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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I'm finally taking a vacation. We decided on Sonoma and Pescadero (probably). But I still have 2 house payments so I'm going to "try" to do this on the cheap. Various questions and such.

Planning to stay 2 nights in Sonoma, then 4 nights in Pescadero or Redwood City

1. March 5-11...too early? Will there be any flowers? Lack of rain? Warmth?

2. Places to stay in wine country? I wanted to spend 2 nights in a nice place, even if it costs a little more, but I don't want to break $100/night. I like Sonoma Inn, but are there better options to be had?

3. Wineries to visit? We're more about the pretty landscapes and the wine.

4. Pescadero or bust. We were thinking about trying to stay at the Hostel at Pigeon Point. Anyone have experience there? Good bad? Hostels in general? Never did it before.

5. Is there a better place than Pescadero? Goal is to view the following: Sea, Sand, Big
Green Trees, Trails, Recession Pools and various other things that live in California.

6. Obligtory bike reference. Best place to rent a bike in Wine Country. Want to be able to ride from the door to a winery!!! Read: Bike racks and rental cars are are recipes for disaster.
 

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The town of Pescadero is very small and probably 5 miles from the lighthouse/hostel, so don't expect too much. I love riding out there because it's a great ride over long climbs, through redwoods, alongside spectacular bluffs, etc., but I'm not sure I would spend 4 nights in Pescadero, especially at the hostel. Unfortunately, there isn't much else out there. You would have to go 10 or so miles up the coast to Half Moon Bay, or 20 miles down the coast to Santa Cruz to find another town. It's a beautiful drive either way. There is a place called Costanoa, but it's probably out of your price range.

I'm sure some people out here would love to meet you if you are willing. March 11 is the Solvang Century, so some may be out of town.
 

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Pescadero is really, really tiny. When you arrive, that'll bring the population up to 23. If there, be sure to have a meal at Duartes.

Stay in Santa Cruz. Go to Big Basin for redwoods. Go to Ano Nuevo for elephant seals as big as a VW (make reservations). Go to Bonny Doon Vineyard for wine tasting. Go to "Another Bike Shop" and rent a full suspension downhill ride, pedal it up to UC Santa Cruz, and take a single track trail or fire road up to Wilder, then descend like mad through redwoods back to the ocean. Above all else - Go to the Mystery Spot.
 

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thinkcooper said:
Pescadero is really, really tiny. When you arrive, that'll bring the population up to 23. If there, be sure to have a meal at Duartes.

Stay in Santa Cruz. Go to Big Basin for redwoods. Go to Ano Nuevo for elephant seals as big as a VW (make reservations). Go to Bonny Doon Vineyard for wine tasting. Go to "Another Bike Shop" and rent a full suspension downhill ride, pedal it up to UC Santa Cruz, and take a single track trail or fire road up to Wilder, then descend like mad through redwoods back to the ocean. Above all else - Go to the Mystery Spot.
Pescadero was the site of my first feat of eating and riding. At the time, my sister lived in Santa Clara and I rode from her house up through Saratoga to Skyline. I descended on Alpine road and eventually ended up in Pescadero where I had a large plate of Carne Asada. After eating, I rode back up and over to my sister's house. The scenery was nice on the way over, but all I remember on the way back was trying not to puke. I think that it worked out to about 130 miles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Characterize Santa Cruz

thinkcooper said:
Pescadero is really, really tiny. When you arrive, that'll bring the population up to 23. If there, be sure to have a meal at Duartes.

Stay in Santa Cruz. Go to Big Basin for redwoods. Go to Ano Nuevo for elephant seals as big as a VW (make reservations). Go to Bonny Doon Vineyard for wine tasting. Go to "Another Bike Shop" and rent a full suspension downhill ride, pedal it up to UC Santa Cruz, and take a single track trail or fire road up to Wilder, then descend like mad through redwoods back to the ocean. Above all else - Go to the Mystery Spot.
I'm curious if this will fit within the plan. Our primary goal in escaping Chicagoland is to get away from people and into some tranquility...i.e. nature and stuff. Away from smog and taxi's and insessant tipping. Away from infinate strip malls and traffic control devices and irritated humans running in circles. And yes, even away from Starbucks and Carabou and Panera and all things supersized, and fast and convenient. Well, perhaps not EVERYthing convenient. For instance, indoor plumbing still holds great appeal to me.

I guess what I'm asking is, does Santa Cruz have more trees than people? Or more people than trees?
 

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combination gas station and taqueria at Pescadero...

bigbill said:
Pescadero was the site of my first feat of eating and riding. At the time, my sister lived in Santa Clara and I rode from her house up through Saratoga to Skyline. I descended on Alpine road and eventually ended up in Pescadero where I had a large plate of Carne Asada. After eating, I rode back up and over to my sister's house. The scenery was nice on the way over, but all I remember on the way back was trying not to puke. I think that it worked out to about 130 miles.
I always stop there for a burrito to go, and then ride out to the beach. Duartes (pronounced doo-arts) is famous for its artichoke soup.

