After Max left for a stroll we headed out to climb Bald Mountain
This area had a lot of fire damage and very few parks were open. It was a nice drive in up a windy forested road along a stream.
The climb was gradual at first, following a single track dirt trail
Soon came upon an open field with Turkey Vultures circling looking for hikers that bit off more than they could chew.
The trail turned into pavement and became a grueling hike up to a satellite tower
From the top you can actually see San Francisco in the distance
Amy did not enjoy the hike up but appreciated the view from one of the taller mountains in the area. I chose a different way down which was much more scenic following the spine of the mountain on a gradual descent
Max was not feeling to happy these days so I took him out for a boys only trip to Crane Creek Park
He may have been embarrassed by his new haircut. We walked the trails and visited with other dogs and people playing frisbee golf. For all the quirks and oddities with Max he really is a social guy who enjoys meeting new friends.
Sorting through my AllTrails app I found a simple flat trail through a marsh area in Santa Rosa
We then went over to Annadel SP and hiked up to a water reservoir
It also gave us an excuse to hit up the Mexican food trucks again. Even though we had such good service last time, we changed it up a bit and went to the popular section and were not disappointed by our selection
The next day was warm and we took advantage by driving just short of the Golden Gate Bridge to Muir Woods. We drove along the coast into the park and finally stopped at a ranger outpost to buy a parking permit and score a map for the Dipsea hike. It was actually a few trails combined. In total about 8 miles, but I think I lied and told Amy it was 6
It started under forest canopy but then opened up along the ocean
Then followed an unending run of switchbacks down to a small beach town
We stopped for lunch and realized we had to go back up all that elevation to get back to the car. It turned out to be easier than we thought as it was more gradual and followed a beautiful ravine trail most of the way.
This is Amy when she decided she has had enough of both me and this trail
We ventured over to Glen Ellen the following day to do a short Valley of the Moon hike.
We headed back into the town of Sonoma for some drinks. The town is a cool spot, with preserved buildings from the late 1800s intermingled with some newer offerings. We read up on the history of the area
Everybody wears clothes that celebrate when California became a republic from Spain. I did not realize, but this independence lasted only about a year before they joined the United States. It kinda feels like all this celebration is a little ridiculous for such a short existence. Who wants to act like Texas anyway. Pretend you're all independent but then then a disaster strikes and you are knocking on the Federal door looking for assistance.
Another good day had us driving out to Dillon Beach on the Pacific coast. It is a dog beach, where they can run free. Max was in his element running up and down the sand looking to mingle, but most other dogs were not giving him the time of day. He would run after a dog and when the dog turned and went the other way, Max would pretend he was really only running over here to check out a stick in the ground. We know the truth Max.
It was a bit chilly so we took shelter behind a dune and I promptly fell asleep
They had some nice cabins at Dillon Beach that could make for a fun weekend with a dog. They looked to be about $150/night, but worth for a good day to remember with your 4-legged friend.
I took a solo hike today. Went over to Jack London SP and hiked around a bit before circling back late in the afternoon
Only ran across a handful of people in my 12 mile route
Drove up North the next day to take Max to a park in Windsor and then on to lunch in Healdsburg. Town was a good mix of modern and rustic.
The trip took a sudden turn for the worse. Somewhere on my 12 mile hike the day before I picked up a rash and it kept getting angrier and spread across my whole body
I could not walk and certainly not hike. I took 4 showers each day and swam in Calamine lotion. We eventually went to the urgent care only to have them confirm it was poison oak and write a script for steroids. I decided to push through without the steroids because those are ill advised unless absolutely necessary. I think it took about 3 weeks for the symptoms to go away. Horrible. I will not take those warnings, “Poison oak or Ivy in the area”, lightly ever again.
Our time was drawing to a close in CA and that was a good thing as the wheels were coming off. I was in rough shape, and along side the dog with the home made haircut we looked like we could be hanging out a freeway exit ramp with a cardboard sign begging’ for a bus ticket home. We were out of poop bags, using any bags we could find, and trying to make the food last. Amy was still having nightmares about ticks. It was time to go.
One more stop to our Mexican joint
A return hike at Crane Creek
A hike at Spring Lake
And one more stop in Petaluma for laundry and a walk around a nearby bird sanctuary
Our final walk at Sonoma Mountain
And a view of the deer that brought us joy each day until Amy learned they also brought the ticks
And we were off
Don’t get me wrong we enjoyed California, but we were just itching literally and figuratively to get back home after a year on the road. We took the longer southern route across the US to avoid snow in Colorado. And it was a good thing we did, because it hit up there and shut the interstate own. But we were not in the clear as the second day on the road we made it to Flagstaff and woke up to over a foot of snow on our car. Fortunately we got out before the roads also shut down. It turned out to not be that bad, it seems the elevation rises quickly coming into Flagstaff but drops off just as quickly exiting it. We bounced from Hyatt to Hyatt driving about 7 hours a day and making it home in 5 nights on the road. It was funny be we ended up following alongside Route 66 all the way from California to Chicago.
It felt so good to be back in our bed. We got to see the whole country on our slow roll. We found that urban centers are alike wherever you go, and unfortunately during these turbulent times, rural areas are also alike in their distrust and unwillingness to change. I don’t blame them, as being in some of these areas was like being in a different country. Your sphere of influence is about 5 miles in any direction and if everyone in that orbit is telling you the same thing (Church, family, Fox) then it’s hard to believe otherwise.
There are still a few US road trips we need to make, but our hope is that our next entry will come from a more exotic location, meaning that we are all back to normal and this pandemic is behind us.
All the best