YesAn icon awaits you at the start of your Northern California journey: the Golden Gate Bridge. This bridge, completed in 1937, that connects San Francisco to Marin County on the other side of the bay, is always an experience, even for seasoned visitors to the United States.
Upon completion, it was the longest and longest suspension bridge in the world. He hasn’t been there for a long time. But driving 2.7 kilometers across the Pacific and seeing the city in the rear-view mirror is still impressive.
So first stop: photos along the bridge and the horizon. Back in the car, Highway 101 tunnels here, merging with Highway 1, before exiting Stinson Beach. We follow Highway 1 towards Pacific.
No Congestion on Highway 1
You quickly realize what you’ve got yourself into: the road is winding and the road will continue to be winding. And partly it leads directly to the rocks. Curves, hairpin bends and hairpins require concentration—and they mean things don’t move very fast.
“You have to take your time on this road,” says Jeff Weiss, a spokesman for the CalTrans Roads Authority. It’s spectacular, but it’s also very exposed in many places. As a result, some sections of the road are regularly buried or broken during storms and heavy rains.
It is also being taken further inland at some places. “Erosion from rain and wind threatens the strait from above, waves and rising sea levels from below,” Weiss explains of the Gleason Beach project between Bodega Bay and the Russian River, where the strait is currently about 120 meters long. Half a mile is being taken offshore for $26 million.
But as long as there is Highway 1, travelers can enjoy the coast road and the many “vista points” along the way. High cliffs rise from the Pacific, there are beaches with black and white sand, seals rest in the sun.
C Ranch. I dream of a better world
We stop at C Ranch. The place emerged in the 1960s, somewhere in the middle of dense forest and mountains on one side and the waves of the Pacific Ocean on the other. Distinctive wooden houses stand on a cliff, there is a post office and an office where the land is sold. And brand new: a charming restaurant and a hip shop.
But really Sea Ranch is a meeting place for everyone who lives in the area. There are art exhibitions, baby groups and discussion groups as well as mixed crochet circles.
Artist and gallery owner Maynard Hale Lyndon says that during the coronavirus pandemic, many people from big cities have settled in this quiet part of California. His brother Donlin was one of the architects he described as California’s modernist utopia nearly sixty years ago with the aim of making the world a better place. Through architecture that leaves room for nature.
Obviously, the landscape has not lost any of its charm since then. “And with the opportunity to work from anywhere, more young families are coming here again,” Lyndon says.
a piece of japan in california
Michael Staser also had a great idea decades ago. “We wanted to create an entirely new space,” he says. A place where people can feel good. Kalyan existed even before the period. He founded his life’s work Osmosis on the Bohemian Highway. To get there, take the Highway 1 exit at Wally Ford.
Staser spent many years in Japan and imported some ideas from the Far East to California. The result was what is now called a “retreat”, i.e. a place of retreat. A house that was built in the 1960s “and which we then built so that it looked like it was 100 years old,” Staser said in the blink of an eye. But the outward impression is deceptive.
Behind it is an oasis of serenity with a bamboo forest, a cultured feng shui garden with a koi pond, and a healing home in the middle of the forest. But the most iconic of their offerings is a large wooden box on the ground floor of the house.
“Cedar Enzyme Bath” is the name of the stapler’s pride. Guests are immersed in a hot mixture of ground cedar wood and rice bran – enzymes produced during fermentation help with many ailments and are good for the skin. Whatever it is, it smells nice, is nice and warm, and, according to Stuser, you can’t find it anywhere else in North America.
Whale Highway in the Pacific
There is another highway along the California coast. However, it is in the Pacific. Almost all types of large whales swim here from north to south – and then back. From Alaska to Mexico and Hawaii to have their children there. And to go back to Alaska for the summer. Especially in spring, gray whales swim in both directions.
“We actually see whales every day when we go out,” says Captain Tim Gillespie, who takes his fishing boat “Sea Hawk” out to sea from Fort Bragg. Not a trip for the faint of heart. Because the port exit to the Pacific is narrow and the water is in violent motion. But the difficulties are immediately forgotten when the fountains can be seen before the whale blowhole.
A relic from the times of the lumber industry has also been preserved at Fort Bragg: red giants, tracks were built in many places, to be able to load tree trunks of redwoods. Trains no longer run north from San Francisco, but skunk trains still run on these old tracks.
“Skunk” means scoundrel. The same was called the old steam train, whose stench announced it long before the noise. Even today there are delightful tracks among the sequoia trees on which you can take a ride on the historic train. Or under your own steam – with the so-called rail bike. They are driven by pedals like a bicycle. What sounds tedious isn’t so bad: Four-wheelers are equipped with electric motors.
through the forest of redwoods
The further north you drive on Highway 1, the distinctive trees in the area, become redwoods. They can be seen from San Francisco to Humboldt County just before the Oregon border.
Along the Avenue of the Giants, a winding road through redwood woods, it is mostly quiet, with only the wind being heard. sequoia sempervirens, as coast redwoods are called in botanical jargon, branch only upwards and form a needle canopy. And sometimes a branch falls on the road.
Then Justin is leg over the moon. “Here, nature does what it wants,” says the nature guide. “That doesn’t happen often.” Almost every day he is somewhere on the avenue in the woods, often accompanied by a group of stressed townspeople to celebrate the Forest Bath with them. Hugging trees, some people call disrespectful.
“But it isn’t,” says Legg. After all, it has been scientifically proven that forests are good for people. And redwoods are very special. Especially when summer hits California, the climate in the wilderness is consistently pleasant. And redwoods are just amazing.
Trees are unique, says Legge. But she is also a diva. This species grows almost from San Francisco to the Oregon border. However, don’t get too close to the Pacific as salt water will destroy them. They don’t like too much heat.
About 150 years ago, giant trees made some people very wealthy. Entire forests were cut down to build wood: houses, furniture, even water tanks. However, Legge says, this redwood is not particularly suitable for construction. Very soft.
Anyone arriving on the Avenue of the Giants has already crossed Highway 1—30 miles (about 48 kilometers) ago, at Leggett, it becomes Highway 101 again. But the road remains winding through the gorgeous forest. Curvy and courageous.
Tips and information:
Holiday Destination: Highway 1 runs from Dana Point near Los Angeles to Leggett in Mendocino County, where it becomes Highway 101. It is 418 miles or 673 kilometers to transition from the Golden Gate Bridge to Oregon.
getting there: Direct flights from Frankfurt/Main and Munich to San Francisco with Lufthansa, Delta and United.
enter: Germans need a valid passport and must obtain an Online Entry Permit (ESTA). In addition, a complete COVID-19 vaccination must be proven. For more information, visit the US Embassy website and the State Department.
travel time: California is a year-round destination. Summers are hot and dry, with large differences in temperature directly inland in the Pacific where fog can occur. Winters are mild and it may rain.
information: visit california.com