I used to read a lot of Danielle Steel novels.  Most of the time, the heroine would fly to San Francisco, then maybe drive up the coast to the quaint town of Mendocino to either meet her lover for a romantic weekend or seek solitude to sort out her problems.  These places sounded so romantic.  So here I am, driving up the coast, spending some romantic time with my husband.

After we left the Napa Valley, we drove a bit north west to the Somona Valley.  We camped high on the hillside with a great view.  Our evening was spent in the pool then the hot tub, overlooking the Sierra Madre and the many vineyards.  But before we stopped for the night, we visited 2 exclusive wineries.  The first was Francis Ford Coppola, of Godfather fame.  It is what I would call the Dineyland of wineries.  You walk up the stately staircase to a pool area complete with cabanas and a gorgeous beach bar.  There are bocci balls courts, meeting rooms and a great tasting area complete with props and details from his most famous movies.  And the wine is pretty good too.  This place is so exclusive that I have no pictures to show you (actually the camera had no power left, so I was not able to photograph anything that day).

From there, we drove up the hill to see what this large building was.  It had at least 4 stories with a tent like structure at the front.  I thought it was a college, Leon thought it was a corporate building.  It turned out to be a casino.  The large structure was a 4 story parking lot and the rest was the casino and restaurant.  Lots of security and nothing really to see when you got there.  We bet a whole $1, again, and decided we are really not gamblers.

On we went to the next winery- Raymond Burr Wineries (of Perry Mason and Ironside fame).  It was a huge contrast from the Coppola winery.  The wines are all made from grapes from that estate and quite delicious, but a bit pricey for us.  We enjoyed a few tastes and left without a purchase to find the pool and the hot tub.

The next day, we drove to San Francisco.  We stopped at the Golden Gate Recreational area and walked then drove around the area for some great views.  We decided not to enter the city this time in favour of a lovers’ weekend at some later date when we can fly in and do a lot of walking.  We were fortunate enough to get a great clear day and get some fantastic views.  The wind was strong and we could feel a big difference in the temperatures already.

We drove up the coast along route 1, the oldest highway.  Oh boy!  Great views but such high winding roads.  I was reminded of those movies when the heroine tries to break and finds someone has tampered  with the brakes and panics. Of course, nothing like that happened to us, but I was a bit tense at the end of the day when we parked at the KOA inManchester, located a bit south of Mendocino.  I’d read about Mendocino in romance novels and it was just as I imagined, very artsy and trendy, a cute town along the coast.  We stopped for coffee and a cookie, took a picture and I looked at some jewelry.  We were curious about the square towers that seems to be a popular feature of the local buildings.  As near as we can figure out, they are private water towers that are now out of use.

Yesterday we continued our drive, stopping in Eureka,  Northern California, just before some of the Redwood forests.  The coast continued to be rugged but the terrain got greener and greener.  At times there was moss on the roadside.

By now the weather had changed a lot!  It got misty and cold enough not to open the windows in the camper at night.  We cuddled up last night as I read the last of my book.  I woke up to fog and cold this morning.  We packed quickly and drove through the Redwood Forest.  The trees are giant and amazing but it was so foggy and cool that we didn’t want to get out and walk around.  We stopped on the other side, now in Oregon for a quick walk on the beach and then lunch in the camper.

A bit further up the road, we stopped in Bandon, known for its cranberry industry.  There was a quaint seaside area where we stopped to buy some candies from a terrific store.  I’ve never seen so many types of candies.  And there were free samples of at least 40 different types!  Yum!!!  We bought a few souvenirs and moved on.

We are now in the Oregon Sand Dunes Park.  There are dunes over 250 feet all around us.  We plan to rent an ATV and try our luck on the dunes tomorrow.  From there, we have been invited to visit with some new friends in Corvallis, OR.

rodeo beach in the Golden Gate Rec Area
hot tub in Sonoma
sonoma valley
the city – San Francisco
golden gate bridge
golden gate recreational area
point arena lighthouse
masonic hall, mendocino – it’s supposed to be father time combing a girl’s hair
the surf near Mendocino