We got our picnic ready after breakfast and set off southwards along California State Highway 1. It was better than the first part yesterday, but still a very twisting and hilly road with many tight turns. I think we will take another route on Friday. One disappointing aspect of the California coast is the distance the road is from the ocean. Looking at the map one gets the impression this road hugs the water and the views would be superb. In fact the road is often tree-lined, obscuring the view and in the breaks in the trees one may be able to see the water, but not the coast line as it is several hundred feet below. Signs that indicate "Coastal Access" often mean there is a parking lot with a long walk to the cliff's edge then a steep descent to a small beach in a rocky cove, and if, as is often the case, it is a state beach, a fee to park and access the beach. After the wide open views in Oregon we are somewhat disappointed in our exploration here.
Our first stop was Point Arena Lighthouse which stand on a windswept promontory. We parked outside the grounds as we did not want to pay the entry fee which included a climb up the tower which we did not intend doing. It is a picturesque view, however and we spent quite a while admiring it and the surrounding rock formations. Christine also found a heron along the way which deserved a few photos.
We continued into Point Arena where we were told was the nearest place to get diesel. We filled up at the extortionate rate of $5.09US a gallon or about $1.70Ca a litre. I think that is the most we have ever paid for fuel. We were distraught to find it at $3.39 a few miles along the road at Gualala where we had lunch at the front - one of the few places today where we were at sea level on a road with the truck. We stopped there at the largest grocery store we have seen in this part and replenished a few of our dwindling stores. After lunch we pressed on, stopping occasionally for photos and ending up at Fort Ross. For once, I had intended paying the fee to park and enter as it sounded an interesting place. However we found it was only open Friday to Monday and this being Tuesday, it was closed. A ranger who was leaving apologized and said we were welcome to walk in and view the exterior. I took advantage of this offer, but Christine decided to stay in the truck. This was the site of a Russian fort 200 years ago built to protect a harbour where an American/Russian company grew grain to supply the Russian communities in Alaska. I knew of the Russian River in Oregon, but had no idea the Russian influence penetrated this far south. I wonder how long it will take Putin to decide to reclaim his interest in these former Russian Territories!
We turned back at that point and retraced our steps to the campground and prepared and enjoyed our supper. After tidying up and attending to a few chores, we settled in for the evening.
Tomorrow we intend to head north to Mandocino, a village said to resemble Carmel without the crowds. We will see...