7. National Park Road Trip…April/May/June 2016

day 17…5.7 
My Ale Trail continues today starting with Russian River.  My first time here was last year & I wanted to stop again this year.  I love their famous "Pliney the Elder" & especially the "Blind Pig”, & their sours, but there is kind of a ‘herd them in, herd them out’ mentality here that I’m not thrilled with.  I waited in a rainy line outside for about 20 minutes (they’d just opened 20 minutes before) but this is how it goes here.  You have to get past the guy at the door, then take your chances at the bar or wait for a table.  I lucked out & found one single seat at the bar.  I ordered samples of both the Pig & the Pliney, three of their yummy sour beers & an IPA that’s only served at the brewery….& a pizza!  I enjoyed all the beer & after went into the ‘store’ area to purchase some to take to Pete & Luke & some to bring home for me & Danny.

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My next stop was the Henhouse brewery…one the guy from Lagunita’s had told me about…it was just a few miles down the road.  I tried a Double IPA & an Imperial Stout…good but not amazing.

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The third & last brewery of the day—Bear Republic-- was a town away, but still not far.  It’s a big crowded restaurant, with an atmosphere of crowded dark junk that filled bar... in a cute downtown, that seemed to be filed mostly with upscale shopping.  I did make a purchase in the toy store…I seem to find myself in toy stores all the time!  The beer was okay, but nothing I’d order again.  I was thankful I’d only been drinking samples all day…fun to try new beers & see the breweries.

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Three breweries was enough for me, so I went hunting for a place to camp.  I’d found a campground’s info on the internet next to Lake Sonoma…which was about a 25 minute drive through the vineyards outside of Healdsburg.  I was skeptical about the info I was reading which seem to be posted from the park…it just seemed too good to be true.  The drive was beautiful, with so many green vineyards everywhere you looked.  The lake was really wonderful too, surrounded by the soft green hills.

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I found the campground & sure enough, all the info I’d read was untrue.  So, I began to back track to Healdsburg, frustrated at the campgrounds old info still posted online, but enjoying the same drive I’d just made only headed back the other direction.

day 18…5.8 Happy Mother’s Day!
While I wouldn’t get to see any of my kids today, I got to talk to Luke & Pete on the phone & FaceTime with Claire & Sara.  I was headed back through more wine country (there must be oodles & gazillions of wineries in California!) to the small town of Guerneville….just a spot I’d read about as “a place to visit!”. Guerneville is along the Russian River…one of California’s clear blue waterways.  It’s supposed to be a fun river to play in once the weather warms up…fishing, kayaking, SUP & swimming. On the way down the road, I drove by this spot where there were a ton of vultures!  Kind of creepy.

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I found a restaurant called “Pat’s Bar” which sort of looked like a dive from the outside, but old fashioned ‘diner-like’ on the inside.  I ordered breakfast, which was very good & stared at the board in front of me showing all the best fishing spots.

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It was still too early for the shops to be opened, so I drove up the road a few miles to a Redwood Park to take a walk.  The parking lot was packed with cars, but only a few people were on the trail I was on.  I had some super cool photos I took of the Redwoods, but unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera card in the camera, which I didn’t realize until AFTER my walk & once I was back in town!  So, here’s a couple I took with my phone…a pano & a selfie of me in an old Redwood tree trunk.

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Once back in town I strolled in & out of a few little shops.  There is an old bank that serves hand made ice cream & pie.  I went in to take a look.  I’d read about their Apple Chile pie…which sounded weird but kind of good.  But, it was $9 a slice (including ice cream)I wasnt THAT hungry.  

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My next stop on this finally sunny afternoon, was to Anderson Valley brewing—a strictly solar powered brewery.  It’s a long but beautiful drive through more wine country & the magnificent rolling hills of California.   I’ve never been here before, but they have a beer I love to drink back home!  It’s supposed to be a fun spot to visit & includes a huge Disc Golf course. It’s only a brewery—no restaurant, so they invite you to bring in food….so I took my cheese & crackers with me.  I ordered samples of their special beers & headed out to the beer garden.

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I purchased some beer to take home & headed back to the coast which landed me just south of Ft. Bragg.  I was looking for a place to camp off a State Forest road.  I found the massively tree lined dark road & headed a couple of miles down it to where some campsites were.  The campground was closed, but yet there was a camp host.  I didn’t have a good feeling about parking down here…& actually anywhere along this road.  There are different levels of ‘isolated & uncomfortable’, but the one I can’t do, is where my intuition is loudly saying to me “NO!  Don’t stay HERE!”  I may not listen to a lot of direction in life, but I do take heed in situations like this.  So, I turned back around & drove the miles back into the light & toward the crashing waves of the Pacific.  I decided there was enough time in the day to see my last brewery & grab some dinner.  North Coast makes some awesome beer—which we can get back home, so I was looking to drink something new or rare.  I was here last year, so I drove right to the place.  It was early & the bar was not crowded.  I ordered a glass of their newest beer…a cherry Berliner Weiss made with Michigan cherry juice…YUM YUM!  I also ordered coconut shrimp for dinner.  I was really glad I’d changed my plans & come today…there was a sign on the front door stating they’d be closed for maintenance tomorrow.

