Northern California Road Trip

I grew up in a family of six. We took yearly vacations from our home in New Jersey, usually to Florida. We always drove and would often leave in the middle of the night and drive straight through. I still remember the excitement of laying out our new vacation outfits and waiting to be woken up to start our adventure. We would pile into the station wagon and sleep for the first part of the trip. Then there would be short stops along the way but none as exciting as when we would arrive at the big “Welcome to Florida” sign complete with fresh squeezed orange juice and palm trees!

One year, when I was a sophomore in high school, our parents decided to take the ultimate road trip. They took us out of school for the month of May (we were loaded up with not only luggage, but school books and assignments). We were going to drive across the country to California and back. I won’t lie. While driving cross country is something many dream of doing, we definitely came across some obstacles. The A/C never made it to the very back of our nine passenger station wagon, doing homework in the car was tedious, and there were long stretches of a whole lot of nothing to look at. Plus, four sisters together 24/7, ages 4 to 15, in extremely tight quarters…Well, you do the math. God bless my poor parents because there was a whole lot complaining, bathroom breaks, and “are we there yet’s?”

In order to not sound like we were complete brats, I will say that we did love experiencing new places AND missing school. Before this trip, I had only been to Florida and limited parts of the Eastern seaboard. The drive opened my eyes up to parts of the country I’d never seen before. California was our end destination and was one of the highlights along with some other National Parks and Western towns. However, once we made it to the West Coast, then we had to make the dreaded drive back!

My parents and sisters still do the long road trips….driving from Florida to Vermont, sometimes straight through. I, however, did not inherit the road trip gene. Planes or car trips of no more than 3 or 4 hours were about all I could handle. So when my husband suggested that we visit some friends in various parts of Northern California, I was less than enthusiastic. Part of the trouble was working around everyone’s schedules. Consequently, it was not going to be the most efficient route….flying was out of the question. Reluctantly, I agreed to the trip, but my expectations were low. We would be traveling to Belvedere, just North of San Francisco, then across the state to Lake Tahoe (believe me when I tell you there is nothing resembling a direct route), and then from there back across the state and North to Mendocino (a place I have always wanted to visit) and then back down to Santa Barbara all in the span of 7 days. It was one of the best trips I have ever been on!  With the exception of some unbelievable traffic to and from Tahoe, it was a perfect trip. Visiting new friends in their new home in beautiful Belvedere, catching up with old friends in Lake Tahoe that we hadn’t seen in 10 years, and  2 nights in charming Mendocino, far exceeded my wildest expectations.

Belvedere morning
Tahoe Donner
Highway 1 south of Mendocino

California is a state filled with such beauty and awe-inspiring vistas that I can’t wait to see more of my adopted state.

I guess I’m a road tripper after all!

2 thoughts on “Northern California Road Trip

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