California dreaming: roadtrip of summer 2018

Who thought that road trips could be an addictive substance – at times expensive, hard to find (directions/locations), life-threatening (car crashes and close calls are as common as sunshine) and every time you go on one, you never know the type of “high/adventure” you’re  going to get. Still, I can’t get enough! And after last summer’s “3000 miles, 6 states, and 2 thirsty ladies Part 1″ and Part 2, it was hard to just stay home when my mama came to visit, so off we went!

From the title of this post, you sure have guessed where we ventured to, but how can you not, with California’s perfect beach landscapes, majestic redwood trees, famous wines and loads of sunshine. And so we flew from Missoula to San Francisco, then rented a car and pressed on the gas:

Table of Contents

  1. Day 1: San Francisco to Napa Valley

  2. Day 2: Stanislaus National Forrest and Pinecrest Lake

  3. Day 3: Lake Tahoe

  4. Day 4: Redding

  5. Day 5: The coast

  6. Day 6: Mendocino, Little River, Anderson Valley

  7. Day 7: San Francisco and Departure

  8. Thank you for stopping by and reading along as I relived my summer 2018 week-long road trip with my mama. Stay tuned for the next post to see us boozing from one Golden State Brewery to the next.

Day 1: San Francisco to Napa Valley

With flying taking a good portion of our day (still beats driving all the way from Montana), we eagerly got out of the San Francisco’s vicinity in order to have some yummy wines and a chance to see the famous valley of endless vineyards. While traffic didn’t do us any favors, we still arrived in time for the setting sun to illuminate our glasses and to say: “Cheers!” to this mother-daughter adventurous duo!

Day 2: Stanislaus National Forrest and Pinecrest Lake

To throw a challenge at our West coast adventure, the gods of Fire were busy, setting most of California aflame, or so it seemed. Sadly, we were unable to sightsee what should have been the highlight of our trip – Yosemite National Park. Instead, we settled for Stanislaus National Forest and Pinecrest Lake Campground to get our first taste of the giant Redwood trees that are so prevalent in this part of the country. My mind could hardly fathom the height of these stoic giants as we walked around and snapped away.

Day 3: Lake Tahoe

Driving towards Lake Tahoe was starting to become my favorite part of California, with its tall mountains, low valleys, and views for miles. While the lake itself was a busy destination for this hot summer day, we still managed to do some short hiking tracks, saw a waterfall, tasted some local brews and found our cozy Airbnb nestled in the trees of Nevada, yup, because it’s that close. Seeing what people live like in California through staying in various Airbnbs was a great look into the world of people you wouldn’t normally meet. Staying in a comfy bed, versus camping (like we did last year) was a much more welcoming prospect after spending 5-6 hours in the car on the daily bases.

Day 4: Redding

Driving to Redding brought more gorgeous car window views and some very long and windy roads full of construction. Note to self, if you have a weak stomach, bring something to help with nausea because the serpentine roads go on and on and on…

In other news, arriving in Redding, we were welcomed by a surprisingly blue and clear sky, which we took advantage of to visit the famous Sundial Bridge, which definitely lived up to our expectation. But being inland and in August, we couldn’t truly enjoy being outside due to the heat and humidity. In the evening, our Airbnb host recommended Woody’s for a nightcap and we cheered to yet another successful roadtripping day.

Day 5: The coast

Leaving Redding, our not so trusty GPS took us along the road that saw the most damage in a recent Carr fire, which destroyed over 1600 buildings and burned over 229,000 acres. The mood was quiet and somber as we kept driving and hoping that no one was fatally hurt. Eventually, we came to a point where a U-turn was necessary, as the fire personnel was unloading to begin another day of cleaning up. Seeing what nature is capable of was a definite reminder that life is a precious commodity.

We came closer to the coast, visited a Black Sand Beach and kept on going North “TO THE TREES” as Pete Nelson of “Treehouse Masters” would have said.

Day 6: Mendocino, Little River, Anderson Valley

Driving along the coast ended up being the most favorite part of the trip after all because there were no more windy roads, just blue ocean on one side and overpriced houses on the other.

Day six was a real treat because being among the Redwoods is surely to make you feel like a tiny organism in the land of giants. The average height of a Redwood tree is around 350 feet (109 m) and with some of them, it would take your whole family holding hands in order to hug it. We even found the largest one (or so they think)

While we spent a pretty short time driving through Napa Valley, we got our money’s worth (sort of speak) as we drove back to San Francisco through yet another wine-lovers destination – Anderson Valley. It seemed that vineyards were everywhere, as we would pass what seemed like dozens before we randomly picked – Greenwood Ridge Vineyard. Didn’t think I enjoyed drinking wine at 10 am, but when the tasting is free, the space is gorgeous (octagonal tasting room, designed by an associate of none other than Frank Lloyd Wright) and an incredibly friendly hostess, you just can’t help yourself but be an eager wine enthusiast (beer who?)

Day 7: San Francisco and Departure

With our flight leaving at 6 pm that day, we knew we had limited time to sightsee SF and settled for admiring the Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin Headlands. There, we were also able to enjoy a bit of beach time, though the temperature never quite got to the swimming/sunbathing highs. In fact, the weather throughout our whole trip was surprisingly chilly and never once did I feel comfortable enough in order to take a dip in the Pacific Ocean. Oh well, just gotta come back, I guess 😛

I had an opportunity to sightsee the Golden Gate on a layover trip with my hubby and Slonik (my Yorkie who is the most traveled dog I know), but for mama it was the first. The day was clear and full of sunshine and it was a perfect situation for taking in this world-famous destination. Marin Headlands is a perfect crowd-less, nature-infused location in SF, where people hike, bike, run, swim and camp (not sure how legal that was in hindsight). We got some great shots from various perspectives and headed out for some lunch and a brewski before we had to return our faithful steed aka rental car and fly back to good, old MSO.


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In summary:

CA likes:

Redwood trees

Coastal roads (especially with black sand beaches)

Incredible Breweries (Lost Coast, North Coast, Woody’s and others)

CA dislikes:


Serpentine roads (have you heard of a straight line)

Early closing hours of wineries and breweries

Fire season


Thank you for stopping by and reading along as I relived my summer 2018 week-long road trip with my mama. Stay tuned for the next post to see us boozing from one Golden State Brewery to the next.

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