West Coast Roadtrip

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Ralph Melton
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West Coast Roadtrip - Mon, 06/27/11 5:01 PM
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For this year's vacation, we're flying to Seattle, renting a car, and moseying our way down through Oregon and California until we fly back from LA three weeks later.
Much of this is already determined:
We're visiting friends in Seattle, heading down to Portland, heading to San Francisco, then heading down the California coast to LA. But there are still points where I'd like to ask advice:
 
-  I would welcome advice on a route through Oregon and Northern California. (We want to drive from Portland to San Francisco in 2-3 days.) Most of the Roadfood-listed restaurants in Oregon are near the coast, and that would fit nicely with a visit to the Coastal Redwoods in Northern California. On the other hand, driving down I-5 would give us a chance to stop at Crater Lake, which my father has recommended, and we could see Mount Shasta. And I'm sure that there are many splendid possibilities of which I'm not aware. What would y'all recommend for a combination of great tourism and great food?
 
- Is there a particularly splendid place I should go for Santa Maria barbecue? I'm currently planning on going to the Hitching Post, but if there's some place even more splendid, I'd love to know.
 
- In Seattle, we'll be bringing takeout food for lunch with friends with infants. I'm certainly going to take their expressed wishes into account, but I'm not sure that they'll find time and focus to suggest a place. What would be great Roadfood takeout in Seattle?
 
I'm also happy to hear Roadfood raves in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, LA, San Diego - but I feel very capable of finding good options there through the website and the forums, so the need is not as critical.
 
Many thanks!

buffetbuster
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Mon, 06/27/11 5:20 PM
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Ralph-
Sounds like an amazing trip!  The best piece of advice I can give you is to get a hold of Roadfooder mr chips.  He is a great guy and Portland's unofficial Goodwill ambassador.  Have a great time.

Sundancer7
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Mon, 06/27/11 5:32 PM
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In Seattle it is obvious that you want to visit the famous market where all kinds of fruits, veggies, flower and meats and restaurants are available.  I have driven the coastal route from San Diego to Washington.  There are way to many places to mention but in southern western Washington, be sure to get some of their famous huge oysters.
 
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN

mr chips
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Tue, 06/28/11 2:25 AM
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I-5 is not nearly the food desert everyone thinks it is and i have a number of places to recommend if you are interested. The coast is more scenic(the southern oregon coast between Bandon and Brookings is spectacular and just over the California border are the redwood forests featured in Star Wars and easily reachable just by driving the main roads.

smokestack lightning
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Tue, 06/28/11 2:41 AM
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A few route suggestions. A spectacular choice is to take 1-5 to around Eugene and cut over along the Rogue River to the Coast. Another great choice is 199 from Grants Pass on 1-5 to Crescent City through the Jedidiah Smith national forest. Then down 101 to San Francisco including Crescent City, Eureka/Arcata, the Redwoods, etc. Much more interesting than 1-5 in my opinion.
 
There are many many great roadfood type restaurants not listed on the website by the way. If you want SF recs while you are here send me a PM.

mar52
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Tue, 06/28/11 11:31 AM
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Get yourself some cranberry jelly candies in Bandon.
 
If driving through Roseburg, OR stop at the bakery under the windmill.  It's at one of the I5 exits.  Have a marionberry scone.
 
If you can have sauteed razor clams anywhere...  have them and then have them for me.
 
Sorry to say I've never had the Santa Maria trip tip in Santa Maria.  

mayor al
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Tue, 06/28/11 12:07 PM
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The Oregon Coast from Portland/Astoria down is spectacular, but be prepared for tons of Motor Home vacationers on that two lane ride, making it seem 'endless', at times. I would suggest balancing the scenic 2 laners with some I-5 time to keep things moving a bit.
In that area I would stay with 101 from Tillamook down to Newport (Mo's Seafood) then turn inland to the 5 and drop south to the Rogue River area where you can return to the coast for the crossing into California.
At that point either stay on 101 thru the Coast redwoods to SFC or jump east to the 5 for Mt Shasta, Mt Lassen, and some great fruits, nuts, and veggies and wine as you come down the upper Central Valley. There are tons of food stands at almost every exit on the 5.
 
Say Hi to Arnold in Sacramento (Or don't) then connect to SFC and the coast road south.
 
As you approach Monterey Bay area... Castroville, Home of the Artichoke (in all forms) also in the center of the little town is the Central Texas BBQ. Been there for decades, Good BBQ and if you have never enjoyed a Smoked Artichoke, you need to experience that.
   In the same are is Gilroy the famous GARLIC capital. it may not be time for the annual festival, but there are plenty of stands and restaurants that feature the Garlic items in a wide variety.
 
Monterey is worth a stop. The Aquareum is outstanding and just walking along the shore watching the Otters feeding and playing in the Kelp Beds is worth the stop. Excellent seafood available on the Pier.
If you have never done the coast road south of Monterey to Morro Bay, then one time will be a good thing. After the lush green of Oregon, The semi-arid California Coast can be a bit of a let-down. The seaviews are wonderful, We saw Condors at a couple of turnout-overlooks that really were neat to watch.

 
 
 Hurst Castle is interesting but not worth the admission price IMHO.
 

I've been away from LA too long to give up-to-date references. But this outline may assist you.
AL

Ralph Melton
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Tue, 06/28/11 4:10 PM
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buffetbuster: I quite agree with you, and we're already looking forward to a dinner with mr chips.
Sundancer7: We've visited Seattle's Pike Place Market once, but will certainly strive to do so again.
 
mr chips and smokestack lightning, thank you for the route suggestions. I'd feel more settled if they had been the same suggestion, but I think I'm coming to the conclusion that I should include at least some of the Oregon coast, and some of the sauteed razor clams mar52 recommended.
 
mayor al, I agree that Monterey is well worth a stop; we've loved to watch the otters before. I've actually tried a smoked artichoke in Pittsburgh and loved it, but I bet it would be even better in Castroville.
Despite your verdict on Hearst Castle, I think we'll visit it anyway.
 
Unfortunately, the trip down the coast may be delayed by a mudslide that blocked Highway 1 for months - no, I see I'm wrong: Big Sur California Blog says that Highway 1 is now open. Yay!

smokestack lightning
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Tue, 06/28/11 9:50 PM
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Hey Ralph,
 
yes, Hyy 1 is open. No problems.
 
I think Hearst Castle is amazing and well worth the admission price. Was just there in November.  Monterrey and Carmel have some excellent food. If it was me I would see as much of the Orgon coast and California Hwy 101 region as I could.
Let me know if I can be of more help.

mayor al
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Tue, 06/28/11 11:17 PM
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Hey, Different strokes, etc, about Hearst Castle. We have stayed in Morro Bay several times and like it and the Pismo Beach area as a weekend get-away.
  Hope your trip is a great ride !!! Looking forward to the report !1

mr chips
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Tue, 06/28/11 11:34 PM
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A few suggestions along I-5, most of which I have recommended before:
        Novack's in Albany, Oregon is a great Hungarian restaurant and Bakery which is a real treat. It is now being run by a granddaughter who is an excellent cook. I liked the breakfasts, the baked goods and a baked bread called Lantos. It is unusual for oregon and a great stop. 
Halfway between Portland and Ashland is the K and R Drive In in Rice hill, oregon. This is the home of truly huge portions of excellent Umpqua ice cream with over 30 varieties of local ice cream. A small cone is 2 scoops, medium 4 and large 6. And you have to have at least two scoops of each flavor.
   At exit 86 is Heaven on Earth, a truck stop with plate sized cinnamon rolls and other excellent baked goods. it was even reviewed by the Sterns in one of their books.
    The Wild goose in Ashland has marionberry muffins and fried oysters for breakfast as well as other high quality breakfast items.
     I'm partial to the In N out in Redding and The Olive Pit offers free samples of olives in Corning and a nice chance to order a wide variety of flavors of green olives.
      I would see as much of the Oregon coast and Redwoods as possible but Crater Lake is wonderful and worth a visit in and of itself.

chefbuba
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Wed, 06/29/11 1:35 AM
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I'll second the stop at Novack's. I have friends that live near by and frequent the place. They took me there a couple of years ago when I was visiting, don't remember what we had, we just ordered a bunch of stuff and shared, but I remember that it was all very good.

totillie
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Wed, 06/29/11 1:50 AM
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If you are going to Monterey, and then down the coast to Hearst [sorry, Mr. Mayor, we love Hearst!], please consider spending a night in Cambria. There are lovely hotels along the [mostly] rock beach  --  not as bad as that sounds - and several good restaurants, including Linns and The Black Cat. Linns is Roadfood, Black Cat is foodie, but excellent.

mayor al
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Wed, 06/29/11 5:59 AM
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No Apologies needed regarding the Hearst Castle. We enjoyed our first visit, but having done that I wouldn't do the drive to go back... I feel the same way about the Disneyland  (L A) and the Getty Museum.  All need to be experienced, BUT not everyone falls in love enough for repeated visits. I am sure there are places like the Red Rock area of Southern Utah, where I would live if I left this area, would draw comments from some, that it is a "Nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there." !!
  I think this ride down from the NW will be a fine ride.  BTW  The Olive Pit and the truck stops at Corning is/are one of my favorite stops on the 5 in the Valley.
 

