California Journals

Northern California

Best of IgoUgo

A March 2009 trip to California by lwrbva

Klamath River Overlook Photo, Orick, California More Photos
Quote: A trip from San Francisco, through wine country, to the Redwood National and State Parks

San Francisco

The Presidio Trust

Attraction | "Beautiful Park in the Midst of a City"

The Presidio Trust Photo, San Francisco, California
Quote:
The Presidio Trust is a remarkable experiment in public/private partnership. The grounds are beautiful. Many hiking/biking trails are under construction, and the views are spectacular.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 30, 2009

The Presidio Trust
34 Graham Street
San Francisco, California 94129
+1 415 561 5500

Sonoma Valley

Schug Carneros Estate Winery

Attraction | "Nice Stop as you Enter Sonoma"

Schug Carneros Estate Winery  Photo, Sonoma County, California
Quote:
Our first stop as we entered the Sonoma Valley was at Schug Carneros. The grounds were beautiful, and the vineyards were yellow with mustard flowers. After winetasting, they graciously allowed us to walk through the vineyards - something that not all wineries will permit. In addition to picking up a nice bottle of Chardonnay, we also got some lovely vineyard photos.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 30, 2009

Schug Carneros Estate Winery
602 Bonneau Road
Sonoma 95476
(707) 939-9363

Birmingham Bed & Breakfast

Hotel | "Convenient B&B￿"

Quote:
The Birmingham B&B has 4 rooms, each with homey decor. The breakfasts were large and tasty. We had a baked egg scramble with peppers and olives one morning. We stayed in the Green Room. The bathroom was a little small but the room was comfortable.

We were minutes away from wine tasting and from the Sugarloaf Ridge State Park.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 30, 2009

Birmingham Bed & Breakfast
8790 Sonoma Hwy
Kenwood
(800) 819-1388

Della Santinas Trattoria

Restaurant | "Amazing Italian Food"

Quote:
Where to start... We have eaten there several times now. We have become picky about Italian food, and Della Santina's in one of the few remaining restaurants that can impress us.

This trip we had Gnocchi della Nonna (with a tomato basil sauce) and Penna Contadina (sausage and tomatoes). The gnocchi were perfectly prepared -- not good or even very good. They were perfect - melt-in-your-mouth tender. Honestly, it was good beyond description.

The dessert was supreme. We had tiramisu and a cake. The cake was a simple white cake sitting on creme Anglaise with a scoop of chocolate gelato. It was heavenly.

Be sure to make reservations! It is always packed.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 2, 2009

Della Santinas Trattoria
133 East Napa Street
Sonoma, California 95476
(707) 935-0576

Kaz Vineyard & Winery

Attraction | "Bad Wine, Bad Service"

Quote:
If you have read anything about Kaz Vineyard online, you have probably read that the wine is not good but that visiting with the owner is worth going to the vineyard. When we stopped at another winery, even they suggested that the wine was not particularly good but that the winery was worth a stop. I disagree. Don't bother. The wine is awful. To describe the wine: "foul" comes to mind. Sour, vinegar, not fruity - just generally unpleasant. And that applies to wine ranging from cheap to high priced wines. And what is even more remarkable is that Kaz wines are priced similar to other wines in Sonoma Valley, some of which are actually very good. The owner was talking to...Read More

Member Rating 1 out of 5 on May 3, 2009

Kaz Vineyard & Winery
233 Adobe Canyon Rd.
Kenwood, California
(877) 833-2536

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park

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Story/Tip

Lower Bald Mountain trail Photo, California, United States
Quote:
We started on the Lower Bald Mountain trail. The trail winds through oaks and madrone with their beautiful red trunks - naked from the gray bark peeling away. Lower Bald Mountain trail joined the Bald Mountain trail, which is actually a gravel road up the mountain providing access to a radio tower (which is not visible until you are most of the way up the mountain). The Bald Mountain trail was very exposed with few trees.Upon reaching the summit of Bald Mountain, we could see the Sierras to the Northeast and San Francisco Bay to the South. The day was beautiful, but the wind on the peak was cold and fierce. The constant climb up Bald Mountain trail gave way to rolling hills on the Gra...Read More

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, Sonoma County

Attraction | "Great Hiking in Wine Country"

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, Sonoma County Photo, Sonoma County, California
Quote:
Although most people visit Sonoma County for the wine tasting, Sugarloaf Ridge State Park provides great hiking and beautiful views of the Sonoma Valley. On a clear day, you can see San Francisco Bay!

