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Exploring America On Wheels
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Report 10: Vancouver BC to Seattle by motorhome, then to San Francisco by car.

Route

We crossed over to the USA at what used to be the 'truck crossing', following I-5 down to Seattle. In Seattle on the I-5 we had a serious accident and were towed to Auburn WA. We continued on by car, travelling across the bottom of Puget Sound, then north, along state highways 16, 3 and 104. Once we hit the eastern leg of US-101, we went west to state highway 112, out to Cape Flattery, the most western part of the continental USA. From Cape Flattery, we retraced our track eastward, past the western part of US-101 (the coast road), to the eastern leg of US-101, which skirts along the Hood Canal, which looks more like a long lake than a canal. From there, we crossed over to the Pacific Coast Highway (US-101) and stayed on it down into northern California, where it turns inland, at Leggett. Here, we picked up state highway 1, which hugs the coast. At Jenner, we took CA-116 to Santa Rosa, then US-101 almost into San Francisco, turning off to arrive at Oakland, on the east bay. Of course, along the route we turned off onto side roads too numerous to mention, to see the sights.

Highlights

Auburn WA. With no sewer hook-up and judicial use of water we only had to bucket out the holding tanks a few times. We had to stay until the insurance adjuster had looked over the RV and repair arrangements had been made. We spent our time walking the dog and just living, as there is not much to see and do in Auburn.

Cape Flattery WA. The cape is on an Indian reserve and during the summer they relieve tourists of $10 for the privilege of entering. Nobody was in evidence, as we were there in the off-season. The walk to the cape is easily done in running shoes, over prepared hiking trails. The walk is enjoyable and the views of the cape spectacular. We had good weather, although it was very cold. The roads were covered in frost all day and overnight, in Port Angeles, we had a bit of snow. This was a worthwhile detour, both for the nice drive, the hike and the views from the cape. We let Molly run loose; she had a good time.

As we were entering Tillamook OR, we wondered, “Is this the place where the cheese comes from?” No sooner had the words left our mouth we saw the factory. It was a neat tour, with a nice little gift shop. After the cheese factory we saw a sign 'Three Capes scenic drive', so off we went. Of the three capes, Cape Meares was the nicest and this is the first place that we sighted whales and seals. The three-arch rock and cape lookout were also good. The drive between the capes is very scenic too.

The week in Lincoln City OR was nearly entirely taken up by long beach walks. We again saw seals in the surf. Molly was about to roll in a dead squid...we caught her just in the nick of time.

Brookings OR is a nice spot, with an interesting harbour and a nearby park. The park was decorated with thousands, maybe millions of Christmas lights. We went during the day to run the dog, then at night to see the lights...spectacular! We actually saw real deer grazing around the display of deer lights, cool. Brookings was where we saw our first big redwoods, at the Jedediah Smith State Park. It was a rough drive and the weather was not the best, but the trees were worth the effort. Near Brookings we drove out to Crescent City, where a local seafood restaurant has a resident population of harbour seals and sea lions...decent food, good ambience, and nice scenery.

One of our goals was to drive through a giant redwood tree, which we did at Klamath CA. Unfortunately the tree moved as we were driving through and it scraped our side mirror...oops. There are only three drive-through redwoods left, all in private hands.

Eureka CA, which we had heard about and were prepared to visit for several days, is a hole. We left after one day. The only good thing about it is that, when leaving, we drove the Avenue of the Giants, which appears to be old highway 101. What a fantastic drive! Although we'd already seen giant redwoods, there is something mesmerising about them, akin to watching surf. We never tired of seeing them. Along the way, there are dozens of hiking trails; we spent about a couple of hours exploring one. Molly, again, had a ball.

From Garberville CA we took several scenic drives through very hilly and winding roads. The scenery was fantastic. At the end of one, over the King Mountain Range, we discovered Shelter Cove, where we again saw whales spouting, lots of them. Molly finally discovered that her genes are water dog, as she for the first time ran into the water to retrieve her ball. It was a tough drive in and out of there and we were glad we were not doing it in the motorhome. Very scenic!

Fort Bragg CA is a nice place, albeit a bit touristy. We walked Old Town, the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens and nearby state parks. The Beachcomber motel is right on the dunes, so we had endless walks there with Molly. The harbour, under the bridge, is one of the most scenic harbours.

From our base in Oakland, we have been exploring the bay area. We thought we'd give it a week, but we stayed nearly a month. We discovered, within an easy walk from the hotel, the very popular Rudy's Can't Fail Café (50s retro), where we had a New Years Day breakfast, Pixar Studios, and Fantasy Junction, a classic car broker with the most fantastic stock of cars, which we were invited to walk among. We went to an international car show in San Jose, which was a real disappointment; the car industry is still sick, at least if their efforts at putting on a major car show is any evidence.
Over the Bay Bridge, in San Francisco, we've been doing the 49-mile drive in bits and pieces. On an unusually clear day we went up to the twin peaks and saw stunning vistas of the city. Another day was spent walking around the Golden Gate Park which was originally 1,017 acres of sand dunes and is now a huge park with different gardens, a small lake with boat rentals, playing fields, etc. It is a very popular spot. We met up with Bruce, a school chum of Kyle's, at a neat restaurant called “The Stinking Rose” in North Beach. You have to like garlic to eat here. We love San Francisco and its unique architecture.

Earth quakes and other natural disasters so far have been uneventful, at least for us. There was an earthquake just south of us, near Milpitas, which we barely felt even though it was a 4.1. There was another, much bigger one—a 7, north of us in Eureka that we did not feel at all, despite the TV news carrying on about it. The rain storms that the area is also famous for were totally uneventful where we are staying, although they reached records in some parts of the bay area. Just south of San Francisco, on the other hand, there is an apartment building ready to slip into the sea due to erosion. Apparently, they have lost about 30-feet of land over the past few years. Now that the cliff is right at the edge of the building and it is about to topple, they are finally getting around to taking core samples and are protecting the cliff with rock. We took a drive down that highway and, sure enough, there are areas of the highway that are diverted due to erosion. From what we've seen, that apartment is doomed, as perhaps are others ones around it.