Bay Area to Sequoia and back

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ayersian
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2007/09/22 15:56:01 (permalink)

Bay Area to Sequoia and back

Again, countless thanks to cecif, santacruz, MikeS., Jennifer_4, bill voss, and all the RFers who posted to our original thread query about this trip. Without your suggestions, we would’ve used up an awful lot of time and money on mediocre food. And without further ado…

Day 1 (T 8/14): After landing in Oakland, we picked up the rental car (a PT Cruiser, never again if we can help it), and headed for Sequoia on I-580. I thought we could get further for more Roadfood options, but hunger got the best of us, so we stopped in Livermore for In ‘n’ Out for a snack: cheeseburger animal-style (of course!), fries, and a chocolate shake. Having grown up in SoCal, Amy worships In ‘n’ Out, and I’m always amazed with how fresh, cheap, and utterly delicious the food is there. Why doesn’t the East coast have an equivalent? Manteca was next, where we stopped at Nature’s Country Corner on Jack Lore Rd. (thank you, cecif) under the big shade trees and stocked up on fresh peaches, bananas, almond butter, Chardonnay grape jelly:


…and these wonderful lemon-chili pistachio meats:


cecif told us that this was California’s bread basket, and she wasn’t kidding: cropland as far as the eye could see, and down the road in Oakdale was a mammoth ConAgra processing facility. We smelled tomatoes way before we saw them being canned, and they actually had part of the assembly line outdoors here:


It was getting dark by the time we got to Fresno, so we decided to stay there for the night and went to Javier’s for dinner (thanks MikeS. and Jennifer_4) at 5680 Kings Canyon. My green chile enchiladas were better than Amy’s taco and chile relleno plate, but the food was good and very filling (though no horchata to drink!). We slept at the very unremarkable Sequoia Motel (down the street from Javier’s) for $50 and would not recommend it to anyone.

Day 2 (W 8/16): Hungry for a good Mexican breakfast, we first found a spectacular Latin grocery in Fiesta Food Warehouse at 4985 Kings Canyon, where we bought canned nectar, water, freshly baked pan dulce, churros, and jalapeño cheese bread. I asked the cashier about breakfast, and she suggested Tacos Tijuana and Castillo’s, both down the road. The former wasn’t open yet, so we proceeded to Castillo’s at 3659 E. Ventura. We were the only non-Latinos there (always a good sign), and the food was phenomenal, easily the best Mexican on our trip. Our formal review is forthcoming on this site, so please check back!

We stopped for gas in Visalia and found real coffee at the proudly independent Visalia Coffee Company, nestled in their picturesque downtown area. A sign on the door says it all: “Down with Starbucks” (which, unfortunately, had opened a store one block away). Making our way to Sequoia, we reserved a tent site at Dorst Creek campground, then hiked around the big trees:


General Sherman, Congress Trail, Presidential Trail, etc. We then went to Tunnel Log and Moro Rock, and driving back to our campsite, we spied two black bears on the hillside! When we asked if the bears come into the campground, the ranger at Dorst said, “Oh yeah, every night and every day! There’s four bears that frequent these sites, so don’t leave any food, toiletries, scented anything outside of the bear-proof lockers. And if you see them sniffing them your tent, just bang some pots and pans and yell for them to leave. Don’t worry, they don’t like the taste of humans!” Dinner was almond butter ‘n’ Chardonnay jelly sandwiches, after which we packed all the food, etc. in the lockers. We went to sleep pretty early around 9 p.m., and I woke up with a start just after 11 p.m. with someone in a neighboring site yelling, “Get the hell outta here!” Bear, maybe? The site was empty the next morning, so I never found out.

Day 3 (Th 8/17): Packed up and headed for Kings Canyon, where we saw the General Grant tree. Took the tour of Boyden Caverns, then made our way to Road’s End, parked at Zumwalt Meadows, and hiked to Roaring River Falls. On the return hike, we cooled our heels in this river:


The road down into the canyon:


Afterwards, we checked out Knapp’s Cabin and the Cedar Grove Visitors’ Center; we swam at Shady Cove in Hume Lake and camped in Dirty Gulch. Interestingly, the bear lockers seemed optional there!

