Two Weeks on the Road! Seattle to Bay Area and (almost) Back.

It’s been two weeks on the road. Starting from Seattle and heading to the Bay Area (via an overnight in Portland), Marin County, Napa/Sonoma Valley and then on to Yosemite, Bend, Portland (again – we are currently here) before returning to Seattle tomorrow.

We’ve driven over 2600 miles in the past two weeks!

After staying in Milpitas, CA for a few days, we checked out the Marin headlands before heading to Sonoma/Napa wine country.

Our first full day in Sonoma we rented bikes and visited several wineries. It was a ton of fun, even if some of the roads were way too busy (despite it being the offseason). It is never fun to ride a bike with big trucks flying by. We followed a well documented and recommended route for cyclists touring wineries, but it wasn’t great. Next time, we will do more research to find less traveled roads.

Alison cruising along one of the side-roads....really nice for riding.
Alison cruising along one of the side-roads….really nice for riding.
One of the not-so-fun roads to bike on (too much traffic, despite what the bike rental place told us).
One of the not-so-fun roads to bike on (too much traffic, despite what the bike rental place told us).
Wine tasting on a weekday and in the off-season =  no lines!
Wine tasting on a weekday and in the off-season = no lines!
These are cabbages being used as landscaping. Good idea!
These are cabbages being used as landscaping. Good idea!
My favorite stop of the day. Very good sparkling wine, with nice seating area for tasting.
My favorite stop of the day. Very good sparkling wine, with nice seating area for tasting.
Vinyard.
Vineyard.

Mumm Winery Mumm Winery

After two nights in Sonoma we packed up our campsite at Sugarloaf State Park and headed southwest to Yosemite for more camping. The drive was fairly quick, but the temperatures were much lower than we thought, with snow on the ground throughout the campgrounds and night temperatures dipping into the teens with windchill below zero.

Instead of camping we opted to stay in a motel in Mariposa, just outside the west entrance to the park. We spent a full day exploring the park, checking out a few vistas of the Yosemite Valley, and did a short run to a nice sub-alpine lake area with the dogs. Visiting the park in the winter is nice, especially midweek. There was hardly anyone there, and the snow gave it a unique feel and made for some great photos.

Yosemite Valley from a scenic overlook taken as the sun was rising over a nearby ridge. This is an HDR image I composed.
Yosemite Valley from a scenic overlook taken as the sun was rising over a nearby ridge. This is a HDR image I composed to pull out more colors from the dimly lit areas.

After staying a second night at our motel we opted to continue our journey and head to Tahoe for skiing/boarding. Dogs are not allowed on many of the trails in Yosemite and regardless the good ones were closed for the season (as was Tioga Pass Rd. heading through the park).  We had exhausted the number of things we could do just driving around the park. We plan to come back for a longer stay during the summer.

Before leaving for Tahoe, we checked the weather and a winter storm warning was in effect for the following evening. Tahoe also didn’t have great snow conditions, so we scrapped those plans and decided to make the 8 hour drive to Bend, OR – for alpine skiing/boarding and nordic skiing at Mt. Bachelor. Alison used to live there (she spent a season mushing dogs) and has a not-so-secret plan to convince me to move there 🙂 .

Things were great until we got to Mt. Shasta on I-5….the winter storm warning was legit, and we hit heavy snowfall. The trusty Subaru Outback pushed on well, but we were going at most 35 MPH in a 65 MPH speed limit area. With 3-4 gnarly snow infested hours to go on a twisty and windy Rt. 97 to Bend, we pulled off the road and found a motel for the night. The next morning we finished the drive to Bend, OR and checked into our AirBNB.

Mother nature wins. Grabbing a motel to let the snowstorm blow over on the way from Yosemite, CA to Bend, OR.
Mother nature wins. Grabbing a motel to let the snowstorm blow over on the way from Yosemite, CA to Bend, OR.
Dogs hanging out after being socked in by the snowstorm.
Hanging out after being socked in by the snowstorm.
Pit stop on the way to Bend, OR.
Pit stop on the way to Bend, OR.

The storm left some great snow on Mt. Bachelor, even though only 30% of the trails were open. Snow there is super light and fluffy compared to the Washington Cascades or Whistler. I snowboarded and Alison skied for two days, with our friend Cassie joining for the second day. On the third day we nordic skied. Today, enjoyed a day of relaxation while Alison did more nordic and Cassie hiked up and then skied down a small mountain near Mt. Bachelor.

Mt. Bachelor from top of Skyliner lift. Only 3 lifts were open (<30% of trails) but the snow was great.
Mt. Bachelor from top of Skyliner lift. Only 3 lifts were open (<30% of trails) but the snow was great.
We stopped at my favorite brewery Deschutes Brewery, for a sampler and some dinner. There are many vegetarian and gluten free options here (including gluten free beer).
We stopped at my favorite brewery Deschutes Brewery, for a sampler and some dinner. There are many vegetarian and gluten-free options here (including gluten-free beer).
Alison in front of the Mt. Bachelor Nordic Center. Trail conditions were fast with warm weather the last two days of our stay.
Alison in front of the Mt. Bachelor Nordic Center. Trail conditions were fast with warm weather the last two days of our stay.
There is a nice off-leash area for dogs at the far end of the Mt. Bachelor parking lot. Spike and Duke made some friends.
There is a nice off-leash area for dogs at the far end of the Mt. Bachelor parking lot. Spike and Duke made some friends.

Tonight we made our way to Portland and are staying overnight. Tomorrow we go back to Seattle to prep for the next adventure, whatever that ends up being. The best thing about the past two weeks is that we figured things out as we went along. There was a loose plan but things changed based on the weather (where is the snow good?) or how we felt (do we ski again or just hang out?). We are looking forward to more trips like this.

– Ravi

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