United States: Northern California - Oregon - Nevada

Who I am
Joel Fulleda

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

I publish a preview of the diary of one of my first trips to the United States that left me with a beautiful memory so much that I would like to revisit those places if, given my age, they weren't so. the flight hours to get there are demanding.
Year 2010, a lot of enthusiasm, a great desire to see and know: my son Giovanni and I leave in April for a trip? On the road? 4.125 km; he guides, I am a navigator, the choice of hotels? purely coincidental but not the itinerary that plans to cover the entire Pacific coast of Northern California and Oregon.
I have few photos of this trip but the images, views and landscapes are well kept in mind and heart.
To those who will have the patience to follow us in this adventure, I wish you happy reading!

1 day

Departure from Venice with Air France flight, stop in Paris and from here, after eleven hours (8.950 km, average speed 800/900 km / hour, altitude 10 / 11.000 meters) arrival at 13,30 (nine less than the ? Italy) at San Francisco airport; by taxi we are taken to the Super6 motel which, through an agency, we had booked together with the flight.

2 day

Today April 25,? on my birthday and I am particularly happy.
With Giovanni we go on foot to the Avis office which is almost 600 meters away. to rent a comfortable 4-door Nissan with which, at 10, we take the 101 northbound towards San Francisco which suddenly appears with thousands of houses printed on the hills, with skyscrapers that seem to be built with? Lego? and very different from those already? seen in other metropolises. Roller coaster roads complete the impact of awe and wonder. that we see on the sides of the straight road that we are traveling on.
We arrive in sight of the? Golden Gate? so magnified and my first impression? of disappointment why? seems to me? small? but, when we start to walk it, do I realize its majesty? and beauty; it is one of the suspension bridges more? longest in the world with the main span 1.298 meters long supported by towers 227,4 meters high with double lane, a cycle path and a pedestrian: impressive!
As we walk along it, Giovanni points out to me in the middle of the bay the famous island of Alcatraz (island of the pelicans) already? federal penitentiary made famous for the detention of Al Capone and for some films shot inside it. The toll of $ 2 today is not paid why? ? Sunday.
As soon as we crossed the bridge, we should have diverted to the? 1? but, having not yet purchased the map of California, we reached Petaluma, where we stopped to eat something at a Mexican restaurant, buy the road map and take stock of the situation.
After leaving? 101? we arrive at Two Rock then Bodega Bay on the Pacific Ocean which opens up before our eyes with an impressive expanse of rocks emerging from the water: a vision that will repeat itself? often and which I will talk about? even more? forward.
On the left the ocean, on the right a vast plateau with meadows covered with pink and yellow flowers of succulent plants and others never seen before, prickly pears, low shrubs and dwarf pines. The road winds along the rocky coast then rises and enters redwood forests and pine, fir and larch forests with repeated and annoying hairpin bends.
At the end between up and down, in and out of immense forests, ocean and hills, crossed Mendocino (here the episodes of the? Lady in yellow?) We arrive at around 18,15 in Fort Bragg where we stop at the Travelodge Very nice motel with two double bedrooms.
After a short rest we leave at 19,00 pm for a tour of this small town of 7.000 inhabitants and to find the station from where the next day we should leave for a trip in the hinterland through the Skunk Train Railroad: built by the kings of timber in starting in 1880, this 64 km railway line leads through thick redwood forests to Willits.
Today's route (320 km) has led us along lonely roads without villages for long stretches and with a speed? reduced due to the many twists and turns: we were gratified by the beauty of the landscapes.

