Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: western New York State
while you were working (or whatever) part 7
January 5th to Jan 15th, 2012 8150 to 8767 trip miles
remember: <wow> = fill in your own superlative, we’ve run out : )
We returned to the coast from the Napa Valley area via CA 53 north and CA 20 west. The last section (from 101) to the coast was steep, winding, and nice: redwoods again. We stopped for some great burgers at Jenny's Giant Burgers in Fort Bragg. Then down the rugged coast, through Mendocino and stopped for the night at the KOA in Manchester CA; nice campground but no cable or Wi-Fi, and well away from any Verizon coverage, so we had no TV, cell phone, or internet (we get our internet through Verizon). In fact, a lot of stretch of coast lacked decent Verizon coverage.
We continued south on wonderful <wow> Route 1 and stopped at the Point Arena Lighthouse. At one point further down the rugged coast we were on a cliff, 600 feet above the ocean! We stopped at Fort Ross State Park, and then stayed at Bodega Dunes State Park
Then on down Route 1; it followed the coast for awhile more, and then went a bit inland for quite a long distance. We took a rough side road out to Point Reyes which has a lighthouse, this one very low at the bottom of a cliff, so that the light could shine out UNDER the fog that the coast often has! Also saw some migrating whales way out in the distance. Point Reyes also has a platform overlooking a beach full of elephant seals, and there were a number of newborn calves at about 300 pounds each. Back to Route 1 and down through Marin County (just above San Francisco), eventually getting back to the coast. It is a beautiful, rugged area, and apparently it is quite affluent, as it seemed that every other car was an Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, BMW, Lexus, Infinity, or Acura, with the occasional Range Rover or Jaguar thrown in; black the favorite color. Whew. We planned on stopping at Muir Woods, a dozen or so miles above San Francisco, but it was getting close to sundown, so we postponed that. We crossed the beautiful <wow> Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco just at sunset. The design is the best blend of form and function, art and engineering. We saw this bridge many times, from many angles during our stay here, and it is arguably the most beautiful in the world.
“I left my heart in San Francisco”, or at least a lot of our money. But it was worth it. We stayed at the Candlestick RV Park across the street from the Candlestick Park football (and previously, baseball) stadium for a whopping nine nights. It’s just a glorified parking lot with RV hookups, with showers and laundry, but no cable service; we got 4 nights for the cost of 3, and there is a 10% cash discount. They have shuttle service to downtown, but we chose to drive. Mostly we parked in the “Fisherman’s Wharf Parking” lot on the corner of Beach and Jones (two blocks from the wharf, and less expensive than those right on the pier); many good deals here especially if you get in before 9:30-10:00 (varies with season) on weekdays, or get there late afternoon on weekdays (can’t remember the time). They also have overnight parking for $30 (apparently including the day before and after that night), but we didn’t do that. The most we paid was $21, and the least $7.50. (On the street, we once paid the parking meter $3.00 for an hour.) We used the “Muni” public transportation from there when we didn’t want to drive. They sell 1, 3, 5, and 7 day passes for pretty reasonable prices (e.g. $21 for a 3 day pass), and they can be used on all the different modes of public transport as many times as you like. Get the pass early in the day if possible, as they go by the day of the month, not per 24 hour period.