Day 4 (F 8/18): Packed up and headed for San Francisco. In Fresno, we stopped for gas and found a Jamba Juice, where we got double wheatgrass shots and an Aloha Pineapple smoothie with Immunity Boost. In Modesto, we ate lunch at a Weinerschnitzel, which reminds me so much of the Weiner King of my youth. A 6-pack of Mini Corn Dogs and a raspberry lemonade later, we found Val’s Burgers in Hayward (thank you santacruz!), which we later reviewed for the site. I think of their chocolate malt constantly and how perfect it was: just enough malt with a deep, dark chocolate flavor. Upon reaching the city, we quickly found our hotel, La Luna Inn on Lombard St. That night, we caught the Bart to Oakland for an A’s game; unfortunately, the Kansas City Royals squashed them, 8-2, though we did find a tasty ballpark hot dog and nachos for almost the same price as the tickets themselves!

Day 5 (Sa 8/19): We began our day at Sears Fine Foods for breakfast. I ordered the 18 Swedish pancakes, and Amy had the Sourdough French toast and bacon. I’d give the place a B+: nothing was quite up to the hype but still very good. While Amy went to a psychology conference downtown, I hopped the Bart and spent the day in Berkeley. Passing by suggestions like Blondie’s Pizza, High Tech Burrito, Fat Slice Pizza, I was on a quest for Top Dog on Durant Ave. I ordered the Calabrese (all pork with fennel, spices) with chili (lots of beans), and I added maybe a too generous helping of their hot Russian mustard. The “hot” warning was on the container, and the first bite cleared my sinuses! Though it was way too messy to eat with my hands, it was very, very good—and the last bite (with the largest amount of mustard) made me weep from the heat!


Crossed the street for a donut to cool my mouth from King Pin, and got a chocolate-covered old-fashioned that really hit the spot, and many thanks to cecif for both of those choices. Back in San Fran for dinner, we went to Ryoko Sushi on Taylor St. (on the suggestion of a friend’s father, who knows the head chef there). The Volcano, Hot Tail and Kentucky rolls dominated our table, while the nigiri (Spanish mackerel and fatty tuna) and unagi (BBQ eel) were excellent as well. Took in a performance by Bob Newhart at the Moscone Convention Center, where he showed unaired goofs from both The Bob Newhart Show and Newhart and performed the “Driving Instructor” skit from his 1960 debut album, The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart. He added that it was VERY difficult for a comedian his age to be P.C. about his routines…so he wasn’t! When we got back to the hotel, we went walking in the Marina district and found another great donut spot, All Star on Chestnut St., where we snacked on a chocolate-covered cruller and a maple-covered old-fashioned—both magnificent!

Day 6 (Su 8/20): While Amy was in meetings, I sought out Pearl’s Deluxe Burgers on Post St. and found a sweet parking spot…only to find Pearl’s closed. Bummer! Since all the burrito places I was craving were all 15+ blocks away, I ambled into Chinatown and by chance found the same little bakery (maybe on Powell St.?) that I’d been to a few years back. Filled up on an absolutely delectable steamed BBQ pork bun, black bean bun, and a Chinese donut with sweet red bean paste inside. I saw the movie Sunshine at Loews Theaters on 4th St., which was by far my favorite summer film, even though I spent too much money on very salty nachos and popcorn-to-go. I picked up Amy, and we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito, where our friends live in a floating house. They took us to Tommy’s Wok on Bridegway, where we shared steamed pork buns (I can never get enough of these!), green onion pancake, and Singapore noodles—all quite decent and satisfying. We then drove up the coast toward Point Reyes National Seashore and camped at Olema Ranch for the night.

Day 7 (Mo 8/21): Our last day in California, so we were determined to make it last. Checked out the Point Reyes Visitors Center, then hiked the Earthquake Trail on the San Andreas Fault. We drove into Point Reyes Station for lunch and parked at the library so we could print out our boarding passes. The waiting list to use the Internet was an hour, so walked into town for lunch at La Taqueria Quinta…only to find it gone, but an inviting place called Rosie’s Cowboy Cookhouse on Rt. 1 in the middle of town. I had the Catfish Cakes, while Amy ordered the Fish Tacos—both very, very good. Thick tortilla chips and homemade spicy salsa made for a fabulous meal, and we got the dessert special to go: Peach-Blackberry Crisp. Several doors down, we found the Bovine Bakery, where we purchased bounteous baked items to eat the next morning at the airport: an oat bran muffin, chili-cheese scone, and oat-chocolate chip cookie. Amy also got an iced coffee: very strong, made with fair-trade beans. As our food settled, we drove out to the Point Reyes Lighthouse and hiked out to it through near impenetrable fog. We arrived just in time to tour the lens room in the lighthouse; the ranger was very informative, plus we got to go inside the lighthouse, which few ever are able to do. We then hiked out to Chimney Rock for these fab views of the shoreline:


