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California Vacation 2011 - Part One

Summer vacation plans came together for my wife and I in late May. The planned destination,  Sonoma, California for the July 4th holiday week. After a check of the weather, the airline flights, and hotel deals we confirmed our reservations for the week in California. With forecasted weather cooler than Texas and a full page of sight seeing notes made we were ready to enjoy a slow paced getaway.

The early morning flight out of DFW to SFO was smooth and clear. We walked off the airplane and felt the cool bay area breeze. With a big comfortable sigh of relief we were happy to feel the much cooler temperatures! The little Prius rent car had just enough room in the back for our two bags. These two Texans are use to a little bit bigger cars! Can you rent Chevy trucks in California?  We pointed the little putt-putt car north and the adventure started with a drive through San Francisco. Candice snapped off a few pictures of the architectural details on the nearby buildings as we approached the Golden Gate bridge area.

Typical coastal fog had the Golden Gate bridge fogged in but it peeked out just enough to get a few pictures. A quick stop for pictures at Vista Point and we decided we needed lunch.


Drive through lunch worked this time as we wanted to start our trek up Highway 1 along the coast. At the exit for Highway 1 Candice spotted a Beaver on floats sitting next to the water. Seaplane rides right there next to the house boats at Sausalito!

Upon beginning our journey on Highway 1 I told Candice it was a goal of mine to drive a part of Highway 1 someday. Well, after fifteen minutes on 1 I had had about enough of the curves. The views off the coast were amazing but I had to keep my eyes on the road. Muir Beach was full of weekend crowds so we decided to continue on to Stinson Beach. Maybe we could get out there and get our land legs back! The weekend traffic that was backed up for a few miles helped us change our plans again. No walking on the beach for this trip. One stop at a scenic overlook for coastal pictures and we wanted to head back inland.

We found out the hard way that the Panoramic Highway was more curvy than Highway 1! We just wanted a flat, relatively straight road to get us north!  Hey, were those Redwood tress back there?  Yes, but keep driving! At about the end of our tolerance for curved roads we made it back to the 101 to head toward some family friends house in Penngrove. The Sampson's welcomed us with a glass of ice water and offered us comfy seats on the back porch. About an hour later our eyes stopped spinning and our queasy stomachs settled. They also graciously offer us a tasty dinner and their backyard guesthouse.  Day one was a full day of travel and coastal driving.  It felt good to settle in for the night.

After a comfortable nights stay with the Sampson's, and a long, leisurely morning start, we did a quick review of our notes and reviewed directions to our two weeks worth of destinations that we hoped to fit in to one week. At least we could hit the highlights and plan a return trip! While packing the car for departure a Stearman biplane broke the quietness of the morning. The Stearman was a good indicator of good weather and fun plans ahead.  Off toward Sonoma we went.

God created just the right conditions in this part of the country for growing grapes.  It appears man figured that out and planted them everywhere!  From large farms to side yards next to peoples houses, there you will find grapevines.  As far as the eye could see it was grapevines on the drive into Sonoma.

We knew we were going to enjoy the small town of Sonoma when we pulled up to the town square.  Just the type of town my wife and I want to spend some time in.  We parked the car and walked the square for shopping and lunch.  My eyes were turned skyward again as a biplane soared over.  Now the excitement was building in me.  Great weather, small town AND vintage airplanes flying over!  I had been to Sonoma once before but only for a day. (See the June 2006 postings on this blog.)  This trip was going to be good as we had plans to stay a full week!

The afternoon did warm up a little so we found some ice cream on the square. It is vacation! Bring on the $10 milkshakes!  We finished our treats just as we pulled into our hotel.  My wife found us an awesome deal at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn.  Wine tasting in the lobby gave us an opportunity to talk through our plan for the July 4th holiday and the week ahead. Part two to come...

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