A gardener goes to San Francisco

The welcome warmth of the sun greeted us every morning and served to brighten the visual splendor of the vibrant spring colours.

Just like Willie Nelson’s song “On The Road Again,” so were we in March to San Francisco for our daughter’s spring break. Our last road-trip adventure was my mom’s bucket list to the Grand, Bryce and Zion canyons, and she had so much fun that she hitched a ride on this one too!

The welcome warmth of the sun greeted us every morning and served to brighten the visual splendor of the vibrant spring colours of newly growing green grass and leaves, as well as the blooms of purple magnolias, red camellias, bright orange poppies, yellow daffodils, white and pink fruit and nut trees and the soft mauves of wisteria vines.

Bee-lining it down I-5 to southern Oregon, we passed many farm valleys, towns and cities as well as the white-capped whoppers of Mt. Baker, St. Helens, Rainier and Hood (plus Shasta coming home), that not only dominated the horizon, but stood as a reminder that nature rules the roost and the earth is never static.

Branching southwest at Grant’s Pass, we crossed into California and arrived at the coastal community of Crescent City, seeing low dunes, surfers and rocky bluffs heading south to Eureka then inland again through the magnificent – and world’s tallest – redwood forests. We were treated to awe-inspiring sights when the sun’s rays and mists mixed together to stream through the tremendous trunks and high-reaching branches and a slight diversion off the highway took us through an incredibly narrow corridor, driving for jaw-dropping miles through the Avenue of the Giants where we pulled over to listen to the hush of those wondrous woods.

We junctioned off at tiny Legget onto a crazy, windy road that finally popped us out at a now much more rugged coastline, but which also boasted some beautiful beaches and charming little communities such as Mendocino, then back up and over the rolling hills through the open California hills of grass, madronas, oaks and vineyards. After an overnight stay in the fairgrounds at Cloverdale, we strolled around the streets that were dotted with flowering trees and plants, palms, cactuses and succulents, then loaded up bags of unplucked lemons, oranges and grapefruits that hung over the fence line in the parking lot.

San Fran and area is approximately 50 square miles and is the second most densely populated city in the U.S., home to 8.5 million and located right on top of the ominous compressive stresses of the Pacific and North American plates.

Seeing the famous sites, street life and neat neighbourhoods such as Sausalito was made fun and easy by their hop-on, hop-off double-decker tour buses, which allowed us a fresh air, 360-degree bird’s eye view.  To boot, our 30-minute ferry ride in from our RV site in Marin County not only gave us a daily cruise of the shorelines, homes, Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge, but docked at a huge farmers’ market that housed some of the best growers and wine makers in the area.  Every day began with a delicious toasted bun with a freshly picked and sliced avocado, drizzled with organic olive oil and herbs – yum!

Traveling home now on the two-lane, famous and gorgeous Napa Valley/Sonoma County wine growing area was another visual treat, featuring hundreds of vineyards, tree-lined streets gracing the charming late-1800 towns of Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga, a vintage wine train that chugged up and down the valley and the lavish and humble homes and wine-tasting buildings that dotted the countryside.  Some of these beauties were built of stone, which looked like a page right out of a Tuscany tourist guide.

The last stop was the new, first-class Evergreen Aviation Museum located in a pretty farm valley at McMinnville, Oregon. It not only houses the Spruce Goose inside one of their two giant hangers, but also hundreds of old and new fighter and bi-planes, helicopters and an IMAX theatre too.  Wow – what a way to end the holiday!