Half Moon Bay and the Kings Mountain Art Fair

One of Mo’s friends from her teaching days is a sculptor, and she was showing her wares at an art festival near Half Moon Bay over the Labor Day weekend. See her work here, it’s wonderful! http://www.sharonspencer.com/

It’s always nice to return to the coast, especially since Mo used to live there for so many years. She knows her way around, knows the special little places to find, and enjoys going back for visits. What we hadn’t really considered when we thought of going was that every single camping spot on the entire coast was already spoken for long before Mo started looking around for something to reserve. We decided to go anyway, and take our chances finding a place to park our home. We knew Wal-Marts don’t exist on that part of the coast, but thought maybe we could find a wide place in the road somewhere, or some other kind of creative kind of boondocking opportunity would present itself. It was to be an adventure and we were ready.

We left early Saturday morning, with most of the holiday traffic already landed. We traveled west on 120 toward the 580, the 880, and on to HWY 92 winding over the last range of hills and down to Half Moon Bay. The best part was the gentle fog rolling in over the hills and the dramatic drop in temperatures as we got closer to the ocean. Lovely! The air was so fresh and clean, and when the sun came through it was sparkly and white.

Arriving before noon, we optimistically tried the local state park for cancellations, none of course. We wandered up the coast with other ideas in mind when we saw a large group of RV’s just south of Moss Beach at the Pillar Point Marina. For 30 bucks a night we were privileged to park on asphalt with no amenities other than proximity to the ocean and reasonable safety for us and our rig, not a bad deal really on the coast of California during Labor Day Weekend with no reservations. Later we realized that the place wasn’t policed very strongly, and it would probably be a fine place to boondock for a night on the coast if one didn’t take advantage of it too often, and landed late in the evening and left early in the morning.

We returned each evening to our parking lot haven, and woke this morning to an almost completely empty space, with nothing to obstruct our view of the marina, the fishing boats, and the ocean beyond the breakwater. Reading about the marina was interesting, and it was nice to see a place that was devoted to commercial fishing rather than just fancy boats. You could even buy fresh tuna and halibut right off the pier from the catch of the day. We chose instead to eat our fresh fish at Ketch Joanne’s, a great little restaurant that was another of Mo’s hidden gems from her years in Montara. http://www.ketchjoannerestaurant.com/

http://www.smharbor.com/pillarpoint/index.htm

Once settled in, we spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the tiny sweet town of Half Moon Bay, with its delightful shops. I especially enjoyed Cunha’s Country grocery store, which has been there since the 40’s, with rows of incredible variety in a small store, organic foods, and specially bottled sauces and dressings. Favorite was the Roasted Raspberry Chipotle sauce which we used for a great dinner of bbq’d pork chops and Cream Vidalia Onion Dressing for the salad.

Then there is the feed store.
http://www.halfmoonbayfeedandfuel.com/fnfindex.html

Still in place, right in down town. Walk in off the sidewalk to the smell of hay and grain, chicken feed and chickens even. Huge walls covered with livestock ribbons, saddles and ropes, and all you could need if you had animals. Downtown. It was amazing. Of course, we laughed with all the other people on the sidewalk at the feed store clerk trying to catch an unruly rooster in downtown traffic. I guess he must have escaped the feed store somehow. Mo said that she used to buy all her feed here when she had the ranch back in Montara. It was wonderful to see it still operating and doing so well.

We had a great time walking beaches, and took a side trip to explore the tide pools at the Fitzgerald Reserve
http://www.fitzgeraldreserve.org/

On Sunday we spent the morning at the Kings Mountain Art Fair, a wonderful venue in the redwoods on SkyLine Drive, with booths of paintings, ceramics and sculpture from the finest juried artists around, including Mo’s friend Sharon.

http://www.kingsmountainartfair.com/

We spent Monday relaxing and then drove to all the farms along the highway that are so celebrated for their pumpkin festival in the fall. I found gorgeous flowers at a great nursery and had a great time.

Choosing to leave the coast this morning rather than on the holiday, we are back to Jamestown today after a reasonably easy drive home. Mo will be returning to Klamath tomorrow after our quick little foray to the beach, and we still have a couple of good camping trips waiting for us before the snow flies.

Thanksgiving trip to California

Just a quick note to anyone following my blog, I am not sure if this post will show up in all your blog rolls or not.  I am backtracking here a bit, and decided to put some old journals and photos into the blog so that Mo and I could have our travel history all in one place.  More times than once lately, we have wondered when we did something and gone to the blog only to realize it happened “pre-blog”.  So any of you reading, if this pops us with a date of 2005 or even earlier, don’t worry, you aren’t time traveling and it isn’t a mistake.  My actual hope is that it won’t show up at all.  Guess I will find out if anyone starts commenting! You might notice a different “MoHo” and a different dog.  Molly left us in 2006 and we didn’t pick up the new “MoHo” until December of 2007 on our cross country winter travels that year. I still lived in Klamath Falls and was working full time and Mo lived in Rocky Point.  We started traveling together back in 2003, so eventually I hope to all our trips right here.

11_05 Mendocino Coast 002

My kids are scattered around the country, and this year we decided that everyone didn’t need to make the long trek to Klamath Falls for Thanksgiving and Mo and I could go on little MoHo trip. I took off work early on Wednesday and Mo picked me up in Klamath.  The MoHo was rolling along toward California by 3pm.  It was our first attempt at boondocking at a Wal-Mart.  We wanted to get far enough into California on Thursday to find a nice restaurant for dinner.  It was dark when we arrived and we didn’t see any signs saying we couldn’t park, so settled in, turned on the lights and within an hour an employee security person was knocking on our door saying we couldn’t stay there. Redding evidently has some laws about store parking that we didn’t know about.  He was nice to us, however, and told us that we could simply move to the east of the official parking lot into the dirt and safely park there.  We put up the TV antenna, hoping for some diversion, but for some reason nothing worked.  We walked Molly around the parking lot before going to sleep.

