Monday, July 14, 2008

Northern California Trip - Pt 1

NCA_18_GoldenGateA couple of months ago, Dana and I were talking about where we might go on vacation this summer. Ryon, our oldest, was planning on taking a summer course at the community college and Alex, our youngest, wasn't interested in a vacation (I think we burned him out last year at the Grand Canyon). He was going to church camp for a week in July, so we decided we would go somewhere during the church camp week. Destination: Northern California's coast, specifically, Highway One. I have been to southern California several times, but neither of us had ever been to the northern part of the state. We had been reading that there were several lighthouses along the route--none of which are operating, but they still sounded neat--so we bought plane tickets to Sacramento on ExpressJet (they fly nonstop from Tulsa), booked a rental car, and began scouring the web for places to see and stay along the way.

Day One: Four o'clock in the morning is EARLY! We had to be at the airport for our 7:00 flight to Sacramento by 5:30 AM. A quick stop at McDonald's and we were on our way. We sailed through ExpressJet's check-in and then stood in line at Airport security for about 20 minutes, which really isn't bad for a Monday morning at Tulsa International. I think everyone else was flying American Airlines to Dallas.

We arrived in Sacramento about 20 minutes ahead of schedule, but ended up spending that time waiting for our luggage. After a short shuttle ride to the Car Rental area, we picked up our PT Cruiser, and hit the road. I bought a Garmin Nuvi 260W (GPS) several months ago and took the time before we left to enter several of our destinations which, in San Francisco, was a lifesaver!

NCA_07_FishermansWarfIt took us about an hour to drive from the Sacramento airport to our first stop: Fisherman's Wharf. What a tourist trap! If you can slap "San Francisco" on it, people will buy it. Put it in the shape of a cable car, and you've got yourself a sure-fire winner. Actually, once you get past all the T-shirt/souvenir stores, the wharf is a pretty neat area. We had heard about the seals (sea lions?) at Pier 39- they congregate there (for some reason) by the hundreds. But not today. A sign at the pier stated they had left on their "summer migration" or something like that.

We ate at Bubba Gump Shrimp; pretty good. We sat at the back of the restaurant looking out over the Bay and watched the tour boats, many of them headed to Alcatraz Island. There are quite a variety of birds that hang around the wharf; one particular group/flock/herd of pelicans continuously circled the area. They're huge!

After Bubba Gump's, we walked around the pier, looking for souvenirs- I may "complain" about it, but I felt like I needed to do my share to help the local economy. A couple of hours of Fisherman's Wharf was enough for us though, so we continued on toward the Golden Gate Bridge.

We stopped at Chrissy Park/Beach, just east of the bridge to take a few pictures, then we got back on I-80 and crossed the Golden Gate, stopping on the north side for more pictures and a stroll back across to the halfway point. It was EXTREMELY windy on the bridge. It probably seemed worse than it really was with the cars zipping by at 60+ MPH!

NCA_20_MuirBeachFrom SF, we headed north on Highway 1 (CA-1) toward Bodega Bay. One of the many vistas we stopped at on our trip was Muir Beach Overlook just outside of SF. It was really our first unobstructed view of the Pacific Ocean, and it was/is breathtaking! CA-1 runs RIGHT ALONG THE EDGE of the ocean for the most part which makes it really difficult to keep your eyes on the road if you're driving.

We spent our first night at Bodega Harbour Inn (in Bodega Bay). Our room was quaint and clean (always a plus); the woman at the office (I didn't catch her name) was very friendly and eager to welcome us. The bay was across the highway, and had an obstructed view. Dana read somewhere that part of Hitchfork's The Birds was filmed in Bodega Bay. (You can read more about that here.)

The woman at the motel recommended Lucas' Wharf for dinner. The food and service was good, but a little pricey in my opinion. We were really tired after being up so early, then driving all afternoon, plus the time change, so we ended up going to bed early - 9:00 PM (11:00 PM Oklahoma time).


Baxter said...

Wow what a cool trip! "I wanna go" *whine*

The one stop you made inspired me to look up "Bubba Gump Shrimp Co." I was wondering what came first, the movie or the restaurant.

JP's Gal said...

Your California trip sounds absolutely amazing. One that I hope Jeremy and I can make some day.