Oregon Trail Days 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16

It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long since my last update, but I suppose things just sort of got away from me.  We’re due to arrive in Portland on July 20, and before that we’ll be doing three nights of camping in a row, so this is likely to be the last major update before Rachael and I are happily ensconced in our new home city.

The last few days in Los Angeles were incredibly good, primarily because we have some really great friends who live in that area who are willing to take us in and let us be part of their lives for however long we’re able to stay in town.  Much of what we did during that part of the trip was just simple day-to-day stuff that anyone living their lives would do, but with house guests tagging along.  Rachael made the entire family shepherd’s pie as a thank you on our last night there, and it was really good; I think she improved on the last time we attempted that dish.

There’s so much promise on this plate, and unfortunately it was a rare case of disappointment.

The same day that we had the shepherd’s pie, we also went out to eat at a local Mexican restaurant that had some delicious creamy mushroom soup and mole fries.  I had a chicharron quesadilla which was a little disappointing (chicharron is pork belly, and I was expecting something crispier than the super fatty filling I got in my quesadilla).

After Los Angeles, we trekked up California’s I-5 towards Half-Moon Bay, a little coast town just south of San Francisco.  We were warned that the five is a really boring drive in comparison to the Pacific Coast Highway, but it’s faster, and since we’d never driven along it before we were actually very intrigued by the variety of farms, orchards, and vineyards that line the roughly two hundred mile stretch that we did.  Subsequent drives along the five are likely not to be as interesting, but it was worth doing once.

We spent that evening trying to navigate San Francisco’s metro system, the BART, in order to go hang out with some writer acquaintances of Rachael’s in the city.  The BART had a pretty steep learning curve, and the workers at the stations were occasionally less than helpful with city newcomers, so that was a point of frustration with the evening.  Besides dealing with transit though, it was a fun excursion with some good Thai food to bookend the commutes in and out of the city; I did learn pretty conclusively that I’m not a fan of driving mountain roads after dark though.

For our two nights in Half-Moon Bay we stayed at a local bed and breakfast that’s run by a local couple who were extremely pleasant if a little hard to disengage from when we needed to retreat to our room or go out about our business.  All things told they were extremely sweet though.

Our full day of rest while in the Bay Area was spent enjoying the local leisure activities of Half-Moon Bay.  Rachael and I got up and took a morning stroll along the coastline while the fog slowly burned off the water, had lunch at a local brewery, were mistaken for guests at a local wedding, took a short drive south along the coast to a small rural town to pick up some artichoke laced bread (it didn’t last past the drive the next day), and finished the day by walking along the beach again to view the sunset and get dinner at a local seafood place.

On the approach to the Golden Gate Bridge. It really was that cool.

Today (I’m sure I’ve skipped over a lot, but what are you going to do?), Rachael and I hit the road towards Fort Bragg, another small coast town farther north.  On our way out of town we drove through San Francisco and over the Golden Gate Bridge (it is a very impressive thing), then we stopped over in Santa Rosa briefly where there was a local farmer’s market happening.  We got some fresh fruit and learned from a lady at the information center that we weren’t far from a winery belonging to Nicolas Cage’s uncle.  We obviously couldn’t let this opportunity pass, so we stopped there on the way and took some pictures of the movie memorabilia on display (alas, there was nothing Cage related; I guess he was really serious about distancing himself from the family name) and moved on.  The rest of the drive was pleasant, but winding.  We took a mountain road through some of the redwood forests that are dispersed throughout northern California, and while it was a very beautiful drive, I definitely felt a little stressed doing the windy switchbacks.

Sea glass glittering in the sunlight.

Once we got to Fort Bragg we decided to take it easy for the afternoon, so we only did a little bit of hiking at the glass beach for which the town is famous.  What’s notable about this beach is the vast amounts of sea glass left over from bottles and other glass containers that were previously tossed into the ocean that washes up on shore, polished into tiny little gemstones.  We didn’t stay too long there, and the rest of today has been a very relaxed one mostly spent lazing about in our hotel room.  Considering that the last stretch of our journey involves a bunch of camping, we figured that we’ve earned a rest day.

Next time I check in will probably be after we’re in Portland; here’s hoping I can gather up enough brain cells to rub together and present some final thoughts on this extended road trip.

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