mph down Highway 101 with San Fran in our sights.  The saving grace of it all was the smell of grapes wafting into the van from the numerous Sonoma vineyards along side of the highway.  The highway opened up to normal cruising speed with 45 mintues or so and we were pedal down to the Frisco Bay.    It was dusk, more likely early evening when we reached the approach to the Golden Gate bridge.  The structure is massive and seeing is truly believing.  The sun was setting to the west and the sky was shades of orange, red and yellow along the horizon.  Breathtaking!  We attempted to capture the view with the camera, but as we all know, it did not do it justice.  "A" for effort on our part.  We pulled off the highway to a lookout (aka...makeout point as know to the locals) to watch the sunset.  It was worth it!

Once in San Francisco, we wondered what we could do.  Thankfully, the transit system runs until 1:00am.  'Nilla was able to find relatively level roads to the wharf and nab some prime street meter parking.  We walked to "Fisherman's Wharf" and jumped a cable car downtown.  San Franscisco lit up at night was gorgeous.  We only spent a short time downtown because neither high-priced shopping nor the Opera were part of the budget.  The mix of old and new school architecture in the downtown core gives San Fran a very eclectic feel.  The nostalgia of riding the old cable car was incredible.  The view around every corner was great.


The prices of accomodations in San Francisco for the two of us and 'Nilla was ridiculous.  Some smart person built the only camping area within 20 miles of town and charges $60 per night for the low-budget site.  Mmmmm... democracy at its finest.  We decided to head south toward San Diego.  On the way out of town, we encoutered a women in a wheelchair rolling down the middle of Van Ness (Highway 101) in San Francisco, begging for change.  She was trying to appear to have on leg by sitting on the other could see her shoe protruding out from her butt cheek.  Classic!  Not to worry, 'Nilla was on her game and swerved out of the path of the oncoming wheelchair.  We narrowly escaped near disaster.

We stopped and searched numerous camping spots along the highway, desperately seeking (not Susan), but hot showers!  Did we just date ourselves by quoting a Madonna movie from last century.   We again experienced a California winter when we woke up at the McAlpine RV Park in San Juan Bautista and could not have showers as the pipes had frozen. We were very disappointed as we take advantage of every shower opportunity that we can. Especially since we started paying, on average, $40US per night to camp in California. The prices were half that in Washington and Oregon, but on the flip side the sites in Cali are nicer and cleaner. I guess you get what you pay for, eh?!
Click on the following link to view our photos for this entry....
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