3 day

The train ride I had wanted,? been canceled due to unspecified difficulties? along the path cos? we leave at 9,30 am still crossing numerous redwood forests that in many points form tunnels crossing their branches at the top, preventing us from seeing the sky.
Still following the? 1? we return to the coast, where expanses of beautiful yellow broom cover the sides of the road; we cross and overtake many cyclists who cover tracks reserved for them like the one near Rockport which measures 35 km.
Still woods and forests and hairpin bends and reserves and national parks that are repeated one after the other in a monotonous but spectacular sequence; we make a stop in Legget where we enter a dense forest of redwoods and we stop near a gigantic that? it was dug like a tunnel under which cars pass and we go through it too.
After having temporarily abandoned the coast, we connect with the? 101? that runs on a plateau up to Eureka where we stopped for an hour to eat something and rest to then resume the? 1? which we will follow for 140 km to the border with the state of Oregon. First, however, north of Orik, we pass through the four main parks of Northern California: the Redwood which? the pi? vast and the most? young and the three state parks of redwoods Prairie Creek, Del Norte Coast, Jedediah Smith that form the heart of a heritage of humanity? and a protected international biosphere.
I would like to stop and calmly visit one of these places where, I read in the guide, the largest tree still grows. high in the world (112 meters) and an undergrowth that abounds with plants more? small and equally rare (deer ferns, sword ferns, sorrel and redwood violet) and the fauna includes elk, salmon, huge banana slug and various species of birds; unfortunately it starts to rain and it's cold so, as soon as we cross the border with Oregon, we start looking for a hotel.
We stop in Port of Brookings at a Best Western that has availability? only of a? suite? luxuriously furnished, equipped, Jacuzzi tub, amazing ocean view and very high price (250 $) but are we? tired that we also accept why? outside hails with lightning and thunder; I see dozens of seagulls fluttering over the stormy ocean that roars constantly, scary but at the same time fascinating.
Today we covered 405 km.

4 day

It is still raining heavily and the forecasts are not at all encouraging: we have to decide whether to continue north along the coast to Astoria or move south hoping for better weather. The first hypothesis prevails so, at 10 we resume our road following the? 101 ?.
The view of the ocean? impressive and grandiose, the sequoias have disappeared as if by magic and we will not find any more? in Oregon, many gorse, spacious plateaus; in front of Bandon beach there are rugged rock formations: among these stacks sculpted by the wind, the Face Rock stands out, which according to legend is an Indian girl turned into rock by an evil spirit.
We cross a forest near Coos Bay and at 13 pm we stop to eat; then we continue along the coast,? appeared the sun, the road? beautiful and without many curves, the precise and meticulous signage, we pass through large parks, the imposing sand dunes of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area that extend for 65 km south of Florence, sand formations, lakes, pine forests, grasslands and beaches.
We cross Newton, Lincoln City and other small towns located both on the ocean and in the hills and we notice that they are all well kept; there are also indications of numerous? colleges ?. The guide tells me about a 56 km route of the Three Capes Scenic Route, very interesting why? it is home to one of North America's major seabird colonies, and there are good vantage points to see sea lions and gray whales swimming offshore.
Unfortunately this deviation would lengthen our path,? already? evening and we are tired so we prefer to continue on the highway up to Tillamook where we stop at the Western Royal Inn, classic motel, clean and comfortable; for dinner we choose a restaurant where they serve huge plates of specialties? Chinese that we consume with great pleasure.
We traveled all day between cloudy and clear but the dreaded rain accompanied us only for about half an hour, we saw enchanting places and traveled 450 km.