Sundancer7
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Wed, 06/29/11 8:08 AM
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I have been to the Olive Pit twice.  First time I got a olive burger which was very good and the next time I got an assortment of the various stuffed olives.  A very interesting stop right off I-5
 
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN

Ralph Melton
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Thu, 06/30/11 11:16 PM
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We're coming up with conclusions almost as fast as the trip is approaching.
 
We decided that we could spare a day in San Francisco, because we're more likely to return there. So we're doing Crater Lake *and* the Oregon coast; we'll head southwest from Portland to Crater Lake, then more or less due west to Bandon (probably with a breakfast stop at Heaven on Earth), then south along 101 to San Francisco.
 
One more probable bit of our Portland tourism: Culinary tour | Epicurean Excursion | Portland Walking Tours | Oregon
 

6star
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Fri, 07/1/11 1:05 AM
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If, by chance,  you can squeeze out a little time in southern Oregon, I highly recommend the Harry & David tour in Medford.  As I am sure you know, Harry & David pack those gourmet food gift baskets, and the tour of their operation is fantastic.
http://www.harryanddavid.com/gifts/store/view__10455_10002_tours.html
 

mar52
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Fri, 07/1/11 10:37 AM
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A drive up the coast from San Francisco and you could have a hamburger and Ramos Gin Fizz with the seagulls at:
 
http://www.samscafe.com/
 
The Ramos Gin Fizz is worth the trip.
 
Or dine inside and have the Cioppino.  Guess the Gin Fizz would not be appropriate with that so have lunch walk around Sausalito and drive back up for dinner,

buffetbuster
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Fri, 07/1/11 10:43 AM
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I don't think the food is necessarily great, but I still recommend a stop at the Samoa Cookhouse, near Eureka, CA.  The place is interesting.

mar52
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Fri, 07/1/11 11:08 AM
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Samoa Cookhouse is interesting.  I drove up there looked and left.  I don't like communal eating.
 
Humboldt is nice just to drive around and enjoy the area.

Nancypalooza
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Fri, 07/1/11 12:21 PM
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That sounds like a really awesome trip Ralph.  I know we enjoyed tooling around the Point Reyes National Seashore area--Stinson Beach is adorable.  If you're in Sausalito, have breakfast at Fred's Place: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nancypalooza/5885872722/in/set-72157627048235162

Sundancer7
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Fri, 07/1/11 12:45 PM
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Nancypalooza


That sounds like a really awesome trip Ralph.  I know we enjoyed tooling around the Point Reyes National Seashore area--Stinson Beach is adorable.  If you're in Sausalito, have breakfast at Fred's Place: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nancypalooza/5885872722/in/set-72157627048235162

 
I have been to Stinson Beach and Point Reyes.  Point Reyes is a bit of a lonesome drive but spectaucalar when you get there.  High above the Pacific but not much food.  I did not stop but the turn off before driving to Point Reyes is suppose to have great oysters and seafood?
 
Roz drove back to San Fran from Point Reyes.  Some of the drive is not for the faint of heart as you are high above the Pacific with no guard rails.  Sorta made my crotch hurt
 
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN


Ralph Melton
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Tue, 07/5/11 4:09 PM
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We're now on the road, so I'm not getting to check this thread as often. Seattle has been mostly non-listed stops:
Spud's Fish and Chips
Trophy Cupcakes
Jimmy's on Broadway
Mae's Phinney Ridge Cafe
Charlie's on Broadway
Lowell's
Seattle Creamery
Harry's Hamburgers
Knapp's in Tacoma

buffetbuster
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Wed, 07/6/11 8:17 AM
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Thanks for the update Ralph.  You should make for an amazing trip report when you and Lori get home!

mar52
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Wed, 07/6/11 12:27 PM
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Keep on eating!  Can't wait to hear about your trip.

wanderingjew
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Wed, 07/6/11 12:37 PM
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Ralph
 
I hope you enjoyed Spud's as much as I did.

