Three Days in San Francisco – Day 88

Three Days in San Francisco

Day 88 – June 27, 2003 – Friday

I finally left San Francisco today. We planned three (3) days in San Francisco; we were there 14 days!

Heading north on Highway 1 to Highway 101 along the coast all the way to the top of Washington. The plan is to be in Alaska on the Fourth of July. 27,419 on the odometer.

Tears in my eyes as I drove away from The Dude’s (aka Ryan’s) house. It was wonderful to have so much time together. I didn’t get away until 11 am, so the whole day was a few hours off (something that happens more often than not or so it seems).

First stop was Muir Woods — the Coastal Redwoods forest in Marin County. Most folks do not realize there are Redwoods this far south. Tours to Muir Woods are a very popular offering from The Dude’s company. HUGE trees. STRONG trees to have stood for so long. I met Stephanie and Kim on the side of the road near Muir Woods. John Muir Woods is located just 17 miles northwest of San Francisco just off Highway 1. The park was named for John Muir, a naturalist who was instrumental in establishing the National Park system.

This 550-acre National Monument is home to Coastal Redwoods, some of the tallest and oldest trees in the world. Cathedral and Bohemian Groves contain the largest Coastal redwoods – up to 252-feet tall and 14-feet across. Visitors are given a map and guide to the park showing various trails for a self-guided tour. Visitors are encouraged to visit the paved main trail that offers educational exhibits on the majestic redwood trees — some known to be 1,000 years old. There are six miles of walking trails. The park is home to 50 species of birds, black-tailed deer, steelhead trout, and hundreds of other wild inhabitants. There is also a small cafe, a bookstore and a gift shop.

The Dude told me to be sure and see Bolinas. He said it would be the highlight of the day. He also warned me that the residents take the signs down so folks can’t find the town. The locals call Bolinas “BoBo.” Well I found neither Bolinas nor BoBo. I did see a sign for “Dogtown” out in the middle of nowhere in a forest that I now suspect is where a road turns off to Bolinas. Dogtown is actually a defunct gold rush era town in another part of California. There are some famous people from Bolinas, including one of the Coen Brothers, Frances McDormand, and Grace Slick.

The “Dogtown” sign said Population 30, but the 30 had been scratched out, and someone painted “31.” The actual population of Bolinas is a little over 1,200. I learned that Bolinas is perhaps best known for its reclusive residents, and as Ryan had indicated, I learned that any road signs pointing the way into town on Highway 1 have invariably been torn down by local residents. I was sorry the BoBo-ians tricked me, but it was probably more fun to have been tricked. I will see Bolinas the next time I visit San Francisco!

I detoured off Highway 1 to the little town of Bodega. There I saw The Potter School. It was used as the church in Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.” The movie was filmed in and around Bodega and Bodega Bay. Other movies filmed in Bodega Bay include “The Goonies,” “Sleepwalkers,” and “The Pack.”

A local tourist office person told me I needed to see the “Hole in the Head.” It seems a nuclear power plant had been planned for Bodega Bay in the 1960?s but was abandoned after protests and the discovery of an earthquake fault across the proposed site. Excavation for the site began at Bodega Head, and when the project was abandoned the area has been referred to by locals as “The Hole in the Head.”

Highway 1 bounces back and forth between mountains and trees to coastal views. There are certainly some especially beautiful coastal views on the stretch of road near Jenner. I met Roger on the side of the road during one of my many photo stops.

There were wonderful views along the Pacific Coast Highway.

There were wonderful views along the Pacific Coast Highway.

There were wonderful views along the Pacific Coast Highway.

I did that on purpose. I enjoyed the views again and again and again?.

Stinson Beach was very pretty. A man on the side of the road told me the surf off Stinson Beach is within an area known as the Red Triangle where there have been an unusually high number of shark attacks. Looks can be deceiving.

I saw some very unusual trees in Manchester, California. They looked like flat, green flying saucers. Mendocino is a very picturesque little town. There are lovely old homes, an attractive town center, and a beautiful coastline. It is an artist’s community.