…then drove and hiked down to McClure Beach and saw lots of huge, whip-like seaweed washed up on shore:


We then drove back to Samuel P. Taylor State Park to camp, stopping for dinner at the Farm House in Olema—actually, roped in by their roadsign for “BBQ Oysters” (I thought that was a good idea, since neither of us was hungry for a full dinner). We started with a half-dozen, grilled in the half-shell, and topped with a tangy citrus BBQ sauce. Since we missed the Cowgirl Creamery in PR Station for handmade cheese, we couldn’t resist the Cowboy Nachos with homemade cheese sauce, roasted pork chile verde, and jalapenos. Amy washed it all down with a local pale ale, and we promised to return here with bigger appetites—outstanding menu and wonderful food! And remember the peach-blackberry crisp? That was devoured when we got back to camp and was incredibly fresh-tasting and yummy.

Day 8 (Tu 8/22): Drove back early to Oakland Airport and flew back home to CT via Chicago’s Midway—a layover that we were particularly excited about, because the last time we were routed through Midway, the Superdawg stand was closed! This time, it was open, and there was a line. We shared an original Superdawg, fries, and a chocolate Supershake (only because they were out of malt…pity!). The dog itself was fat and flavorful, though the oversized bun was slightly stale and cracked in several places. The combination of onions, mustard, relish, pickles, and hot peppers earned a grade of B in our book. Amy liked the crinkle-cut fries more than I did, and the store’s menu claimed that the Supershake was so thick that you couldn’t draw it from a straw (hence the included spoon). However, the straw was a noticeably smaller diameter than normal straws (hmmm), but I didn’t have any trouble drawing its creaminess.

Again, HUGE thank-yous to cecif, Jennifer_4, santacruz, MikeS., bill voss, and all the RFers who helped us to have another spectacular roadtrip! Chris & Amy
#1

24 Replies Related Threads

    ann peeples
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    RE: Bay Area to Sequoia and back 2007/09/22 16:20:29 (permalink)
    Breathtaking pictures and report!! Thanks for sharing..
    #2
    EdSails
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    RE: Bay Area to Sequoia and back 2007/09/22 19:34:41 (permalink)
    Very nice pictures and report. It sounds like you had a great time. I am putting Top Dog on my list for my next SF trip--------that mustard sounds great!
    #3
    BigGlenn
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    RE: Bay Area to Sequoia and back 2007/09/22 20:00:16 (permalink)
    Excuse me, but this is a Roadfood Site.
    No Pictures of Food?
    Come on now we can do better
    #4
    ayersian
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    RE: Bay Area to Sequoia and back 2007/09/22 21:02:53 (permalink)
    EdSails, that mustard IS great. I've never had that reaction to hot spices or horseradish, but I had to laugh as tears of bliss rolled down my cheeks -- definitely the hottest mustard I've had! And BigGlenn, I used/am using all my food pictures (well, the few really clear ones, at least) for formal reviews for this site. I reviewed Val's Burgers in Hayward already and am still working on a Mexican place in Fresno. Next time, however, I'll take more food shots in general!
    #5
    cecif
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    RE: Bay Area to Sequoia and back 2007/09/28 19:22:46 (permalink)
    Chris & Amy aka Ayersian,
    HUGE thanks for the trip report, the awesome pics, and the thanks.
    I am [literally] crying with homesickness. Especially when on top of all the things you did, you ended up at Samuel P. Taylor State Park, where we had sooooo many fantastic family picnics in my childhood [my great aunt lived in Lagunitas]. Oh, sigh.

    EdSails, as I have said to many people I guarantee the original Top Dog will not disappoint. I think I might have offered to buy ayersian's meal if it did.

    My taste buds are so homesick now I have to log off. Thanks again C & A!
    #6
    sizz
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    RE: Bay Area to Sequoia and back 2007/09/28 22:47:02 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by BigGlenn

    Excuse me, but this is a Roadfood Site.
    No Pictures of Food?
    Come on now we can do better

    hey Big Glenn ............ what's the matter you don't like sea cucumber?
    #7
    BigGlenn
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    RE: Bay Area to Sequoia and back 2007/09/29 02:48:28 (permalink)
    Deep Fry it and pour some gravy on it and I will give it a try....LOL


    quote:
    Originally posted by sizz

    quote:
    Originally posted by BigGlenn

    Excuse me, but this is a Roadfood Site.
    No Pictures of Food?
    Come on now we can do better


    hey Big Glenn ............ what's the matter you don't like sea cucumber?


