brantswanderwest | Wine and Redwoods
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06 Dec

Win and Redwoods

Written by Trae

Our next destination was northern California, where we planned to visit with Jamie’s cousin Megan and her family in Arcata for a few days before heading a little farther south to visit my Aunt Judy & Uncle Jack in Sonoma.  From Crater Lake, we headed southwest towards the coast on the aptly named Redwood Highway through the Redwood National and State Parks. It was an incredible drive surrounded on all 4 sides by the tallest trees in the world.  We arrived in Arcata that afternoon just in time to celebrate the birthday of Megan & Urb’s 2-year-old daughter Ella – but first, we had to climb their very steep and windy driveway with Bob in tow.  We had already conquered a few crazy drives, and I figured if we could get up then we could get back down. So into 4-wheel drive we went, and after some nail-biting turns, we finally made it to their house.


The next day we woke up and grabbed brunch at a local spot called T’s Cafe, followed by a walk around the downtown square.  Megan and Urb then took us south to get out and explore the Redwoods and drive the famous Avenue of the Giants.  It turned out to be one of the coolest natural playgrounds I have ever seen – we stopped at a place where a few of the giant trees had fallen, making sort of a natural jungle gym, and spent the afternoon climbing on, over and around the trees. After a delicious Vietnamese dinner, we headed back home and had a bit of a restless night sleep thinking about how we were going to get Bob back down the driveway in the morning.


When morning came, we made a few attempts to turn the trailer around before descending the driveway, which sadly led to Bob’s first scratch since joining our family.  With hearts racing and our stomachs in knots, we then attempted to back the 8,000 lb beast part way down the hill down to the first curve, where we finally were able to turn and proceed downhill facing forward. In hindsight, we wish we had pictures of this ordeal, but this was easily one of the most stressful situations we found ourselves in over the course of the entire trip – pictures were the last thing on our minds.  We arrived at my Aunt Judy and Uncle Jack’s house in Sonoma that afternoon just in time to park Bob in the shade and head to the town square for a picnic at the Tuesday night farmer’s market and live music.


It was so great to spend the next few days in familiar places with my family.  We didn’t have any set plans, so each day was a great mix of quality time spent exploring and relaxing in the beautiful Bay Area.  We spent one morning exploring nearby Cornerstone Gardens, admiring the colorful landscapes and getting some gardening inspiration.

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One morning, we took the ferry into San Francisco and enjoyed a walk around Chinatown, receiving a personal tour of the financial district and North Beach from my Uncle Jack who lived in the area for over 60 years. After a long day in the city and a delicious lunch at Rose Pistola, we headed home for a relaxing evening.


Jamie and I decided to take a day and head to one of our Sonoma County favorites – Russian River Brewing. We had gone there on our trip out to Sonoma last year and made the mistake of ordering a flight of beer for each of us, which turned out to include all 17 beers on tap!  Needless to say we didn’t leave the brewery for a few hours.  On this visit, we stuck to a beer or 2 each, some delicious pub grub, and a case of Pliny the Elder to take with us on the rest of our journey.

On one of our last days in town, Aunt Judy & Uncle Jack were throwing a backyard bocce ball party. We invited one of my best friends from high school, Rachel Ebert, who only lives about an hour away, to come hang out and enjoy some time together.  We spent most of the morning prepping for the party, and the guests and family arrived in the afternoon.  We had a great time playing bocce and getting to know some of my Aunt and Uncle’s oldest friends, and then spent the evening swimming in the pool with family, followed by a cousins’ sleepover.  The next morning we had a great brunch together and spent another great afternoon in the backyard and the pool, before prepping to get back on the road the next day.  We were so thankful for this quality time with family that we don’t get to see that often and spend time in a familiar, beautiful place, and we felt so refreshed to continue our travels.


trailer shadow


Trae and Jamie