After a very quick pack of the campsite when the sun rose in Red Rock Canyon State Park, we were off again, this time with San Jose as our destination. Kiavash’s lovely aunt, Mehran, had invited us to her beautiful mountainside home in Saratoga. We had a great time catching up and visiting Santana Row in the city.
The next day, we headed north though the Bay Area, with a state park north of San Francisco as our destination. Of course, it would be criminal to be so close to San Francisco and not visit, so we stopped off at the port market to pick up provisions for dinner before heading to Sonoma wine country. Sonoma looks surprisingly Tuscan for the US, and though it’s less famous than Napa it still produces some very fine wines. We stopped by a vineyard that specializes in organic production of wine (Syrah, mostly) and olive oil for a tasting. That night we camped on the coast, socked in by fog at a campsite so close to the ocean that you could hear the surf crash against the beach all night long.
Taking the winding highway 1 up the coast, we passed picturesque homes and dairy fields dotted with wild flowers to the right, with the road falling away to the rock-strewn ocean below to our left. This part of the coast highway is really the start of the middle of nowhere, with the scenery becoming progressively more dramatic the further north you go as your cell phone coverage disappears, until you reach Redwood State and National Park. Here, trees older than the Roman Empire tower over the forest, and signs warn you about what to do if you encounter a mountain lion.
Kiavash had scored us a great campsite in the redwood forest, and so as soon as we arrived we took off to hike some of the park’s more than 70 miles of trails. We spent the next morning exploring Fern Canyon, a creek bed canyon with walls of lush ferns so prehistoric-looking you half expect a dinosaur to saunter past you as you hike.
All in all, a spectacular way to spend a few days.
Kiavash and Mehran.
Delicious heirloom tomatoes at the market.
We almost ran in this streetcar at the top of Lombard Street.
The Golden Gate gave us a foggy crossing.
Well, hello wine tasting.
The chickens have papers.
Kiavash toasts a foggy drive on Hwy 1. This is a beach, believe it or not.
Exploring the tidal pools on the coast.
The redwoods begin!
They are big indeed.
So big that when they fall on the trail, they make a door rather than clear it away.
Even fallen giants make new ecosystems.
The “Big Tree” – over 300 feet tall.
Kiavash diligently checking our tent site to make sure it’s level (and maybe taking a nap).