June was a month of firsts on the USA-C2C trip. We sighted our first starfish and first mountain lion on the same day – June 9 at the Fort Ross State Park. We saw our first whale (we think) from the Point Reyes Lighthouse on June 20. And Michael ate his very first s’more at the Butano State Park on June 3. June was a stellar month. Here are more highs and lows (mostly highs) from our second C2C June.
Miles Traveled (in Altima)
99999 and 100001, both logged in Mill Valley, Calif. Winding roads and an uncooperative camera made documentation of these milestones tricky, but we did it!
Best Weather Day
June 26. High winds and low fog are de rigueur on the outer Channel Islands. But the fog that lingered all morning suddenly lifted to show glorious sun as our boat pulled into Santa Rosa’s harbor. We felt hardly a breeze as we unloaded our backpacks and hiked to the camp that would be our home for the next four days. Good omen? We thought so.
Best Opportunity to Test Michael’s “Jacket of the Year” (Worst Weather Day)
Those same elements were no so kind to us at Fort Ross State Park in Manchester, Calif. Sure, the campsites with a view of the Pacific are pretty, but make sure your tent is staked down and your rain cover on at any northern California coastal campsite.
Most Talked About Natural Phenomenon
Tsunami! Four earthquakes shook California this month. Not exactly what you want to hear when your next campsite lies directly on the San Andreas Fault.
Most Beautiful View
Gosh, where do we start? Almost any mile marker along the Pacific Coast Highway, the city of San Francisco from the Marin Headlands, the Pacific Ocean on all sides of Santa Rosa Island, the Golden Gate Bridge from any angle….One camera wasn’t enough for the month of June.
Ugliest Park Site Surroundings
John Muir NHS, Martinez, Calif. The remaining 8.5 acres of what was the home and orchard of our nation’s foremost conservationist now sits in the shadow of a busy Freeway.
The only bad campground in California is one that is already full.
* Bicentennial campground, Marin Headlands, Golden Gate NRA. Three two-person sites tucked in a clearing with the Golden Gate Bridge framing the City of San Francisco across the Bay. Sites are first come, first served and listen to this: THEY ARE FREE!
* Campground on Santa Rosa Island, Channel Islands NP. Tucked in a small canyon 1 ½ miles from Bechers Bay. Each of the 15 sites is sheltered from the wind by a very nice wooden lean to, complete with hooks for hanging wet gear and a big storage box. We shared the island with one other camping couple. Does a private beach and solitary trails sound good to you? Santa Rosa might be a nice mid-week destination. FYI – NPS is in the process of building modern bathroom facilities for the camp.
Best NPS Ranger
Ranger Christine doing double duty at the Eugene O’Neill NHS and Port Chicago N MEM and driving the shuttle. These are two very different Sites located in the East Bay area. Christine was knowledgeable and engaging as a tour guide for both. And she pulled out NPS Passport Stamps for two places that don’t even have visitor centers. Score!
Liveliest City Center (Towns)
San Luis Obispo, Calif. “How did you find out about this place?” That’s what a fellow guest asked Gab as she was checking us into the Travelodge. “Um, we didn’t. We are tired and need a place to stop for the night.” Seems we chose wisely. We walked downtown and right into a crowd of people enjoying live music in the plaza of the San Luis Obispo Mission. There was a beer garden, people of all ages dancing and laughing and hundreds of kids and blankets underfoot. This is the liveliest mission we’ve ever seen.
We saved the best ‘til last. June 30, 417 traffic infested miles from Oxnard to Sacramento up Interstate 5. July 4th traffic started early this year.
Is the Hilton in Santa Rosa really haunted? We met two former Hilton employees at the Russian River Brewing Co. who swore it was. But they also admitted to being perpetrators of pranks that perpetuated the rumor. Is there any truth to the tales?
June 3. What’s that smell? And that sound! It’s hundreds of elephant seals molting at Año Nuevo State Preserve, Calif. The pungent aroma hits your nose as you cross over the sand dunes. Grunts and barks soon turn into a din. Round the corner and all of a sudden you are nearly snout to snout with these big guys sunning themselves on the sand. What a sight. A California State Park Naturalist is posted at each beach to answer your questions, introduce you to their guests and make sure you don’t get too close.
We took a 2-day trip to Santa Cruz with the steamy beach nights, Lost Boys on our minds. All day in our hotel room listening to the screams of roller coaster riders, built the anticipation of the Boardwalk with each shriek. Only to find that the Santa Cruz Boardwalk was already boarding up for the night by the time we got there….at 6 p.m.! What?!? What ever happened to “gonna have a good time tonight; rock-n-roll music gonna play all night?”
Most Pleasant Surprise
Fort Funston is a dog lover’s paradise. We had no idea that this section of the Golden Gate NRA just south of San Francisco was where hundreds upon hundreds of dogs flock for their afternoon walks. We felt empty-handed without a leash and a puppy but enjoyed the camaraderie of dozens of poodles and their owners. What a nice day.
