The Nor-Cal Experience

Calaveras Big Trees State Park

We have been absorbing the California life these last few months finding new and old spots to inspect and trying to squeeze in as much summer fun as we can. We have returned to Lake Tahoe a couple of times along with Calaveras Big Trees State Park and the two most dramatic new places traveled to was the Sierra Nevada and Yosemite but they will be there own blog posts another time (sorry, not sorry! 🙂)

Lake Tahoe-

Going back and forth between the mountains one weekend to the ocean another is probably the best part of the Cali life. Brad and I are more mountain people but getting out to the ocean is second best. So, where have we gone? To all these places……

Monterey Bay

Monterey Bay: After COVID hit and staying at home for weeks on end was making us go crazy, in May we headed to Monterey Bay, the first exploration since March. We drove around to four state parks, which were all closed but we got lucky on the fifth as Asilomar State Beach was open. This free state park is right on the beach, with great ocean views and really cool costal rocks. It was windy that day but we still were able to walk along the beach trail and enjoy getting takeout at a Mediterranean restaurant. We returned to this area in August to see Bixby Bridge, the iconic bridge that is the gateway to Big Sur and is one of the most photographed bridges in the world.

Bixby Bridge

It was really foggy that day and it was crazy how we would drive up and away from the ocean and it would be sunny and clear but a few miles later, being close to the ocean brought in a wave of fog. You could just stand there and the fog would just swirl around. It was really cool! The bridge was smaller than it looks in photos but was still a cool sight. We will definitely go back in the winter when there are fewer crowds so we can really take time to explore the bridge and the nearby state park.


Pinecrest: The next adventure was at the end of May to Pinecrest Lake, a short loop trail through a forest with views of the lake the whole time. It wasn’t crowded the day we went and the weather was perfect. Climbed over rocks, across a bridge, and saw a small waterfall. This was a great little treasure hike to find!

Del Valle

Del Valle Regional Park: We had been told about the warm summer days in Northern California and no one was kidding about that! The good news is that it cools down at night, making the summer bearable and living in an RV even more so. We headed to this regional park before it got warm in early June. The park is surrounded by rolling hills and the centerpiece is a small lake. The hiking trails go on for miles and miles and the hills give one a good workout. Add in some oak trees and this park makes for a good day time hike.

Half Moon Bay

Half Moon Bay: This beach is the closest to us, less than two hours away. We have been to this area twice to hike along the coastal trail or just hanging out on the beach. Lots of free beach access and trails to explore. We like the Cowell Purisima Coastal Trail as it follows along the cliffs (there is a farm with lots of bunnies!), dips into a little valley to going back up to the cliffs. One can easily bike this trail too and at the start, there is beach access. This trail is part of the California Coastal Trail, which one day will span from Oregon to Mexico (it’s about 60% complete). If you have time, drive down Hwy 84 where redwood trees are seen from the road.

Bodega Bay

Bodega Bay: We have traveled to this area twice now and car camped one night each time. The first was in July to get away from the 100 plus heat and the second was a week ago to get away from the smoke caused by the wildfires. Follow Highway 1 and Bodega Bay will be found on the ocean side, close to Napa and Sonoma. It’s a cute and cool town with hiking trails following the cliffs along the ocean. The really cool part of this area is there are lots of overlooks and beach access, which are free! There are also state parks for a small fee. We choose the free beach access, walking along the Kortum Trail, seeing Goat Rock and just sitting on the beach relaxing. If you are interested in camping in that area, we stayed at Doran Regional Park. It’s on the bay with beach access and nice facilities.

More blog posts to follow so stay tuned! Happy trail and stay safe and healthy everyone!

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