1 Mar

With rain threatened for the weekend again, it looked like a good time to move on. We had had three glorious days at Anchor Bay, passed the time of day with locals and campers and made friends with the campground managers, Linda and Mark. We spent a lovely evening with them on Friday, Mark cooked for us and they had a wealth of knowledge to pass on to us. Having been ‘around’ the US quite a lot, both working and RV’ing they could direct us to worthwhile areas to visit. They were able to persuade us that heading North already was too early, a thought which had crossed our minds too, and that we should go South, as far as Santa Barbara, still on Highway One. Linda and I poured over the map so she could find all the good campgrounds they had visited, while the men talked cars and engines, and the best route through San Francisco, as I said we had a lovely evening!

So Saturday morning, we had a last wander on the beach, the tide was in preventing us from going too far, the sun was shining and it would have been easy to ignore the forecast and stayed a while longer to enjoy. We said our goodbye’s and got on the road. We had decided to go to Casper Bay, slightly North for Saturday evening, then cut back on ourselves turning east on the 128 towards Cloverdale, then on to the 101 and south, we had information for a campground at Dutcher Creek just off the 101. This would be a good overnight stop before we took the 101 to San Francisco, there being no campgrounds worth stopping in until the other side of the city we wanted to do that stretch all in one day.

The journey to Casper Bay was again very scenic, the clouds were gathering however, and after a slight detour trying to find the campground we arrived. Again we were almost on the beach and we quickly set up and went off to explore before the rain came. The beach was OK, very sandy and lots of driftwood, there was a large freshwater outfall on either side of the beach and both had obviously been very full with last week ends storm water, cutting deep into the sand. Somehow it lacked the character we perceived at Anchor Bay. Saturday night the rain kept us awake quite a lot and the wind was very gusty too. The campground was in a deep ravine, quite a typical feature in this area with either just a beach, or, if they go back a good way, maybe a few houses. The wind was blowing up from the sea and probably hitting the back and swirling around, buffeting us in the process.

The drive Sunday was very wet, and water was pouring down every incline, the fields and vineyards were flooded in numerous places. We stopped for lunch overlooking a vineyard, near Philo in the Anderson Valley, which would have been very pretty if the sun had of been shining! Arriving at Dutcher Creek around 2.30pm it was very quiet, fortunately the campground was on top of a hill so we knew the rain which was still pouring down wouldn’t give us any trouble beyond a restless night. As it was also misty there was not much to see from the Vista point alongside our pitch and conditions were much the same when we left on Monday morning! Whilst we were further west than Calistoga we were also slightly farther North and it seemed like the weather hadn’t changed so much since we were last in that sort of area. We were pleased we were moving on but made a mental note that we should take another look on the way back and hope for sunshine.

I wouldn’t want to suggest we were eager to get away but we were on the road Monday morning by just after 9am. We topped up the “Gas” in Santa Rosa just before 10am and the rain was still pouring down. It was also a little windy on the 101 and we were wondering what conditions would be like on the Golden Gate Bridge. When we visited San Francisco a couple of years ago, it was October and we had a lovely walk across the bridge in glorious sunshine, today it was as is usually documented, shrouded with mist, but still quite spectacular. The wind may have been coming from a favourable direction as it didn’t buffet us at all. Coming off the bridge we followed the route Mark and Robert had discussed and kept on the 101 towards Pacifica, this passes through the Golden Gate Park and to the West of the City itself, it was still quite busy and the narrow lanes a little unnerving. Somehow narrow, twisty roads with no traffic are easier than wider multi lane roads with more traffic! BUT we survived!

Pacifica is a lovely little seaside town just south of the City and thankfully the rain was now very fine. We parked overlooking the sea (I must start calling it the Ocean, it is polite to speak the local language is it not?) and ate lunch watching surfers trying to stay on their boards. We had spotted an Information point and took a walk back to see if they could provide us with anything useful. About 3/4 hr later we emerged with a fistful of maps, postcards glossies etc. and a head full of information, the best info point so far in California and a must to visit if you are around this neck of the woods, just to chat to (?) the very knowledgeable lady who works there.

