*Special* California Day Eleven and Twelve

Wednesday…

After a very wet night, where we ended up sleeping in the car, we got up, spent the few hours of dry in between showers to pack up, and then decided to head south. Despite the rain, it was a very nice campsite, with wifi and the cleanest nicest toilet and shower block – very strange feeling to be able to shower in luxury and access your emails whilst sleeping in a clearing in the middle of nowhere!

The creek at our campsite - lovely in the morning sun (when it wasn't bloody raining!)

The creek at our campsite – lovely in the morning sun (when it wasn’t bloody raining!)

Having a cup of coffee before moving on...

Having a cup of coffee before moving on…

Autumn leaves

Autumn leaves

Our waterlogged campsite

Our waterlogged campsite

We needed to be in Santa Barbara or further south by Friday night, as we fly home on Saturday morning from LAX, so we got in the car and started driving. If we come back to California (and I think we will as we really love it here!) we have decided to fly into somewhere up north, maybe even in Oregon, and drive down through the redwoods again, at a more clement time of year as it is really lovely up there.

As we drove, we were high enough to be driving through clouds…

Clouds lower than us!

Clouds lower than us!

More clouds

More clouds

The Redwoods are so very impressive, we stopped to take photos in the woods, just to try and capture the scale of these things! Driving through the woods was lovely as well, there were hardly any other vehicles around, and we went for miles without seeing another house, settlement or sign of a human.

Driving through the redwoods

Driving through the redwoods

Extremely tall trees

Extremely tall trees

The top of the trees...

The top of the trees…

They even made Gareth look small!

They even made Gareth look small!

We also drove through one of the trees – this Chandelier Tree in particular is over 2000 years old.

The Chandelier Tree

The Chandelier Tree

The tree we drove through!

The tree we drove through!

The Redwoods were very beautiful and we could have spent a lot longer up there, had we had the time and a better tent! The weather was turning, it was considerably colder up there, but mainly it was a whole lot wetter! It was so nice and peaceful, hardly any people, and the few we did come across were so friendly and helpful.

Changing leaves as we headed south again

Changing leaves as we headed south again

Vineyards...

Vineyards…

We decided to head towards the wine tasting regions just north of San Francisco. We planned to go to either Santa Rosa or San Rafael, but ended up stopping in a little town called Geyserville. It was getting late, and we wanted to stop, have some food and a nice bottle of wine… and a warm dry bed! We stopped at the Geyserville Inn, and after a wander into the town, we decided to stay another day and night, and spend our last day (before the long drive back) wine tasting!

Thursday…

We got up on Thursday, dry and warm, and headed out into the sunshine to Francis Ford Coppola’s Vineyard for some wine tasting. The place is very grand, and very nice, surrounded by vines (obviously). The building itself has a mini-museum of all the different films he had directed, as well as a pool and terrace, several bars where you could buy and taste wines, a store of movie memorabilia and a restaurant – very posh!

Francis Ford Coppola Winery

Francis Ford Coppola Winery

We had a quick look round the movie stuff, Gareth was particularly interested in the Apocalypse Now exhibit, before we went and tried some wines.

The desk from The Godfather

The desk from The Godfather

Coppola's Oscars

Coppola’s Oscars

There were three different flights to choose from, so we did one with grapes from all over California, and one where they paired different halloween candy with wines… the girl who helped us was from new Zealand, and was very good – she knew her stuff!

A particularly nice Claret

A particularly nice Claret

A very nice port-like wine

A very nice port-like wine

The wine was nice, although a little expensive – I suspect because of who made them…

After I was feeling a bit tipsy, we headed back to Geyserville so that Gareth could drop the car at the hotel and we could try some more local wines… after a lovely lunch at Diavola (recommended by Karen) we went to a local co-operative that had wines from all the local vineyards for you to taste. The girl was very good – knew her stuff, and chatted to us about Californian wine, and how expensive it is in the USA – $15+ a bottle for most wines. The stuff that we have in the UK is the mass produced stuff, and we don’t tend to get some of these better wines.

One Time Spaceman - very nice red...

One Time Spaceman – very nice red…

Treasure Hunter - another very nice red!

Treasure Hunter – another very nice red!

We spent a good hour trying different grapes and blends, before buying a bottle for the evening and stumbling back to the hotel…

We then had another bottle of wine, some food, and fell asleep very happy bunnies…

TTFN,
Laura and Gareth xxx

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