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  • Easter Egg Hunt

    Posted on April 12th, 2009 tcorzett No comments

    I have tomorrow off from work, so figured that Easter Sunday would be a good day to do a longer drive. I was right… in the mornings the roads were almost empty (other cars and bicyclists). This afternoon things got quite busy, but I was also in the heart of California’s traffic areas.

    So, first things first… How did the GPS do? Well, THIS is the route that I intended to take. One of the nice things about the Garmin Nuvi 755T is that you can enter ‘Custom Routes’. Another cool thing is you can do it via coordinates, so I don’t have to worry about trying to find specific intersections. Last night before heading-out I entered in all the waypoints to be ready for this morning.

    While there were a few things that didn’t go perfectly, having the GPS was wonderful! Not having to deal with a piece of paper full of turns was relaxing. It was even better when I decided to take a detour to the Golden Gate Bridge and then through San Francisco… I would have been totally lost without the GPS. The ‘Lane Assist’ feature of the 7xx series Nuvi is also nice for getting a heads-up before reaching intersections when you need to turn. For the future: 1) Double check the route to make sure they it doesn’t just make an out-and-back to a waypoint. 2) Make sure to have enough waypoints for all the ‘off the path’ roads, as it seems the Garmin likes to stick to the main roads.

    Total Distance: 385 miles
    Driving Time: 10 hours 59 min

    View Larger Map

    Given I was looking at nearly 11 hours behind the wheel, I wanted to get on the road early. Unfortunately that required waking-up early (something I hate to do), but it was worth it. I needed to get some money for bridge tolls, so headed off to the bank before hitting the road.

    The first part of the drive was not very exciting (I-580E to Vasco Rd.), but the low cloud cover was nice. Once on Vasco Rd. the clouds were just over the tops of the hills and it resulted in some great views of the windmills. It was really cool when the sun peaked through… projecting a rotating shadows on the road/hills. Marsh Creek Rd. was quite nice as well, I didn’t see another car the entire way to Clayton!

    The drive towards Napa turned out to be less interesting than I had hoped. The origional route I planned on taking a few more curving roads to get to 38°22’30.48″N 122°12’11.64″W, but the GPS decided to take the ‘direct’ route (resulting in an out-and-back). This resulted in my taking I-780W to I-80E, rather than Suisun Valley Rd. I guess next time I’ll have to make sure to hit that route.

    Once in Napa the drive, while not very exciting, was quite enjoyable. The drive on CA-29 past several major wineries (Robert Mondavi, BV, etc.) was very scenic. After a short drive through the Napa Valley I turned to head towards Lake Hennessy and Lake Berryessa. There really was something enjoyable about seeing a road sign that says ‘Narrow Winding Road for the Next 36 Miles’.


    Being Easter Sunday I’m sure really helped make this enjoyable. There was almost no one on the road, allowing for some nice ‘spirited’ driving. Part way around Lake Hennessy I stopped to stretch my legs, and took the opportunity to take some photos.


    The drive around Lake Berryessa was fun, and I even ran across a deer standing on the side of the road eating breakfast. A little later on the road I found a turkey out for a morning jog (seriously, she was just running down the road). In addition to the wildlife, the scenery was also great… with several very impressive views over the pristine valley.


    Once out of the hills the roads became quite mundane, but the scenery was great. Row upon row of vineyards, green fields sprinkled with yellow and purple flowers, and the occasional California Poppy… very scenic. I really should have stopped to take some photos. I had planned on taking a different route (through Calistoga) to the next ‘curvey’ part of the drive, but the GPS thought differently. It was not all bad, as I joined back up with Hwy-101 I passed a Napa Valley sign and took a few photos.


    One of the main reasons I decided to go North for a drive, rather than down towards Monterey, was route from Hwy-101 to CA-1… Stewarts Point-Skaggs Springs Rd. (how about that name). I had previously read about this road on (which is a great site for driving road information). They ranked this road with a fun factor of 5 and a difficulty of ‘High’… they were spot on!


    This road is really up there on my favorites I’ve ever driven on… I just wish it wasn’t so far way. The first part is very well maintained with wide shoulders, but a 30mph speed limit. The beginning area around the reservoir has a few cars on the road (in my case a truck towing a boat), so nothing too fun… but it gave me a chance to admire the view.


    After the reservoir this road really wakes-up. There are some very nice elevation changes and lots of flowing curves. if you are willing to push it a little (they do a great job reminding you the speed limit is 30mph) you can have a really great time. There were even a few times I had the anit-lock brakes kicking in on into the corners. The few cars that I did come across were all great at pulling over to let me by. Just like the LateralG website said, after the bridge the road conditions became a little more sketchy, but it wasn’t ever too bad. The other nice thing about the less maintained part of the road… there is no posted speed limit (the GPS had it as 55mph). There are some uneven parts of pavement, but most of the one-lane sections of the road were marked. The twisties are really, really, fun… did I mention it was fun? Yes, it was a total blast!

    Once I reached the coast I realized that I had driven through several of California’s very different and beautiful geographic regions… all I’d need would be snow and a desert and I’d have the complete set. The coast was great today, with no fog and lots of visibility. The traffic was about what I expected, with several slow tourists admiring the views, but nothing too bad (other than the 14 mile stretch into Bodega Bay stuck behind three of the slowest moving cars I’d ever seen). It did give me a chance to look for a place to pull over and take some photos of the G8 on the coast.


    CA-1 is very cool when there is no one in your way, the 55mph speed limit is more than enough for most areas to be fun, but be prepared to get stuck behind someone slow. In those situations I suggest that you just take a moment away from driving and enjoy the scenery.


    After heading down the coast I was really feeling like heading home, but the weather by the coast was just too perfect to pass-up. I made the drive down to the Golden Gate Bridge. I’ve wanted to go to the Marin Headlands to photograph the Golden Gate for quite a while now. The ability to pull-up a map and hit ‘Go’ on the GPS made this detour painless. There were a ton of tourists (like me I guess) on the roads, but I was able to find a few places to pull over and get some photos.


    After shooting the bridge from the Marin Headlands, I wanted to try and find my way to the other side of the bridge to see if I can get a shot that I had seen before. While the light wasn’t right (would have been better in the morning), but it still made for some cool photos.


    After photographing around the Golden Gate Bridge I was really feeling like getting home. I took the GPS suggested route, minus a few missed turns, through San Fransisco. Driving by the entrance to China Town was kinda cool. Once on the Bay Bridge the drive was just a quest to get home.

    So in the end, I had a total blast. Next time I think I’ll cut the drive short before it hits 11 hours! I think that I have a new favorite road… Stewarts Point-Skaggs Springs Rd… and not just because I can’t say the name five-times-fast. Anyone who has the chance should seriously drive this road!