Armed with our detailed maps we drove down the coast and were heading for the County Memorial Park for the night, however not far off the main road we found the route to the site flooded and impassable. Robert (in his wisdom, not listening to the navigator, who is always right) decided it was possible to cut around by turning right. Admittedly he did ask a ‘local’ who decided we were asking for gas, how he managed to turn Memorial Park into gas, even if he was Mexican, I really don’t know. A narrow road, again, with steep incline, again, took us back to the main road, and thankfully no traffic coming towards us, again!

Just along the main road we spotted a KOA Campground, and as we had no alternative for 50miles or so pulled in, it was 3.40pm and had been a long day driving, we were both tired. We had wondered what the KOA campgrounds were like as all that we had read seemed to indicate they should be good and they were certainly expensive. We chose a $45 plot and had approx 4 neighbours, there could have been 40 or more, others probably think it pricey too. The facilities were very clean and tidy though and certainly I was happier to pay $45 for that than $35 on a pitch which was uneven and in very close proximity to neighbours. (They might complain we snore). Best of all the sun was shining and we had tea watching it set over the Ocean just across the dunes.

We awoke on Tuesday to blue sky and sunshine, had breakfast and headed for the beach! Robert wanted me to wear my waterproof (furry) boots as it might be a bit wet after the rain, me being me, wanted to wear trainers, we were going to the beach. Guess who was right (Hmm!) not me. We found a track to the road, crossed and headed for the path through the dunes, well marked and signposted. Dunes = sand… these dunes also = ponds in the dips and after the rain, rivulets in the path. Therefore Dunes = sand = water = wet feet !!!!

When we got there, the beach was spectacular, we could see Pigeon Point lighthouse three miles north and Point Ano Nuevo to the south, but not one person on the whole of this beach, with the tide going out we walked along the tide line and enjoyed the views. Robert spotted a bench ‘lookout’ on a rocky outcrop and we took the boardwalk up to it to sit for a while, watch the cormorants and

seagulls sunning themselves on the rocks below while the waves crashed in and created vast areas of foamy water below us.

Back at the campground we were able to sit on our picnic bench for lunch and enjoy the flowers planted between the pitches, a humming bird came close but not close enough to photograph, and we spotted butterflies too. We set off from Pescadero around 12.30 and again travelling south on Highway one arrived in Santa Cruz around 40minutes later. Our lovely quiet coastal route here becomes a major town highway, and mad with it. Not too far along the route however is New Brighton State Beach Park, and one of the campgrounds Linda had spoken of, we pulled in and paid our $35 dollars for pitch 53.

We backed into our spot between the tall pine trees and set up, had a quick lunch and did our usual, headed for the beach. This time we are just far enough back from the top of the cliff and a short path/steps led us once again to a long flat sandy beach. This one we did not have to ourselves however it was still not what you would think of as busy. There are some lovely beach houses, just above the tide line, probably worth several million$ but so venerable to the crashing waves which constantly seem to roll in on these beaches, plus the crumbling cliffs above. It was great to get out for a walk, and we had a good appetite for tea.

Wednesday started clear and blue, another nice day, we decided we would stay at New Brighton another night, paid our dues and walked into Capitola, a small seaside town about a mile and ½ away. We asked the ranger the best way to get there, he said to walk on the railroad line. Have you seen US trains – I have and heard them… he assured us it was quite legal, and there were only 2 trains per day, which travelled quite slowly. Never the less it felt very wrong walking on the train track.

Capitola turned out to be very quaint; it had an almost Venetian feel in parts, especially the multicoloured holiday apartments near the bridge. We pottered around the small shops, and down along the boardwalk to the fishing wharf where an elderly gentleman was very excited to have caught a ‘big’ flounder, and was getting his picture taken before they popped the fish into a ‘catch of the day’ holding tank. We came back along the cliff top, around 5 miles in all, our best walk in three weeks and we were very ready for lunch and a rest.

It is now Sunday and this is the first opportunity I have had to upload this as we have had no internet. Apologies for the length but hope you enjoyed! More to follow. Will update pics ASAP!!

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