Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fort Bragg, California

August 24 - 27, 2013:

It was an easy scenic drive north to the town of Willits, then it got interesting on Rt. 20 west.  This road was very windy, up and down through Jackson Demonstration State Forest, single lanes in each direction with frequent pull overs to let cars pass for 30 miles.  We ended up on route 1 north, then about a mile to Ft. Bragg.  I keep thinking of the Ft. Bragg, NC military post, this isn't it.  We found our way into the Noyo Harbor where Sportsman's RV Park is located which is an actual old fishing village, very scenic.  We checked in and then the fun started, trying to shoehorn the monster into a spot sized more for a 24 foot trailer with no slides.  We did manage with considerable help from other campers, but could not back in fully and still open slides.  It is a really cool site though right on the harbor, lots of dining within walking distance and a waterfront patio area.  Lots and lots to do and see here, we will not be bored !

A Sunday morning breakfast at a small cafe next door to the RV Park, always a very good way to start a day.  We then went a few miles north on route 1 to MacKerricher State Park.  It has miles of nice hiking trails along the Ocean front, Headlands as they call them here, with lots of rocks, tidal pools, wild flowers and wildlife.  We managed to work off some of our breakfast there.  We then stopped at downtown Fort Bragg to walk around, it is the largest town on the Mendocino coast and has many good shops, a brewery, museums, restaurants, bars and about anything else that is needed.  This weekend is the annual Paul Bunyan Festival, the lumber industry was huge here in the early days and it is a big part of the local history.  The other big industry was fishing, with the fishermen centered in the Noyo Harbor area where our campground is located. 

Sportsmans RV Park

MacKerricher State Park

MacKerricher State Park

MacKerricher State Park

Skunk Train mural in Ft. Briggs

Twinkles at the Tattoo studio in Ft Briggs

It's a 10 mile ride to the beautiful, quaint town of Mendocino and if in this area you must do it.  It's history starts as usual with the indians, the Pomo indian tribe in this case.  The early white settlers came here and started the timber industry, cutting down every Redwood tree in sight, until they were mostly used up. After the decline of the lumber industry, Mendocino became a destination for artists who opened up studios and galleries and the tourism industry started.  The whole town is now a registered National historic site and fairly upscale, no ghetto area here ! Lots of interesting artist galleries, cafes and other assorted stores.  The real attraction however is the coastal headlands and the ocean views.  We walked a great trail along the coastline that led down to a sandy beach that was beautiful.  We then toured the downtown and had a nice lunch.  We the drove a few miles north to the Cabrillo Light Station which is a restored Lighthouse that was built in 1906.  It was a easy 1/2 mile walk to the Lighthouse with more incredible views of the rocky coast.

Mendocino Headlands

Mendocino Headlands with Mendocino in background

Mendocino Headlands view

Mendocino with the fog is coming in

Downtown Mendocino

Interesting building top in Mendocino

Point Cabrillo Light Station

Point Cabrillo Light Station

Another day, another hike, we are getting back in shape a little.  This time we went to the Jughandle State Reserve very close to Ft Bragg for a 6 mile nature trail.  This trail takes you up what they call an ecological staircase consisting of 5 terraces, each 100,000 years older that the preceding one, created by the land being uplifted as the continental plates collide. Each terrace has a different soil composition and differing plant communities.  There is also a very nice white sand beach there surrounded by rocks and cliffs, very beautiful.

View at Jug Handle State Reserve

Lots of wild flowers at Jug Handle

a colorful Banana Slug

Forest at Jug Handle 

Beach at Jug Handle 

Beach at Jug Handle

Wild flower at Jug Handle

The ecological staircase at Jug Handle

We also checked out the Ft. Bragg beach known as the "Glass Beach".  The glass comes from the fact that years ago they dumped the trash, including glass bottles into the sea.  The glass beaks up into small pieces and gets ground smooth by the sand and surf.  We were really surprised how scenic this beach was, it could be another State Park. 

Sportsmans RV Park is right on the old Noyo fishing harbor and has about as "old salt" a flavor as you will find anywhere.  They have a rustic dockside patio area where you can sit and watch the fishing boats come back to port silhouetted by the sunset.  The sea birds are flying, there is an occasional Seal, a pet Sea Lion, fish are jumping, a great place to be at sunset.  This harbor area is little changed from 100 years ago except for the modern cars and trucks.

