Our route to San Francisco took us from the town of Bridgeport — where the temperature was in the high 80sF when we arrived the previous evening, but dropped below freezing overnight — back up into the mountains and across the Sonora Pass.
This was a good and varied drive, with lots of scenery, spiced up at one point by a truck which had ignored the advisory signs on length restrictions and got stuck on a hairpin bend.
Here are a few pics:
At the end of the pass we arrived in the famous gold rush town of Sonora. We found that the town had a slightly strange feel to it — somehow a mixture of trendy shabby chic and gunslinging western town…
In fairness though, Sonora does have European-style high street that is actually designed for pedestrians. There’s a wide pavement on both sides and rows of shops and cafes between which you are intended to walk. This is very unusual in the USA.
Our ultimate destination was San Francisco, where we arrived in mid-afternoon. We stayed at the Geary Parkway Motel (includes parking, central location, highly recommend), which was fully booked while we were there, as were so many places. Booking ahead seems a pre-requisite now in the US in popular areas.
San Francisco seemed a nice place, expensive but attractive, well looked after and with something for everyone. Fishermans Wharf is a dreadful tourist trap (if you like Blackpool you’ll love it) while the old part of the town, through which we walked back to our hotel after dinner, has some amazing houses (and steep hills).
One thing we did notice in San Francisco was further evidence of the newly homeless. Couples, usually black, sitting in battered old cars or on benches with all their worldly possessions. These were clearly people who until recently had a home, but now did not — and were completely lost.
However, we soon get bored in cities and after our second night in San Francisco were up early and ready to leave. Our route took us down the Pacific coast on CA-1. This is scenic but strictly a road for tourists. Even at off-peak times be prepared to trundle patiently along in a long string of hire cars, snaking its way down the coast and regularly pulling into rest areas for photo opportunities.
Bird lovers might enjoy it, though — we saw many, many pelicans as we drove down the coast south of Monterey. Another highlight was Moss Landing State Beach, a state park with a big beach for surfing, and sea otters and a variety of birds for wildlife lovers.