    #8
    cecif
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    RE: Bay Area to Sequoia and back 2007/09/29 08:17:05 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by BigGlenn

    Excuse me, but this is a Roadfood Site.
    No Pictures of Food?
    Come on now we can do better



    I reckon pistachios count as food! And heck, the only reason the Top Dog pic had no food is cuz they ATE it. Immediately obviously. And a darn good thing too, as it should be.

    #9
    doggydaddy
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    RE: Bay Area to Sequoia and back 2007/09/29 09:16:20 (permalink)

    My feelings echo cecif's, especially when they hit the City and headed north across the bridge. Maybe this is my complaint, as there are only two shots of the Marin County area. Just two shots of the cliffs that border one of the best roadways in California (or America), HWY 1 and of a clump of seaweed. I want to see more.
    Maybe it's for the best as any photos of this region would have worsened my homesickness. One picture of MT. Tamalpias would have done it....
    I am with ayersian on one thing. I cannot ever have enough BBQ pork buns

    mark
    #10
    cecif
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    RE: Bay Area to Sequoia and back 2007/09/29 17:38:30 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by doggydaddy


    My feelings echo cecif's, .... I cannot ever have enough BBQ pork buns

    mark


    Your feelings are with me more than you think. Since my favorite food my
    entire life has been dim sum in SF's Chinatown (though all the places
    I grew up going to are gone) and my number one favorite is cha siu bau
    (many different spellings but all = American translation of BBQ pork buns).
    #11
    mayor al
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    RE: Bay Area to Sequoia and back 2007/09/30 04:45:57 (permalink)

    A small, but interesting to me, sidenote. Only in California would a traffic signal be located near a rural farmstand! The concept of "Rural Agriculture" varies from region to region !!
    #12
    cecif
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    RE: Bay Area to Sequoia and back 2007/09/30 07:34:52 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Al-The Mayor-Bowen


    A small, but interesting to me, sidenote. Only in California would a traffic signal be located near a rural farmstand!
    The concept of "Rural Agriculture" varies from region to region !!


    LOL! Al that signal is actually at a very busy intersection. Hwy 108 meets
    Jack Tone Road there which goes out to other farming communities (and it's not
    all that far out of Manteca, a sizeable town). You ought to see how crazy
    busy that place is on a Saturday!!!! (It's on the northern route into Yosemite also.)

    But all that said the San Joaquin Valley is really, like Chris said, a bread basket.
    Tons of orchards etc out there as far as you can see & drive.
    #13
    mayor al
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    RE: Bay Area to Sequoia and back 2007/09/30 17:26:18 (permalink)
    Yeah, Teaching for over a decade on the High Desert, it was always very difficult to get my Southern Cal H S Seniors to accept the fact that Agriculture and related industries were and are the largest economic force in the State. Although at the rate that the Prime Ag-based land is being developed into housing, I wonder how long that can last.
    I recall watching a 747 loading at LAX one evening, heading for Tokyo. It appeared that ALL of the passengers in line waiting to board carried 25 lb bags of rice with them. I asked one of the counter workers what was up and she told me that apparently Rice is dirt cheap in California compared to the price in Japan, so it was a very popular carry-on for returning tourists. I learned later that California is in the top 3 states for rice production.
    #14
    cecif
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    RE: Bay Area to Sequoia and back 2007/10/01 08:41:42 (permalink)
    Oh dear, best not to get me started about the ag-land turning into housing.
    The area I grew up in is now unrecognizable! I find it incredibly sad.
    Even the western side of the San Joaquin Valley is being turned into what I
    call "house farms". Miles of identical houses all about 20 ft from each other.
    Sigh.
    #15
    1bbqboy
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    RE: Bay Area to Sequoia and back 2007/10/01 08:55:04 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by cecif

    Oh dear, best not to get me started about the ag-land turning into housing.
    The area I grew up in is now unrecognizable! I find it incredibly sad.
    Even the western side of the San Joaquin Valley is being turned into what I
    call "house farms". Miles of identical houses all about 20 ft from each other.
    Sigh.



