2. West Coast Birthday…1.2018

Day 4 1.16
I really hated to leave my wonderful room, but it was time to move on.  I had a lazy morning then walked across the highway to grab some coffee then take a walk along the nature trail down to the river.  It was a nice temperature this morning & it felt great to be out walking.  The trail wound down the hill & around some cabins next to the lazy Big Sur River.

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Once back at the room, I packed up, loaded up the car & head back down south about a mile to Pfeiffer State Park to hike a couple of trails.  However, once inside the park at the pay station, I was told most all the trails, including the two I had wanted to hike, were closed due to the mudslides last year.  So, I pulled out of that park & headed north, saying good bye to my wonderful Big Sur for this trip.  I really love the wild ruggedness of this part of California & feel so happy that I got to spend time here!

I love this drive!  I put my music on & just took it all in!  I had decided I wanted to stop at a place called Point Lobos Reserve.  It’s a really big park with no long trails, but lots & lots of small ones.  The day was beautiful, so I took the map & started hiking.  I ate at one of the picnic tables near one of the trails, then hiked a little more taking up most of the afternoon.


Part of one of the trails



Sea lions!


Abalone pieces were everywhere along this part of the trail.


These trails had some really pretty views!


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I drove into Santa Cruz & stopped at Mission BBQ & had lunch & a beer.  I thought maybe I’d spend more time there, but the quiet coast was calling me back….actually it was screaming at me to come back!  But it seems the minute I left Santa Cruz the fog rolled in & everything turned white.  I could still see to drive, just not very far ahead.  When a car was in front of me, I could see it’s lights; but when no cars were there, it got pretty eerie.  There would be spots when the fog would dissipate some, but for about an hour my drive was mostly fog.  I’d called the Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel before I left Santa Cruz to find out if they had an available bed for the night.  So, I was pretty happy when it came time for me to carefully cross the highway & pull into the hostel parking lot.  I’ve slept here before & it’s pretty beautiful, but tonight I could only hear the ocean…everything was covered in fog.  Also, the inside was pretty empty.  In my building, I had one other person in my dorm & one guy in a private room.  I grabbed the bottom bunk for sure.  No one was there when I brought my things in & made my bed.  So, I grabbed my book & tucked myself onto the couch for a couple of hours of reading.  Right before night fell, I took a walk outside & got a photo of the lighthouse.  The fog had lifted just in time for darkness to cover everything.   My roommate popped in after awhile & introduced herself. We both turned in early & I slept really well!

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Day 5 1.17
The next morning I packed up, made some tea & visited a little bit with my roommate.  She had a sad story to tell but hopefully her life is improving.  It’s always so heartbreaking to hear about lives that have been shattered; yet there are still so many more people with worse stories & daily challenges that seem unimaginable.  I packed up the car in the whitest soup yet…I even wondered if I shouldn’t be leaving this early to drive into San Francisco in this muck.  But, I decided to move ahead to go north.  I sadly passed Half Moon Bay, where I had intended to hike up the ridge to see Maverick’s giant winter waves, but the fog was thick, the only thing I’d have been seeing was looking down at the trail beneath my feet.  I kept moving north.   It was slow in places but thankfully cleared off once I hit the city & crossed the Golden Gate Bridge.

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I left Highway 1 & drove north on the 101 all the way up to Santa Rosa to one of my fave breweries…Russian River. They’d just opened, so I sat at the bar & ordered a pizza (lets call it brunch) & a Blind Pig.  The bar staff is always super friendly here & ask where you’re from.  There was a couple sitting next to me from Canada & the bartender overheard me tell them the Consecration beer was my favorite.  So, the next thing I knew, I had a sample sitting in front of me!  Another bartender was visiting with me & I asked him why RR didn’t make any big stouts.  He told me the story, then gave me a sample of their Imperial Porter!  I ate 1/2 my pizza & got the rest to go.  Bartender #1 came back & I ordered some bottles of beer to go to take to Pete, Leia & Luke.  And, he’d overheard me tell someone I was on a birthday trip, & gave me a whole bottle of Consecration! Woo Hoo! (That’s like a $15 beer!)

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I knew I could’t order a whole glass of Consecration or drink a Pliney (another fave) because my next stop was backtracking down to Petaluma to a super fun brewery that I love….Lagunitas!  

We can get their beer back at home, but I’m chasing a particular seasonal beer & was anxious to have one on tap.  I bought a couple of the Willetized Barrel Aged Imperial Stout 6 packs to take with me, then went to the bar & ordered one…YUMMY!!!!  The other nice thing that happened while I was at Lagunitas was texting back & forth with Jill.  It’s definitely not the first time on this trip…we’ve been in touch often, but she’s finally starting to feel better & I’m so glad she’s over the worst of this horrid flu.

