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Grass Valley Pescadero Creek

2nd August 2010

Out of the Sunny Warm Vineyards in Napa Valley and Onto the Cold Foggy Coast

Vineyard Near Calistoga in Napa Valley
    I awoke to an overcast sky and no porridge, so I typed up some notes instead. I needed to revisit Calistoga to take care of a big load of chores. I also needed to check if there was a Ford dealer there. The ABS warning light was coming on frequently, and there was an occasional flicker from the brake warning light. Neither of these perturbed me greatly, but I suspected the brake pads needed changing soon; the ABS failing would not stop the brakes working, just the ABS aspect.
    In the course of my chores I discovered that banks around here have all signs in both English and Spanish. The need for this was rammed home to me when I was at the launderette, where I had an animated conversation with a young boy who spoke no English, and I spoke no Spanish. We got on quite well. I found that the nearest Ford dealer was down at St Helena, so I made the decision to head down there after completing some purchases.
    On my drive down to St Helena, the van behaved impeccably all the way. I didn't want to take the van in to the dealer's if I had no fault to show, so I rapidly worked out my options for heading west. I identified a road going west across to Glen Ellen on my map, and I could pick it up a few miles further south of St Helena, so I continued south looking for the road sign to Glen Ellen. When I reached Yountville I realised I had overshot the road, but there had been no road sign pointing to it. Rather than fruitlessly searching for it, I called in at Yountville visitor centre for advice.
Downtown Yountville
    Two old dears greeted me, and asked me where I was trying to get to. Pretty soon they had pulled out a map and showed me a route that involved a 120 mile detour via San Francisco. That wasn't quite what I wanted. I spotted the road I was after on their map, and asked how I would find that road to Glen Ellen. "Oh, you want the Oakville Grade Road", they both responded together. "No, I want the Glen Ellen Road," I said. "But you take the Oakville Grade Road", they both replied. It appears that signs around here didn't point to destinations, they just gave local road names. Very useful for guys like me, I thought. I thanked them profusely and headed back up the road to seek Oakville Grade Road. There it was, and I turned to climb up another set of hills, from which I dropped down into Sonoma Valley, another vine growing region.
    At the opposite side of the valley, I noticed the hint of fog banks behind them. Once I had crossed the final set of hills after Sonoma Valley, it was a gentle drop down to the coast. The change in climate was dramatic. The whole coast was fog bound, and I noticed people wrapped up against the cold.
The Coast Near Jenner - Could be England
The Russian River Heading for the Sea at Jenner
Cliffs Near Jenner

Flowers on the Cliffs
    As soon as I hit the coast, I ventured a little north as far as Jenner. The view looking inland from the coast could easily be mistaken for the Yorkshire moors: fog banks on the hills, with cows grazing on the rough grasses before me. The opposite view could easily have been mistaken for Cornwall. I reached Jenner, where the Russian River met the sea, then turned back a short way in order to travel up the course of the river to a recreational area a few miles up. I could have been driving up the Thames Valley here, with the wide slow moving river emulating the Thames.
    I found a campsite, as expected, but they refused me entry because I didn't have a tent. Sleeping in vans was not approved of. I didn't argue, I just left and headed back down the coast to Bodega Bay, where I picked up a site on Doran Beach sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and the bay itself. I couldn't appreciate the views because of the fog. Hopefully things might have improved by the morning. I fell asleep listening to the breakers pounding the shores, and the fog horn booming every 20 seconds, a soothing combination.
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Grass Valley Pescadero Creek

Uploaded from Crepe Cafe, Avarado Street, Monterey on 05/08/10 at 10:00

Last updated 5.8.2010