Saturday, July 26, 2014

RV Cruising California Country

We were on the road again and enjoying the sights of California.  We were following the Pacific Coast Highway for most of our travels on this journey and heading north to and beyond San Francisco this morning.   Today we were the followers and although we had all talked about which route we were taking, we were following our friends wherever they may go!

Hills around Monterey Bay, CA
The green hills on Hwy 1 reminded me of some of our scenery back home before the summer heat turns the hills brown.  Anytime we’ve been in this area has been in the spring so these hills may well become brown as the summer progresses, too, but they’re a luscious green today.

Freeway choices on Hwy 880
We had considered continuing to follow Hwy 1 but chose to follow another route, hoping to avoid any toll booths in this maze of freeways and bridges.  The GPS offers the option of no tolls so we were following those directions and our friends.  Thank goodness for two-way radios.

Cityscape in Oakland, CA

Hwy 880 was the GPS chosen freeway.  We sure were not avoiding any of the big city scenery on this route which included Oakland and Berkeley.  Other than needing some navigating skills to keep us on the right freeway at times, there were no problems as we moved through the Saturday morning traffic.
Toll bridge receipt
We’re enjoying the view which includes a very distant sighting of the Golden Gate Bridge across the San Francisco Bay.  We continue until the next freeway change, which moves us onto Hwy 580.  I would not recommend you follow my directions but if it feels confusing, you’ll understand our feelings on that lovely morning.  The next thing we know, we are approaching a toll booth!

Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, San Francisco, CA
At this point we have no choice but to pay the toll and cross the bridge but as it turns out, there really is no choice in this part of the state.  We would have been a long way inland and a very different route in order to avoid a toll and that was not part of our plan.

Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, the John F. McCarthy Memorial
As it turns out, the bridge we are crossing has some interest for us.  The Richmond San Rafael Bridge was built in 1956 and was the second longest over-water bridge in the world when built.  It is 8.9 km (5.5 mi) long including the approaches.  The longest was the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge which we had crossed on a previous trip.  The third longest is the Chesapeake Bay bridge which we had crossed when touring Canada and the U.S. a few years ago.

Roller coaster span of bridge
These photos do not show the full scale of the bridge but it spans over two ship channels and is often referred to as the “roller coaster span” so that will explain some of the ups and downs of the bridge surface.

View of San Quentin State Prison
Once across the bridge we realize we are looking at San Quentin, which is the oldest state prison in California.  It was built in 1852 and is still being used today. They do offer tours but that just isn’t on my bucket list and thankfully not on anyone else’s today, either.

Green views on Hwy 101
The rest of our day, back on Hwy 101, was sunny and green.  We passed green fields filled with resting cattle; we saw some wine fields before their spring growth; we stopped for groceries in the nice town of Willit then drove through some of those great California redwoods we’ve all heard about. 

We spent the night at the Benbow RV park, talking about the great day we’d had and looking forward to seeing more of the Redwoods that we will see on our next day of adventures.


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