Looking forward to your trip report and hope to see you in Pittsburgh next month.

californyguy
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Wed, 07/6/11 12:53 PM
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http://www.jacksgrillredding.com/    a wonderful 30's style steak house with flinstone size wonderful steaks...if you stop here itwill surely be one of your most memorable meals

The Travelin Man
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Wed, 07/6/11 3:40 PM
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I am curious to know what you thought of Mae's Phinney Ridge.

tightlines
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Wed, 07/6/11 5:24 PM
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I'm headed to Portland in a few weeks.  I'm thinking about hitting a few of the places reviewed on Roadfood including Dan and Louis. 
 
There's also a truck that serves Poutine.  I might try that too.  Unfortunately, there's also a fried pie truck.  I guess I'll have to take a few bites of each and move on.  I'll get some pictures up when I return.

BackRhodes
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Sun, 08/28/11 5:29 AM
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Ralph Melton

{snip}
-  I would welcome advice on a route through Oregon and Northern California. (We want to drive from Portland to San Francisco in 2-3 days.) Most of the Roadfood-listed restaurants in Oregon are near the coast, and that would fit nicely with a visit to the Coastal Redwoods in Northern California. On the other hand, driving down I-5 would give us a chance to stop at Crater Lake, which my father has recommended, and we could see Mount Shasta. And I'm sure that there are many splendid possibilities of which I'm not aware. What would y'all recommend for a combination of great tourism and great food? 

{snip}

I know this is after the fact, but here's how I would do it:
 
In a 3 day scenario: Night #1 at Crater Lake, and Night #2 at Eureka...
 
Portland to Tillamook, Tillamook to Reedsport, Reedsport to Roseburg, Roseburg to Crater Lake, Crater lake to Medford, Medford to Redding, Redding to Eureka, Eureka to Legget, Leggett to San Francisco
(At Leggett you have the choice of staying on US Hwy 101 or taking California Hwy 1)
This route would give you the Oregon Coast, Crater Lake, Mt Shasta, and the Redwoods & the California Coast...


BackRhodes
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Sun, 08/28/11 5:55 AM
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mar52


Samoa Cookhouse is interesting.  I drove up there looked and left.  I don't like communal eating.

Humboldt is nice just to drive around and enjoy the area.

 
You missed a great experience...and think of the "communal dining" as any other dining except that the tables are stuck together... and unless you're uncomfortable meeting people, it's a great experience at one of the LAST true "cookhouses" in the country...the other diners are just friends you haven't met yet...and folks from across the USA have made it a point to eat there... it's a genuine authentic cookhouse that used to primarily serve to loggers and mill workers...and we usually find a table with plenty of room that has a few empty seats, so we've never had to rub elbows literally with other patrons...
 
I went there for my birthday dinner, and we let it slip out to the waitress, and before you know it the entire dining room was singing "Happy Birthday"
 
They'll ask if you want a SECOND HELPING ...if you walk away hungry, it's yer own fault...
 
Friendly staff, attentive waiters, and honest American logger food...
 
Phone ahead  to see what they're serving that day...the serve only ONE menu item each day for lunch, and another for dinner, so don't expect to be handed a menu...a simple chalkboard tells you what they're serving...
 
After your meal you can wander through their museum collection of old logging gear and photo's...it's a bygone era that has been captured in a large and interesting collection...

<message edited by BackRhodes on Sun, 08/28/11 6:01 AM>

Ralph Melton
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Mon, 08/29/11 3:43 PM
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BackRhodes


Ralph Melton

{snip}
-  I would welcome advice on a route through Oregon and Northern California. (We want to drive from Portland to San Francisco in 2-3 days.) Most of the Roadfood-listed restaurants in Oregon are near the coast, and that would fit nicely with a visit to the Coastal Redwoods in Northern California. On the other hand, driving down I-5 would give us a chance to stop at Crater Lake, which my father has recommended, and we could see Mount Shasta. And I'm sure that there are many splendid possibilities of which I'm not aware. What would y'all recommend for a combination of great tourism and great food? 

{snip}

I know this is after the fact, but here's how I would do it:

In a 3 day scenario: Night #1 at Crater Lake, and Night #2 at Eureka...

Portland to Tillamook, Tillamook to Reedsport, Reedsport to Roseburg, Roseburg to Crater Lake, Crater lake to Medford, Medford to Redding, Redding to Eureka, Eureka to Legget, Leggett to San Francisco
(At Leggett you have the choice of staying on US Hwy 101 or taking California Hwy 1)
This route would give you the Oregon Coast, Crater Lake, Mt Shasta, and the Redwoods & the California Coast...


 
This does look like a good route. I think we took almost the opposite of this route: From Portland down I-5 to Crater Lake, west through Roseburg to Bandon, then south along 101 to San Francisco.