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My beer & food hit the spot, but the day wasn’t over.  I had just enough time to get to Glass Beach & walk around before the sun set.  Glass Beach had been on my list for a long time when I finally saw it last year on my trip.  The beaches in this small area used to be a garbage dump.  Much of the glass dumped…such as beer bottles, car tail & head lights, milk bottles, etc. were dumped here.  But once washed into the ocean then years of waves & rocks polished them to smooth edges & then millions of pieces became sea glass with it’s frosted texture.  I LOVE THIS BEACH!  I think it’s amazing that all that junk is now covering the beach like sand…it’s clear & beautiful when the water washes over it & gets frosty & a whole other color when dry.



It was time to leave & head back to the car.  I drove north out of Ft. Bragg & found a pullout about 15 miles up the road that I would camp in for the night.  I did a little house keeping in the car, called Danny to say good night & took my last photo of the day…the view from my 4Runner.  I NEVER get tired of the looking at the ocean!

day 19…5.9 
I took my time this morning…crawling out from underneath my sleeping bag.  I had a beautiful view & wasn’t in any hurry.  When I finally left to pull back out onto Highway 1, the skies were still overcast & chilly.

I stopped to take some photos at one of the state park’s closed campgrounds & found this…glad I wasn’t on this road when it happened!  Although, I don’t think it’s all that uncommon; I’ve seen one of the coastal roads by where Luke & Pete live do this same thing.


It’s Abalone diving season & I could see the divers trucks & cars lining the road in groups & them pulling on wetsuits & donning their funny little round nets.  When I’d left this morning, I was about 150 miles from today’s destination…Blue Lake!  Where Pete & Luke live!  Soon I wound my way around to the beautiful Eel River..turquoise in spots this time of year.  I tried a couple of times to find beach access to just hang out, but never found a way down to the river.  I took the gorgeous road through Avenue of the Giants…where Redwood trees line the sides of the roads & seem to reach up to the sun!  YES!  The sun was shining today!!!  And the temps were warming up too!

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By mid afternoon, I was in Arcata.  I text Pete to let him know I was there & would just hang out until he was off work.  Luke is currently in Minneapolis, but due back tomorrow (I’m actually here a couple of days earlier than I planned—but my timing is always a random, moving ever changing blob when I travel!).  Pete called just a few minutes later & said to meet him back at the house…he was leaving the office early.  I made it there before he did, so helped myself to a MUCH NEED SHOWER & CHANGE OF CLOTHES.  I was cleaned up & smelling sweet by the time he walked in the door.  IT’S SO GREAT TO SEE HIM!!!!!  We were both hungry, so we got in his truck & he took me to the new Cider place in town called Bittersweet.  It was fantastic!  I love the interior…multi kinds & colors of wood mixed with metal & stainless steel.  They serve cider, empanadas & pie.  We had all three & sat for 4 hours & talked!  Just a perfect evening!

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day 20…5.10 
Pete left for work this morning & soon after I left for downtown Arcata & coffee.  There’s a little bistro in town that makes wonderful coffee & has great outdoor seating…which was great because the temps were climbing & the sun was bright!  I think this is the warmest place I’ve been since I’ve left home….which is good since all my pants were drying at Petes house & all I had left to wear were shorts, hiking skirts or capris.  After coffee, I went into the gear store & just looked around.  Then I headed down the road a mile or so to the home of my fav jewelry —Holly Yashi.  I love their jewelry & last year toured the facility…such artistry!  I have some very special pieces of their jewelry…very special to me anyway worn at super memorable times in my life & given to me by Jill & Danny.  They have a new water color technique that I was anxious to see….it’s such a fun place!

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After my one purchase of earrings (loved the new technique!), I drove back up to the Plaza to go in & out of a few of the shops.

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I was waiting to go pick up Luke at the airport, but he kept sending me texts saying he’d been delayed in San Francisco.  It was such a wonderful day to be outside, I decided to go back to the Cider place for another yummy cider & to sit out on their patio.  I touched base with Danny’s mom & continued to get delays from Luke.

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There’s a scenic viewpoint at the same exit as the airport, so I drove there to clean out my car & get my front seat opened up for whenever Luke would eventually arrive.  It’s a great place to clean out your car!

He finally made it back home & looks great!  He had a wonderful trip to Minneapolis—with a brief side-trip down to Lawrence to see Danny & his Grandma.  We went & grabbed some food for the three of us & headed back to their house.  Pete met us there & we were soon munching on greek food….my fav is the Falafel burger!  Soon it was time for the boys to get ready & head to their Tuesday night outdoor soccer game. 

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I was so excited to see them play together again…it’s been a long long time!

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They were tired after the game….Luke had been up for more than 24 hours due to his travel schedule.  We came home, visited for awhile, Luke unpacked & I fought with my phone & computer for a few hours.  It’s so good to be here & see them both happy & healthy!  

Gratitude….I have tons & tons of gratitude!


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