Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Avenue of the Giants, Part II

In the morning we headed out with the Loleta Cheese Factory as our first stop. It was several miles north of Rio Dell (where we stayed the night), and we found parking pretty easily. The employee we met was very friendly, and she encouraged us to help ourselves to samples while she was doing some phone business. They had over 30 varieties of cheese to sample, and they don't stop you after just a few! This was nice, as we were able to try all sorts of interesting things. Then, we were given a tour and explanation of how their process works, along with the history of the factory. It was all very fascinating, and we were able to see some of the work through a couple of large windows. I was hooked on the quality of their cheese, though we ultimately only bought on kind - the Humboldt Gold, which turned out the be the house specialty! We enjoyed it over the next week, and it was gone when Dennis left. I thought about buying some cheese curds, but ultimately refrained.
Then, it was on to the Avenue of the Giants, where we planned to drive the route, stopping along the way at given stops and walking around. The guys also biked several miles (maybe 10?) of it. We met another bicyclist along the way who was loaded down... he was doing a trip from Montana down to the Grand Canyon, up 101 along the California coast, into Canada, and eventually back to Montana! He was probably about our age and was just camping along the way, giving himself several months for his trip. It was fascinating to talk with him a bit - he didn't keep a blog though. I would've been very interested to read about his adventures!
 beautiful woods
 looking up
 tall trees
 there were fallen trees all over. This is the bottom of one.
Yep. We ponied up $6 to drive through a tree, LoL. I got out in advance and photographed Jonathan and Dennis coming through.

The trees were immense, but after an entire day of looking at them, I became a little disenchanted with their enormity. At some point in the late afternoon we decided to head to Napa for the night, planning to spend Saturday there. The drive was longer than we had expected, and we actually stayed in Vallejo due to everything being full or for millionaires in Napa proper. Our Motel 6 wasn't bad, but the beds were old and there were police cars patrolling the parking lot, so it clearly wasn't in the best part of town. However, it did the trick and minimized our drive time the following day.

We stopped at a Denny's for breakfast, and proceeded to have the worst service I've ever encountered at a Denny's. We were seated immediately, but it was nearly 20 minutes before we were even asked what we'd like to drink! The restaurant wasn't completely full, and given their proximity to a theme park, you'd think they'd understand a Saturday morning breakfast crowd. Nonetheless, it turned into a lengthy meal.

The guys were going to bike through some hills and a winery or two, and I planned to hit the Napa outlet mall. They dropped me off and I spent several hours at the Napa Premium Outlets, which I probably wouldn't go back to. I went into almost every store just because I had the time... including stores from which I would never purchase an item (due to style and/or pricing). This "unlimited time" thing did give me the chance to try on a bunch of styles at Maidenform and Levi's, which are stores that generally overwhelm me by how many different fittings they have for things! In the end, however, the only thing I bought was a couple shirts on sale at the Banana Republic Outlet. Jonathan and Dennis had a good bike ride, but unfortunately didn't do any tastings afterward due to the exorbitant pricing of tastings at the particular vineyard where they ended their ride.

After they picked me up we headed for home (we're only like an hour and a half from Napa), ending our trip a day early. We did miss out on several planned excursions (including Fern Canyon), but that just gives us a reason to go back!

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