The park has 25 miles of trails through three ecosystems. Trails range from steep climbs to relatively flat trails through the valleys.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 30, 2009

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, Sonoma County
2605 Adobe Canyon Road
Sonoma County, California

VJB Vineyard & Cellars

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Attraction | "Great Vineyard in Sonoma Valley"

Quote:
We arrived at VJB at 5:05pm after hurrying from Sugarloaf Ridge State Park to try to get in some wine tasting at the end of the day. VJB closes at 5. We had a complimentary wine tasting card - available through some of the local B&Bs - so, in addition to our late arrival, there was not even the prospect of a wine tasting fee. However, they courteously agreed to give us a wine tasting. And I'm glad they did. VJB had some of the better wine we tasted while in Sonoma Valley. Unlike some wineries, which often have one really nice wine and several decent ones -- VJB seems to demand excellence from all of their wines. We were extremely impressed to find that they do wonder...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 30, 2009

VJB Vineyard & Cellars
9077 Sonoma Highway
Kenwood, California 95452
(707) 833-2300

Muscardini Cellars & Ty Caton Vineyards Tasting Room

Attraction | "Open Late & Great Wine"

Quote:
Nearly all of the tasting rooms in Sonoma Valley close absurdly early -- 4pm. A very few are open until 5. Muscardini/Ty Caton is open until 6pm. Kudos to them!These two wineries are entirely separately run; they just share a tasting room. Their vineyards are also located next to one another. They have built a tasting room on the highway, not on their winery property - which makes it easily accessible - but also means that you don't get to see where the grapes are coming from.We enjoyed the wines we tasted from both wineries, but we left with two bottles from Ty Caton - one of which was Tytanium. We never thought we would say that $75 for a bottle of wine was good value. ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 3, 2009

Muscardini Cellars & Ty Caton Vineyards Tasting Room
8910 Sonoma Highway
Kenwood
(707) 833-0526

Dry Creek Valley

Dry Creek Valley

Story/Tip

Quote:
Having explored the Napa and Sonoma Valleys in the past, Dry Creek Valley was a pleasant surprise. We left behind the traffic and the tour buses. We meandered down narrow rural roads, through vineyards interlaced with homes. Only occasionally did we come upon a tasting room. We discovered Zichichi with its rich wines. We will definitely return to Dry Creek Valley to continue our exploration of its hidden wineries.

Quivira Vineyards

Attraction | "Biodynamic Wines"

Quote:
Although the effort to produce wines while minimizing the effects on the environment is admirable, the effort is also pointless if the end product is not worth drinking. Quivira actually produces several good wines.

Having said that, I would recommend searching for the wine in a local store. The man doing our tasting was rude and patronizing. Save yourself a trip and pick up a bottle at home.

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on April 30, 2009

Quivira Vineyards
4900 W. Dry Creek Road
Healdsburg 95448
(707) 431-8333

Zichichi Family Vineyard

Attraction | "Good From the Very First Drop"

Zichichi Family Vineyard Photo, Healdsburg, California
Quote:
Normally, we do not favor barrel tastings. Perhaps we lack the sophistication to be able to taste where the wine will be a year from now. Zichichi was a new experience. First, they had only one wine to taste from the bottle. They are a small production winery and routinely sell out; they have no bottled wine to taste!!

So, after tasting the one bottle - we went on to do to barrel tasting. And it was like nothing we had ever experienced before. Zichichi's unaged wine, straight from the barrel, tasted rich and complex. It had more body and structure than many of the other wines in Sonoma County have after aging!