We were next to the 49er’s home turf, but they had weekend off when we first arrived. Instead we watched the NY Giants beat the Atlanta Falcons on TV. Although we live much, much closer to Buffalo than New York City, Marti is a big NY Giants fan because she and her siblings went to high school with the head coach Tom Coughlin and his siblings. Need you ask? Glen is a Bears fan : )
During our stay in San Francisco we had many fun cable car rides, ate lots of clam chowder (the “real” kind: New England, not Manhattan) and other seafood, visited the California Academy of Sciences (get a free IMAX movie ticket right away, they go fast; they have a great aquarium and even better real rain forest in a huge glass sphere that you can walk up in), the Walt Disney family museum (mostly about his animated films like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), Alcatraz Island Prison (they didn’t recognize me, and let me back out; take the free “audio tour” when you go there), the Hyde Street Pier historic ships (including some “oddballs” like the 1886 steel ship Balclutha with only sail power and the 1890 wooden ferry Eureka with a steam engine which was used before the Golden Gate Bridge was built; Route 101 was the ferry), The Aquarium of the Bay, the Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill, the Cable Car Museum, Fort Point, Land’s End, Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf (many times), Golden Gate Park, The Presidio (another park, this one actually at the Golden Gate Bridge), and the free Rodney Lough Jr. photo gallery (<wow>; across the street from Pier 39). We watched the seals at Pier #39 (San Francisco’s answer to fog and budget deficits?), the street performers, the low rider cars, etc. We lunched at Alioto’s on Fisherman’s Wharf (dinner there is real expensive), had a Chinese dinner in Chinatown, burgers at Mel’s Diner (pseudo “American Graffiti”, but no roller skates), and seafood at Bubba Gump’s. Did I mention chowder? The best was a the curbside stand at Sabella & La Torre’s, #3 Fisherman’s Wharf. We drove the entire length of Lombard Street at one time or another (yeah, including the block known as the crookedest street, where we weren’t supposed to in such a large rig). And we tackled the even steeper Filbert Street a couple of blocks away (31.5% grade down or 17.5 degrees) and Jones (29% grade up or 16 degrees), and in fact many, many steep streets; the Roadtrek handled them all in stride (both up and down), albeit slowly (hey it weighs 9500 pounds, is a tad over 21 feet long, and has a puny little 4.8 liter engine; at least it has big 4-wheel disc brakes). Favorite bumper sticker: "If you can't operate your turn signals, what makes you think you can operate the rest of the car?"
We went up north across the Golden Gate Bridge a couple of times to Marin County, where we visited the Marine Mammal Center (fortunately/unfortunately this is a slow time of year, so there were no seals, dolphins, sea lions, etc. to see; they rescue/help hundreds each year [as well as the occasional lost or stranded whale], and return them to the ocean or bay as soon as they are healthy again), the Marin Highlands, the Point Bonita Lighthouse, Sausalito, Fort Barry, Fort Baker, and the Muir Woods, where we had a nice 3 mile hike through the redwoods. I also took the opportunity to get the cobwebs off my bike (and legs?) and biked back and forth across the GG Bridge with Glen; neat.
Did I mention cable cars? Oh, they are so sadly antiquated, so disruptive of traffic, so inefficient, so dangerous (with people hanging off the sides), and so very, very neat! As a “nuts and bolts” mechanical engineer, I can really appreciate the engineering of these more than 130 year old purely mechanical devices, right down to the clamp the grip man has to use to grip the moving cable to get it going (at all of 9-1/2 mph), and the “2 x 4” pine brakes that he has to lower to the rails to get it to stop. Actually there are some cast iron brake shoes that rub on the wheels too, and maybe the grip man does those and the brakeman/conductor in the back does the pine ones? Oh okay, nowadays the “engine” in the powerhouse (BTW the Cable Car Museum is at the powerhouse) is electric rather than steam, and the cars do carry batteries to run the single, dim headlight at each end, but these babies are purely mechanical: no motors, no hydraulics, no pneumatics, no power assists, and certainly no electronics. Before the turn of the century (no, not this one, the one before), there were 75 miles of cable car lines in SF (much of it destroyed but rebuilt after the 1906 earthquake and fire); now there are only 4-3/4 miles. But the good news is that after incredible fights in 1947, 1954, and the 1980’s to eliminate them, they are here to stay, and it is now written so in the city charter. I can’t think of anything more modern than that. <wow> <wow> <wow> etc.
We “fled” the RV park (i.e., went sightseeing elsewhere) when the 49er’s played and beat the New Orleans Saints Saturday. It was a zoo at the park early in the morning, and they were charging folks $50 per car to park there, almost as much as we paid for an rv spot. We came back hours after the game, after the traffic (but not the debris) was gone. The next day we watched the Giants again, this time beating the Green Bay Packers. Ironically, we’re leaving, and the Giants will be here to play the 49er’s next week; we’ll be watching it for sure on TV. Couldn’t afford the tickets anyway. Meanwhile, our streak of good weather ended too. After a couple of weeks of dry, warm days (50’s-60’s) and mild nights (40’s), the temperature has dropped and the wind really picked up for awhile. Rain is expected along the coast by mid-week. I’m sure that there are many, many more things to do in the city and the area, and perhaps we’ll come back again and do some of those another time. We’re leaving now, to follow the coast southward ...
Dick, Marti, & Glen RT09/10C190P “no more deadlines” Allegany NY (currently on the move again)