Day 7 Mendocino to Monterey

Trip Start Aug 30, 2012
Trip End Sep 15, 2012

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Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, September 6, 2012

Total driven : 286 miles
Total: 1412 miles

For those of you who have asked: Neil's back is a lot better now. Thank you for your concern. And apparently it was not caused by either 1) the soft bed at the Shelburne Inn in Long Beach, or 2) the car (affectionately now known as the 'back breaker'). But in fact it happened when Neil turned around from the passenger seat to reach for my bag from the back seat. So all my fault.

A lot of miles today to get from Mendocino to San Francisco airport as we are returning our car today and changing for a different make and model. Something more suitable for California. Getting used to the mist now that we have had on this part of coast for last 3 days and it's been cold enough for us to wear coats. But this morning headed inland over the mountains back to Highway 101 away from the more scenic Highway 1 that follows the beautiful coastline. The mountain crossing was arduous. Up and down continually and tight bends. In 20 miles of negotiating the roads at 20 mph we only saw 1 car coming in opposite direction. Not sure I would have liked to break down up there. Once we were out the other side we stopped for gas at Boonville in the Anderson Valley. This is a wine valley. Rows and rows of vines growing on the hillsides as we drove through.

The temperature had climbed rapidly since we started out and it was quite a shock getting out into the sun again. During our morning drive towards San Francisco the temperature rose from 50F when we left Mendocino to 77F about 2 hours later. Not because we had travelled south but because we'd travelled over the mountains. The Anderson Valley is wine country. Rows and rows of vines on the hillsides. And noticeably parched and dry land around. Just like Oregon state California is suffering drought conditions.

Eventually we drove on our first real freeway (motorway) of the trip which turned into a 12 line highway (6 lanes in each direction) into San Francisco. This was the first 'fast' road we had seen. And even this is not too fast as the maximum speed limit here is 65mph (not 70mph like UK motorways). This made a change to our winding coast roads of the last few days. We stopped to view the Golden Gate Bridge Built in 1937 with 80,000 steel cable. Enough to wrap around the equator 4 times. It's quite a spectacle.

A view of Alcatraz prison right in the middle of the bay. No longer used now but Alcatraz prison notorious in its time. Only 3 prisoners ever escaped - noone knows what happened to them. Maybe the never made it across the bay? Surely the only way out was to swim. Even the prison warders lived on the the 'rock' as it is known. Their children had to take a ferry from the island to the school every day.

Then on to the Hertz return centre at San Francisco airport (SFO) to return the back breaker Mazda (in which we drove 1312 miles) to pick up the rental we will use for rest of trip. Returning the car was very efficient process. We took the car to returns and found at least another 50 cars there all being processed at the same time. Cars and drivers arriving in a steady stream. Staff walking up and down the lines of cars and checking them in and taking the keys. The process took just a few minutes and then we made our way upstairs to pick up our California car - a mustang convertible (desk clerk told us color is Baby Blue). Now we have had to add on another 3 minutes to every photostop as Neil has to wipe off any marks on the body work with his handkerchief before we drive away.
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