Northern California Road Trip

Travel to the Northern California Coast


Back to Bill Caid's Home Page

Point Cabrillo lighthouse during a clear moment.

The Experience

Kathleen and I have been racing our BMW for a number of years. One of the best venues, in my opinion, is Infineon Raceway just north of San Francisco. The only issue with this venue is that it is a long drive from San Diego. Long enough, in fact, to make it problematic to attempt to drive to the area the day before and then race the following day. So, we decided to pre-pend the racing with a road trip to the Northern California coast for several days so we were refreshed and ready to go. We had been to the Albion River Inn, just south of Ft. Bragg several times and we always enjoyed it, so it was our first choice. A nice room was available for the days we wanted, so we packed the car and headed north.

The photos below are what we saw.

The trip to anywhere north of San Diego is always disrupted by that heinous, vehicular abomination commonly know as L. A. We did cross the basin without any major incident, but it was very slow, time consuming and generally frustrating. Once we were on the far side of the morass, we elected to go north on Highway 101 rather than I-5. I-5 is expeditious, but less than scenic. The trip was fine, but it is a long way from San Diego to the bay area. En route, Kathleen selected a place to stay for the night. We did not secure accommodations a priori since we were not sure where we would end up at night. The place we got was a bed and breakfast in Moss Landing called "The Captain's Inn". The place was surprisingly nice and the food the next morning was excellent. To spice things up, we had a 5+ point earthquake as we were unpacking. Nothing like a little earth movement to get the heart rate up.

The next morning was foggy and pretty cold. Here, the deck overlooks the coastal estuary. The inn was adorned with a number of pumpkins and squashes left over from Halloween the day before.

The view of the estuary was nice. There were many kinds of birds there feeding on the aquatic life.

South of the inn was an interesting barn left over from another era. Time had not been kind to the barn and I would not expect it to last much longer.

After eating we headed north along Highway 1 where we encountered this nice beach. The winds were strong, but the sky did clear long enough to take this shot.

Pigeon Point lighthouse as seen from Highway 1.

As we got closer to Pacifica, the fog got much thicker. Above, we pass a huge bridge under construction. The fog is so thick you cannot see the top of the construction crane.

We found a place to eat in El Granada just north of Half Moon Bay. The place had a nice view of the pounding surf. While we were eating, we spotted this brave fellow surfing in the ice cold waters. At least he was wearing a helmet.

I was hoping for an award-winning shot of the Golden Gate Bridge but this is what I got. The fog had everything socked-in with visibility reduced to less than a mile. Darn!

The former U.S. Penitentiary at Alcatraz Island was reduced to a foggy blur. It was pretty cold too but some brave soul is in the bay sailing his boat.

We traveled north to Albion River along Highway 1 from the start just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. The road is very tight with many sharp curves. But that is what makes it appealing. Sadly, the views were squashed due to the heavy fog. We were socked in most of the day with the fog lifting a bit to welcome us to Albion. Above is the view from our room at the Albion River Inn.

Our room was a nice, detached bungalow with a private porch. Here, Kathleen takes a video of the crashing surf on the opposing cliff.

The wooden bridge over the Albion River is visible from our deck. This is one of the largest wooden bridges in the U.S.

Next morning after breakfast, we decided to head north into Mendocino and Ft. Bragg. Along the way, we stopped at an overlook point to see the surf and spotted this slum. At first, I thought it was a hotel, but later realized that it is a private residence. Being poor sucks, no doubt.

The wave action here is strong. Note the 2 holes in the rocky escarpment. It looked spectacular when the waves crash through the openings.

Across from the viewpoint was the Little River Inn. Perhaps we will stay here next time.

Artifacts of the Halloween just-past were everywhere. Look at the size of this pumpkin!! We saw many pumpkin patches along the highway and even a corn maze.

We checked out the Mendocino area, but frankly there is not a lot there. Kathleen needed to file an electronic report, so we drove around town until we found an unsecured router. She filed and I walked. This is the Mendocino Hotel as seen from the bluffs.

One thing the area *is* good for is interesting sights. Here come a pair of monks who were shopping.

The fog was coming back. To the south, the waves crash on the rocky cliffs with the foam mixing with the fog.

We continued north to Ft. Bragg and started looking for a place to eat lunch. We settled on a place on the Noyo River. This is the beach at the mouth of the river. The fog had lifted briefly.

While eating at the restaurant, we spotted this seal having lunch too.

After lunch, we sniffed around town and did chores. Later, we headed south to the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse which is at the end of this road hidden by the trees.

The various conservation groups have refurbished the keeper's houses. There were several structures that were getting make-over's; this one was just completed. We noticed signs stating that you could rent this place.

The radio shack at the lighthouse was secured by this red door adorned with large, wrought iron hinges and lock.

Point Cabrillo lighthouse. This lighthouse is still in operation. Note the fog horns on the roof.

The sea was churning with whitecaps. The waves crashed on the rocky cliffs producing a deep rumble and great clouds of spray.

More slum dwellings to the north of the lighthouse.

Visible from the cliffs was a garden of sea weed. The stalks of the weed looked like palm trees and they were getting hammered with each wave.

As the fog rolled in again, the Point Cabrillo lighthouse fired up for the night.

Once we finished at the lighthouse, we headed south to Albion River for the night. Happily, the fog held off long enough to allow us to get back to the hotel. Tomorrow, we would head south to prepare for our racing weekend at Infineon.

High Performance Driving School at Infineon Raceway.

Back to Bill Caid's Home Page