After the Redwoods we continued our move South along Highway 101 and 1. We planned on stopping somewhere along the coast and then heading into San Francisco the next day, but we never really found a nice place to stop. Not because it wasn’t nice, it just was so foggy and cold that we just kept driving and driving. At some point we decided it was a good idea to drive to Monterey and go to the aquarium, I think we misread the scale on our map. Our leisurely drive down the coast turned into a 11 hour marathon drive from almost Oregon to Monterey… probably 400 miles. We found this odd park (Veterans Park) in Monterey which was almost downtown. It was right next to an Army base so they played Taps each night at 10PM to take the flag down and Revel the next morning at 7 to run the flag back up. All of the soldiers did calisthenics or jumping jacks or just liked screaming for a half hour after the flag was raised, we couldn’t be sure, but it was loud and it ensured our early start. On Friday we hit the Monterey Aquarium, very cool… see the pictures. In the afternoon we did the classic drive through Pebble Beach, through Carmel-by-the-sea and down to Big Sur. It was a great drive with wonderful scenery, but we were not sure how people make entire vacations out of driving the coast but apparently many European tourists try. We returned to Monterey, found an English pub on the dock, enjoyed some beers while the sun set and few sailboats raced around the harbor. The following morning we awoke to the Army guys running the flag up and doing jumping jacks then hit the road toward San Francisco. We drove through San Jose, Redwood City, and Mountain View which is affectionately known as “Silicon Valley.” This area was the great stage for the boom and bust of the tech bubble several years back and still boasts the headquarters of many large companies like Oracle, Google, and HP.
Being my 29th birthday (8/25) we stayed in a hotel to celebrate (ohh, a hotel, how fancy!) in the heart of the Italian section of San Francisco known as North Beach. Because of our rooftop box on the car, it took us 2 hours to find a garage to stash the car for a couple of days since we have a high clearance. After getting some info from Tara (Sara’s sister) we set out to explore San Francisco. We had a great lunch at Molinari Deli and walked down to the waterfront. Fisherman’s Whart is a tourist trap but we had to go, so we did. For a birthday dinner we got some great traditional sushi at a local place that didn’t look like much, but our Japanese hotel owner said it was the only place he goes. To further drive home the birthday, we did a bit of bar hopping, hitting the Rogue public house and Rose Pistola for some scotch, funky cocktails, and jazz. It was a great birthday and evening out.
Today we continued our tour of San Francisco by learning how to use the bus system and hitching a ride over to the park at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge. By the time we got there, the sun had burned off the fog and we got some great pictures. The sun was out and the sailboats were heeled over in the bay, it was windy but beautiful. Tonight, some fine Italian, then tomorrow we head up to Sonoma and Napa.