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 30, 2009

Zichichi Family Vineyard
8626 W. Dry Creek Rd.
Sonoma County, California 95448
(707) 433-4410

Redwoods

Klamath

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Story/Tip

False Klamath Cove Photo, Orick, California
Quote:
We stayed at the Ravenwood Motel in Klamath. Klamath is not much of a town, but they do have a gas station and a Subway. They also have a restaurant called the Steelhead Lodge. We hiked Alder Camp Rd, up the Coastal Road and back to the junction of Alder Camp Rd -- all just south of the Klamath River. The views of the river and of the Pacific Ocean were magnificent, and the roar of the ocean crashing against the shore was deafening, even from the high cliffs where the road was. Signs along the road explained the Native American story of "the two sisters" - two rock formations on either side of the river outlet -- and explained that the farm buildings were actually built in WWII to con...Read More

Ravenwood Motel

Hotel | "3Cs - Clean, Convenient, Cheap"

Quote:
What more could you ask for? Ravenwood motel was clean, convenient to the Redwood National and State Parks and was not expensive. The room was quite comfortable. The bathroom was spacious and clean. The complimentary toiletry products smelled great! The operators were also very friendly. Can't be beat!

The motel has a "breakfast room" with a full-size fridge and a microwave. We had leftovers from our first dinner out. We put them in the fridge and heated them up the next two days - stretching one meal through three dinners with a few groceries purchased in Crescent City.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 30, 2009

Ravenwood Motel
151 Klamath Boulevard
Klamath, California 95548
(707) 482-5911

Steelhead Lodge

Restaurant | "Large Portions"

Quote:
Steelhead Lodge seems to be a place locals go for special events. We saw several birthday celebrations on the night we were there.

The meat (beef and fish) is all grilled, so the options are limited. The food was decent, and the portions were enormous. We ended up eating leftovers for dinner for two more nights.

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on April 30, 2009

Steelhead Lodge

Klamath, California

Palm Cafe

Restaurant | "Great Breakfast Spot"

Quote:
We had breakfast here every morning during our stay in the area. Clearly this is where the locals go for breakfast too! We recognized about 5 different people and had learned the names of all the staff after just a few days.

This place was a classic. The barstools looked like the barstools in the Smithsonian exhibit of a 1950's Woolworth's lunch counter. The chairs at the tables looked like they had been "lifted" from an elementary school.

The food was standard breakfast fare: eggs, pancakes, toast, biscuits and gravy, etc. Each morning we left full and ready for a day of hiking. Since this is one of a very few breakfast options around, we were glad that the food was good!

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 30, 2009

Palm Cafe
121130 Highway 101
Orick, California
(707) 482-8145

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park - Elk Meadow Photo, Orick, California
Quote:
We got up early one morning and headed south from Klamath. We stopped at Elk Prairie in search of the Roosevelt elk. We did not find any elk, but we saw beautiful fog banks slowly drifting over the prairie.As we continued South, we stopped at "Big Tree." It was, well, big. HUGE. The sign said that someone had once considered cutting down the tree and making a dance floor on the stump. It would have been a nice size for a dance floor in a club! The tree was simply massive. Like many of the redwoods, it was tall - but the trunk of this tree was enormous.There were more trails that looked like they would be nice to hike, but we were in a hurry to get to breakfast in Orick....Read More

Tomasini's Enoteca

Restaurant | "What a Surprise!"

Quote:
We were looking for someplace to eat a quick bite in Crescent City before heading to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park and happened across Tomasini's Enoteca. What an incredible surprise! Here we are in a little town - more or less in the middle of nowhere - and we happen across a wonderful cafe with fabulous sandwiches, good beer, and enormous desserts.I noticed some other review sites did not rate this place too highly. Get a grip! It is becoming harder and harder to find good food in small towns. Everything except chains are dying out. So what if the cafe is in the middle of a gift shop! The food is good, the service is good, and the beverages are good. Speaking of -- we saw a ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 30, 2009

Tomasini's Enoteca
960 3rd Street
Crescent City, California
(707) 464-2909

Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park

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Story/Tip

Simpson-Reed Grove Photo, Crescent City, California
Quote:
After eating in Crescent City, we drove out to Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park. We walked down to the Smith River, which was a beautiful aqua color in the bright sunlight.We hiked a trail from Simpson-Reed Grove in the direction of Stout Grove. We got some of our best redwood photos here - mainly because the sun was so bright that the lighting in the forest was particularly good. The woods were beautiful. We saw lots of trillium and redwood sorrel (clover). We saw beautiful (and bizarre) red mushrooms unlike anything we've ever seen before. The trees were magnificent.The only problem was the road! The trail parallels the road. Much of the time cars passing by are visi...Read More
Coastal Trail - Redwood National Park Photo, Orick, California
Quote:
We took the Coastal Trail just south of Elk past large skunk cabbages. Skunk cabbages are large plants with leaves that resemble a cabbage and that have beautiful yellow flowers. Strangely, though, they emit an odor that smells like skunk.