5 day

Heaven again this morning? cloudy but we resume the journey with much enthusiasm. Outside the motel we notice a huge factory of milk, cheese and derivatives which we will then discover to be products known all over the world (on the plane we will need Tillamook cheese).
It is rather cold, at times it rains but the coast always appears interesting to us: we arrive at Cannon Beach, the city? bathing more? beloved of Oregon, and we walk all over it noting that it is a cheerful coastal town with beautiful houses and many flower gardens. But the thing that most? does it strike us and impress us? represented by Haystack Rock one of the most tall coastal monoliths of the world that dominates with its 72 m a long beach with natural pools; a strong cold wind blows that prevents us from being more? for a long time but we took the time to see this wonder of nature up close.
We proceed along the coast (many busy cycle paths) and arrive in Astoria with a pale sun. Before entering the city, we decide to cross a long bridge (6,5 km is the longest continuous truss bridge in the world) that spans the Columbia River bay to arrive in Washington state. The iron structure? impressive but when we have covered about a third, the sky darkens in a moment and becomes so? black that seems to have fallen the night more? dark, the water on the sides takes on a color from dark green to gray, to brown and begins a very dense rain like universal deluge.
The anguish takes me, I have the impression that we are heading towards the Apocalypse and that at the end of the bridge we will be swallowed up by nothing. Not John too? very quiet: you can not reverse the gear? cos? we proceed with caution until we find the space to turn around and leave this nightmare behind. We retrace the whole bridge again to get to Astoria where a pale sun welcomes us; we park, we look for a place to have lunch then we decide to take a tour of this lively city? which, in addition to being the most? an ancient US settlement west of the Rocky Mountains, it preserves beautiful Victorian villas and the Flavel House Museum with the original dome from which the captain and his wife observed the river traffic.
We succeed for? to travel only a few hundred meters and we have to give up why? it starts to rain and a cold wind blows.
We leave the? 101? and head east on? 30? up to Rainer and Portland what? the largest city? of Oregon for the production and sorting of timber, an important river port and large industrial center with beautiful modern and old houses spread over the hills.
Here several roads and highways cross each other. we have to be careful but now we are experts and can we take the? 5? towards Salem without great difficulty; during the journey storm, rain and sun alternate but we proceed to Albany where we leave the highway and cross a city? with elegant neighborhoods and we stop at the Super8 motel.
After the usual hour of relaxation we go to dinner at Yaquina Bay for a tasty dinner based on shrimp and crab meat; right conclusion of this other beautiful day during which we traveled 420 km.

6 day

Today the sun finally shines when we resume the highway? 5? which crosses plains and woods with very beautiful but different houses and cottages than we had seen in Texas.
We go out to Roseburg, which we cross, to look for the Visitor Center (very well cared for on the outside with large flower beds, parking lots and slides for the handicapped, very clean inside with notice boards, videos and anything else technology available to tourists) ; welcomes us a very kind elderly lady who knows a few words of Italian why? his husband ? of Abruzzese origin and we ask you for information to go to Crater Lake. He informs us that, unfortunately, the locality? not ? accessible due to the heavy snow that blocked the roads in this period.
A little? disappointed not to be able to visit this place so magnified by the guide, we decide to take a tour of the city? but, as soon as we get out of the car, it starts to rain very hard so we repair for lunch at? All American Food? where we eat a good hot dog chili and onions.
We continue our journey south and cross Grants Pass, Central Points, Medford, Ashland under a pouring rain that suddenly turns into a very dense snowfall that alarms us and particularly worries Giovanni. You can hardly see anything, on the sides you are already? accumulating the snow but the road fortunately keeps clean also why? there are trucks ahead of us; the road climbs with wide hairpin bends, we joke about getting stuck and in need of help, but finally we reach the top of the Siskiyou pass (1320 m) and breathe a sigh of relief thinking that from now on the snow should slowly end.
In fact, after a few kilometers, it stops completely as we lower towards the plain where we will find the sun again but we will continue to be surrounded by high mountains covered with snow up to the slopes.
We leave Oregon to return to California and, after crossing a vast plateau with pastures and small woods (curious the signs? Beware of the bears?) We begin to climb to overcome the Cascades mountain range culminating with Mount Shasta (4.320 m) that we leave imposing, snow-covered and majestic on our left.
We remain at an altitude of 1200/1300 m until? we decide to stop in Redding at the Rodeway Inn motel with a good discounted price, clean, with breakfast included and swimming pool; for dinner we go to? Chinese & American Dishes? that offers a men? very varied and tasty.
Today we have covered 580 km.

