Half Moon Bay
return to Monterey
Getting out of Monterey and up to the Bay area proved to be a bit more time-consuming than originally thought. If we'd had more time it would've been nice to go up through Santa Cruz, but as it was, we opted for Hwy 17. This was a mistake. For an hour, the log-jammed traffic just crawled.

Thinking that first of all it was due to everyone returning to SF after a long-weekend (it was not the case as we learned later), we just idled along. Then we thought it was an accident.

After a long time of crawling along slowly and I spot a * big * plywood billboard just inside a farm's property line. It's a farmer's rant with a few sentences on it and it takes a few seconds to get the gist of it. It's basically talking about just having gotten screwed out of a fair value for his land by the local authorities, who are expropriating some of it. If I hadda known, I would've had my camera ready to snap a picture.

A minute later traffic picked up the pace and shortly we're going at highway speed again. Then it hits me. The sign was new and people were slowing down to look. The chain reaction of the first guy slowing down, and the second guy putting on his brakes, multiplied by the habit of people tailgating, caused an increase in traffic compression. There's nothing  that will get traffic moving at normal pace after the first slowdown - this just keeps going and going, getting longer and longer once the traffic density reaches a certain threshold.
This guy was in the thick of it, regardless of his skiing plan!
Coming up Hwy 7, we go west over the coastal hills to get to Half Moon Bay. It's a gorgeous day and we stop for ice cream. This Dairy Queen on Woodside Road is from another (stylish) era.

When we were planning the trip in the Spring, we knew that campgrounds like this fill up by reservation months in advance. We needed a place to stay for a night as we returned from Monterey.  The wilderness campsites on Angel Island in the middle of the bay were already booked so I started casting about for another choice.

On this campground's website, the best sites of all were three walk-in ones at the beach: all the others were set back on grass with drive-in parking.  The first sites I checked were booked solid for weeks. Then I looked at the first walk-in site: booked solid (as you would expect, even though this was 3 months in advance). Same with the second site......but the third site, Number 36, had exactly one day open.

And that one day was the day we were looking for! Not only that, but it was the best site in the whole place, bar none. Well, have a look and see for yourself...
Looking south standing where the tent will be
A longer dark-night time-exposure. Can you see the Milky Way (faintly)?
Time exposure....Winking lights of ships at sea
Time exposure...lapping waves and the city lights
The next morning breaks with a brisk cool wind, and a salt spray mist.
It looks a bit sombre up north...but for a moment or two it looks as if the sun might break through in the south.
The surfers don't mind, and minute by minute there are more of them

We can even watch them from the comfort of the tent while eating gourmet pizza leftovers!
Maybe the salt spray will wash away the desert dust!
After a leisurely breakfast, it's time to make tracks for the city. With the drizzle picking up, it's perfect timing to be in the Jeep.
On the way through Half Moon Bay, a stop for good coffee is in order. While Jackie is inside, I snap a picture of Gandalf enjoying his morning coffee while writing in his journal.
Wow.  Off we go up the coast toward San Fran...
Back to the city
The local Safeway grocery store has a great selection of wine (well it is California after all...) and we pick up a bottle and a few things while waiting for our takeout pizza at Roundtable. Then it's time for a bonfire, wine, beer, pizza and marshmallows-a-la-chopsticks while we listen to the waves, watch the stars, and get some warmth from the coals.

Jackie enjoyed watching me fashion a marshmallow roasting stick, using chopsticks (kindly donated to the cause by fellow campers) which I stuck through a square of cardboard to use as a heat shield for my hand. It worked well!

Click here for a short video of  waves and the speed of the backcurrent