BackRhodes
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Mon, 08/29/11 5:45 PM
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If I knew you'd be going down Hwy 101 I would've waved...
 
On the above map I also included a detour at Healdsburg down into the Napa Valley via Calif Hwy 128...just in case you wanted to try some of the upscale city slicker food...
 
<message edited by BackRhodes on Mon, 08/29/11 5:47 PM>

Ralph Melton
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Tue, 08/30/11 9:17 AM
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We ended up going through Napa too late to stop. I was somewhat disappointed, because there was a sausage place just off the main square in Sonoma that I remembered fondly from our honeymoon, and I'd hoped to find that again.

mar52
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Tue, 08/30/11 12:47 PM
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BackRhodes:  I might have missed the food part of The Samoa Cook House, but I did experience everything there except for the food.
 
I would not have been comfortable eating which would have ruined all the other good I experienced there.
 
It's a wonderful place and I did reccommend stopping there as it's more than just the food.
 
I loved the glimpse into how things once were.

BackRhodes
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Wed, 09/7/11 5:47 PM
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Ralph Melton
       We ended up going through Napa too late to stop. I was somewhat disappointed, because there was a sausage place just off the main square in Sonoma that I remembered fondly from our honeymoon, and I'd hoped to find that again.      

 
St Helena has changed from when I lived there decades ago...we sometimes think of it as "Sausilito North". Calistoga has also changed...it's now all about the tourists, not much left for the locals anymore...one sad indicator is when the Donny's auto parts store closed...if you now need auto parts you have to drive to Healdsburg, Santa Rosa, St Helena, or Middletown...we also lost the baker, the shoe man, the clothing store
 
I don't know IF it's still there but in Yountville there was a Yountville Diner, run by a lady named Cassandra...another place that may or maynot still be there is the Yountville Saloon...
 
I used to get a lunch and a "barley pop" at La Luna mexican market in Rutherford and stash it in my saddlebags and ride my horse down to the shade of the Napa River, and teach our horses how to swim a river...(some fo our horses have never seen a river in their life). It used to be that the river at the Rutherford Crossroad had gentle banks...but then the Army Corps Of Engineers came along around 1978 or so, and "improved" the river by putting washer machine sized rocks all along the banks, which meant that we could not make it down the banks with our horses anymore...
 
I used to live in The Valley Of The Moon...the Valley Of The Moon Saloon was where the late Norton Buffalo got his start. Just off the square in "Slonoma" was Wooden Nickel Records. The Square is where the Bear Flag Revolt started against the Mexican authorities  (California and Texas are the only 2 states that were Republics)...

Hopefully next time you're in the area it will be daytime and you can explore a bit...

BackRhodes
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Re:West Coast Roadtrip - Wed, 09/7/11 6:06 PM
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mar52
        BackRhodesI might have missed the food part of The Samoa Cook House, but I did experience everything there except for the food.

I would not have been comfortable eating which would have ruined all the other good I experienced there.

It's a wonderful place and I did reccommend stopping there as it's more than just the food.

I loved the glimpse into how things once were.   

 
I don't know IF there is an individual table in any of the other dining rooms (they have 3)...if so, would that make a difference...???
 
Yes, the preservation of the history is unique because so much of it IS recent history to those who still work in the logging industry...so many of the mills have shut down in the last 20 years (yet the demand for lumber has not decreased), and the lumber used to be hauled out on the Northwestern Pacific RR, but it's also now shut down (due to several massive rockslides in the Eel River Canyon between Willits and Scotia)...
 
The Harwood mills in Branscomb shut down but the equipment is still in place...in other places the equipment in former mill sites has been removed for scrap or resell...
 
Yet...someplace around Duncan Mills (Sonoma County) there is a STEAM powered mill that still operates...it was featured on Huell Howser's tv show California Gold
I was raised with horses and have always felt a very close connection to the history of California...my grandparents survived the 1906 San Francisco quake (my other side of the family were Texas oil drillers)
 
So much to explore in my (native) state...some places like Eureka I know only a small amount about...I'm not there all that often, but I do know how to find my way to Lola's Mexican food, and Porter Street BBQ, and I've eaten at a few downtown Eureka restaurants, but there's more to explore and learn about...it's just a matter of time...my ranch is in the Deep Boonies, up in a rugged bunch of mountains, so I don't just "drive to town" for a loaf of bread...the nearest food store is a 28 mile round trip, but that's the scale of things out here...
 
I really try VERY hard to avoid ALL urban area's, but I did see a food joint featured on DDD in Sacto I'd like to try...