7 day

Departure at 9,20 am with a beautiful sun and, leaving the snow-covered mountains in the distance, we enter the California Valley, first meeting the city? of Red Bluff then Corning? Ulive City? with thousands of olive trees and in the plain we begin to see extensive crops of fruit trees (oranges, walnuts and almonds) that follow one another for kilometers with a very precise geometric alignment; large pastures alternate with cows, sheep, horses, huge silos, plowed fields and large farms.
Is the temperature stable at 18/20? and the landscape? varied and always interesting: we cross Arbukle, Woodland where we stop for an hour for a stop at lunchtime (delicious sandwiches) then we arrive north of Sacramento and decide to head towards Lake Tahoe which Giovanni remembers being the location of some famous movies (the Godfather and Blues Brothers).
We cross without problems the capital of California and, leaving the highway? 5? we take the? 50? that, after about 100 km and up to the lake,? reported as? natural attractiveness ?.
We pass the towns of Placerville, Camino located at 1.000 m with lots of snow on the side of the road, Twin Bridges which has only ten inhabitants, pine and fir woods; finally, after several curves, we arrive on the lake that? very extensive and on whose shores are located small villages that I imagine are like those of Lake Garda where will it be? possible to stay overnight. Deluded!
Understand? after Lake Tahoe is 1900m high,? 35 long and 19 km wide with a depth? of 501 m and with 116 km of coastline:? a famous resort ski resort known for its extraordinary beauty and grandeur? of landscapes.
Arriving at South Lake we head left and almost immediately we meet the snow-covered woods, the mounds that still clutter the sides of the road and cover the many chalets and houses that are all closed (the winter season has just ended and we expect the summer one which will begin at the end of May).
Only in Tahoe City do we notice a little? of movement but otherwise looks like a ghost lake; along the way we hardly met cars and few people; we made two stops at two small sandy beaches (otherwise there are only rocks and boulders) to enjoy the view of this immense mirror of crystal clear water, surrounded by snow-capped mountains almost to the shores.
We leave the path of the lake and we are uncertain whether to continue to Reno (famous for lightning divorces) but it is now 18 pm, we have been traveling for so long? we prefer Carson City, the capital of the state of Nevada; ? located at 1440 m high in a desert valley where we arrive crossing extensive panettone of bare rocks with hardly dwarf shrubs planted in the sand (a nice jump from the snowy mountains of the lake).
We take accommodation at the Quality Inn where we rest for a while? then we go out for a short walk; we follow the signs that lead us to walk through the Old Town (main road of 700 m) up to the City Hall, the seat of the Federal Senate and other buildings including a large Casino, which preserve the architecture of the times of the race intact silver for which the city? she was famous.
We have dinner at the Thai restaurant with fried prawns and mango ice cream; at 21,30 we are already? in bed after turning on the heating why? outside the temperature yes? significantly lowered.
IS? It was another very interesting day with various landscape and program changes and we covered 540 km.

8 day

At 9,20 with the sun but a temperature of only 10 ?, we enter the? 395? to the south why? we decided to go and visit Yosemite National Park which John has already? seen and assure me that? a wonder: national park famous for its natural beauty, full of spectacular waterfalls and groups of giant sequoias.
Do we have a 360 view when leaving Carson City? of the snowy mountains of the Sierra Nevada that will accompany us? for several miles.
We arrive at Lake Topaz which marks the border between the states of Nevada and California where, at a checkpoint, we ask for information for Yosemite but, once again, a disappointment: the road? closed due to snow and access? forbidden. Too bad indeed!
The landscape alternates between plains, rock formations, forests and vast plateaus, then we begin to climb up to 2.494 m where we stop to admire Lake Momo, one of the largest. ancient of North America and whose basin contains numerous volcanoes; has no emissaries and its waters are so? enriched with salts carried by the watercourses descending from the mountains of the Sierra.
So, due to evaporation, the concentration of salts in the lake? increased to two and a half times that of the sea; characteristic are the tuff pinnacles that derive from the combination of calcium dissolved in underground fresh water springs and carbonates present in the lake waters. A strong wind blows and I limit myself to observing this magnificence from inside the car while Giovanni ventures to get off.
We arrive in Bishop always surrounded by high mountains full of snow and we run on a 2 + 2 lane highway meeting very few other cars; do we stop for gas and eat, the temperature? jumps up to 20? and we are entering the Owens Valley with the Sierra Nevada on the right still with high peaks from 3800/4000 m full of snow and on the left another rocky chain with higher peaks. low.
We pass near Manzanar (historic site: one of the many internment camps of Japanese American citizens during the last world war), Lon Pine and Owens Lake which appears to us like a large expanse of salt, without water. evaporated and composed of clay, sand and mineral salts; we had never seen anything like this also why? the basin covers a very large area.
On the right we leave Kings Canyon National and Sequoia National Park but, the only road from which it could be accessed,? closed during this period.
Has the temperature reached 25? and we arrive in Olancha from which the? 190? which arrives straight into the famous Death Valley with a route of 185 km but we continue on the? 395? a very long highway whose end cannot be seen, with a view of small canyons with white and pink walls, desert shrubs and nothing else? during the many kilometers traveled, repeat? often to Giovanni who seems to me this the? Valley of death ?.
We skirt a large protected area, intended as a depot of navy weapons, and we arrive in Mojave from which we can? easy to reach Los Angeles, but we take the '58' which greets us with a strong wind that makes thousands of wind turbines spread over the hills: an incredible view.
The landscape ? completely changed: extended hills covered with green grass, cultivated fields with orchards and vineyards as far as the eye can see brighten our sight after so much snow and so much desert.
We arrive in Bakersfield at 18 pm and we stop at the Rodeway Inn where we relax and then go to dinner at a restaurant that offers Mongolian cuisine: take a large bowl in which you put bites of pork, chicken, beef and various vegetables ( soybean sprouts, pineapple), sauces of all tastes, you deliver it to the cook who turns it on a? huge plate with circles and, when everything? well done, ? served on the table; a real treat!
The path today? was the most? long of the whole journey (630 km) but with landscapes so? various and beautiful that we have not felt the weight.

