A March 2008 trip
to San Francisco by pabrams52
Quote: Pity the poor person who has not driven the Pacific Northwest coast. This was my objective in my most recent journey to see the beautiful coastline from San Francisco, California north to Portland, Oregon. It didn’t let me down!
Anyone who has not driven up the northwest coast of our beautiful country has missed some scenic beauty beyond description. This country has untold quantities of breathtaking views but you have to get out there and appreciate them. This was our goal on our most recent domestic adventure.
We rented a car and what grander way to begin our road trip than driving over the majestic Golden Gate Bridge! The road starts to wind and climb into lush hills with an abundance of green and foliage. Marin County is just plain beautiful.
Our initial destination was Healdsburg, California, a quaint little town – an easy 56 miles north of Sausalito. We took Highway 101 which had us there in no time. March is a lovely time in northern California as there is a profusion of tree blooms (apple and other fruit trees) which were quite evident in Healdsburg. It is a small enough area to walk on foot and we discovered that it was a popular place already, early in the spring season.
Healdsburg is just north of Sonoma but yet still perfectly positioned in the wine country of the Russian River, Knights and Alexander Valleys. One can comfortably stroll, shop and dine easily and affordably. We stopped into the Bear Republic Brewing Company, a comfortable, laid-back, eatery with hearty snacks and great beers. They offer outdoor patio seating as well as indoor service.
We strolled through the town and found some delightful windows and shops. One of the highlights of this appealing town, was Powell’s Candy Store. It’s a trip back in time – a place where you can rediscover your childhood favorites (Slo-Pokes, Charms, Necco Wafers, Abba Zabba, JujuBees, old sodas in their original glass bottles) and every conceivable confection ever produced.
Our drive from Healdsburg took us another hour and a quarter, via Highway 128 to Highway 1 North. You drive through some winding mountain roads. My recommendation for this leg is drive it while there is still daylight, as the road can be narrow and twisty – requiring optimal visual conditions for safe navigation.
We went on to visit Fortuna, CA, Brookings, OR, Florence, OR, Cannon Beach, OR and Portland, OR on our adventure. All along the way, we had experiences that reinforced our decision to make this trip. Even though the time of year was not always conducive weather-wise, we’re still glad we did it.
Hotel | "Country Retreat Bed & Breakfast"
She gave us a fantastic dinner recommendation which was about 10-15 minutes south of her property. The Nautical Inn is just barely over the Oregon/California state line in Smith River, CA. See my review and photos in a separate journal.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 15, 2008
Country Retreat Bed & Breakfast
16980 Coho Dr.
The rooms are spacious and well-appointed. They have Wi-Fi connection, mini refrigerator, plenty of drawer space, nice shower, coffee-maker, and good lighting. A complimentary morning breakfast is offered in their small but efficient dining area, off of the main lobby. And this isn’t just your standard cold cereal and a granola bar…you’ll find real scrambled eggs and sausage along with waffles. Their hospitality wouldn’t be complete without the fresh-baked cookies in the lobby near the front desk. The property also offers a pool and Jacuzzi in the main building.
One of the nicest features though is that there is a very good restaurant within walking distance of the motel, http://www.eelriverbrewing.com/>The Eel River Brewing Company. Katie, our waitress couldn’t have been more helpful or more efficient. It was a delicious and affordable dining experience.
Best Western Country Inn
2025 Riverwalk Drive
Fortuna, CA 95540
Hotel | "The Hill House Inn"
We were greeted by Mary Jo, with a warm welcome and a pleasant check-in experience. The inn has a cozy feel to it and offers some nice amenities, including select pet-friendly rooms. They offer wi-fi connection in their lobby lounge which is only a matter of a few steps from most of the rooms. My favorite room is #29.
The Inn has a "sister" property in town, The Mendocino Hotel, which also exudes a lot of character and charm. We stopped in the evening we arrived to have a drink and a light snack. We sat in the bar section on their cozy sofa and chairs and enjoyed some fine wine along with hot French Onion Soup.
But I was captivated by the walk along the coast, early in the morning. The sun coming up over the water is just magnificent and watching the activity of the birds will keep you busy. So, make sure you bring a camera memory disc with plenty of space because there are endless shots to be had.
Before you head out and hit the run when you leave, make sure you stop by their darling and friendly local market. It is well-stocked with everything you might need – either for the road or if you decide to stay a little longer in beautiful Mendocino!
Hill House Inn of Mendocino
10701 Palette Dr.
Mendocino, California 95460
In preparing for our trip, I did a lot of searching on the web for acceptable B&Bs (bed & breakfasts) and through that process stumbled onto a fabulous opportunity for a rental vacation home. It happened to be in the area where we were going to be stopping for the night and I checked out the site: Heceta Beach Hideaway. Staying in a house versus a hotel room is so much nicer…there’s room to stretch and you feel like you’re at home. The owners had recommended a wonderful little place to have dinner and we had the best evening ever. The Waterfront Depot has an extensive seafood menu but also offers smaller plates (Spanish tapas-style) which affords you more variety. We ordered drinks and several tapas and shared. The service was good and the atmosphere is quite congenial. It can get busy, so do make reservations, particularly in the busier summer months. Upon returning home, we popped in a DVD we’d brought along and watched a movie.
The house has everything you’d need. The owners have stocked it with necessary cooking utensils and table settings. Towels are provided and laid out in both bathrooms. One of the bedrooms is upstairs and one is downstairs. The owners have even anticipated families and have a variety of childrens’ toys stored in the downstairs den area. We even availed ourselves of the washer and dryer for a couple of loads. This feature was most helpful. The beds are quite comfortable and sleeping was a breeze. We left the home as tidy as possible and were sure to strip the beds and place all linens in the laundry basket in the master bath.
I can see why the owners love the area. Working with them to arrange our reservation was very convenient. If you’re ever in that area, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Heceta Beach Hideaway!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 19, 2008
Heceta Beach Hideaway
88598 6th Ave.
Florence, Oregon 97439
Restaurant | "The Windsor House of Tea"
We stopped by their location on Marine Drive to wait out the rain and ended up having a most delightful respite and bite to eat. We each ordered our own flavor of tea along with some food. I had the delicious Harvest Chicken Salad sandwich and our friends ordered one of their heart-warming soups. You enjoy your tea and meal on a lovely table setting: tablecloth, doilies, china teapots, and real napkins. This is all set in a beautifully muraled Victorian setting. The scene is quiet and relaxed. One shouldn’t hurry through this relaxing experience…just savor and enjoy.
The front of the tea house, near the entrance, offers items for purchase including their teas as well as china, serving pieces and lovely greeting cards with a sample tea bag included in each. I purchased some lovely sterling silver stirring spoons. But remember, the real attraction of this establishment is to enjoy good tea in an atmosphere of polite and quiet sophistication. I noticed a mother with her two daughters and infant child having their own tea party. The girls were quite well behaved and clearly Mom was providing them with an opportunity to practice their public social skills. Another group of woman were departing as we arrived. I couldn’t help but notice that they were all wearing attractive hats and were dressed in long skirts or tailored suits. I inquired with our waitress if they were a regular club that met there. She said that they were.
Don’t miss this slice of civility and make sure that you try their OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD lemon curd on their freshly-baked scones. I can’t think of a better way to pass the time while the rainstorm moves through. You won’t be able to either! But don’t wait for the rainstorm to find an excuse to visit – they are open Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 18, 2008
Windsor House of Tea
1044 Marine Drive
Astoria, Oregon 97103
Los Angeles, California