Sunday, August 10, 2008

HONEYMOON! (Days 3 & 4)

We started our day feeling very refreshed. We had really enjoyed our stay at the Wharf Master's Inn in Point Arena and were ready for another full day of travel. As we started back down Ca 1 we approached Gualala, which Deanna and I both enjoyed saying each time we saw a sign for it. I threw on the brakes and pulled off rather suddenly when I saw these beauties on the side of the road.

There were about six full sized metal dinosaurs (and a King Kong) stationed at a landscaping business on the side of the road. There were a few smaller ones scattered around as well. They were a fun surprise early on in our day.
Our first scheduled stop of the day was the Salt Point State Park. We saw a general sign for the park area, which was then scattered with exits to access the different beaches. Deanna saw a really pretty inlet as we were coming around the bend of a cliff and said "THAT ONE! GET US THERE!". As luck would have it there was a sign shortly after that and we were able to get to Stump Beach. There was only one other car in the parking area as we pulled in, and had very little company the whole time we were there, which was nice. The beach was beautiful and really reminded me of the Oregon coast where my grandparents lived. It was a really breathtaking view when we came out of the pine tree lined area and got a full view of the beach. (see panorama)

Stump Beach at Salt Point State Park

We have fun going down the big set of wooden steps and exploring the tide pools and beach. It was very peaceful and quiet. We skipped some of the stones that lined portions of the sand on the water, and took in the view.

We took our last looks at Stump Beach and started back up the stairs. We hoped back in the car and came across many many stunning views. There were a lot of pull off shoulders on Ca 1 for people to stop and take pictures, and we stopped at a few of those. Here is an attempted panorama from one of those, but it didn't stitch together too cleanly with the shifting ocean and expansive view. Its still pretty though...

This one is almost a 360 degree view, so the rental car on the left and Deanna on the right were actually pretty close to each other. Deanna is looking at a lizard in the brush there. We saw a couple of these on this day at different places.
They weren't huge. If I stretched my thumb and pointer finger as far apart as I could, it was probably about that long from head to tail. At one of these shoulders we saw coming up we noticed a crowd of five or six cars were pulled off. This was a rare site. At this point in the trip we could drive for 20 minutes without seeing a car in front of us or behind us. We took this as a cue and pulled off behind a pickup truck with a rack on it. After a few seconds we said "SURFERS". I had seen one guy surfing earlier this morning from the balcony of our hotel room, but this was our first glimpse of a group. Deanna sat in the car for a couple minutes refilling the film in her camera. I got out to explore and discovered this sign and a group of seals on the beach below.
We were really excited and found a semi-steep trail down to the sand. (The pull off was pretty high up on a cliff, as was most of the road) We got down and checked out the surfers briefly then got to see the seals from across a waterway connecting with the ocean.

We had binoculars with us and could see them pretty clearly through those. I am not 100% sure they are seals, but they didn't look like the sea lions we eventually saw in San Francisco. We watched them play and swim for a while before heading back to the road. The drive to San Francisco seemed to take a while. The road turned inland for a while, but it still had some nice views of rolling hills and livestock. We stopped at Point Reyes for Lunch at the Cowboy Cafe and got some really good pulled pork sandwiches. We then pushed on the San Francisco and got treated to some really dramatic views from VERY high cliffs.
Before driving into San Francisco we pulled off at the Golden Gate Recreation Park and took in the view.

It was pretty cold and very windy up there, but such a view. Deanna was a little grumpy at this point from riding in the car for so long, but I think she had cheered up by the time we were done.
There was a former military base at the same site that we explored a little before heading into the city. We got to our hotel, "The Mosser" and after circling the block 3 times (which took a while) we were able to park and work things out with valet. We stored the car for the next two nights and opted to travel San Francisco on foot and by public transit. After settling into our tiny but cute hotel room we met up with our friends Chris and Erica and got some dinner with them. We ate well and had a fun first night out in the city.
Chris and Erica were nice enough to take Friday off, so the whole next day was spent touring the city with them. And they were very good tour guides. We took an old trolley train to Fisherman's Wharf at Pier 39, which is a big tourist area.
Deanna, Chris, and Erica at Pier 39

We found a carousel there and Deanna almost immediately talked everyone into riding.
Deanna is riding sidesaddle here if you can't figure out what your seeing in the picture. We all turned into 5 year old pretty quickly once we got on.
Also at the pier are the famous seal lion rafts. We spent a while there watching them bellow and push each other off the floats. They were very animated and seemed like seasoned professional at entertaining the onlookers.

We walked further down the waterfront and stopped at the Musee Mechanique, a museum of old coin-op machines(all working) that you could actually play. We used up a roll of quarters there pretty quickly between the four of us. Deanna and I both like old, mechanical things, so this place really got us worked up.

For lunch we went to the In and Out Burger, which I had been anticipating for a while. It didn't let me down, and I think everyone enjoyed a nice greasy burger and fries on our fun day out.
We then waited in line for the famous trolley cars with the open sides. Chris and I risked life and limb and rode on the outside. We got off at Lombard Street (the most crooked street in the world) and walked down that. It was a beautiful street with lots of flowers and pretty houses.
From there we got back on the trolley car and headed toward Chris and Erica's area of town in the Haight. They toured us through Golden Gate Park and took us to a really beautiful art museum (De Young). We went up to the 9th floor of the museum which had walls of glass from floor to ceiling all the way around, giving us a full view of the city in all directions.
Inside Elevator At De Young Museum

The museum was wonderfully designed and had a lot of art built into the structure, like this gold leaf wall that was on both sides of a tunnel you went through at the entrance.
We got some dinner with Chris and Erica at a fun place called "Cha Cha Cha" before heading back to our hotel for the night. We really felt like we saw the whole city (I know we didn't) in that day. Thanks to Chris and Erica for showing us all the tourist traps and all of the stuff we would have never discovered if we were on our own.

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