Most Unpleasant Surprise
Our beloved Panasonic Lumix digital camera’s decision, after 6 months of 200+ photos a day, to stop working. She was a good camera; she will be missed.
Most Anticipated Boat Ride
Ventura to Santa Rosa, the island not the city. One of the Channel Islands, part of the Channel Islands NP. Unlike most of our camping adventures on the trip, this one actually took some planning. We had 30 days to wait in between making the reservation and getting on the boat.
The “Fancy Meeting You Here” Award
A.J. Ferrari, Santa Rosa, Calif. Gab’s pal from high school, Michael’s buddy from his years in San Francisco – A.J. had no idea that we knew each other, let alone were married and on our way to his doorstep. We let him recover from his initial shock and then spent a fantastic weekend in Sonoma County with our very gracious host.
Most Gluttonous Day
June 16th. We blame A.J. A visit to Willi’s Seafood and Raw Bar in Healdsburg, Calif. wasn’t over until at least 10 plates of tapas were devoured. Wine was drunk. Oysters were shucked. It was all so rich and indulgent, Michael worried about getting the gout, in between mouthfuls, of course.
Most Scenic Drive (Highways)
Route 1. Up and down the Pacific Coast Highway. So this is where all of those car commercials are filmed. And for good reason. Winding turns, up and down hills, downshifting like you know how, and the whole time the Pacific coast beckons alongside. Here’s how our week along the northern coast of California: Wake up. Pack up camp. Drive to next small town. Get fresh roasted coffee and organic baked goods. Drive some more. Stop for photos. Drive. Stop for photos. Drive. Get out of car. Stretch. Take more photos. Drive to next small town. Have lunch. Switch drivers (Michael can’t have all the fun). Find next campsite. Stop. Next day, repeat.
Best Day Hike
Along the Golden Gate Promenade, Golden Gate NRA, San Francisco, Calif.
Highest Price for Gas
$2.37 on June 10 at the Circle K, Fort Bragg, Calif.
Lowest Price for Gas
$2.23 on June 17 at the Valero, Vallejo, Calif.
Most Out of the Way Site
Santa Rosa Island, Channel Islands NP. Access is via seaplane or a 3 ½-hour boat ride from the Ventura Harbor, Calif. Once you’re there; you’re there. Boat trips are infrequent until July and August. Even then, they do not run every day.
Pizza My Heart, Santa Cruz, Calif. Big slices, open late, saucy female behind the counter who never stopped singing to “Do Wa Diddy” the entire time she took our order. When we got back to the hotel, we found that she blessed us with an EXTRA SLICE!
Frankie’s Bohemian Café, San Francisco, Calif. Of course, burgers always taste divine after a few days camping but it helps when those burgers are ½ lb. and topped with garlic pesto and feta cheese (for Michael) or cheddar cheese and alongside garlic fries (for Gab).
Best Smelling Factory
Ghirardelli Square in Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco, Calif. So its morphed into a full scale shopping and dining center. There are still scents of chocolate and cocoa circling the buildings from the chocolate-making equipment making chocolate. Kind of reminded us of home.
(Almost) Celebrity Sightings
June 9. We arrived at the Fort Ross State Historical Park, site of the southernmost Russian settlement in North America just as a film crew was cleaning up from a day of filming. “The Legend of Mary Worth” is a horror flick set in New England and allegedly has some “big names” in it. It has absolutely nothing to do with Fort Ross or Russian settlers, much to the chagrin of both Michael and the Fort Ross curator.
San Francisco, CA • Pacifica, CA • Santa Cruz, CA • Pescadero, CA • Mill Valley, CA • Stinson Beach, CA • Point Reyes Station, CA • Inverness, CA • Bodega Bay, CA • Plantation, CA • Manchester, CA • Albion, CA • Mendocino, CA • Fort Bragg, CA • Navarro, CA • Boonville, CA • Ukiah, CA • Hopland, CA • Rohnert Park, CA • Santa Rosa, CA • Healdsburg, CA • Sonoma, CA • Vallejo, CA • Danville, CA • Pleasant Hill, CA • Concord, CA • Pleasanton, CA • Martinez, CA • Richmond, CA • Berkeley, CA • Oakland, CA • San Rafael, CA • San Anselmo, CA • Inverness, CA • San Francisco, CA • Menlo Park, CA • Palo Alto, CA • Gilroy, CA • Salinas, CA • Big Sur, CA • San Luis Obispo, CA • Santa Barbara, CA • Ventura, CA • Oxnard, CA • Port Hueneme, CA • Santa Rosa Island, CA • Sacramento, CA •
San Francisco Maritime NHP • Golden Gate NRA • Butano SP • Año Nuevo SR • Muir Woods NHS • Fort Ross SHP • Manchester SP • Mendocino Headlands SP • Navarro River Redwoods SP • Hendy Woods SP • Eugene O’Neill NHS • Port Chicago Naval Magazine N MEM • Rosie the Riveter NHP • Fort Point NHS • Mount Tamalpais SP • Point Reyes NS • Channel Islands NP
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