Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Mendocino County Fair RV Park, Boonville, CA



It was only 62 miles from Santa Rosa to our next destination, Mendocino County Fair RV Park in Boonville, CA. We headed north on the very scenic 101, passing vineyards and huge wineries in simply idyllic locations. The last 25 miles we drove along Hwy 128 (Anderson Valley Rd), which was quite a road for the first eight miles or so. Twisty, curvy, 10 mph hairpin turns. It was a long eight miles.

Options for camping are limited in this area, but luckily another fairground came to the rescue. Full hookups for $30/night. When we pulled in there was only one other RV besides the camp hosts, a classic old 1984 Lazy Daze. Had a nice long chat with the owners, Jay and Aileen from Los Angeles, who purchased it just a couple months ago. This is only their second time out in it and so far it’s working well for them. Welcome to the cult!

Anderson Valley is home to apple groves, wineries, and sheep farms. Our nearest non-RV neighbors are just a short walk away.


These guys would come running up to the fence when anyone approached. So cute!



We took a walk about a mile down the road to tour the Anderson Valley Brewing Company, the first time we’ve ever stayed within walking distance of a brewery. Some of the beers we tasted were pretty good, but not the best we’ve ever had.

Mendocino Fair Grounds, Boonville, CA

Yesterday we went for a hike at nearby Hendy Woods State Park. The park has two groves of native redwood trees, with the Navarro River running through it. We ate our lunch in the picnic area before we got started, joined by bold Steller’s jays that landed on the table.


Jim did an experiment and learned that they love pretzels but won’t touch carrots.




Our five mile hike took us on most of the trails in the park, but we did backtrack in a couple places due to lack of signs and a trail that was on the map but didn’t seem to exist. It’s really difficult to get good photos in the woods, but it was a nice shady hike to do on a warm day.



A Russian hermit once lived in huts in the park. Interesting history from an LA Times article.

“During the 1960s and ’70s, the shady groves of Hendy Woods were home to Pitro Zalenko, known as the Hendy Hermit. Believed to be a Jewish survivor of World War II from the Ukraine, Pitro became self-sufficient by hunting small game and helping himself to blemished produce from nearby farms.
Several of his huts remain in Hendy Woods. One, a set of redwood planks over a hollow fallen tree, sits along the Hermit Hut Trail. A nearby display shows a picture of the hale, bearded Pitro in a flannel shirt and wool hat. Pitro died in 1981; his ashes were scattered in Hendy Woods.”





My favorite tree of the day was this little one that grew on a dead stump. It reminded me of one of my favorite Salvador Dali paintings, The Persistence of Memory. Or maybe it’s just my weird imagination.


Today we move on to Fort Bragg.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Last Days In Santa Rosa



After 10 days here we decided it’s time to move on. It rained most of the day Friday, so we did what we used to do at home in Pensacola on a rainy weekend morning when we couldn’t go biking. Went to the local Panera Bread for breakfast, then did a little shopping.

You would think being forced to spend the day indoors would be a good motivator to do something constructive, but we pretty much just played on the computers all day, then decided to go to BJs Brewhouse for happy hour. Guess we need days like that sometimes.

Saturday turned out to be a beautiful day, so we took advantage of it and went for a hike at Annadel State Park. This park is just to the east of Santa Rosa, and in fact it borders a very nice neighborhood. What a great place to live, with miles of hiking and mountain bike trails just outside their back doors.


We did a 4.8 mile loop to Lake Ilsanjo.


We considered mountain biking at the park but with all the rain were afraid the trails would be muddy. And we wanted to scope them out to see if we even thought we could bike them. They were surprisingly dry, but it rained again yesterday morning so we never did get around to biking there. The single track trails were a bit steep for our tastes, but we would have done fine riding on the old fire roads.


It’s a nice park and we enjoyed the variety of the trails, with part of the hike in the deep dark moss covered forest.




Yesterday we took one last day trip to Healdsburg, just 12 miles to the north. On the way we stopped by to look at this 1873 church in downtown Santa Rosa that was built out of a single giant redwood tree. Robert Ripley, of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, was a native of Santa Rosa and turned the church into a Ripley Memorial Museum in 1970. The city of Santa Rosa restored the property and since 2011 it can be rented out for private events. Nice place for a wedding.