I've stayed at the Pigeon Pt. Hostel. It's nothing special. They have private rooms, though. Personally, I'd camp or stay in Halfmoon Bay.

I've heard good things about Costanoa:

http://www.costanoa.com/site.php

I found this also: http://www.pescaderocreekinn.com/
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Like who??

I would enjoy meeting anyone from here anytime. So all anyone has to do is speak up. I won't have a bike with me; but I will have two feet, a friendly smile and a rental car...and a friend named Helen. (All right, that didn't sound the way I meant it. Scratch that last part...except that she will be with me, just not... Nevermind.)

So, is that area, Pescadero, pretty? I'm the anti-tourist. I really, REALLY want to escape people. Is there enough hiking to keep us busy for 3 days? I also must avoid spending money. Going into the woods is good for that...unless I start playing poker, in which case the $3000 wine tour will look like a bargain.
 

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Kristin said:
I'm curious if this will fit within the plan. Our primary goal in escaping Chicagoland is to get away from people and into some tranquility...i.e. nature and stuff. Away from smog and taxi's and insessant tipping. Away from infinate strip malls and traffic control devices and irritated humans running in circles. And yes, even away from Starbucks and Carabou and Panera and all things supersized, and fast and convenient. Well, perhaps not EVERYthing convenient. For instance, indoor plumbing still holds great appeal to me.

I guess what I'm asking is, does Santa Cruz have more trees than people? Or more people than trees?
Santa Cruz is a little bit strange in a lot of ways, but the bottom line is that Santa Cruz is a city. (The hippies have long since moved up highway 9 to Felton and beyond.) It's not Chicago by any means, but it's definitely not a quaint wine country town. The reason we suggest going there is that it provides lots of options for accomodations and becomes a nice base for seeing the things you want to see. On the outskirts of town is Henry Cowell Redwoods, for instance. There are lots of wineries in the hills above and around town. There are lots of beaches and beautiful coastline. There is the Boardwalk. And so forth.

The problem with getting into the woods here is that there aren't a lot of places to stay. If you were camping, there is Big Basin State Park, which is a cool place with amazing redwoods. There are a couple of other camp sites outside Pescadero, but indoor plumbing is going to be hard to find. So find yourself a good base and go down to the beach or drive into the hills. It really is a beautiful area, and you can get away from civilization with not much effort.
 

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I've stayed at Costanoa in one of the tent cabins. It's a cool idea, but when I was there it was quite windy (normal for the coast). There is indoor plumbing, but not in the cabin, they have comfort stations, bathrooms with showers and lovely heated floors. It was very quiet when I was there.

There is also a Holiday Inn Express in Half Moon Bay. That might be a good option as a home base. Pescadero, San Gregorio, Santa Cruz, Ano Nuevo are all close.
 

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Mendocino

Kristin:
If you are going to Sonoma keep heading north and to the coast at Mendocino. It's just south of Redwood National Park, so lots of big trees to wander through. It is pretty isolated although can be pricey depending on time of year. Lots of wonderful food and views. You can hit some other wineries on the way (Husch is on the way there). Too me it's more scenic than the central coast in a rugged, windswept way. Spent my honeymoon there, lo these many years ago. Fort Bragg is close; it's the furthest extent of Russian settlement in the US. The Skunk Train over to Ukiah is also a nice day trip. March in California can be rainy, but also can be gorgeous. Generally a bit early for most flowers. Have fun!
 

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Scratch Redwood City off your list.

Kristin said:
Away from infinate strip malls and traffic control devices and irritated humans running in circles. And yes, even away from Starbucks and Carabou and Panera and all things supersized, and fast and convenient.
It's strip mall hell.

Santa Cruz is what's referred to as "hippy trippy".
 

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Uh, Mendocino is 200 miles south of Redwood N.P.

Brooks said:
Kristin:
If you are going to Sonoma keep heading north and to the coast at Mendocino. It's just south of Redwood National Park, so lots of big trees to wander through. It is pretty isolated although can be pricey depending on time of year. Lots of wonderful food and views. You can hit some other wineries on the way (Husch is on the way there). Too me it's more scenic than the central coast in a rugged, windswept way. Spent my honeymoon there, lo these many years ago. Fort Bragg is close; it's the furthest extent of Russian settlement in the US. The Skunk Train over to Ukiah is also a nice day trip. March in California can be rainy, but also can be gorgeous. Generally a bit early for most flowers. Have fun!
http://mappoint.msn.com/(g5xkpm55ln1zy2454g1d3bmh)/directions.aspx?&EndName=Redwood+National+Park+(national+park)%2c+California%2c+United+States&EndLocation=41.43145%2c-124.01118&StartName=Mendocino%2c+Mendocino%2c+California%2c+United+States&StartLocation=39.30756%2c-123.79889&DataSetLangID=USA&RouteType=Quickest&RouteUnit=Miles

It is a cool place, though.
 