The Fred Holmes at Noyo Harbor

Old boat at the RV Park

Twinkles poses in front of our new RV, Boat and BBQ 

View into the harbor from our deck

Ships coming back into the harbor

Lots more to explore here, stay tuned.

Twinkles and Slick    

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sausalito, the Golden Gate and fast cars

August 22-24, 2013:

We drove over to Sausalito on Wednesday and toured the town.  We first walked through the marina area gawking at the large and expensive yacht's.  It is a beautiful town on the Bay just north of the Golden Gate Bridge that is definitely a bit upscale from our life style.  There are many artists, art galleries, fine stores and fine dinning.  We then drove out of town to look for a hiking trail that was supposed to go along the coast to the Golden Gate Bridge.  It took us a couple of passes to find it, but we eventually did and it was worth the search.  We picked up the Bay Trail along a road leading to the old WWII Military Battery.  The trail went downhill to the bay, then climbed up and under the Golden Gate Bridge and then up to a tourist viewpoint adjacent to Route 101 North.  There were hordes of travelers there all taking photos getting in each others way.  The high point was a group of college guys on top of a RV posing for a photo with the Bridge in the background, when one of the guys mooned.  That was a sight !  And I missed the shot !  You can walk up onto the Bridge pedestrian walkway from this area, which we did and then walked across the Bridge and back.  Walking and biking across the Bridge is a tourist favorite, very scenic. You do have to watch out for the bikes though, it's easy to get run over.  The bike rental company (Blazing Saddles) has a thriving business, we have seen hundreds of these rental bikes all over Sausalito, the Bay Trail, the Bridge and in San Francisco. 

Sausalito Marina view

Elephant light in Sausalito

Sausalito water fountain

Golden Gate bridge from the Bay Trail

Sailor monument at Golden Gate Bridge overlook

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

Trucks zoom by pretty close

Lots of rules on the bridge

Container ship in the Bay

A final trip to San Francisco on Thursday by Ferry from Vallejo, then a walk up Market Street to the Civic Center area and then a bus to the Golden Gate Park.   It was the usual weather, clouds/fog/cool in the early morning followed by sun and low 70's temperature.  We roamed around the Botanical Garden first which has an incredible variety of plants, trees and flowers.  We then went to the Flower conservancy where there was a huge impressive Dahlia flower garden.  It was then a bus ride back to Market Street and a walk back to the Ferry Building.  We are starting to understand how to get around this transit system now, it's time to leave ! 

Ferry Building farmers market

Along Market Street

Hotel entrance on Market Street

Fern at Botanical Garden

Another Fern 

Flower Conservancy

Conservancy Gardens

Dahlia flower garden

Dahlia up close

Conservancy building

Hearst Building

Friday Twinkles set me free for the day, we do not do housekeeping functions well together ?  It way past time to wash the truck, that's my job, which is impossible to keep clean, it's like a dirt magnet.  

I went to old downtown Vallejo and was pleasantly surprised, it's not so bad as I thought.  They have a beautifully restored old theater and an old Masonic Lodge building that is being rented out as artistic lofts.  The old downtown is being turned into a arts district.  There is also an uptown area on a hill with beautiful old victorian homes overlooking the Bay.

Red Men's Hall in Vallejo, the Red Men's Hall is an old 
Fraternal organization similar to the Masons established in revolutionary days

Red Man on building exterior

Vallejo museum entrance

Navy shipyard  on Mare Island across from Vallejo Ferry is now closed.   Around
500 navy ships were built there including the first nuclear submarine

I then ride out to Infineon Raceway which is having a Indy car race this Sunday.  This is a huge complex with a road race course and a drag strip.  All the big Indy car teams are on hand, as this is a championship series race.  Friday was just a practice session for Sunday's race, I watched some of that and also went into the garage area to get a closer view of the cars.  Lots and lots of exotic race cars everywhere !  The Indy cars are sifting gears on the road course which really adds to the sound quality. I am not really into these cars that much and with the road course you can only see a small area of the race.  I don't think I would want to battle the crowds on Sunday to see it, even if I was still here ? 

Indy car garage area

That's a big rig !

Indy car on way to the track for practice run

Indy car on way to the track for practice run

Cars on the track

Next tour stop is Ft. Bragg, California on the northern Mendocino coast on August 24th. 

Happy Trails, 
Twinkles and Slick