After a really fun six-day stay in Napa, playing with friends, eating exceptionally well and–of course–drinking rather too much wine, it was time to hit the road again.
We left our pleasant little campground at Skyline Wilderness Park east of Napa and headed west through the rolling hills towards the coast on routes 12 and 116 until we ran into Route 1 and and the Pacific Ocean.
Our first pause was at Bodega Bay, a funky little town with a huge but very shallow bay, a coast guard station, and plenty and camping opportunities. The best campground of the bunch was the county park on the south side of town, Doran Regional Park. We would plan to make a stop there next time around. Driving through the town took us past funky little restaurants and shops, until we went left to drive around the north/west side of the bay. Definitely don’t miss a trip up to to Bodega Bay Head, where the views up the coast are spectacular.
From Bodega Bay north, the drive was stunning. More cows than civilization, which we enjoyed, with dramatic hillsides and mountains slipping — quite litterally — into the Pacific Ocean. The recent powerful storms and rain had caused serious “slides” up and down the coast. Our ride was slowed or stopped regularly by roadblocks, road reconstruction, stabilization efforts and mud and rocks on the roadside.
My photographs don’t do justice to the scenery. Most were taken from a moving car, and it was a cloudy, drizzly day. The scenery, however, in spite of the conditions, was dramatic. The driving was both fun and challenging, with sharp hairpin curves, steep climbs and descents, and perilous drop-offs to ravines and the ocean below. Behind each curve were breathtaking vistas.
While the roads and hillsides had suffered a lot of damage from the heavy rains and powerful storms that had swept through the area just a week before, it was clear that road maintenance and hillside stabilization is an ongoing effort and at times reaches critical stages. There were a lot of large crews and some very heavy machinery hard at work.
At the end of the day we reached Manchester. We would have stayed at the Manchester Beach State Park Campground, but it was closed (storm damage? We couldn’t figure it out) so we stayed at the adjacent Manchester/Mendocino KOA. It was a very pleasant facility in a sprawling park-like setting. Granted, it was off-season and no one else was there so our experience doesn’t reflect high-season, but we enjoyed it. See our post about the the herd.
I wish this post and the photographs did the day justice. They don’t. We highly recommend a trip along this section of the Pacific Coast Highway. It was the best drive of the trip (so far).