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Grew up in Redwood City, son lives in Santa Cruz...

I can't see Redwood City as a vacation destination, but probably that's because I lived there for the first 25 years of my life. It's indistinguishable from San Bruno, San Carlos, Palo Alto and about seven other towns on the SF Peninsula. The riding from there to Pescadero (San Gregorio, Davenport, all those coastal towns) is very pretty but inclined to have heavy traffic during commute times, and the shoulders are often narrow. If you get the AAA map of that area (used to be called "Bay and Mountain Section," but they changed the name to something like "Central California"), it shows a lot of secondary roads over the spine of the Peninsula, and some of those are good. South toward Saratoga and Los Gatos is nice, and you can slip into Santa Cruz (a beach/college/fishing town I really like) the back way on Highway 9, or reach it from Highway 1 via Davenport. Highway 17, the main road from San Jose, is NOT rideable.
Weather may be damp--you'll be toward the end of the rainy season, and there's no telling--but it won't be cold by most people's standards. They whine down there when the temperature falls below 60, but it almost never freezes, and temps below 50 are pretty rare. It's actually a very good place to ride most of the year, and in winter I look forward to visiting my in-laws there because it's so nice in comparison to Reno....
 

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Oooh, oooh, wait: Santa Cruz and Petaluma!

Sonoma is pretty nice, but prices tend to be high there because they've got the "wine country" thing going. Petaluma is a little west, on Highway 101, and from there it's about a 30-mile ride over rural roads to Bodega Bay, on the coast. Didn't think of it before, but when I burn out on Reno winters, in March or so, I go over there for a few days and ride. Room rates tend to be lower than Sonoma, and it's a real town, with lower-priced restaurants (every fast food place known to man, plus lots of locally owned spots) aimed at locals, not visiting wine collectors. Reminds me a lot of the way Redwood City was when I was growing up, before everything on the Peninsula got to be the same.
Where to stay? Actually I usually go to the Motel 6 on McDowell Boulevard and Hwy 101, because all I do is sleep there and it's right down the street from a Starbuck's and a good barbecue place (called Jerome's, I think). Old Chicago Pizza is in the neighborhood, too. But they have all the usual motels etc.
Santa Cruz has already been dealt with, but it's really one of my favorite towns in Northern California and I'd always recommend it.
 

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robwh9 said:
I always stop there for a burrito to go, and then ride out to the beach. Duartes (pronounced doo-arts) is famous for its artichoke soup.

I've stayed at the Pigeon Pt. Hostel. It's nothing special. They have private rooms, though. Personally, I'd camp or stay in Halfmoon Bay.

I've heard good things about Costanoa:

http://www.costanoa.com/site.php

I found this also: http://www.pescaderocreekinn.com/
I did have a life changing event occur west of Pescadero. Life changing in a brussels sprout kind of way. I had always liked brussels sprouts but thought that they grew them frozen in a bag. They grow them along the coast of California!!!! Acres and acres of brussels sprouts growing in fields between the coastal highway and the ocean. They grow on stalks. I never knew that. Definately a "don't miss". That and I saw some humpback whales.
 

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Brooks said:
Kristin:
If you are going to Sonoma keep heading north and to the coast at Mendocino. It's just south of Redwood National Park, so lots of big trees to wander through. It is pretty isolated although can be pricey depending on time of year. Lots of wonderful food and views. You can hit some other wineries on the way (Husch is on the way there). Too me it's more scenic than the central coast in a rugged, windswept way. Spent my honeymoon there, lo these many years ago. Fort Bragg is close; it's the furthest extent of Russian settlement in the US. The Skunk Train over to Ukiah is also a nice day trip. March in California can be rainy, but also can be gorgeous. Generally a bit early for most flowers. Have fun!
I second the notion. The Mendocino coast is absolutely beautiful.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Ok, how about Santa Rosa?

Thanks for the great input everyone. I've like scrapped all of my original plans and am starting over. Air fare went up last night, so we no longer need to travel before March 15th. I will probably plan for the 2nd week of April, over Easter. I found an Extended Stay in Santa Rosa that is reasonable and the area seems to be central between Sonoma County, the coast line, the Redwood Forrest and San Francisco. This way we can fly into Sacramento and avoid some of the city traffic as well.

Anyone up for a ride in that area over Easter Weekend sometime? It would need to be something casual. I'm not going to pay $50 to rent a road bike. A beater will be just fine.

Kristin
 
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