I stopped at the Masonic Hall in Mendocino with its unusual Father Time and a Maiden sculpture at the top of the steeple. The sculpture was carved from a single redwood trunk. The Presbyterian Church was built in 1868.

The Kelley House (built in 1861) is now a museum with photos showing the village as it looked over the years. I spoke with some women in Mendocino who were carrying protest signs: “Women in Black for Peace.” I assumed it was an Iraq War protest, but I learned that the group is one of the leading voices in Israel advocating for a just and viable peace between Israel and Palestine. In January 1988, one month after the first Palestinian Intifada broke out, a small group of Israeli and Palestinian women stood once a week, at the same hour and at the same location – a major traffic intersection in Israel. They were dressed in black and held up a black sign in the shape of a hand with “Stop the Occupation” written in white. It was a simple form of protest that women could do easily. The movement has spread around the world and to Mendocino.

On a lighter note, many movies have been filmed in and around Mendocino and Mendocino County, including “The Russians Are Coming the Russians Are Coming,” “Overboard” (actually filmed in Fort Bragg), “Karate Kid III,” “Dying Young,” “Forever Young,” “Pontiac Moon,” and “The Majestic” (also partially filmed in Fort Bragg). Mendocino was depicted as turn of the last century Monterey in the James Dean classic “East of Eden.” “Summer of ’42” included local Mendocino High School students.

However, the TV series “Murder She Wrote” had the largest impact on the community. “Murder, She Wrote” was set in the fictional town of Cabot Cove, Maine. All but nine episodes of the 264-episode program were filmed in Mendocino, while exterior shots throughout Mendocino were used in the remaining episodes. The program was broadcast for 12 seasons, from September 1984 until May 1996, and won many awards. Many local residents looked forward to the yearly filming, as over a hundred and fifty were chosen to play background parts. A lucky few were cast for speaking roles. The main character Jessica Fletcher’s home in the series was an actual home in Mendocino and is now a bed and breakfast under the name “Blair House.”

The Sea Ranch is a big vacation home development along Highway 1. The folks who live there next to the coast enjoy fabulous views.

I saw a big totem pole on a cliff next to the ocean. I stopped at a nice hotel next to the totem pole, and I met Kimberly, Perry, and Riki. I met Dietra inside at the bar.

The Point Arena Light Station is now privately owned and is part of a hotel or something. I wasn’t allowed in the gates, but I managed a photo.

Highway 1 ended in Westport, so it was 101 the rest of the day (and for the next several days).

In Leggett, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Redwoods up close and personal. I drove the PT Cruiser right through the Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree. I met Jacob, Brittany, and Pam at the ticket window, and then I met fellow tree-drive-thruers — Kathryn, James, Theresa, and Frank.

I also saw a small house built entirely out of one log. I saw the home of “The Grandfather Tree,” but the place was closed. Same goes for the Legend of Bigfoot and Confusion Hill. I drove by the World’s Largest Redwood Mill, but it was dark, so I couldn’t see much.

It was late by the time I reached the Comfort Inn in Fortuna.

It wasn’t a particularly exciting day, though seeing my first Redwood trees was certainly something notable. The Pacific Coast in Northern California is certainly beautiful to see and not as harrowing a drive as Big Sur.

My thought for the day is how sad it would be to not be sad when saying goodbye to a child.

The Daily Journal of Round America:

Each day, we collect our thoughts on a web page just like this. We drop in some of the photos from the day. Our goal with the Daily Journal is to write about the towns we visit, the sights we see, the people we meet, and the pie we eat. We write about where we are, where we’ve been, and where we are going, but we also make observations about what we’ve seen and done as well as about life in general.

You can follow our travels from the Daily Journal section of this website. Other pages of interest include the running report of “vital statistics” on the Trip Scorecard, our nominations for the Best & Worst of the trip, as well as a rating of the pie we eat. If you’d like to see information for a specific state or town, click here, and then click on the state of interest, and the full itinerary is shown.


More Information on the Sights Visited Today:
Muir Woods — Bolinas California — Bodega California — Mendocino California — Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree