Category Archives: San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge

Road trip 1: California

It’s been a busy start to the road trip so far. Been sticking to the schedule and seeing everything that we set out to see. Everything has been better than I expected it to be so far.

21-Aug Fly out to San Francisco

The flight out was pretty uneventful. Nothing too crazy. Picked up the car and checked in to the first of what will be many hotels.

22-Aug San Francisco, CA

Woke up and took a stroll around Fisherman’s Wharf. A lot of people who live in San Fransisco or have visited might tell you to skip this stop. They say it’s too touristy, the food isn’t good, it’s not the real San Francisco experience, etc. I would probably agree with those reasons but would disagree about skipping it. There are times on travel when it’s very appropriate to be a tourist, and spending a couple hours around Fisherman’s Wharf gawking around with the other tourists is just fine, and pretty fun.

If you do stop by Fisherman’s Wharf it’s worth checking out Pier 39. There are the some very touristy gift shops. They even sell cotton candy. Boo hoo.

The sea lions that hang around the pier are pretty awesome. They put on a show for the crowd without even intending to.

Sea Lions in Fisherman's Wharf
Sea Lions in Fisherman’s Wharf

There definitely are some pretty bad food choices on the wharf, but I’d have to recommend a clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl from Boudin Bakery & Cafe. It looks gimmicky inside the shop but the bowl of chowder delivers.

Clam Chowder in a Bread Bowl from Boudin's
Clam Chowder in a Bread Bowl from Boudin’s

After lunch it was time for more touristy things such as heading to Lombard Street. The interactions between the drivers, tourists, and traffic police is rather theatrical.

Lombard Street
Lombard Street

After Lombard Street I tried to get a good shot of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a hazy day and we were quite a distance away from the bridge. A bird pooping on my head kind of sealed my fate. My chance to get a shot of the bridge would have to wait.

Washed my hair as best as I could and headed off to City Beer Store. They have a ridiculous collection of craft beers available and many of the good ones are only available on premises. $100 bottles of 2008 FiftyFifty Imperial Eclipse Stout aged in Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon barrels, Firestone Walker Anniversary Ale 16, etc. Can’t drink much so splitting a bottle of Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout seems a fair compromise. It’s one of the best beers in the world, no big deal.

Goose Island Bourbon County Coffee
Goose Island Bourbon County Coffee

After City Beer Store we stop by Cellarmaker Brewing Company, which is a block away. It’s a new brewery that seems to be doing well. We split a porter called Coffee And Cigarettes which tastes pretty good.

Before long it’s time for dinner. In San Francisco you eat one dish for dinner. Cioppino, a seafood stew. We hear the best cioppino is at Sotto Mare. It ends up being an hour and a half wait, but no worries. The place is tiny. There’s only a few seats available, and the open kitchen takes up half of the space. We have some amazing west coast raw oysters, clams in garlic sauce, and a bowl of cioppino. They give you enough in the bowl for two people. The meal is delicious.

Cioppino at Sotto Mare
Cioppino at Sotto Mare

After dinner we try to get to Hawk Hill, per recommendation from a local barista, to get a good view of the bridge. Hawk Hill was closed for the night but we were still able to score a sweet pick of the bridge from the road leading up to Hawk Hill. It was an ominous night with the fog and the lighting and the darkness and the bridge was emanating an eery presence.

Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge

After checking out the bridge we drove to about an hour outside of Napa.

23-Aug Napa Valley, CA

The day in Napa started off by getting some supplies ready for the road trip. We bought a styrofoam cooler and supplies for breakfasts and lunches. Chobanis, Kind bars, some fruits, cheeses, nuts, etc. Trying to have some fast healthy snacks to keep us powered throughout the day.

We drove through the Napa Valley area, taking in the sights of all of the beautiful wineries. We decided to stop at V. Sattui Winery. They had an Italian deli with meats and cheeses, a nice bbq going outside, tastings, tours, and beautiful grounds. It seemed like a good choice given we were only passing through. The wine and food were all delicious, and since we had to drive we opted to split a flight and keep it moving.

V. Sattui Winery, Napa
V. Sattui Winery, Napa

The next stop was actually a brewery. Wine is boring. It’s the same stuff no matter where or who you get it from in the entire world. Beer on the other hand is wildly different and is in the middle of this golden age of innovation in the United States. Russian River Brewing is one of the best breweries on the planet and one of the innovators pushing the industry forward.

They have 19 beers on tap that you can get in one enormous flight. Don’t worry, each taste is only 2 ounces, or less once the foam settles. While most known for their Pliny the Younger (only available in February) and Pliny the Elder hoppy beers, I thought the Supplication was the best beer. It’s a brown ale aged in used Pinot Noir barrels from local Sonoma County wineries. It’s aged for about 12 months with sour cherries, brettanomyces, lactobacillus, and pediococcus added to each barrel, whatever all that means.

Russian River's 19 beer flight
Russian River’s 19 beer flight

After hanging around we made the trek out to the Fort Bragg area for the night.

24-Aug Fort Bragg, CA & Redwoods, CA

We woke up, checked out and headed down to the beach at Fort Bragg. There’s a beach called Glass Beach that is made up of tons of sea glass created from years of dumping garbage along the coastline. It’s a pretty cool beach.

Glass Beach
Glass Beach

Strolling along the area gets you some pretty typical California coastal scenes.

California coast, Fort Bragg
California coast, Fort Bragg

I don’t know what was in here.

I just liked this
I just liked this

After taking a nice stroll we made the trek up to the Redwood National and State Parks. There’s some pretty cool wildlife along the way.

Elk on the side of the road
Elk on the side of the road

You see redwood trees all over in California, but the setup at this park is the perfect for viewing the trees. These trees are huge. Super wide and super tall. Walking amongst them was beautiful.

Redwood National and State Parks
Redwood National and State Parks

You are constantly looking up into the heavens trying to see where these trees end.

Redwoods are huge
Redwoods are huge

After the hike around the Redwoods, it was time to hit the road again. There were some more elk.

Elk in the Redwoods
Elk in the Redwoods

We stopped for dinner at a Mexican place, scoring some Mole chicken and shrimp dishes and some tortillas made from scratch. We were greeted by a buddy while we were looking for parking. Don’t worry, car was in reverse in case I needed to scramble out of there with the quickness.

Garbage bear
Garbage bear

After dinner we made the trip almost to Crater Lake, which puts us a little ahead of schedule. California is behind us and we’ll be in Oregon for the next couple days. Pretty pumped with how everything is going and looking forward to some more adventures.