Last week, we took a driving tour of the California coast for our 20th anniversary. Accompanying us for the trip was our son Jesse and my mother Betty. We left Apple Valley on Monday morning and headed for Cambria/San Simeon. We stopped in Bakersfield for lunch at Mimi’s Cafe and then continued to follow CA 58 all the way to it’s end in Santa Margarita. We hopped onto US 101 until CA 41 and got on Highway 1 along the coast in Morro Bay. We arrived in San Simeon, CA and checked into the Best Western just before sunset. We ordered some pizza from Woody’s in Cambria after enjoying the sunset along the shore.
The next morning, we loaded up and headed to Piedras Blancas Lighthouse which is managed by the BLM and was celebrating its 135th year of existence. The BLM was offering free tours of the grounds surrounding the lighthouse. The weather was magnificent and we enjoyed seeing the flowers, wildlife and historical buildings at Piedras Blancas. After this, we drove Highway 1 north. We stopped for lunch in Big Sur and enjoyed a beautiful view of the coast. We drove through Carmel and toured 17 Mile Drive. We continued up the coast crossing the Golden Gate Bridge at night to stay overnight in San Rafael.
The next morning, we doubled back to take photos of the Golden Gate Bridge before returning to Highway 1 and continuing our trip north along the California coast. We stopped for lunch in Fort Bragg, CA and rejoined US 101 in Leggett, CA. We found a hotel in Arcata, CA for the night. Renee and I got our own room and let Jesse and mom share a room for our anniversary. We took Jesse to dinner with us to 6 Rivers Brewery in McKinleyville since mom wanted to stay in the room. We enjoyed some local cuisine before returning to our room for the night while Jesse hit the hotel spa.
The next morning after loading up, we headed for Redwoods National Park farther up the coast. We toured the Lady Bird Johnson Memorial Grove and then stopped at Big Tree State Park. We continued up the coast until Crescent City, CA and then cut inland to Grants Pass, OR. We took Interstate 5 south until we stopped for dinner in Medford, OR at Red Lobster. It turned out that our waitress Denise had been born in Apple Valley. That night we drove as far as Redding, CA before stopping.
Jesse wanted to tour a cavern during our trip so he picked Black Chasm Cavern in Volcano, CA as our next destination. We arrived and had our own private tour of the cavern with our guide David. We had a great time and mom decided to rest in the car. Next we headed to Yosemite National Park in hopes of getting some great sunset photographs. As we entered the park from the north, the weather turned bad and it started to rain. Temperatures started to drop and then the fog set in. At times, we couldn’t see past the hood of the car. We kept driving and exited out the south side of the park without ever seeing the grand vistas Yosemite is known for. We made it to Fresno before stopping for the night.
The final day of our trip included a brief stop in Bakersfield, CA so mom could visit with an old co-worker and then we headed for home. In all, we spent 6 days on the road and traveled over 1,800 miles. We saw sunsets over the ocean, towering redwood trees and amazing underground formations. It was a great trip that we will all remember for years to come.