What you could expect in NorCal

  • Northern California is beautiful, slightly rugged, and very unpopulated (Forest Service land abounds and we never had a hard time finding a free place to sleep.  Even coveted waterfront properties boasted towns of 900 inhabitants or less)
  • Marijuana is prevalent and people smoke nonchalantly in the streets.  (We even spotted a waitress taking a toke-break right outside the restaurant where she worked, apron still on.); a friend of a friend is reported to make $100,000/year working on a farm growing this cash crop.
  • The coast is FOGGY, especially in the morning.  However, when it isn’t foggy, you are granted some of the most stunning coastal views with expansive beaches and jaw-dropping cliffs.  Keep your eyes on the road though, as those cliffs are unprotected by roadside barriers and Highway 1 was windy enough to make us both almost carsick.
  • Fruit and vegetables are abundant and cheap (and well-protected since you have to pass through an agricultural checkpoint just to enter the state).
  • People are pretty friendly, inquisitive about our travels, and talkative.
  • The Redwoods were cool, but not much bigger than the trees we saw in Washington (although the numerous groves of more than 100 trees, all ranging between 200 and 300 feet in height was pretty awe-inspiring)
  • You can find warnings for cancer-causing agents in many places (including REI and Starbucks … roasted coffee and baked goods cause acrylamideProposition 65 protects us from cookies and campstoves)
  • Cesar Chavez lives on in remembrance as each town is almost certain to have a boulevard named after him.  (Van Ness is also memorialized in street names throughout the area.  What? You’ve never heard of Van Ness?  Well, he was only the mayor of San Francisco from 1855-1856!)
  • The Department of Transportation is kind enough to label which direction you should be driving on most roadways .. in case the double yellow lines aren’t apparent enough for you.
  • You are destined to drink a lot of wine here, with Napa and Sonoma Valley close at hand, and decent bottles of wine ranging from $3-$10!

    Chris among the Redwoods of Jedidiah State Park

All in all, Northern California is relaxed, beautiful and a place to easily spend weeks on end enjoying nature (and wineries), as long as you don’t mind the fog.

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