The section of the Coastal Trail just south of Elk Meadow. The trail went through mainly hardwood trees covered with mosses. The light was a bright filtered green. We heard many birds and saw a few, mainly Winter Wrens. Woodpeckers were thumping in the distance.

The trail crossed several bridges that were also covered in moss. The "end" of the trail (as far as we went) provided a beautiful view of the ocean crashing onto the shore.

Orick Horseback Riding

Attraction | "Underwhelming"

Orick Horse Trail Photo, Orick, California
Quote:
Just to be clear -- there was nothing WRONG with the ride. It just was not, well, interesting. We met the vendor near the Orick Rodeo Grounds, filled out the usual legal disclaimers and saddled up. Our guide walked nearly the whole way. I don't mean that he had his horse walk (although we did only walk); I mean that he walked on his own two feet leading his horse. The first third of the trip was a walk along the Redwood Creek around the Rodeo Grounds and some pastures - just to get to the Redwood Forest. The other two thirds of the inbound trip were uphill through the redwood forest. When we got to the turn-around point, we got our photo taken in front of a tree with a burned-out hole in the tr...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 3, 2009

Tall Trees Grove

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Story/Tip

Redwood Creek Overlook Photo, Orick, California
Quote:
One morning after breakfast at the Palm Cafe, we headed to Kuchel Visitor Center to pick up a permit for the Trall Trees Access Road. The Tall Trees Grove is where the tallest redwoods are located. The access road is by permit only, and the number of permits is limited to protect the area. We would have hiked all the way in on the Redwood Creek Trail, but the trail is impassible in the spring due to the many places the trail crosses the "creek". (Redwood Creek is bigger than some rivers I have seen.)After picking up the permit, we went horseback riding and ate lunch at a "shack" in Orick that served hot dogs and burritos. Then we headed up to see the tallest of the tall trees....Read More

Humboats Kayak Adventures

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Trinidad Bay Kayaking"

Humboats Kayak Adventures Photo, Eureka, California
Quote:
We originally scheduled a kayak trip for Sunday morning. Hawk called us around 7:30am to break the news to us that the winds were high and that the water was too rough to go kayaking. After discussing the forecast over the next few days, we rescheduled for Tuesday morning - the day we had to head back to San Francisco. We were very concerned that we would be wet and dirty after kayaking and would have to sit in the car uncomfortable for hours on the drive to SF. Hawk agreed to bring some towels for us so we could get cleaned up a bit after kayaking. (We would not have time to go back to Klamath to the hotel and would need to continue driving south.)Tuesday morning, we drove to Trinida...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 3, 2009

Humboats Kayak Adventures
1290 Leslie Rd
Eureka
(707) 443-5157

Lost Coast Brewery and Cafe

Restaurant | "Great Beer and Food"

Quote:
Lost Coast Brewery and Cafe has a fun atmosphere in downtown Eureka. Each beer had a character - for example, Alley Cat Amber. They had really good fish and chips. The "chips" were parmesan fries - which turns out to be a great combo. The beer and the food were remarkably inexpensive and high quality.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 2, 2009

Lost Coast Brewery and Cafe
617 Fourth Street
Eureka, California 95501
(707) 445-4480

Venlo Chocolates

Attraction | "Very Good - Very Expensive"

Quote:
The wonderful aroma of chocolate was overwhelming as we walked in. Like most chocolatiers, there were cases full of truffles of every variety lining the walls. Unlike many chocolatiers, they also had giant chunks of chocolate sold by the bag. We opted for a bag of chocolate and a few creme-filled Easter eggs. The chocolate was good, but the prices were high.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 2, 2009

Venlo Chocolates
425 Snug Alley
Eureka 95501
(707) 445-8015