We were excited about heading North from the Bay Area. Neither of us had ventured up there before and many people had recommended it to us. Napa, Point Reyes, the Redwoods all were highly attractive destinations even from the beginning of planning our route.
We headed out from Oakland very excited to see these famed places. Point Reyes did not disappoint. Between the oyster farms and the free ranging cows overlooking the ocean there was no shortage of fun things to do and beautiful things to look at.
My parents have been to Napa quite a few times so I have heard many great stories. What I did not hear (and apparently was not true back then) was how expensive the tastings are. We showed up to a hand full of tasting rooms only to awkwardly walk out after seeing the price of a sip of wine. There were a few that we did try out in the sub fifty dollar range and had a great time lingering around chatting with the staff. Instead of doing lots of tastings, we enjoyed the scenery and architecture of the old places in the valley. At the end of the valley lies Calistoga, a town famed for its hot springs and small town feel. We decided that a hot spring adventure was in our future so we found a deal at a place that let us soak while watching the sunset.
On our way up from the Napa valley we stopped at Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa. It was a marvelous stop. The city was inviting and quaint, the taproom was not arrogant but intriguing. I shared a sampler with annie of their Belgian ales (14 brews!). At the end of the flight our bartender offered up an unmarked wild yeast beer that they had given out to employees. It was brewed with a crazy strain of Brettanomyces yeast that produces funky sour ales. I was geeked out and honored that they shared such a unique thing with me.
Heading up the coast from Russian River was breathtaking. We found a number of great spots to have meals and enjoy the wildlife. The foliage continued to get greener as every hour passed. We were beginning to enter into the Pacific Northwest.