Then on to Healdsburg, a very upscale tourist town. The downtown consists of block after block of shops, galleries, restaurants, and wine tasting rooms surrounding the very green town square. It was a busy place on a Sunday afternoon.


After walking around town we worked up a thirst so we just had to check out Bear Republic. Not bad but not the best beer we’ve ever tried.

We’ve had a really great time in Santa Rosa, but with temperatures predicted in the upper 80s to low 90s over the next few days, we thought this would be a perfect opportunity for us to head back to the cooler Pacific coast. Maybe it won’t be too cold for us there!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Spring Lake Regional Park



On Thursday Laurelee took us on another hike, which started in the very busy Howarth Park in Santa Rosa, then continued on through another regional park, Spring Lake, where we lost the crowds. We are certainly impressed  with the number of parks around here. The trail was dog friendly (on leash) so Laurelee brought Libby (under the picnic table) and Debbie brought Rupert and Elliot.


We also saw this professional dog walker with a big crew in tow. That’s got to be a challenging job.



We walked 3.8 miles, all on a paved loop trail, but the park has many more miles of dirt trails. There is also a campground which doesn’t open until May.

Spring Lake.


A family of geese.


And we happened upon the folks from Eukanuba doing a photo shoot for a dog food ad.



Laurelee went off on a weekend camping trip so we won’t get to see her again before we leave, but it’s been nice to have our very own local tour guide to give us ideas on things to do in the area. Santa Rosa is really a nice place to visit.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Different Kind of Hike



We realized it was less than 50 miles south on 101 from Santa Rosa to Sausalito, so yesterday we took a day trip to visit a few places we missed when we were in the San Francisco area a couple weeks ago.

First was a walking tour of Sausalito, where we stopped for lunch at the busy Taste of Rome. The food was good as was the people watching. Although it was once an industrial shipbuilding center, Sausalito is now an artist community, home to the wealthy, and a very picturesque town. We drove by the houseboats but failed to get photos.



We couldn’t believe the number of bike shops in town. We found four along our walk, including the Renovo showroom. They make custom wood bike frames, which look like works of art and cost as much.

Above Category is another upscale bike shop we stopped at. The least expensive bike they sold was over $5,000. Most of them on the showroom floor were around $10,000. It’s clear that people living in Sausalito have way too much discretionary income!

Jim liked this road bike with a unique custom paint job. How long do you think it would last before getting stolen from the back of our car?


Next we drove through Sausalito and took the last exit before you’re committed to driving over the Golden Gate Bridge. We found a place to park near Fort Baker, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and followed the bicycle route going up a steep paved trail. It was about a mile up to the start of the bridge, and a lot of the folks on rental bikes didn’t look like they were having such a great time.

The walk up the hill wasn’t so bad for us since we kept stopping to take pictures.






Although it was fun, this is certainly not a very relaxing hike. Besides trying to keep from being run down by tourists, pedestrians and bicyclists, it is extremely loud from all the traffic noise, and extremely windy, especially as we got closer to the San Francisco side. We still had a great walk and are so glad we got to do it. Went all the way to the other side and back, about 3.5 miles round trip, with another two miles added for getting to and from the car.

Seriously large cables and me.


It was another clear day and we saw a variety of watercraft in the bay.

San Francisco, CA

Great views of Alcatraz and San Francisco.




Looking back at Fort Baker and Sausalito. We parked down by that fishing pier jutting out into the water behind the rock.


Fort Point on the San Francisco side.


We decided to take the longer but more scenic drive back to Santa Rosa via Mount Tamalpais State Park. Several people told us to go there, so we did. (Not that we always do what people tell us!) The drive going up to the top via Panoramic Highway was spectacular.


A Sheriff’s Dept. helicopter was taking someone away as we drove by. Hope it was just broken bones. In the past two weeks two women were found dead near trails in the park.





We wanted to do a short hike in the park but it was getting late and we were tired. On the rest of our drive home we passed Stinson Beach, drove along Bolinas Bay on Hwy 1, stopped to look at a bunch of seals, and just enjoyed the scenery. The road from Point Reyes to Petaluma was especially nice. It was a good but long day. Now, if for some reason we don’t come back to the San Francisco area, we feel like we at least hit the highlights.