Sunday, March 9, 2014

day 34: Pacific Coast Highway and Redwood National Park

Today we were awakened by someone loading their boat into the ocean - about 20 feet from our tent.  It's not every day that you can say that.  So we broke camp, paid our camp fee and got on the road.  The woman who owned the campground recommended sticky buns from Two Fish Bakery, 25 minutes down the road so we held off on our granola bars and waited for breakfast.  Delicious sticky buns, indeed!  One of the best pastries I've ever eaten!  I'm so glad we drove there and got them.  We both got a treat for later because everything in the bakery looked so wonderful. 

 Our campsite on the beach

Another view from out campsite

We continued to drive CA Hwy 1 (Pacific Coast Highway) for a long time.  What a gorgeous drive!  The ocean to your left and mountains and forests to your right. We stopped at a few places along the way to take pictures.  We ended the PCH drive by stopping by the "World Famous Drive-Thru Tree".  It was pretty cool to be able to drive through a huge tree.  I think the name of it was Chandelier Tree. 

View of the Pacific Coast

John and the Pacific coast

There were tons of cows grazing near the coast

The Drive-Thru Tree

Once we were done with our tourist attraction we started to head towards Redwood National Park.  We opted to take the scenic alternative, The Avenue of the Giants, to get there.  It's basically a road that runs parallel to Highway 101 but there are tons of huge Redwoods lining the road.  Gorgeous!  It is unreal how huge these trees are!  John continued to drive and we ended up at Redwood National Park, the visitor's center was very clean and well taken care of.  I noticed that everything was more coastal than I had imagined this part of CA to be.  When I think Redwood I think big trees, not big trees and right by the coast, but it was, so that was really cool.  We told the ranger we really only had time to drive through the park, not stop a lot, so he recommended some especially scenic routes and we were on our way!

Me standing next to the bottom of a Redwood tree

An old touring bus made out of a Redwood. This bus was used by people to tour around the country so they could promote national parks.

Look at the van at the bottom of the picture for a reference to how huge the tree is!

Just me and a Redwood tree

A view from a scenic route in Redwood NP

Some people were whale watching from this view point, we looked but didn't see any

What a beautiful park!  I mean, they've all been beautiful but the trees were just so magnificent and enormous!  It was much more lush than we'd expected.  Plants were everywhere, all over the park floor - undergrowth and whatnot.  There were times it reminded us of forests in TN and others it just looked downright tropical.  It was so beautiful, we were really happy we chose to go through this park.  Then the last drive through the park was a section called Jedidiah Smith State Park (Redwood is a combination of national and state parks, and little towns are mingled in throughout - unlike the other parks we visited).  When we got to Jedidiah it was like we had entered another world, or a movie set at the very least.  You drive down an unpaved, basically one lane road.  And we thought we had seen lush earlier, this was like 10 times more lush, it looked like a tropical rainforest!  John joked that we were in Jurassic Park but it really looked like it, it was incredible!  We took a lot of pictures of the trees, one where we held hands and the tree was still wider than the span of our arms.  Another, we practically crawled and stood in the trunk of one tree.  So beautiful. 

 Our car in Jedidiah State Park/Jurassic Park

The tree was still wider

John inside a tree

This is a panoramic shot standing between two Redwoods, it spans the base of one tree all the way up and over to the base of the other tree

We were very happy we took that drive, it adds a whole other dimension to the park.  After that we were done in Redwood and it was on to Oregon!  Basically we just drove in the direction of Crater Lake, got to our hotel and checked in for the night.  We'd been up since 6:45 a.m. so come 10:30 p.m. we were pretty exhausted!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

day 33: Napa Valley

We started the day by going to Mumm Napa, a winery that uses robots during the bottling process.  We took the free tour at 10:00 but sadly they weren't bottling at the time so we didn't get to see the robot in action.  We were both disappointed.  Mumm is the only winery in Napa that makes only sparkling wine.

