Wednesday, September 16, 2015


At Crater Lake we had to decide whether to head west back to the coast or south and continue volcano hopping. We hemmed and hawed for a couple of days but a quick glance at the weather forecast (high 90s!) sent us scurrying toward the coast. It was the perfect change of scenery and added a lot of variety to our trip. We had the added bonus of visiting with some of Andy's family in Berkeley!

Our first coastal stop was Redwoods NP. As usual we arrived to the park campground as the light was fading but managed to find one spot we could squeeze into. It was great with a huge redwood right next to us. 

There were beautiful groves to walk through and admire the massive trees.

This is a nurse log. Fallen trees help keep the cycle going. 

We joined a fun ranger hike and learned about the elements of an old growth forest: old stuff, woody debris, layered canopy and snag...OWLS! We can always count on Cubby to step up when no one else will. Or not fuss when we push her forward.

Big ole tree

Nearby Redwoods NP is Crescent City, CA. We had a great dinner at the Chart Room which reminded us of the restaurants of similar name on the east coast. 

California sea lions congregate on the floating docks outside the pier. They make such an unbelievable racket. At first we thought they were so cute but then wanted to tell them all to can it. 

Back at the park Drew and Cub briefly display their collection of badges. 

Further down the coast we stayed at MacKerricher State Park and visited the Mendocino Headlands. At the park we were able to see seals out on the rocks including a roly poly baby. We were in the middle of being turned away due to lack of space but were lucky to get a spot when another camper was leaving at the same time to check on his house after a wildfire went out of control. 

We visited the little town of Mendocino and glass beach. We collected and admired the sea glass but left it for others to enjoy. The huge fire was raining ash on us and making the sky a weird color.

After a quick overnight in Eureka we got to an RV park just outside San Fran. It had a great view of San Quentin Penitentiary. We had beautiful weather for driving up Mt. Tamalpais and hiking up to the fire lookout. It's really pretty but it seemed like one good rattle would send some of those cliffside houses on a sleigh ride into the sea. 

We were lucky it was so clear and we had great views of San Francisco Bay. And San Quentin. 

Beautiful view obliterated by "the beard."

We went to Berkeley and had a really fun visit with Andy's aunt Joanna, his cousin Peggy, husband Gregoire and Andy's cousin Jack's wife, Charlotte. I had never met Peggy and Gregoire before so it was a real treat catching up and getting to know them.

Peggy, Joanna and Gregoire behind the couch. And that beard. Yeesh. We hope to see them again soon! 

We got up early the next morning to catch a ferry from Marin to downtown San Fran. We saw sailboats out on the bay. brrrr. We're babies and prefer much warmer water. 

Hey San Fran!

Such big hills! But what a pretty and clean city. 

We told the kids about the Rice-A-Roni commercials from our childhood. The trolley conductor indulged us and took a bunch of cheesy pics for us. 

We walked to Pier 38 to grab lunch and check out some more sea lions. They are so loud and are constantly pushing and shoving for position. They clamber all over each other complaining and shouting about everything. Which led Andy to declare, "What a bunch of assholes." 

The trip to Alcatraz Island is so popular it books up weeks in advance. Of course we had no idea and didn't do any research ahead of time but were lucky enough to schedule a visit. I had wanted to do this since I was a kid!

It was a chilly, damp, and foggy day so pretty easy to imagine the misery. 

We took the award winning audio tour and learned all about some of the famous inmates and the daily routines. The realistic sounds of the reenactment of a knife and gun fight kind of gave the kids nightmares. 

Lock 'em up! 

Junior Rangers at it again. 

It was pouring on our walk back from the ferry to the RV park. And we were pooped! Northern California was very cool but it was time to move on. 

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