Petaluma – Greenfield (361 miles)

I set off from Petaluma at a reasonable time as I knew I had a lengthy drive ahead of me. It was made just that little bit longer by missing a turn off and almost ending back in Bodega Bay before I realised that something was amiss.

On a whim I stopped at Muir Beach overlook and met a local woman called Diane on the cliff walkway. She recommended that I travel a couple of miles inland to visit a place called Duarte’s Tavern in Pescadero and try the Cream of green Chile [sic] soup and after that I should stop at Pebble Beach (not the most famous one). So that’s what I did. The soup was very nice but it was the dessert that I’ll remember: Olallieberry pie with ice cream. I was told that it’s a locally grown hybrid of a blackberry and a loganberry but Wikipedia makes things a little more complex. Either way, it was very nice.

I rejoined Highway 1 and continued south. Before crossing the Golden Gate Bridge I stopped off at the Marin headlands and Point Bonita lighthouse for a rest and the views. The drive across the bridge gave me a bizarre, excited feeling for some reason. Once at the other side I topped up my karma and paid the toll for the car behind too.

I overshot San Francisco to take in Monterey, Carmel and the Big Sur coastline. Big Sur itself is a blink-and-you-miss-it kind of place and there was no room at the inn. Any of the inns along the stretch of road that I tried actually. Then the sun set.

Los Angeles was less than 300 miles away and I was starting to get tempted to push on but then remembered that my insurance would expire a little after lunchtime the next day and I’d have to press on as originally planned to find a place to stay for the night and leave me a short burst up Highway 101 in the morning.

I vaguely remembered the Nacimiento road over to Jolon after Lucia from the Lonely Planet Coastal California, my only map of area. It emerges that this road is very narrow and extremely windy with no markings, signs or edge barriers. Annoyingly, my right shoulder started to pop after each turn and even the music was mocking me: Aerosmith’s Livin’ On The Edge. Eventually I reached the summit after startling a few deer on the ascent.

I was rallying down the hillside, dipping my headlights before each corner, and then I realised that nobody had a clue where I was and if I were to crash then I wouldn’t be found for days – maybe weeks. I reined it in a little.

Just as I redefining my concept of being in the middle of buttfuck nowhere, a camper van appeared coming the other way and shortly after a US army checkpoint for entering Fort Hunter Liggett Military Reservation. I drove a lot more sensibly for the remainder of the journey.

Eventually I made it through the other side and to King City. Still there was no accommodation available. On then to Greenfield where I had more joy and eventually got my head down after being on the go for over 12 hours.

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