Tag Archives: California coast

April 13, 2017 Bodega Bay, California

California Coast

California Coast

California Coast

Monday morning I left the Mariposa Fairground and made what I thought would be a 4 hour trip to Bodega Bay on the California Coast. My 4 hour trip ended up being closer to 7 hours when I made the mistake of heading north from Mariposa on Route 49, a road I had not driven before. Well, turns out there are a few 7% grades to climb and descend, as well as about a thousand sharp switchbacks and hairpin turns along that route, and, although it was nothing my rig couldn’t handle, I seldom found myself going much over 20 mph.

And then, when I finally reached route 101 and turned north to Petaluma, I encountered some of California’s infamous commuter traffic heading north to home after a work day spent in the San Francisco area ( I’m guessing ). Four lanes of northbound traffic were squeezed down to two lanes at a point where there was an on ramp with traffic backed up forever, and this resulted in a traffic jam of about seven miles moving at stop and go speed and taking around an hour to cover the those seven miles into Petaluma where I was finally able to get off the highway and head west to the coast on uncrowded secondary roads. I have no idea how these poor folks can handle this day after day. This backup was caused strictly by traffic volume and not by any kind of construction or an accident along the way … this would be a daily occurrence!

Without a doubt, this state has got to have the most dangerous aggressive drivers I have encountered. Couple that with the deplorable condition of most of the roads in the state and horrific traffic conditions and suffice it to say, this is not a fun state to travel in. Add in the higher cost of everything out here, gas  ( where does all the gas tax money actually go since it obviously isn’t showing up in highway maintenance ), camping fees ( my spot in Bodega Bay is $34/night for a primitive site and is much less than anything else around here ),  and food ( I was going to treat myself to a fresh seafood dinner in one of the local restaurants, but checking out menus and realizing that it would be over $50 for any sort of meal, I had a sandwich at home ). But then, there is an unbelievable amount of unique and gorgeous natural features in the state, so it pretty much is a must see state. Grin and bear it, I guess.

Westshore Camping Area on Bodega Bay

Westshore Camping Area on Bodega Bay

Anyhow, I finally made it to the Westshore Camping Area in Bodega Bay around 5 PM and was able to get into a site that had three midweek days that were unreserved. All the reservable sites in the campground were reserved for the weekend, so I hoped maybe someone would move out of the two first come, first served sites before my three days were up … and lo and behold, both sites opened up the next day and I was able to claim one of them and thus can stay here through the weekend now.

Weather continues to be very wet, rain every day so far with just one 6 hour window of sun and cloudy skies when I was able to zip up Route 1 for 30 miles and get these shots.

Campground Wildflowers

Campground Wildflowers

Some spots of nice wildflowers but no poppies in bloom yet, still a couple of weeks away.

California Coast

California Coast

California Coast

California Coast

California Coast

California Coast

Probably because of the weather, but traffic on Coastal Route 1 is pretty light right now, making it a very pleasant drive.

California Coast

California Coast

California Coast

California Coast

Russian River Harbor Seals

Russian River Harbor Seals

At the mouth of the Russian River, Route 1 climbs up to hundred feet or so above the beach and you get this view of a stretch of beach where the harbor seals haul out.

Russian River Harbor Seals

Russian River Harbor Seals

Russian River Harbor Seals

Russian River Harbor Seals

Wonder what the “sleep number” is on those rocks, these guys look like they are pretty comfortable.

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

This Peregrine falcon was perched atop a sea stack only a few feet from the edge of the highway …

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

… keeping an eye on everything while doing his morning preening routine.

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

I’ve never encountered one of these birds that was so unafraid of humans nearby. Of course there was no way you could get out to where it was sitting, but still quite unusual for a bird of prey to be this unconcerned with human activity so close by ( less than 100 feet ).

Hillside Grazers

Hillside Grazers

Along Route 1, you have some incredibly steep drop-offs to the cliffs and beach hundreds of feet below, with no guard rails, so most people probably don’t even notice the cattle grazing of the green hillsides on the other side of the highway. These animals have to be in some kind of shape to handle the steep grades of their pasture land.

Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve

Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve

About 30 miles north of Bodega bay is the Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve, where rhodys grow wild up to 30 feet tall under second growth redwoods. Unfortunately, I was a little early to catch the rhodys in bloom, but it must be something to see in a month or so.

Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve

Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve

The four mile drive ( single lane one way gravel road ) takes you through a dark, damp, coastal rain forest. Lots of moss and ferns to see in addition to the rhodys and redwoods.

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May 3, 2014 Northern California Coast

California coastline

California coastline

Day Trip Fort Bragg to Gualala

I left for the coast around 8 Am, driving west on Route 20, up and over the coastal mountains to Highway 1. Route 20 is full of sharp turns and long winding ascends and descents of 6% grades through the heavily forested mountains. Though a little tough on the motorhome, it is mostly a fairly doable road for a larger rig, though it would be a little harrowing, to say the least. My goal for today was to head south on Route 1 and make it down to Gualala where I had turned around and headed back home the other day.

As usual, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Mendocino rookery islands

Mendocino rookery islands

Nesting cormorants

Nesting cormorants

Mendocino rookery

Mendocino rookery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mendocino rookery

Mendocino rookery

Mendocino rookery

Mendocino rookery

 

 

 

 

 

I turned off the highway and ventured west through the little town of Mendocino out to the Mendocino Headlands where I was distracted from my journey by the gulls, ravens and vultures buzzing around the nesting colonies of cormorants and murres on the near offshore islands.

Western gull

Western gull

Western gull

Western gull

Turkey vulture in flight

Turkey vulture in flight

Raven in flight

Raven in flight

I spent the better part of two hours working on flight shots of these birds that were gliding past my position on the edge of one of the bluffs, flying by at eye level, then above, and then below me.

Turkey vulture in flight

Turkey vulture in flight

I suppose this should be a little unsettling, when the vulture is studying my condition so carefully! Perhaps he is thinking he could really go for a Big Mac?

There were several art galleries and interesting looking shops in town that would warrant a return here in the future.

California coast

California coast

California coastline

California coast

California poppies

California poppies

California poppies

California poppies

As usual, I was stopped many times along the way by the roadside wildflowers and shoreline scenery.

Point Arena lighthouse

Point Arena lighthouse

Point Arena lighthouse

Point Arena lighthouse

I drove out to the Point Arena lighthouse to give the dogs a break and stretch our legs.

Surf around the arch

Surf around the arch

Surf around the arch

Surf around the arch

Surf around the arch

Surf around the arch

Along the drive out to the lighthouse there is a stretch of rocky shoreline with dramatic surf crashing along the shore.

This stretch of Highway 1 from Fort Bragg to Gualala has some very impressive scenery along with an abundance of wildflowers, as well as nesting birds on the large rocks just offshore, a place I hope to return in the future for a longer, more intimate study. My short time here this spring has been marred by unusually warm weather resulting in a constant haze over the shoreline making crisp, bright landscapes an impossibility. Perhaps a trip here a little earlier in the year would yield some better results.

Raven in flight

Raven in flight

Mendocino rookery

Mendocino rookery

Western gull

Western gull

 

 

 

 

May 1, 2014 Willets, California

California coastline

California coast

Another Day Driving the Coastal Highway

Drove up to Gualala Point Campground and then turned around, about 45-50 miles. Could be done with the RV but,

Steep slope to the shore

Steep slope to the shore

because of the numerous hairpin turns and a couple of seriously scary grades with drop-offs straight down to the rocks hundreds of feet below ( note the image above ), probably better avoiding if possible.

Log strewn beach

Log strewn beach

Surfs up

Surfs up

Very warm today, 80’s, even though on the coast above the cool Pacific, supposed to return to normal tomorrow. These warm, hazy days continue to make for difficult conditions for any decent coastal landscape images.

Watching seals

Watching seals

California hillside

California hillside

Bird Island

Bird Island

California coastline

California coastline

Rocky coast

Rocky coast

Sandy beach in Northern California

Sandy beach

The campground at Gualala was not viable for the motorhome, sites mostly too short and nestled amongst HUGE trees, possibly redwoods, very dark in there even at mid day.

California hillside

California hillside