North of SanFran

we're getting close!   After the 17 mile drive, we head north toward san francisco looking for Half Moon Bay.  We had a welcome invitation a while back from Christian and Persephone, who we haven't connected with since the Maya Rally on our way south.  Christian was actually the one who put the rally together, and we bonded quickly with these two around the campfire as we celebrated our short term victory and prepared for the pending "end of the world".

jen sunbridgeApparently, we were also destined to meet a couple new friends along the way.  A few hours south of Half Moon Bay we get an email from Dave, whose been reading the blog and offers to get together if we are still in California.  As it turns out, he and his wife Kelly are living in an airstream just south of the  very bay we are approaching- perfect!  Jen and i stop into the Patagonia outlet store in santa cruz hoping for a deal on a puffy before we get north and the temperature drops fully.  Even better, we walk in as they are starting a 50% sale above and beyond outlet pricing...this day is turning out great!

Jen finds the perfect puffy, i stumble upon a thick wetsuit that will hopefully get me surfing more often in the less-than-bathtub-warm waters of oregon, and we continue on to meet Dave and Kelly.  We share a drink and stories with this couple, hear about their travel plans and how they feel about work after having given notice; and generally have a great time before continuing to the north end of the bay and Christian&Persephone's place.

While the southern leg of our trip was perfect in terms of solitude and being far enough removed from tourist season and the general flow of most travelers; one of the best parts of this leg had been meeting others who are on the road, or who are about to be.  We love these conversations and are ecstatic when we stumble upon someone (or when someone reaches out) to share them with.  DCIM100GOPROGOPR5941.DCIM100GOPROGOPR5943.DCIM100GOPROGOPR5950.bus golden gate

Christian welcomed up to their new place, gave us a second to unwind and catch up, and then loaded us into his most recent westy project to hit the bay for dinner and a short tour of their delightful new town.  Back at the house, Persephone had arrived home from class and we were able to share a glass of wine and catch up.

These two are so much fun it's a pity we haven't found a way to see more of them since our trip south.  Christian is the quintessential vw guru and overland adventurer and Persephone might share more of the positive, bubbly personality "that is Jen" than almost anyone else I've met.  Together, those two ladies' smiles could light up the entire california coastline!   We again vow to do a better job of keeping in touch, retire to the bus and in the morning continued north.

As we pass through San Francisco and cross over the golden gate bridge, it somehow feels like the last phase of our trip is upon us!  We are now fully excited to get to portland, but also eagerly looking forward to the arrival of some friends in california wine country!

A short drive north of sanfran and we arrive into the valley.  It was pretty easy to tell we had arrived, because suddenly every spare square foot of land now has a vine growing out of it. Compared to the small intimate willamette valley, where we spend most of our wine-time, this place feels simply massive.  The valley stretches on forever and the number and size of vineyards here is simply mind boggling for those of us accustomed to Oregon's. DCIM100GOPROGOPR5971.DCIM100GOPROGOPR5958.DCIM100GOPROGOPR5956.DCIM100GOPROGOPR5973.awesome

Jen and I pass through Healdsburg, and then meander through the dry creek region, hitting a few vineyards and tasting rooms along the way.  We rely mostly on recommendations from others we've been collecting for the past few weeks, but also allow ourselves to be swayed by a few particularly beautiful estates or well named vineyards.  Karma was disappointed to find out that many of the tasting rooms here are slightly less accommodating to four legged friends, but she seemed to have a good time nonetheless.

After a few, truly excellent tastings all to ourselves (mid-week is definitely the time to hit the valley), we finally decide to look for a place to sleep that's walking distance to food and maybe another tasting or two.  We drive around for a while but eventually determine that sleeping directly on the square might be our best bet.  At the time, the square is hopping with the dinner crowd and we blend right in.  Obviously, we'll just have to wait and find out how the local officials feel about (or deal with) cars left here overnight.

We find a few more tasting rooms and then squeeze in between two reservations (at what we were told was the best restaraunt in sonoma) for some calamari and a pizza.  Delightful!  As darkness settles in we make up the bed and crash steps away from our wining and dining...maybe the perfect way to do wine country.vines DCIM100GOPROGOPR5969.DCIM100GOPROGOPR5962.calimariDCIM100GOPROGOPR5981.