So our West Coast road trip really started when we got to Northern California. We took a leisurely 6 hour drive up Highway 101 from San Francisco into the heart of the redwoods. Driving through Sonoma and Mendacino, and even while we were in the mountains, the temperatures varied from blazing hot (to the point where we had to put the convertible top up) to downright chilly, but the days stayed bright and beautiful.
There is nothing really like Northern California. The coastal routes all have Tsunami warning signs, the cities are no bigger than a few hundred people and for two Miamians, it almost feels like you are in a movie. If you go into a grocery store and ask for a local wine, they recommend something from a vineyard only a few miles away — and it’s good! Organic and gluten-free foods are everywhere (side note, I am now addicted to gluten-free pretzels) and people are super laid back.
Our friends took us through Avenue of the Giants which is amazing. The trees are monumental, and the trails are silent, with the exception of leaves and moss crunching underfoot. Walking through those forests you can understand why people believe in fairies and gnomes and such. Its dusky all day long because the sun never really breaks through the tree cover, and everything is a bright, dark green. I realize it sounds contradictory, but it’s an experience you have to have. It really is mystical and calming.
After the redwoods, we drove in a classic car down to the coast. Spinning around tight curves we had to stop at one point to let bears cross the road. As we got closer to the sea, the fog rolled in and the temperatures dropped. We stopped for a bit at a small building overlooking the water and got the best fish & chips of my life. As we chowed down on our lightly fried Northern Pacific fish, our friends told us that people fly into the small airstrip just to get the fish and chips. Afterwards we drove down to the beach to hang out by a bonfire and chat while kids ran around and made s’mores.
Unlike our Florida white sands and clear blue waters, this beach was nestled in a cove of cliffs, had black sands and an ever present mist. Kids were in full body wet suits and most people were in long sleeves and jeans, sipping coffee or tea.
The whole experience was very calming. My normal, everyday life is full of stress and I am constantly on-the-go with work and activities afterwards, so to be in a place where my phone reception was questionable and I got to relax with El Hombre and friends, eat amazing food and be out in a totally different natural landscape was the recipe I needed.
After we left our friends, we headed up the coast, stopping at different vistas along the way. Once we realized that it was going to take us about 10 hours to get to our next stop, we ended up turning back inward and drove through one of the most beautiful state parks I have ever seen. Unfortunately we didn’t really have any good opportunities to stop and grab pictures, but I did manage to get a few.