Thursday, November 29, 2012

Montara: Mixing the new with the old

Point Montara Lighthouse with hostel accommodations
Its hard to break old habits.

When visiting San Francisco and there's enough time available, wifey and I take a short jaunt down Highway 1 and in about an hour we've arrived at Montara.

What does Montara have to offer? 

Well, years ago, something like 20, we wanted to do something different as far as lodging goes. So we found out about the lighthouses along the coast which were available and offered accommodations.

We booked a couple's room at the Point Montara Lighthouse and thoroughly enjoyed it.

The accommodations were spartan, but comfortable. At the time, we felt like $28 (it's about $70 or so now) for a night's stay was more than acceptable especially since our room was almost hanging over the edge of a cliff and we could hear the Pacific as it crashed upon the coastline.

The experience was new and exciting and we especially love the beauty of the area.

The next morning we decided to find a place to eat and ended up stopping at a coffee/sandwich shop called "Coastal Affair."

Coffee shop owner Amber offers us a sunflower

At that particular time, Bill Clinton was running for president.

We got some coffee and tea, hopped on a couple bar stools and began an engaging conversation about politics. We were polite to the other two, but were on opposite sides of the spectrum.

This last October, we decided on a couple-hour jaunt back to the area. We pulled into the parking lot of the lighthouse and enjoyed the scenery, but didn't stay long.

And then it was on to the coffee shop which has changed names and has a new owner. Its now called "Here Comes the Sun Coffee House."

Owner Amber and her mom were sort of fascinated about the fact that we asked if the place was formerly called "Coastal Affair."  They said its been a long time since it was known by that name.

We got some coffee and tea and went to an outside table to enjoy the drinks and quirkyness of the decorations. And then it was back to the City by the Bay. It was truly a very enjoyable time.

Next post: Dec. 4, 2012

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Post delayed

Note:   I have run out of space on blogger for more pictures. I will make my next post within 48 hours as soon as my account is updated and I am allowed to download additional photos.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Roadside critters add to travel enjoyment

Heading down the highway doing the allowable speed limit, one often finds there are times when photo opportunities pop up.

I have passed up numerous such occasions over the years. Maybe it was too late in the day, the traffic was too heavy, I just didn't feel good or there were more important things on my mind.

But on vacation, one can't use most of those excuses.

Such was the case heading down Highway 1 in California on a recent October day.

On both occasions. the photo op was unexpected and I had breezed by before realizing it was there. I had to stop, turn around and go back a little ways.

There were two times just about an hour apart just south of Mendocino where I decided to go ahead and take advantage of what was available.

One was a giant metal sculpture of a tyranosaurus rex which promoted a local business. His head was hanging over some greenery and he was eyeing traffic busily heading down the highway.

He was accompanied by other sculptures.

The other occasion was on a stretch of highway near Manchester, CA. 

One of the two scuptures involved about 12 trees which were trimmed to look like a centipede or something similar.

The other was a single tree with a metal figurine of a young woman sitting under it.

All three were interesting and shows the ingenuity of people who add to life's enjoyment.

Next post: Nov. 27, 2012

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Oregon's Toketee Falls a real delight

Is seeing a waterfall worth adding six hours of driving time to a vacation schedule?

It just depends.

And, yes of course. Especially if one is in new territory -- everything along the way is an adventure.

The second day of our October trip out west, we were originally planning on leaving Yreka, CA early on a Sunday morning and moseying over to Coos Bay, OR taking in a few sights along the way.

It was to be a leisurely four- or five-hour trip, not counting stops and we hoped to arrive in Coos Bay no later than about 5 or 6 p.m.

Well, those plans went out the window.

In perusing some Oregon travel brochures, I saw a picture of a waterfall  and just felt that since we were going to be in the area, I just had to go and see it -- it being Toketee Falls.

The cascade is located on the North Umpqua River just off Highway 138 about an hour east of Roseburg which is located on I-5.

The area is part of the Rogue-Umpqua (rivers) Scenic Byway, a loop that winds its way for 172 miles through a beautiful mountainous and forested area.

We arrived at the waterfall about 4 in the afternoon, expecting the brochure describing the walk to the falls to be accurate. It wasn't. Expecting a short walk off the main parking area, we discovered the path to wind up and down, over and around.

The trail was rough in places and ran along the edge of the mountain which had a pretty good dropoff. There were rocks and trees to go around, steps to climb and descend.

I worked up a pretty good sweat trying to make sure I arrived while there was still enough light.

The mission was accomplished and there was even a viewing platform from which to enjoy the falls.

I snapped away, enjoying another travel accomplishment.

Next post: Nov. 20.2012

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Eight nights OK, but a little rushed

Our 8-night West Coast trip in early October had us staying in seven different lodging establishments.

For whatever reason, I guess I had heard of Coos Bay, OR, before, and so we decided to make it our northern terminus.

San Francisco was the arriving and departing point. 

Upon checking out our rental car at Budget on the Saturday we arrived, I asked the agent what kind of mileage was allowed. He said it was unlimited. Upon returning the vehicle the next week, the check-in guy commented that I must have gone everywhere. 

Not quite, but in those nine days, we logged just a little over 1,600 miles in that Toyota Corolla. And it did a good job, and got good mileage.

Coos Bay Manor

We were definitely on the go.

Our lodging was:
Saturday night: Klamath Motor Lodge, Yreka, CA;
Sunday: Coos Bay Manor, Coos Bay;
Monday: Bayview Motel, Eureka, CA;
Tuesday: The Tides Inn, Shelter Cove, CA;
Wednesday: The Old West Inn, Willets, CA;
Thursday: The Gables Inn, Sausalito, CA; and
Friday-Saturday: Columbus Motor Inn, San Francisco

Bayview Motel, Eureka
I had begun making reservations back in May, doing Internet searches and checking out old brochures we had picked up on previous trips.

Our first weekend on this trip included the Columbus Day holiday. I recalled another trip we took to California during that same timeframe years ago. We were heading down to see the Hearst Castle and couldn't find a room anywhere within about 100 miles of the place.
The Tides Inn, Shelter Cove

We ended up spending a somewhat unusual night sleeping in our vehicle at a state park. Since we are campers, we managed to easily adapt to the situation, although it wasn't as comfortable as our van. And not nearly as comfortable as a motel room would be. 

It was a holiday weekend, the weather was great, there were a lot of activities going on and everybody seemed to be traveling. It was a lesson learned.

Old West Inn, Willets
Based on this past information, and the fact that my wife likes to know where she is going to stay each night, I managed to book all of our accommodations before the end of July.  This was comforting. And since most had a cancellation policy, I could have changed plans if need be.

I made decisions, pulled the trigger and booked all those nights early. And I never did go back and change any although I felt some were above what we normally pay for a room.  But then again, we don't spend that many nights in a motel during the course of a year and when going to the mountains we camp for about $10 a night.

I seem to be entertaining that entitlement-to-something-better feeling although I am paying for the trip out of our own resources, not anyone else's.

Five nights were more or less having a place to stay while the other three were "experience" stays, one being the Coos Bay Manor bed and breakfast; The Tides Inn overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Shelter Cove and The Gables Inn, an upscale stop in Sausalito. (More on our 'experience stays' later.)

I'm ready to do it again, although I think adding an extra seven days, or more, would be better.

Next post: Nov. 13, 2012