Berkeley-ites will recognize this gas station as one of two right near the University Ave. freeway ramp—in other words: here's us getting outta Dodge.

The gas gauge only works for about the first quarter of a freshly-filled tank. So you have to remember to reset the trip-o-meter every time you fill up and refill at 180.

(Note how well behaved Sarah is sitting in her weird Euro-ride.)

First stop! (Besides the gas... and besides CarQuest where we picked up a battery re-charger thinking we could plug it into one of the AC sockets whilst underway and re-charge the charger... it didn't work.)

Oh. Right. The picture.

It's a shipwrecked ship in Bodega Bay. (I like the rhyme scheme of that sentence.) Poor ship...

Oh my, did vistas abound on this trip!

Sarah almost got blown away by the howling side-shore winds.

(We parked facing downhill, not entirely trusting the battery.)

Goddamn California State Parks charge you thirty-fucking-five dollars to camp now! Ugh... Better than a hotel I guess. (Though the advertised hot tub down at the hotel down the road was pretty tempting after a sub-zero night in the van.) Regardless, MacKerricher State Park is pretty magnificent!

Here, the lovely Sarah demonstrates how not to bump one's head on the roof of a van.

The misty mysticalness surrounding the van was not, as one might think, caused by fog on my lens. Rather, it's a visual artifact of the aura of awesome-itude that Doris the Finkasaurus relentlessly exudes.

I almost waited for Sarah to step out of the way.

Stick figures in peril.

(I especially like the one of the guy on the tiny island of dirt and seaweed getting knocked over by a rowdy cloud, also made of dirt and seaweed. And I guess I also like the celebratory gesture of the midget about to get pounded by the shorebreak.)

Huh?

These bitchen tide pools looked like they had potential, but upon closer inspection offered little in comparison to those at Montana de Oro. Oh well...

(You may have noticed, dear reader(s), that we've gone with the "-en" version of bitchen. Some might prefer the "-in" version with an apostrophe. Well... According to the OED, the earliest documented appearance of the word is from Frederick Kohner's Gidget, and he spells it with an "e." Thbthbthbthb...)

Giant seaweed!!!

(Not that you can tell from the picture... but trust us: it's big.)

Sea-weaner pod!

(c.f., "Pod.")

The deer that we encountered earlier, evidently, weren't scared off by our intimidating stature. They were right where we left them on the way back.

Here they are again, half-scared and running into traffic. (Don't worry, the truck was filled with gawking tourists as well and no deer were injured as a result of our bypassing.)

MacKerricher has a bunch of neat boardwalks. This one led to some informative (and aesthetically pleasing!) educational panels where we learned the difference between seals and sea lions!

(Temporarily learned, I should say.)

Andre lingers and takes photos.

Sarah does a weird dance and tries to decide: "left or right...?"

This kinda reminds me of the opening of "Joe Versus the Volcano" (Link. Skip to 2:09.) only much prettier, especially Sarah!

Sarah's going to caption this photo.

Sarah: "Bird."

"Aye, aye! It was that accursed white whale that razeed me; made a poor pegging lubber of me for ever and a day!... I'll chase him round Good Hope, and round the Horn, and round the Norway Maelstrom, and round perdition's flames before I give him up. And this is what ye have shipped for, men! to chase that white whale on both sides of land, and over all sides of earth, till he spouts black blood and rolls fin out."

(Although, according to the plaque, this used to be a gray whale. Sorry Herman.)

A suitable place for a minimalist picnic. We ate parmesan goldfish. (At the Point Cabrillo Light Station.)

Sarah was all excited to go swimming, but it turned out that the ocean was closed. Bummer!

 

Unlike the Seguin Light in Maine, you couldn't go up the tower at Cabrillo. (At least, not in December.)

You could, however, do something even better! You could watch the fucking light spinning around via closed circuit television. Here's a picture of the (purportedly) live image.

Eat your hearts out Tim/Lynne! You won't be real lighthouse-keepers until you get a too-small captains hat and knit yourselves some knitted t-shirts!

(Although, I guess their lens was bigger.)

Like the number of licks it takes to get to the Tootsie-roll center of a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know...

Whoever heard of deer at the beach?! Ridiculous!

This is at Manchester State Park. (A bargain at $24/night!) We got in around 8 PM the night before and were promptly greeted (read: snarled at) by the presumably drunk camp host. We drove through the park, found a sweet spot, and had our payment envelope all ready to drop in the slot. But this jerk must've had something all up in his craw, because he immediately came over and shined flashlights at us and assumed we were going to camp without paying. Weird.

Sarah deftly avoiding the conspicuous wet spot on the log lined up with the sliding door of the van. (I'd be damned if I was gonna venture out into the cold, cold night!)

Manchester beach was big, beautiful, and pretty intimidating! The waves were breaking a lot like Ocean Beach, but with nary a channel in sight through which one might paddle out.

The waves were a lot bigger than they look in this picture. (That right shoulder in the middle was at least a foot or two overhead.) I thought about it... and then I decided that without some other surfer to have a pissing contest with, it wouldn't be worth the obvious risks. Probably a wise decision.

 

Overly cutesy shadow photo from atop the bluffs at Manchester Beach.

The Northern California coast is pretty remarkable this time of year. Most of the time, we had the roads to ourselves. It was cold, yeah, but the crisp views and quiet beauty of the place made the shivering worth it.

(For night #2, we decided to supplement our down comforter with two down sleeping bags. That did the trick!)

I didn't make it into the water this time, but as a wave-scouting mission, the trip was a complete success! I was ecstatic to discover a couple of Santa Barbara County-style, right-hand point breaks between Bodega Bay and Mendocino. (*grins shit-eatingly*)

Fleece-clad, be-capped van warriors.

The Vanagon's namesake.

Trip stats:

Miles traveled: 366.3
Gallons burned: (divide by ~18)
Cash given to State Park System: $60.00 US
Delicious North Coast beers consumed: 4
Delicious North Coast Taco-Tuesday tacos consumed: 7 (yum!)
Surf spots scouted: 5
Hot tubs enjoyed: 0
Teeth chattered: 64
Vans declared awesome: 1