Friday, January 23, 2015

Long weekend Trip to Mendocino

We drove out on Pacific coast highway last February from San Francisco to Mendocino. Its a beautiful drive through the mountains by the seaside. Every view out of the window is breathtaking, the heart would want to take a halt at every bend in the road. Since this drive is a very casual one, it was great to take stops and have some sipping coffee while doing that.

We drove 225 miles in 10 hours taking our sweet time and crashed into a motel.

Fort Bragg Historic Skunk Train:
Started the weekend with Historic Skunk train at Fort Bragg. Its an old locomotive that takes you through Redwood forests. Had some packed lunch, sipped some hot chocolate and were back by Afternoon. I was not really thrilled, i would suggest this only to kids and families. There is not much to do, we saw much better Redwoods in and around Mendocino. Also there are no trails or hike opportunities. But a great getaway with kids.

Glass Beach:
Had heard a lot about the beach and seen some beautiful pics out there. It felt like a regular north california beach, cold yet beautiful. This beach has curated glass particles, due to some old garbage being dumped at site. The beach and the glass was beautiful, though depleted a lot due to tourists picking up the glasses.

One of the best spots to have a majestic sunset view. The clear sky, the lighthouse painted white and red and the shimmering sun made the evening very picturesque. It a beautiful quiet location and a great spot for whale watching. Mendocino has Whale watching festivals in the month of March.

Botanical Garden:
The next morning started with the beautiful colors of the Mendocino Coast botanical garden. Surprisingly it was not the garden but the beautiful coast that caught the attention.

We drove towards north before driving back home. Drive through pacific highway is again a beauty with lush redwoods and mountains.

Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree Park is a privately owned property, and even though there are quite a lot of drive thru trees in California, but a trip without this picture would have been incomplete.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Shepperd's Dell & Bridal Veil Falls (Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area - Part 3)

Third in Columbia River Gorge series is Shepperd's Dell and Bridal Veil Falls.

Shepperd's Dell is a small canyon in the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon, which is on the road itself. Its nothing grand visually but had read that its an engineering marvel in itself to get a bridge in this section of the gorge,

Bridal veil falls is a very short trail from the parking, and but one of the most beautiful falls in this gorge. At Least this fall unlike many others stands true to its name. One can walk the trail and reach a wooden deck to get the below view. The drop is set beautifully and gives the fall a dramatic look.

Columbia river gorge is home to some of the most beautiful falls, easily accessible from road. The fall colors did give them a new dimension. I had missed on some of the hikes in this region and would come back for sure.


Oregon Coast Drive

We just had a day for the coast drive, which is not sufficient enough. At Least 4-5 days are required to travel through the Oregon coast and enjoy it fully. But we decided to do the Scenic Highway 30 and Reach Astoria and then drive back to Portland.

Portland to Astoria on highway 30 is a beautiful drive by the side of river columbia. You can't see the river from the road but its there at a nearby distance. The highway is beautiful during fall and has some amazing fall colors.

When about to reach Astoria, you get a beautiful glimpse of this bridge joining Oregon and Washington, the north end of the bridge takes you to a new state. The bridge is beautiful and fascinating.

The Megler Bridge outside of Astoria

We got on the bridge and drove to Ocean Park, and back from Long beach to Astoria via the same bridge.

Long beach was very quiet, just few fishermen looking out for crabs. You could just sit here whole day and look at waves.

Started back from astoria to Portland through  Seaside.

Spent couple of hours at Seaside with coffee and an excellent view of the sunset.

Drive from highway 16 back to portland was very beautiful in full moon light. For us it was more like a casual drive. But we plan to go back the same route with 4-5 days in hand, stay near side side inns and enjoy the beaches.


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Monument Valley in Winter - Part 1

Let me start with it was not supposed to snow, but I am glad it did.

We started our drive from Las Vegas which is approximately a 6 hour drive, that later turned out to be 12 hours due to unexpected blizzard storm and fog. The drive was quite exciting and nerve wrecking at the same time, since it was constantly snowing with low visibility and it was a completely unfamiliar terrain. Thankfully we did not take the Scenic Byway 14 from Cedar city suggested by our GPS and went with Google maps as things could have been worse on that route.

Scenic Byway 14 is an absolute heaven, a separate post about that later.

We reached Monument valley late at night and stayed at Goulding's Lodge. Its a beautiful places, feels like carved out of red rock.

Monument Valley in Winter

Monument Valley in Winter

View of Monument Valley from the Goulding's lodge

Monument Valley in Winter

Few other shots from the Goulding's lodge

Monument Valley in Winter

Monument Valley in Winter

Undoubtedly Monument valley was an absolute delight under 4 inch of snow. The valley was quite different from the lone red rocks as I had imagined and seen on Internet. The snow added a nice texture to the valley and made it more beautiful.