9 day

We resume our journey through the whole city? of Bakersfield and we see many industries and a large railway junction but, as soon as you take the? 99 ?, the cultivation of vineyards and orchards that grow on sandy soils begins. We pass on the? 46? near Wasco with its extensive and colorful rose plantations that satisfy 55% of the needs of the internal market, Lost Hill with hundreds of oil drills that occupy a space of 500x500 m and whose underground there is? also a rich reserve of natural gas; on the left undulating hills flow with yellow and variously colored grass.
At the intersection with? 41? an arrow points to? James Dean Memorial Junction? place where the unfortunate star met his death by crashing into his car; we arrive in Paso Robles and we see that we are surrounded by vast vineyards and indications that they bring from producers for a taste of their wines (the very Italian surname Eberle remains imprinted on me), rich ranches with cattle and pastures, large and powerful machines denote a certain wealth .
We cross groves, hills and meadows with yellow and light blue flowers, still wide valleys with avocado and lemon crops until? we arrive in Cambria, a beautiful flowered town with elegant houses, returning to the Pacific Ocean from which we left seven days ago for our wonderful tour.
The road? 1? climbs halfway up the winding coast with a view of imposing cliffs so? the speed? ? reduced, isn't there ?? any village except a few small groups of houses, up to Carmel after traveling about 150 km.
This town of only 4000 inhabitants, of which? the famous actor and director Clint Eastwood was mayor for many years, he presents himself in all his beauty and richness with villas well hidden in the green; from here begin boundless cultivation of artichokes and strawberries that are repeated for many kilometers.
At 17 pm we arrive in Santa Cruz after leaving Monterey, Marina, Selva Beach and Rio del Mar behind; we seem to have come to Jesolo in the summer for the liveliness, the shops and the quantity? of vacationers who clog the streets and the beach.
We take accommodation at the Continental Inn motel then, after the usual short rest, I go for a long solitary walk between streets with typical houses and I notice that there are many Mexicans both as tourists and as residents.
Return at 18,45 pm and, with Giovanni, we go to dinner at the B&G restaurant where they serve huge portions of meat: I choose a very tasty hamburger, Giovanni of the caramelized beef ribs measuring 25 cm.
In the end, satisfied and happy for another wonderful day in which we covered 495 km. we return to the motel for a well-deserved rest.

