Driving in California north of San Francisco makes for a terrific road trip. Vineyards, ocean, redwoods - the scenery is diverse and stunning all at once. One particular stretch I love is from a little town called Occidental down to Bodega Bay.
Situated just west of Santa Rosa, up among the pines and redwoods, Occidental is the epitome of the moniker "one horse town." Occidental consists of a simple one lane street with clapboard houses and stores selling only the necessities - groceries, hardware, camping gear. Flanked by towering pines, the town has an odd, eerie feeling, a sense that come night time, Freddy Krueger might be lurking in the woods. Not to worry, since I was there during the day.
There are only three ways in or out of Occidental - the way I came in, at the end of the street and somewhere in the middle of town. That middle road is the key to one of the most spectacular 13 mile drives down to the Pacific coast.
As you pull out of town, pine trees follow for a way, then the land opens up and the descent begins. Mist starts to form as the sea air filters in, then suddenly the vast Pacific ocean beckons below.
The finale is Bodega Bay, another place once reminiscent of eeriness if you remember Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds," but at this moment a beautiful enclave nestled in a quiet bay.