11_05 Mendocino Coast 004 It was a bit of a restless night, but not bad, and by 8:30 on Thursday morning we were coffee’d up and ready to hit the road.  We decided to travel west to the coast via Highway 299 through Whiskeytown and then along the beautiful Trinity River. The day was cloudy but a balmy 55 degrees, which felt warm after the cold Klamath fall air. Whiskeytown and French Gulch were pretty little towns we visited along the way, then crossed the mountains to Highway 3, to Highway 36 and finally to Highway 101 on the coast.  At the top of one of the passes we saw a large cat-like black animal streaking across the road and up the hill beside us.  Later I searched the internet and finally figured out that we had seen a fisher, a rather rare animal in this part of the world.  I glad we both saw it.

The roads were narrow, winding and long.  It was raining hard when we reached Fortuna on 101 and we decided to eat our Thanksgiving dinner at Peppers.  It was a nice turkey dinner with all the trimmings and certainly not expensive.  We even had leftovers to take with us, which of course are necessary for a Thanksgiving dinner. 

Even in the rain, the town of Ferndale was interesting to visit.  Most of the stores were closed because of the holiday and it was a bit drab in the rain, but I would love to go back there someday and shop.  Later we took the road to “Centerville” which turned out to be nothing more than an empty beach.  We followed a very narrow winding road up the steep hills south of the beach for a distance before deciding to turn around after talking with a local who said the road eventually came to a dead end with nothing to see.

11_05 Mendocino Coast 008 Returning to Highway 101 we traveled south toward Humboldt Bay, looking for a place to camp in the Redwoods.  the Burlington Campground showed up just after dark, and there was a space for us.  We tucked the MoHo into the small spaces between huge redwood stumps and settled in for the evening.  Some of the stumps were actually as big as the MoHo! It was a surrealistic place, and in the dark even more so.  I went to camp headquarters to pay and managed to lose the MoHo and myself for a time before finding my way back.

We slept great in the deep dark forest, with the sound of the pouring rain keeping us in bed until quite late.  Even at 9am the forest was still dim and dark as late evening.  I made omelets for breakfast and we took the slow beautiful drive along the Avenue of the Giants, stopping at the visitor center.  The displays were excellent, with stories of a man named Kellogg and his van made entirely of one redwood log.

11_05 Mendocino Coast 016 We drove south all day on the winding highway 1, through many dark and winding forests, and many signs that said “road narrows”.  It was hard to imagine how the road could get any more narrow.  Eventually we emerged from the forest to the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  The Mendocino coast was wild, rugged, and beautiful, but the roads are incredibly narrow with very few places to pull over, and no shoulders at all.  I was car-sick most of the way and was very happy to finally get to the little town of Mendocino.  We did stop along the way to hike the half mile down to the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse, beautifully restored.

11_05 Mendocino Coast 025Continuing through town just in time to settle into space 11 in the Van Damme State Park just as darkness settled in.  Our late lunch of leftover turkey sandwiches at an ocean overlook should have been plenty, but Mo started a campfire and wee cooked burgers.  They were great! Venus was huge and brilliant over the ocean and Mars glowed red through the redwood branches, forecasting a sunny day to come. I knitted while Mo read until lights out at 9 or so.

The next morning we were up at 8 and after a good home cooked breakfast we packed up to go explore Mendocino.  It was a gorgeous clear day, but cool and windy.  we walked the town, checked out the Art Fair, I found some wonderful yarn at the perfect little yarn shop, and had a delightful cappuccino.

11_05 Mendocino Coast 037 We decided to travel south on Highway 1 until we found a place to spend the night.  Instead we saw a sign that said “coastal access” and followed it to the tiny perfect little hamlet of Point Arena.  Supper at the restaurant overlooking the ocean was perfect, with rock cod and a perfect salad.  Beautiful.  Our plan was to continue as far south as Sea Ranch before heading inland but we hoped for someplace along the beach.  Sure enough, high above the ocean, we found a wide turnout in the road, level and safe, with no signs saying we couldn’t park there.  As we were settling in, a man drove up and let his dogs out of his car.  Suddenly the peace was ruined by a huge tussle of dogs with his aggressive animals attacking Molly, who ended up scared, shaking, and limping a bit.  I was furious!  Thank goodness he left. 

11_05 Mendocino Coast 043The evening settled into a peaceful sunset with music on the stereo, Mo reading while I wrote and Molly sleeping peacefully.At dawn, the skies over the ocean were all shades of pastel pink and lavender and the rising moon was visible in the east.  We tried out the new toaster oven with some corn muffins which tasted ok, but I burned them a bit too much. Driving all day east from Gualala through Annapolis where the signs said “no rv’s” but with our little 21 footer and no tow car we did just fine.  The road was really steep and curvy but not much worse overall than all those curves on highway 1!  Continuing to Clear Lake and Williams we hit the interstate by 1pm to take us back north to Oregon.  Stopped for a steak dinner in Redding before the last long leg into Klamath over highway 97, leaving the interstate at Weed. It’s a long stretch to do in a day, but since I had to be to work on Monday morning, it was necessary.  Mo is retired but I am not, so sometimes these little trips with me are much quicker than either of us would like.