Last time we spoke I was laying my head down in Redwood City. The next morning I had a dilemma. There were two things in the general area I was interested in seeing – the Winchester Mystery House near San Jose, and The Mystery Spot back down in Santa Cruz. I ended up going with The Mystery Spot, mostly because the Winchester house cost $30 and the Mystery Spot only $5. I’m still not sure which was the right decision. The Mystery Spot wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, but it was still incredibly entertaining despite some initial disappointment. The Spot is basically a crooked cabin with all kinds of deceiving Escheresque angles, built on the side of a steep hill. It’s a gimmick. And I’m fairly certain most people going through the Spot know it’s a gimmick (some seemed genuinely convinced, and others seem convinced for the benefit of the kids with them). What makes it not a totally rip off is the tour guides that throw out all kinds of terrible puns and one-liners related to the house, and the kids. The kids were the best part. To them it was proof of real, actual magic existing in our world and they were simply in awe. They had the same kind of reverence for this little two-room engineering stroke of genius that I had for the Grand Canyon. They were falling all over the place, hanging from things that made it look like they were swinging at unnatural angles, climbing walls that made them look like Spider Man and just having a blast. I left feeling much less than ripped off, which is something I was expecting to feel when I first arrived.
Another factor contributing to choosing The Mystery Spot over the Winchester Mystery House was that it made it much easier for me to have lunch at another online find at Duarte’s Tavern in Pescadero and this was another. Duarte’s is a tavern restaurant that’s over 100 years old and serves up some incredibly popular food. So popular in fact that they were closed to walk-ups because they were slam full with reservations. The only reason I squeaked in was because I was by myself and could sit at one open seat they had at the counter. My meal consisted of a superb bowl of cream of artichoke and cream of green chili soup, a crab melt sandwich, and a slice of olallieberry pie (I had to look up the olallie as I had never heard of it). It was all fantastic; a bit pricey, but fantastic. But pricey has kind of been to story of everything along the coast. The next stop was Half Moon Bay where I quickly checked out the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company’s brew-pub to have a sample of their beers. They weren’t bad, but they weren’t great either so after the sampler I never ordered a whole beer and head on down the road. Because of how long it had taken me to travel back and forth in the general bay area I had actually considered blowing through San Francisco completely and continuing on my route. However, time and traffic had me coming into the City by the Bay at the end of the day and I didn’t feel like going on. I also, in a rare fit of touristyness, really wanted to cross the Golden Gate Bridge. So I ended up crossing it twice and getting a reasonable room near the airport.
Morning brought a detour to Oakland to the La Farine Bakery where I had a couple pretty good croissants and a phenomenal sourdough baguette that I ended up munching on in the car all day. It was a mostly cloudy, occasionally foggy, often windy day that was still good driving weather. I took a 20-ish mile detour along the Point Reyes National Seashore where I then took an even longer detour to torture myself and walk out to the Pt. Reyes Lighthouse. It’s a .4 mile walk from the parking lot to “the steps” and then over 300 steps down to the lighthouse. That 300 step thing is a bit of a lie though, because there are two sections those steps down that are just a concrete hill so it’s really even longer than 300 steps. The lighthouse itself is a bit of a letdown as it’s quite a small lighthouse at only about 30ft tall. The lighthouses location perched on the edge of a 300ft cliff on the other hand is pretty impressive. Especially in the fog and staggering 35mph winds (which the ranger told me was actually a little lower than normal – normal being closer to 40mph). One interesting note about the lighthouse is that it holds the only first-order Fresnel lens still intact in its original location. Once I had my feel of cold fog I began the arduous task of climbing what one sign pointed out was the equivalent of 30-story building and then the slightly less than half-mile walk back down to the parking lot. It was a much longer and more exhausting side trip than I had expected. Because the trek took longer than expected, and I already felt like I was behind from the last few days so I decided to push on down the road a little later than usuall until I made it to Ft. Bragg where I had a mostly mundane dinner at Denny’s. Unfortunately at about 10pm it was the only option other than the McDonald’s across the street from the motel.
Now we’re once again current, and now I have to make some choices in the next few days. I’m obviously not going make it anywhere near as far north as I had initially hoped, and I only have a few more days before I need to turn back and start the blitz back to Albuquerque. What I need to decide is how much further north should I push, and should I turn back early so that it’s not as arduous return drive and maybe get a chance to spend a day in Salt Lake City, Albuquerque, or someplace in between like Arches National Park. A lot of that will depend on how far I get tomorrow. If it looks like I can make it in a reasonable amount I’ve time, I’d like to reach Newport, OR and then begin the return trip. At this point, if I make it to the Oregon state line I’ll feel like I’ve accomplished something. We’ll just have to wait and see.