The last week in February was spent driving the California coast. From Napa we drove to Patrick's Point just north of Eureka. The first day was beautiful with the drive starting on the Silverado highway and headed up the 101 with the intention of driving south on the 1 the following day. The days are long when you are in the car for 5+ hours but we have learned to be patient and plan on adding about an hour and a half to any estimated drive time, due to the lack of 5th gear and stops along the way. We made it into Eureka in the evening and had a few local to Northern California beers at The Local Beer Bar. There was a couple there that we had a great conversation with about the area. He turned out to know a ton about the specific Toyota truck we have and gave Eric some pointers and his wife gifted us a craft chocolate bar made by local friends of theirs. We pulled in to Patrick’s Point State Park in the evening and the view we had in the morning was better than expected.
In the morning Eric and I drove up towards the National Redwoods Park. We have been experiencing the pull between not wanting to be in a rush and needing to stick to a loose timeline. We wandered around a bit, hugged a few giant trees and were on our way. We stocked up on lunch items and headed out of town with the general destination of Mendocino.
The road that crosses over to the coastal highway was so curvy I think we may have been going 20 mph the entire way. We were both in awe at how dense the forest is and how green the area was as well. The coastal drive was amazing. The views and the cliffs were as impressive as I remembered and Eric was continuously blown away. It was weekday so there were very few people on the road. The small towns along the way seemed hit or miss for quaint and beachy versus run down. That evening we explored Mendocino a little bit and camped at Van Damme State Park. We didn’t do our research on camp rules along the coast and played it safe by staying at State Parks along the way.
The next day we continued the drive down the coast and made a quick detour to the Bay Area on our way to Santa Cruz. We drove past the boardwalk around sunset and ended the day at Discretion Brewing in Soquel, CA. The beers and food were great and Eric bookmarked the brewery/kitchen model they ran for future dreams. We spent the night at New Brighton State Park and had a minor snafu with a late payment ticket. We are currently in the process of arguing the miscommunication and waiting to pay the ticket. The next morning we drove through Monterey and stopped in Carmel for the biggest pretzel ever and a bag of salt water taffy. Eric may have had a total of 5 pieces and the rest was gone within 3 days… The drive through this part of highway 1 was spectacular. The cliffs were so towering and the small homes worth millions scattered along the way were bringing about a serious case of jealousy. I’m sure the owners would like to cut us a break and trade beach house for mobile house. We pulled into Morro Bay State Park that night and had time to spare before dark. It has been rare to have a little time for ourselves while always together and constantly driving. So an hour in the evening to do something apart from one another was a good refresher.
The next day was Friday and we woke up mentally prepared to suffer through everything from the smog, strip malls and excessive amount of people which make up the Los Angeles area. After having driven along some of the most beautiful scenery of California, Eric was able to maintain a great level of patience through the traffic and made it all the way to Poway, CA. We pulled into the Szymanski driveway by 5 pm and were greeted with the usual smells of dinner and endless wine and beer!