Blog 30, Napa and San Francisco, California

Blog 30, Napa and San Francisco, California

Our stay in Redding was just an overnighter onto Napa.  When we arrived and set up at Redding it was 109 deg-we literally didn’t go outside, just chilled out in the coach!  109 is a ridiculous unlivable temperature!

The next day we moved onto Napa.  We are staying at the Skyline Wilderness park.  This is an RV park, campground for tents and horse trailers too.  Horses can be ridden in the trails here and there’s an arena and corrals-what a great facility!

We are just over an hour from San Francisco so we are heading there tomorrow for an explore, even though we have both independently been there before.

We got up really early for the trip into San Francisco.  We wanted to park on the Sausalito side and cycle over the Golden Gate Bridge.  To do that we needed to park in a small carpark near the bridge.  When we got there, it was only half full so we got the bikes ready and set off over the bridge.

It was a great experience as it’s such an iconic bridge-it’s a 1.7 miles long ride.  When the bridge was built in 1937 it was the longest suspension bridge in the world.  The hills around Sausalito are steep with cycle tracks all through them so the lycra clad riders ride the hills, over the bridge and then ride the San Francisco side.  There is a footpath for pedestrians and one for cycles but it gets a bit chaotic with the fast racer riders and the slower family type rider as we are.  It was cold riding over the bridge, but soon warmed up on the San Francisco side.

We cycled off the bridge and down to sea level and rode through the Presidio, through the marina district and along the Embarcadero all the way to Oracle Park.  We were very impressed with the cycle lanes and how clean the city felt.  When I visited a few years ago I remembered numerous homeless people and it felt a little like Portland does today but this visit was different.  The city is clean and full of families having a fun day out.  We turned into the downtown area of the city and rode to Union Square, the heart of the city that has a great vibe with music playing and everyone enjoying the sunshine.  The city is full of beautiful architecture, some of the nicest I’ve seen in the US.

Union Square

Some of the city gets very steep so we headed back down to the Embarcadero and rode back avoiding people and trams.  It was now nearing midday on a Sunday and the city was very busy, possibly especially as there was a Giants game on.  We had passed a Bubba Gump’s restaurant at Pier 39 so popped in there for a prawn extravaganza and then rode a massive effort uphill to go back over the bridge.  We were both determined not to get off and walk, some people even cheered us on as we stood up on our pedals and puffed up the hill.

The ride back over the bridge was warmer at this time of day but windier.  There are days when the bridge sways in the wind.  When the bridge turned 50 in 1987 it was celebrated with a bridge walk-over 300,000 people packed onto the bridge and the middle sagged 7 feet under it’s unprecedented weight.  Another 600,000 were waiting to cross the bridge but it got closed pretty quickly.

At the Sausalito side the carpark was jammed with everyone waiting for a park.  We had about 5 cars all jockeying for position to get our park-there was an element of anger and impatience there.  To take any other carpark in the area means a huge climb up or down a hill.  This area of Sausalito reminded us of Wellington harbour.  The drive home was 45 miles and took about an hour.

The next day we had a walk in the hills of the park we are staying in.

It warns of Mountain Lions, but it feels more like rattlesnake country.  The land is crispy, powdery dry.  After cooling off we drove into Napa to visit a couple of vineyards.  Stuart was keen to try some chardonnays.  Personally, I don’t drink wine anymore, I’ve become a lil old gin drinker.  The first vineyard we drove to had a long tree lined drive with a closed gate at the end.  This all looked a bit private and expensive so we researched their wines to find they are rather expensive and tastings are by appointment only.  We figured that would be the case with most of the vineyards so with that and 101 deg heat we abandoned that plan.  We had a quick drive around Napa historic town as it was too hot to walk or cycle and then headed back to the air con of the coach.

Napa is a very nice place and feels a lot like San Diego.  Without the green vineyards it would be a brown and burnt looking landscape at this time of year.  There must be a lot of people dipping their hoses into the Sacramento River for irrigation!


Tomorrow we are heading off to a campsite near Sacramento for 10 days.