December 14, 2019

Week 19: Redwoods, Red Wine and Winding Roads

Along the rocky beaches of northern California.

(All photos by the author).

You get a whole different perspective on the state of California approaching it from the north. I liken it to our experience with Italy, versus our first impressions of Egypt or Thailand. Frequently, a traveler’s first experience with a country is exiting the airport at a major city like Cairo or Bangkok. This is an assault on the senses, and one must often struggle to get at the rural heart of the country beyond. In the case of Italy, we had the chance to enjoy the rural countryside of Lago di Garda before venturing into the heavily touristed cities.

Our entry into the state of California was no different. Instead of the typical crossover through the Los Angeles Basin, we crossed over from Oregon and followed the coastal highway through to Eureka and Mendocino. Through we’ve been to the Golden State many times, we’d always been transiting to or from Asia en route to the U.S. East Coast.

Feeling tiny: Staring up at gigantic trees.

The drive alone along the winding Pacific Coast is stunning. And its amazing to stand in muted wonder amid a towering grove of redwood trees. No speeder bikes or Ewoks were seen, but we did stroll (and drive) through the Avenue of the Giants. And speaking of Return of the Jedi, we were surprised to find out, after some brief research, that a small controversy exists as to the exact location within the redwood forest that the film was shot at!

Exploring the woods with AstroLab.

And of course, we had to stop and drive through a redwood tree. Actually, we walked, as the clearance is just over six feet, much too low for our Jeep liberty plus roof carrier. We’d heard of this curiosity since we were a kid!

“Threading the Redwood.”

Tracing the Californian coastline southward, we checked out the wonderful Stanford Inn by the sea. This was a vegan oasis, and we enjoyed several 100% plant based meals at an affordable price. If you’ve ever wanted to look into what being vegan is all about, the Stanford is a great place to try some world class vegan cuisine. Rather than viewing ‘going vegan’ as subtracting stuff from your diet, The Ravens restaurant can show you the awesome new foods that you’re gaining.

Just down the road in Cazadero, we stayed over Raymond’s Bakery. The redwoods rise high around this tiny town, which features a general store and an open air Catholic Church set literally (!) out in the woods. We also day-tripped to nearby Sebastopol and caught sight of this amusing chandelier that’s shaped like an ethanol molecule at Spirit Works Distillery:

An ethanol molecule chandelier.

Can you spy the oxygen? How ’bout the carbon atoms and hydrogen bonds?

As I write this, we’ve spent the weekend in the heart of wine country in the town of Santa Rosa. We’ll be traversing California to Lake Tahoe today, and then onward to the great state on Nevada. The general arc of our path is south and eastward once again, as we head toward our old stomping grounds of Arizona.

Exploring the wine caves of Santa Rosa California.

More to come!


  1. [...] past week saw us cross the state of California from west to east, and depart Santa Rosa afterlast weeks adventures and cross over the Sierra Nevadas into the Silver State. Like most Americans, wed “been to [...]

  2. [...] We recently had just such an experience standing amid a grove of redwood trees in northern California. Sure, you’ve heard of ‘em, but we recommend a walk through a redwood forest to truly feel ant-like in their presence. [...]

  3. [...] appears to be bigger than infinity, that is so unintelligible that it indeed looks like nothing.We recently had only such an experience station amid a timber of redwood trees in northern California. Sure, you’ve listened of ‘em, [...]

  4. [...] We recently had only such an experience station amid a timber of redwood trees in northern California. Sure, you’ve listened of ‘em, yet we advise a travel by a redwood timberland to truly feel ant-like in their presence. [...]

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