10 day

We begin our journey always following the? 1? panoramic coastal road marked on the map of great interest; we cross extensive cultivation of artichokes, pumpkins, kiwis and strawberries with indications for tasting and buying at the producing farms.
On the beach I see several painters stationed with their easels intent on immortalizing wonderful glimpses of the ocean.
In the resort of Big Basin we find a fairly easy access that offers me the possibility? to go down to the sandy beach, take a short walk along the shoreline and collect some strange stones and shells.
Immediately after resumes the cliff that winds up and down? among groves of low pines and the typical Mediterranean flora, fat flowers and various shrubs, hills and small canyons variously eroded; in Pescaderos we see sand dunes that are unusual for this coast, I notice that many trees in the woods are sick and neglected and that every more? small town indicates the presence of a? Tourist Information ?.
All of a sudden, as if by magic, we find ourselves in front of San Francisco with the houses spread on the hill as in a crib; we walk along the 19th street with its characteristic colored houses and different styles.
We were planning to follow the 49 Mile Scenic Drive which would allow us to see the most popular neighborhoods. full of charm, the localities? pi? interesting and the most? spectacular along its 79 kilometers, to better visit the city.
Take it not? it was difficult but, almost immediately, we don't have more? seen the indications cos? after a few empty laps we decide to move at random, starting with a stop at the port where we find a paid parking.
We continue on foot going between the? Quays? the "P? famous of which? Pier 39 where there are numerous restaurants and shops for clothing, souvenirs, gadgets, handicrafts, pastry shops etc. that recreate the atmosphere of a fishing village. From Pier 43 the prisoners embarked to reach the famous Alcatraz penitentiary which from here can be reached. see very well.
The streets are crowded with colorful, vociferous people and yes? attacked by strong smells of fish and other foods that are cooking in restaurants; after a while? we have had enough of this confusion cos? we take the car back and approach the center.
IS? a big problem to find a parking space: the free ones lasting two hours are all occupied cos? we turn for almost an hour along the roads up and down going up and down headlong that make me feel apprehensive (you have the feeling that the car may fall); finally we find a paid place and, for two hours, we are calm.
We are located within? Little Italy? where is it ? most of the Italian restaurants, cafes, grocery stores and pastry shops are concentrated: here you can breathe a Mediterranean atmosphere and the tricolor flags glued to the light pillars mark the territory with its always crowded streets.
Slowly, as we look around, we arrive at? Chinatown Gate (the dragon's gate)? which marks the southern entrance to the Chinese quarter; ? guarded by stone dogs that protect from evil spirits and dolphins that symbolize prosperity.
We enter a chaotic pedestrian traffic formed by thousands of Chinese tourists and residents wearing traditional clothes and we stop to admire the pagoda roofs, the colorful facades, the street lamps on top of which red and green dragons cling to which give this district a ? exotic atmosphere; here there are Chinese bazaars, tourist and food shops crowded with both visitors and locals.
Time passes quickly, an annoying wind is rising and we haven't eaten yet, so? we stop in an Italian bar to consume excellent toast; while Giovanni finishes calmly, I hurry to take a quick look at the church of Saints Peter and Paul whose two white crenellated towers dominate Washington Square Park and which, consecrated in 1924,? the "P? important Catholic parish of the city.
IS? in neo-gothic style and the interior follows a bit? our cathedrals with altars, paintings, statues, pulpit and splendid furnishings; ? run by the Salesians of Don Bosco and also includes the school, the oratory, a convent of nuns and male and female scouts. Mass? celebrated in three languages: Italian, English and Cantonese.
It is now 15,30pm so we get back in the car and head south on the? 80? crossing the Financial District, the commercial heart of San Francisco that hosts most of the financial temples and skyscrapers of the city: above all, the characteristic Transamerica Pyramid strikes me.
When do we join the? 101? we decide to continue towards the city? of San Jos ?, what? reported at about 80 km. where we plan to stay overnight; after several kilometers, we find ourselves stuck in a crazy traffic that moves at a snail's pace and worries Giovanni, so? at the first exit we go back immediately and then stop in the beautiful locality? di San Bruno at the Quality Inn. Let's go to dinner at a self-service that offers a rich choice of specialties? Chinese we use in abundance.
At the end the well deserved rest after an intense but also demanding day. Routes 285 km.

11 day

Today ? the last day of another wonderful trip to the United States,? out a hot sun that seems to want to give us a? goodbye ?; while Giovanni goes to the Avis headquarters to return the rented car, I go for a walk around the motel.
Prepare your luggage, we await the arrival of the van for the transfer to the airport, where we arrive after a long journey to pick up passengers from other hotels.
Do we arrive at the terminal at 13,30 in time to complete the various formalities? customs and waiting for boarding by eating a good pizza.

Audio Video United States: Northern California - Oregon - Nevada
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