Travel Stage: After the Redwoods heading south
Date Range: November 13 – 28, 2016
Summary: We spend 2 solid weeks hanging out north of San Francisco at a Thousand Trails campground in Sonoma County. From here we explore the Golden Gate Bridge, Lake Sonoma, Korbel Winery and spend Thanksgiving with our RV community. From the rural Northern California Redwoods area we headed further south to the outer San Francisco area. We had booked two solid weeks at the Russian River Thousand Trails campground in Cloverdale which was about 1-1.5 hours north of San Francisco in Sonoma County – that’s right, wine country!
Driving through wine country is really pretty! We were so surprised to find the vineyard leaves also turning yellow, orange, and red in the fall. In the sunlight it made the valleys and hillsides glow with color.
It was time for a slow-down, and we were happy to plunk down for a couple weeks to explore the area, visit San Francisco, and not worry about traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday. We stayed at the Russian River Thousand Trails campground in Cloverdale, California.
The Golden Gate Bridge
One of our friends from Michigan happened to be visiting San Francisco when we arrived, so we made plans to meet up at a place that had been recommended to us called the Marin Headlands just north of the Golden Gate Bridge in the National Recreation Area. This turned out to be a spectacular view of the famous bridge, and an epic picnic lunch location.
After our lunch we took a drive through the Recreational Area, with its winding roads over the treeless hills and amazing vistas of the entrance into San Francisco Bay. We stumbled upon the Marine Mammal Center and learned about their rehabilitation efforts with marine life in the area.
We continued our drive along Highway 1 until sunset, and then found some local seafood to finish off the day!
We quickly learned at wine tasting in California is expensive. We remembered the times where we had turned our noses up at $10 tasting fees in Washington and laughed: if only we could find a winery that cheap in California! Well, miraculously we did. It turns out that Korbel – the California Champagne maker – does FREE tastings and tours at their winery.
This made for a very pleasant and fascinating afternoon: there were two Korbel brothers who came to the United States from Bohemia, lured by the California gold rush. Unfortunately, it took them so long to get to California that the gold rush was over by the time they arrived. They came up with other enterprises to survive, starting with cigar boxes, which lead to a lumber operation, that lead to farming, that lead to vineyards.
You can read the whole Korbel Story here.
We found Lake Sonoma on the map and we were craving some water exploration. We hadn’t used our new inflatable kayaks since Whidbey Island and were itching to get back on the water.
We first stopped at the Visitor’s Center and learned about the dam and the fishery where they were trying to revive the salmon and steelhead populations.
Created by the construction of Warm Springs Dam in 1983, the lake provides for flood control, irrigation and recreation. When full, the lake has a surface area of more than 2,700 acres and 50 miles of shoreline. The fishery was built to replace and enhance spawning grounds that have been destroyed or harmed as a result of the dam and surrounding development.
Our America the Beautiful Pass got us use of the Boat Ramp for free (score!) and away we went!
Kayaking Lake Sonoma with our Sea Eagle Inflatable Kayak!
Thanksgiving with Strangers
Last Thanksgiving we spent in North Carolina with close family friends, but this year we spent it far from anyone we knew. We decided to give the campground Thanksgiving potluck a try. The campground was to provide the main dishes and campers wanting to attend could sign up for side dishes. I signed up for bringing the cranberry sauce (that I made with my Instant Pot!), and we showed up to Thanksgiving not knowing what to expect.
We were pleasantly surprised to find a glorious dinner spread! Everything was fabulous and everyone was happy. We popped our recently purchased bottle of local Korbel Rouge (their red holiday champagne) and had a wonderful Thanksgiving feast with our temporary neighbors!
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