In celebration of our 20th wedding anniversary Heather and decided to take a week off and drive up to San Francisco. We took US 101 most of the way, with a few detours on the way north to check out some migrating Monarch butterflies, meet some friends, and look for a Bigfoot. We spent 3 nights in downtown San Francisco, and on the way back we spent a couple of nights in Santa Barbara. Our road trips aren't as much of a drive to someplace as they are a drive with a rough idea of a turn-around spot in the middle. Put another way, we had no real "destination" in mind, just the journey itself.
You can drive from San Diego to San Francisco in under 8 hours if you miss the traffic and take the direct route. We rarely take the "direct route". Instead, we took two days to get there, with a stop in Monterey for the night.
Our first stop was Pismo Beach, to see the Monarch butterflies that spend the winter there each year. There is a grove of eucalyptus trees just south of town where the butterflies hang out, literally, from late October to February. Over the last 5 years the average count has been about 25,000, making this one of the largest spots in the nation.
After about 30 minutes of trying hard not to accidentally step on a butterfly we got on the phone to reserve a hotel room in Monterey and resumed our journey north. The next morning we met up with some friends and toured the Mission in Carmel, followed by a walk and lunch in the "downtown" area of Carmel.
Check out Part 2 to see more of the Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmel.
From Carmel we took CA 1 north around the Monterey Bay to just outside of Santa Cruz where we turned inland on CA 9 towards the little town of Felton, and the Bigfoot Discovery Center and Museum. CA 9 is a narrow winding road up through some dense redwood forests, with great views.
We had a very nice chat with Michael Rugg, the owner and curator of the Museum, who not only looks just like the portrait above, but who told us quite a bit about local Bigfoot sightings, and even explained why it is difficult to see a Bigfoot in the daytime these days. We'll have to go back to this area and spend some time in the forests.
After our visit to the Bigfoot Museum we continued inland on CA 9 and then CA 35, known as the Skyline Highway, a ridge route along the top of the Santa Cruz Mountains north towards San Francisco.
We got into downtown San Francisco a little after sunset, and checked into our favorite hotel just off Union Square, the Chancellor Hotel. The hotel celebrated their 100th anniversary last year. We've stayed there many times, and have always had a great experience.
Speaking of anniversary, I must have mentioned something about the reason for our visit when I booked the room, because they were kind enough to have this waiting for us when we got there. The little box had 4 very nice little chocolates.
Click here to see a few more pictures from our drive north in January.
Photography . . . Travel . . .
- Frank B. Baiamonte
- San Diego, California, United States
- About me . . . When I'm not working I like to be out exploring and photographing. I do this blog just for fun, and to be able to share these images with friends. I hope you enjoy viewing these images as much as I enjoyed creating them.
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All of the content and images on this site (c) Frank B. Baiamonte. If you would like to use any of these images please contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss terms of usage. Note that images from the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park are not available for commercial usage.
Header image: Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, Cibola, Arizona. End image: Downtown San Diego, California skyline from Coronado Island. Profile picture: Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, by Heather Baiamonte.