The Sonora Pass, San Francisco and the Pacific coast (plus a rare Porsche!): USA 2015

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:

Bridgeport Redwood Motel
Leaving the Redwood Motel in Bridgeport
Driving the Sonora Pass
Along the Sonora Pass

Deer along the Sonora Pass

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.

Sonora main street
Sonora: not quite like a European high street, but closer than many US towns, which are often unwalkable.

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 sign

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).

Old house in San Francisco

Sunset at marina in San Francisco

San Francisco old tram

San Francisco Fishermans Wharf

San Francisco busy street

San Francisco Chinatown grocer

San Francisco Painted Ladies houses

Golden Gate Bridge, San FranciscoOne 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.

A pelican in Monterey bay
A pelican in Monterey bay — pelicans were a common site along the coast south of Monterey
Pacific coast on CA-1
Driving down the Pacific coast on CA-1 — it goes on like this for hours…
Porsche 906 on CA-1
… but you are unlikely to see a very rare Porsche 906 like this! (seen on CA-1, USA, in September 2015). This was a 1960s model that was, apparently, developed as a test bed for the 911.

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.

Sea Otter at Moss Landing Beach
A Sea Otter at Moss Landing State Beach

Sea Otter at Moss Landing, CA

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