Nowhere Near Highway 101: Day 5

Okay, back on the road from Sonoma for a drive further inland to Yosemite. This was one part of the road-trip we were looking forward to and for a while there we were going to have to find something else to do with the Government Shutdown and the National Parks closed down. So, we hadn’t booked any accommodation and eventually came up with a magnificent resort – Tenaya Lodge – just outside of the National Park and because there were vacancies and this is off-season we got it at less than half price (usually over $400 a night).

But, first we had to get there. The morning started with an excellent pecan pancake and crispy bacon at the Cinnamon Bear and here’s a picture of the breakfast and because I asked, here’s a picture of the pancake mix and our lovely host Darla.

Darla Pancakes CB

Bit of a chat with the other couple staying the night (that’s what happens in B&Bs) and then hit the road. Back through Napa, making our way to the 99 then the 41, which would take us to Yosemite.

Started well until we had to take a detour off the freeway due to a head-on involving two semis with one of the driver’s deceased I later found out. Lucky Mr Garmin was speaking to us so we knew which way to go.

Pity Mr Garmin didn’t keep speaking to us because after some hair-raising driving through Stockdale where there were multiple trucks, heavy traffic, shitful roads, and roadworks Mr Garmin decided he’d had enough and packed it in. Caroline twigged when she said it’s been saying we had 58 mile until our next turn-off for a very long time. She tried a reset but the pin Avis gave us did not work so we were at the mercy of T-Mobile and Caroline’s iPad. If ever you go to USA for more than a few weeks recommended to get a sim-card from T-Mobile, you don’t need a social security card with them like AT&T. Getting back to the pin on the Garmin, this is the second time this has happened (last time we were in Memphis on our last trip – I probably blogged about that if your are interested) so Avis will get a message when I get back.

Back to the driving – if you do not like driving on freeways in heavy traffic with a concrete barrier on one side and a series of semis on the other with hardly any gap between you and them and you are doing over 65mph and you have no idea where you are going – do not drive in America. Here’s a picture of the roadblock after the fatal –


And because it’s not all doom and gloom, here’s a picture of some wine vines coming out of Sonoma.
Maybe it was all gloom, here’s another typical shot out of the roadworks and semis.

Almost there, made it through some town which appeared to be very much Latino populated, then off into the hills. (Although we did have a pleasant sandwich at Starbucks in Chowchilla.) I was expecting a much more curvier and steep drive – it was bendy but not as steep as our earlier trip to Reddding. However, this was made even more enjoyable when poor old Jim just wanted to take in the scenery; however, he felt he was in the movie Duel with a delivery truck chasing us up the mountain – does the worker have no consideration for the tourist.

Anyway, managed eventually to let him pass when we paid our $20 vehicle fee (lasts a week) to enter the Yosemite National Park and came across this:
Yosemite J&C
and this:

and more to come … suckers



No Longer Highway 101: Day 4

Monday and we are well away from Highway 101, in fact we probably won’t be hitting Highway 101 again so this could be the last time you see that in the title but as I like consistency, I will probably leave it … or I could change it.

Doesn’t really matter, Day 4 of our drive, which is no longer on the coast, started in Redding, travelling down the I5 (a major north/south freeway) then turning off towards Napa Valley before settling in Sonoma for the night.

Being mostly on the freeway this was a pretty unexciting drive and then we hit Napa Valley, which was pretty much under road repair everywhere. Better mention there were no breakfast incidents, no kids touching all the biscuits and coughing over the scrambled eggs or old people cutting into the toaster line.

This part of the I5 was easy driving, passing orchard after orchard after orchard, until we hit olive grove after olive grove then more orchards. We stopped at Napa for lunch at the Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & Smokin’ BBQ. A BBQ wine bar that matched wine with the BBQ. The food was okay, I actually enjoyed my shrimp and clam chowder but the ribs were nothing special. Then we went for a bit of a walk. This place was quiet and full of botox blondes – there was a table at the bar that could have come straight from the Real Housewives of Napa, with their husbands who were kind of like construction workers or maybe they were the ones who sold trailers to those who would not fit in Napa, i.e. drink their wine from a cask. Another funny thing here, in a town that is wine Caroline had a lovely red from New Zealand – go figure? (she made up for it over dinner with a Sonoma wine)

We walked around the area known as Riverfront, that was pretty much deserted, many vacant shops and empty restaurants and resembling a Disneyland kind of wonder world. No doubt, it is buzzing at other times than a Monday afternoon. However, the weather was excellent – beautiful sunshine, about 23 with no fog. Had a look at the weather reports and snow is expected in Spokane where the dog conference was – would we hit snow on Day 5 – you will have to keep checking in.

However, we then arrived in Sonoma, which reminded us of a lovely country town in Victoria. The character was so different and we nestled into our very nice B&B with such a cute (?) name – the Cinnamon Bear. We went for a drive around the valley (and not being a wine drinker and being a dedicated driver and there is not much point in buying wine unless you ship it back) we never hit a winery but we did go to the Lagunitas Brewery in Petaluma (about half an hour from Sonoma and through multiple four-way Stop signs, which when you get used to them work quite well) just to buy some stuff (I have had this beer in Melbourne and love their dog logo … and their beer is pretty good too).

Excellent pizza at The Red Grape followed by very pretty chocolate cake. And we would definitely return to this area to hit the wineries – just needs more than an overnighter.

Day 5 and we head off to Yosemite – and wait until you hear the stories of that drive. Also, more pictures for this post will come later as up here in Yosemite the internet is like Commodore 64 speed, so check back again.

Along the I5 between Redding & Napa

Along the I5 between Redding & Napa