At Yellow Wolf’s suggestion, I hopped on I-280 north, which would take me up through San Francisco fairly early in the morning, avoiding traffic. I’m not much for cities, but since I was traveling up the coast, passing through San Francisco was inevitable unless I made some kind of massive detour. Besides, this route would take me straight over the Golden Gate Bridge, which has to be some kind of major milestone in my travels.
Google, in its infinite wisdom (sarcasm fully engaged), had me hop off I-280 onto 19th Avenue for some unknown reason, dumping me into city traffic for a short while. It was definitely not the fastest route despite what Google thought, but at least it was moving except for red lights. Before long, it dumped me onto US 101, and the next thing I knew I was crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. It was narrower than I expected, my previous experience with it being landing airplanes on it in Microsoft Flight Simulator. It is not, in fact, wide enough to land an Airbus A320 on top of it in real life.
Immediately after the bridge, there was an exit for a vista point, so I stopped to have a closer look at where I had just come from. The bus and RV parking area was full, but the regular car parking area was empty enough for me to make myself a space without blocking anyone out who was trying to park — another advantage of doing this early in the morning. Lister insisted on coming out with me, so I hooked up his leash. He immediately attracted a great deal of attention from attractive women. I’ll have to remember this trick.
I hopped back on US 101 and had an uneventful drive north. After a couple of hours, I pulled off in an empty hospital parking lot to take a break and look for interesting sites along my route. Now that I was out of the big city I started to relax a bit. I found a nearby park, and not far beyond was Russian River Brewing Company, which would make a great lunch stop. Breweries often have excellent food as well as beer.
The park turned out to be a bust, with a tiny parking area and a fee to get in, so I drove right by and went to the brewery. On iOverlander people reported that they would allow travelers to park overnight, but I still had a bit of driving left in me, so I didn’t even ask. I had the American burger and an O.V.L. Stout. Both were extremely tasty.
A couple of young guys sat next to me, and I couldn’t help overhearing their conversation about their work in Silicon Valley. What caught my attention was the software developer talking about how he was having to write documentation as well, because the company wouldn’t hire any technical writers. I used to be a technical writer who did software documentation, so I joined the conversation to commiserate. Management often sees documentation as an unnecessary expense these days, particularly since they think the software developers are perfectly capable of writing it themselves. The developer and I wholeheartedly agreed that these are actually two completely different skill sets, and should belong to two different people. But we live in an age where everyone is expected to do more with less, and it’s the documentation people who often get the ax. It’s happened to me more than once and is a big part of the reason why I stopped doing it.
At this point, I had a choice to either stay on the 101 or head back to the 1 along the coast. I seriously considered taking the 1. The general idea, after all, was to drive up the Pacific coast. But Yellow Wolf’s warnings about how narrow, twisty, and steep this part of the 1 was stuck in my head, and I decided to punt to the 101. I had an amazing drive up the coast the previous day, and 101 would take me back there a bit farther north. Instead, I had an enjoyable drive through California wine country. I’ve never seen so many huge vineyards.
My overnight stop was the Coyote Valley Casino. Being on a Native reservation they’re allowed to have gambling, and casinos often welcome overnight guests who are likely to indulge. The other attraction for me was the gas station, where gas was “only” $4.99/gallon. That’s still crazy expensive, but it’s by far the cheapest I’ve seen since leaving Nevada. I fought with the stupid California gas pump to top my tank as much as I could. Then I found a quiet corner of the parking lot to call home for the night and catch up on some writing and video watching. The lights were quite bright, but once again I appreciated my new windshield cover, which blocked nearly all of it.