This was the fourth week of our RV trip to Alaska via the Pacific Coast Highway. This week’s trip took us from Pacifica, CA (San Francisco) to Westport, CA. The trip was almost exactly 200 miles and took us through Santa Rosa, where we stopped for lunch with one of the new hosting companies I’m working with.
We used US-101 almost the entire way, but had to take a small side road from Laytonville, CA to connect back up with US-1 and Westport, CA. This road was about 22 miles and seemed harmless at first. However, the last 12 miles of it were some scary stuff. The middle line disappeared and the road narrowed to about 1.5 lanes. Then, we stared climbing up and down mountain roads that included 180 degree switchbacks. Luckily for us, the road wasn’t very traveled. We only passed 2 cars in the scariest sections, but they had to stop, back up, pull over, and then let us by. It was by far and away the scariest driving we’ve had yet; not something I want to experience again anytime soon. When we arrived at our campground in Westport, the brakes on the RV were literally smoking (badly).
We’ve now traveled a total of about 750 miles with about 3,000 miles until we hit Anchorage.
Westport Beach / North Mendocino KOA
This week’s home was at the Westport Beach / North Mendocino KOA in Westport, CA. The campground is situated just steps from Westport Beach and about 2 miles north of the very small town of Westport, CA. The hosts at this campground are super nice and the spaces are quite spacious. We had our own picnic table, fire ring, and plenty of room to put our chairs and other supplies. This is a very remote area of the California coast and we found ourselves without cellphone service (AT&T) or Internet service (Verizon). The park did have their own wireless Internet service, but it was pretty slow. It was fast enough to check email and browse the Internet if you are patient, but it wasn’t quick enough to make a Skype call. I wasn’t expecting to be this “disconnected” until much later in our trip and I had a very hard time adjusting.
The best part of our campground was our ability to walk to Westport Beach and be at the water’s edge in 60-90 seconds. We had a 1 mile stretch of beach, which was only accessible from the campground or a small pull-off a mile down the road (thanks to the cliffs). We walked the 1 mile stretch almost everyday we were there and only saw a total of 10 people the entire week. It became a daily routine and was not only a great way to spend a part of the day, but it was good exercise too. Of course we brought the dog with us and he loved running up and down the beach chasing his ball and playing in the waves.
Drive to Point Arena Lighthouse
On Monday we made the 62 mile drive south down US-1 to Point Arena, CA. The drive took about 2 hours each way since it’s a very windy road. US-1 / Pacific Coast Highway hugs the coast for most of the drive producing some really amazing views. We stopped at several places along the way including Van Damme State Beach Park. We had the park almost to ourselves since it’s the off season. We took a stroll up the river and tossed the ball around for the dog. Overall it was a great day and a great trip.
Drive Through Tree
Thursday was reserved for the 28 mile drive north via US-1 to Leggett, CA and the Drive Through Tree Park. This has to be the windiest road I have ever been on. The drive took over 90 minutes and made everyone in the car green. On the way back, our dog got car sick for only the second time ever. Unlike the drive south, this drive went inland though some amazing redwood tree forests. We found ourselves going from mountain peak to mountain peak and along pristine mountain streams. The drive was worth it in the end and the Drive Though Tree Park was pretty neat too. There wasn’t much room to spare on either side of our Honda CR-V, but it made it.
Since the nearest restaurant, grocery store, etc was about 20 miles from our campground in Fort Bragg, we ended up eating all but one meal in our RV throughout the week. Luckily, there was a market which had a great selection of local organic produce and a selection of locally caught fresh fish. We used a combination of the RV kitchen and the fire ring outside to cook up some delicious meals. My favorite was the salmon that was locally caught, which we cooked up on the fire ring outside – YUM!
No trip to the Westport / Fort Bragg area is complete without riding the world-famous Skunk Train. It’s an historic route that goes from Fort Bragg to Willits, loosely following the Novo River. The trip starts out in some lowlands that are almost swampy, but then climbs up a few hundred feet into some amazing redwood forests. This time of year, the train only goes about half the route and stops for lunch in Northspur. The round trip, including lunch, was about 4 hours. It was honestly a bit boring on the way back since it was the same route, but it was worth the trip.
Silver’s At The Wharf
Our one meal out was in Fort Bragg at Silver’s At The Wharf. It came highly recommended by someone at the campground and their evaluation was dead on. I ended up getting the Alaskan Dungeness Crab cakes, a dozen oysters, and the organic field green salad. My wife went with the Alaskan halibut topped with crab meat. Everything was totally amazing, including the view! We were lucky enough to grab a perfect window seat were we watched the sunset as we finished our main course. The service was a little bit slow because they were totally overloaded with a big private party in the other room, but we weren’t in any hurry. If you ever find yourself in Fort Bragg, you should give this place a try.