Wine barrels at Mumm Napa

Lots of bottles of wine fermenting in those cages

After Mumm, we headed over to B.R. Cohn Winery, which is owned by Bruce Cohn, the manager of The Doobie Brothers.  The tasting room is lined with platinum albums and pictures of the band.  All the wine was delicious!  They also make olive oil, mustards and tapenades.  So tasty!  We really enjoyed trying all of the different things they make.

Then we drove over to Benziger Winery, which I've seen sold in grocery and liquor stores so I knew it would be a larger winery.  Even thought it was larger it was set up so quaint and cute.  It was really pretty walking through their grounds.  They offer a cheese tasting in addition to wine tastings so we added that on.  And good thing we did, that cheese was so tasty and it tasted even better paired with the wines!  Our server was a really nice guy who was very interested and jealous of our road trip.  We enjoyed chatting with him.

Then we went to Robert Mondavi, another large winery.  The grounds were immaculate, they were clearly inspired by Spanish architecture.  We took a tour and learned a lot about the history and wine making process.  Mondavi was one of the first wineries to open up to the public for tours.  They also had a cave like cellar which was neat to tour and cool seeing as it was over 100 degrees most of the day.  We really enjoyed Mondavi :)

 The grounds at Robert Mondavi

More views at Mondavi

The last tour/tasting on our list was Sterling Vineyards, yet another large winery and distributed across the nation.  This one was neat because an aerial tram takes you from the vineyards up to the winery on top of a steep hill.  The wine was good and it was a nice self-guided tour.  Beautiful grounds!  They had a lot of sheep on the grounds which we saw on the way down, very interesting.

 Riding the aerial tram at Sterling

Looking out over Sterling's grounds on the tram

View of Sterling from the winery

After Sterling we drove to Francis Ford Coppola Winery for dinner.  What a beautiful place!  Very large and very Italian.  The restaurant was cool and the food was great!  I had pasta with Italian sausage (made there), broccoli rabe and a creamy sauce, delicious!  John had "habit forming" spare ribs.  We wanted to buy the sauce they used for the ribs but it wasn't for sale (also made on site and very tasty).  I had to buy a bottle of wine before we left, so we decided on a Malbec.  The service here was excellent, we really enjoyed our experience.

Us at Francis Ford Coppola after dinner

The entrance to Francis Ford Coppola

We then began the drive to Bodega Bay, a little place on Highway 1.  We wanted to stay somewhere and drive most of Highway 1 (or Pacific Coast Highway) during the next day.  After driving for awhile and running into many full campsites we found one that had space on the beach.  Perfect!  We were exhausted.  So after setting up camp and taking some pictures of the stars we went to sleep.

Us driving along the PCH

the Pacific Coast

Beautiful view

Incredible view of the stars from our campsite on the beach

More stars :)

32 weeks!

Well people, only 8 more weeks to go which is absolutely crazy to me!  I went to the doctor this morning and everything is going well.  Baby boy's heartbeat is good and strong and I asked the doctor if she could feel how he was turned so I'd have an idea...he's turned head down!  Yay, thank you Lord!  Let's hope this boy stays that way.  She said if they're head down they usually don't move from that position but there's still a possibility that he could.  Whatever happens, happens, the Lord is in control and I trust in that.

Cravings: grapefruit (can't get enough of it!), Cinnamon Toast Crunch and fruit snacks.  Basically I'm a 5 year old.  I'm only indulging in these some time, I'm trying to eat healthy most of the time. 

Updates: I'm starting to get pains and muscle soreness in all the regular pregnant woman places, not fun.  I'm getting random leg cramps and other pains so it's a lot of fun to walk (not).  I've started sleeping with a body pillow but wake up with back pain every night just from the weight of my belly, I guess.  Honestly, I shouldn't complain at all because it could be a lot worse and I've had a fairly easy pregnancy, which I'm thankful for.  With no further ado, here are some pictures from today...

 Standing in his nursery.  We just painted the walls this weekend, next up: trim!

Sister selfie
Katie was in town visiting a friend and got to spend a couple of days with me.  She was even able to go to my doctor appointment with me this morning and hear the baby's heartbeat!  She also felt bad for me not being able to reach my toenails to paint them and gave me a full on pedicure last night!  So sweet of her :)  Love you!