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I left Lagunitas mid afternoon & started a slow drive back out to the coast.  I called another hostel to see if they had an open bed, which they did, so I was relieved to know where I’d be spending the night.  I made a stop in the little town of Point Reyes Station & walked in & out of a couple of shops, then around the town.  I have really good memories of coming here with some old high school friends a long time ago...it was trip magic & super special for one of them, & I loved just being part of her experience.  Also, .  Danny & I have been through here a couple of times.  I love Point Reyes National Seashore & have been here multiple times.  I decided to take some time to walk on the beach before it turned dark.  The skies were still pretty thick, so there wouldn’t be any great sunset tonight, but I enjoyed my time on this quiet misty beach.


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I drove the mile or so back to the hostel, with the fog & night getting thicker & a little mist in the air.  I got a bed for the night in this remote hostel with no wi-fi or cell service.  Right off the bat I met two girls, then a third…we were all roommates.  But, before & after dinner, we sat in the living room discussing all things travel.  The youngest was a beautiful girl from Switzerland that had just graduated from  vet school & on her first solo trip for three months before she begins her job back home.  A super smart 33 year old girl from Croatia with a big smile that had moved to San Francisco 5 years ago & was anxious to travel all over the US.   She was on a solo 3 day get away.  The third girl was 36 & from Minnesota & had been traveling solo for about 5 years.  It was a diverse group, but I really enjoyed our conversation.  There was a moment or several when I felt ancient; when I’d wished my age was going backwards instead of a warp speed towards ‘old’.  But, I blew those thoughts away, to listen to these bright & adventurous young women speak.  We all talked about one of the most stressful things about traveling cheap is where to spend the night.  I felt awful for the young Swiss girl that she had been propositioned three times in 15 minutes while she was in Vegas by men stopping their car, rolling down their window, & asking her “how much?”. She turned around & went back to her hostel.   It’s disgusting & something I don’t think men ever get how horrible & scary & vulnerable it makes women feel.  There is NO excuse for men to behave this way…NONE.  We talked about the differences in our countries, our language, healthcare, other cultural ideas & where we’ve been & where we want still want to go.  After about 4 hours of talking, we all decided to turn in.  I really love these times when I meet people I’d probably never encounter except for traveling.  I admired each one of them & hope there are many happy adventures in their future.

Day 6 1.18
I made some tea in the kitchen, read in the living room for awhile, then quietly packed up my stuff & loaded it in the car.  One of the girls was also up reading in the living room, the others were just waking up.  I said good bye & good travels to them all & pulled out of the park with foggy skies & a rain coming down.  I stopped back in the town at the wonderful bakery for coffee & a pastry & finally, with cell service, a call to Danny.  The whole day ended up being soupy & rainy.  There were places on my list to stop:  Bowling Ball beach—which I hit a high tide instead of low tide; Stornetta Public Lands— looked like a beautiful place to hike but it was pouring down rain; but the worst was a several mile stretch of ‘Rock Slide Area’ with one side a wall of rocks, the other side a drop off into the ocean & all around me white thick fog….it was an adventure that I hope not to have too often.  But, there was still beauty all around me on this narrow, twisty, hilly, very slow drive.  There is a lot of pasture land on these small mountains & sheep, cattle & horses have these amazing views.  It all looks like a painting.  The waves today are HUGE!  I stopped several times along pullouts to just watch these violent waters. I don’t know if it’s just that it’s winter, but they are ferocious!  

I drove most of the day, ending up around 2pm in Mendocino.  I’ve been to this quaint little town before.  I stopped into the historic Mendocino hotel & scored a tiny room with a ocean view & a sink for $57.  There are 4 shared bathrooms on the floor.  The lady at the desk warned me there was no TV in my room….that made it more perfect!  

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It was just misty so I grabbed my camera & headed out to the point for a walk.  Mezmorizing wavesI could just watch them for hours!




I then walked in & out of several little shops & art stores.  The skies grew more gray, but even the shop keepers who make their homes here, were staring out at the waves & amazed at their size & power.  I had fun looking but the only things I bought were Claire’s postcards.  Then I went back to the hotel for an early dinner.  I sat in the bar area but at a small table with a wonderful view of the water.

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I finished my beer & crab cake as the place started to get busy.  I think there’s an active local crowd that hangs out together each week here…they were laughing up a storm & having a great time.  I moved over to the quieter area in front of the fire place for about an hour.

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Now, I’m tucked into my perfect little room; uploading photos, working on Tripscribbles & talking to Danny.  I’m really excited to head towards Blue Lake tomorrow to see Pete, Luke & Leia!  But, until then, I’m looking forward to a good nights sleep with the sound of the wild ocean in my dreams.

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