    Or chapter one in why Oregon has strict land use laws preserving farm & forest land.
    The weirdest thing Cecil, is most of those folks are drivin' the 580 or riding the ACE train into the BA.
    #16
    cecif
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    RE: Bay Area to Sequoia and back 2007/10/01 09:12:51 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by bill voss

    Or chapter one in why Oregon has strict land use laws preserving farm & forest land.
    The weirdest thing Cecil, is most of those folks are drivin' the 580 or riding the ACE train into the BA.


    Oh I know! Gawd I can't believe they basically extended BART to Livermore and there are commuters from Tracy!!!
    I wonder what Chris & Amy thought of the spreading mess that is the "Bay" Area.

    I love New England, even though it has some yucky spots, the growth is WAY better controlled.
    #17
    ayersian
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    RE: Bay Area to Sequoia and back 2007/10/01 09:44:29 (permalink)
    Hi ceci, Amy's from L.A. originally, so the BA sprawl was very similar, imho, to the San Fernando Valley. And I'm not surprised, because everyone wants to live there! The Livermore BART stop is great IF people use it instead of their cars; just driving around SF (actually, it's mostly the parking problem) for a couple of days is enough to last me for a long time. We visited friends that were so desperate to stay in the area but couldn't afford rent in Oakland -- they now live in a house boat in Sausalito Harbor!

    What struck me the most was Point Reyes, just a half hour up the coast and you're in virtual solitude with the sea and woods.
    #18
    cecif
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    RE: Bay Area to Sequoia and back 2007/10/01 09:56:43 (permalink)
    It's funny but I feel the same way here in New England, although I swear I am actually closer to
    everything... the beach for me is now 15-20 mins instead of an hour or more, and I can cross-country
    ski practically out my door vs. a 2+ hour drive in CA, and I have huge amounts of conservation land
    really close.

    But that said I definitely miss CA - the scenery, the weather, the food! I just can't afford to live
    there any more. Plus it's awful crowded.

    #19
    mayor al
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    RE: Bay Area to Sequoia and back 2007/10/01 18:16:25 (permalink)
    When I lived on the high desert in Hesperia (San Berdoo County) my neighbors commuted to work at LAX. That was 110 miles each way. They did that for the ten years we lived next door, and they are still doing it as far as I know. Not big-money types, he was a driver and she a dispatcher for an airfreight company at the airport. They had four kids (two born while I lived there). They left for work at 5 AM and got home about 8 or 8:30 PM each night. The kids took care of the household chores during the week without any other adults around.
    I can't imagine living that life-style, even though I watched it on a daily basis. The desert I grew up in is now an ocean of pink stucco and red-tile roofs.

    Let's talk about food...this sense of loss of space is getting me down!
    #20
    mr chips
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    RE: Bay Area to Sequoia and back 2007/10/01 19:21:43 (permalink)
    Great report. I have fond memories of the sequioas at Kings Canyon and seeing a whale at Point Reyes.
    #21
    Jennifer_4
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    RE: Bay Area to Sequoia and back 2007/10/01 20:37:27 (permalink)
    Thank YOU for the pics and report...looks like a beautiful trip..but OMG, if I knew you'd need lodging help I would have steered you to a nicer place...NEVER NEVER stay near Javier's..LOL.. that's near my work and a fairly gamy neighborhood.!.. next time there'a Doubletree just up the road.
    #22
    MikeS.
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    RE: Bay Area to Sequoia and back 2007/10/05 17:43:10 (permalink)
    What Jennifer4 said. Never stay on Kings Canyon / Ventura street in Fresno. Although I don't know about the Doubletree. It's been 9 years since I left Fresno. Glad to hear that Javier's is still good.

    Thanks for the great report, some lovely sites to remind me too of home.

    MikeS.
    #23
    Jennifer_4
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    RE: Bay Area to Sequoia and back 2007/10/06 15:02:26 (permalink)
    Mike S, the Doubletree is where the old Hilton used to be on Van Ness..but there is also a Radisson that used to be a Holiday Inn across from Selland Arena.
    #24
    billyboy
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    RE: Bay Area to Sequoia and back 2007/10/07 22:08:47 (permalink)
    Chris and Amy,

    Beautiful pictures and great report! I just came back from San Jose and SF a few weeks ago and miss it. Very beautiful and way different vibe from NYC. We saw people at Pismo Beach using that seaweed like whips when we went ATVing there. Love that shot from the lighthouse!
    #25
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