California Coast

What is the allure of California?  The weather?  The beaches?  The mountains?  San Francisco, Los Angeles, or San Diego?  All of this and more.  I love the easy attitude that comes with living in a place where the weather respects your well laid plans and invites you outside day after day.  It’s my preference to wander without a heavy coat and there are always the mountains to wrap you in cold and shower you with snow.  But for one week in November, my friend and I focused on the warmth for our brief exploration of one tiny little section of coastline.

We started by driving from San Francisco to Carmel, stopping at every pullover to enjoy the spectacular views on Highway 1.

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A dinner at the Flying Fish Grill in Carmel reminded me of my first trip to California when I was young and had just started a new job.  A business dinner in Half Moon Bay included the delicious introduction to abalone.  When I saw that abalone was on the menu at the Flying Fish Grill, I indulged.  It was an expensive reminder but the enjoyment was the same.  Ah, abalone….

In Carmel, there are small shops and art galleries to keep you busy for a few days and if you’re shopping for real estate, check out the cute house with beach views listed for a mere $6.5 million.  Hmmm, where is my checkbook?

After you seal the deal, stop for some wine at Silvestri Vineyards tasting room (https://www.silvestrivineyards.com/tasting-room.htm).  I recommend the Barbera and the Syrah.  Don’t worry, it’s easy enough to wrap at least one bottle of wine in that extra pair of jeans for the trip home in your checked bag.

Don’t miss Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.  It’s only $10/car to enter and we were happy to support the park system and see the redwoods.  It’s hard not to look up into the canopy and feel respect for these forest giants as guardians of nature.  Even trees with fire scarred bodies I saw as an example of resilience, growing upward, still green.

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redwood1Before heading back to Carmel, head south a little further to stop for lunch with views of the coast.

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PCH6The next day, it was back to San Francisco.  The plan?  To walk across the Golden Gate Bridge (from Union Square/Geary Street, take the 38 bus to the 28 bus which drops you at the toll bridge; $2.75 with transfer; exact change only) and continue down to Sausalito.  You can also bike across the bridge, but why?  It’s only about a two mile walk and you have the chance to stop and see the seals and porpoises in San Francisco bay.

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Once across the bridge, take the trail around to your right, down the stairs and under the bridge to walk down to Sausalito.  It’s only about three miles and mostly downhill, a nice walk with views of the bay and San Francisco.

bridge3You can refuel with lunch (or chocolate) before taking a ferry back to Fisherman’s Wharf.  Be careful – there are two ferries and only one goes to Fisherman’s Wharf.

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Now back to the hotel from Fisherman’s Wharf.  Why not take the “world famous cable car”!  You would know it by the lines to ride one…  You may not see as much at night but you still get the thrill of riding up and down some extreme hills.  And you don’t have to walk them.

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On our last day, we took a bus (#7) from the Powell Street Station over to the Haight/Ashbury area.  Once a refuge for people wanting to live their life with more freedom, it’s now more mainstream but still has the lure of the beautiful homes and eccentric shops.  From there, it’s an easy walk over to Golden Gate Park.

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When it’s time to return to the airport for the flight home, hop on BART – an easy and inexpensive ride to the airport.

For more travel information, see my travel site:  www.wanderlynn.com

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