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Lonely Planet Pacific Coast Highways Road Trips (Travel Guide) Paperback – June 1, 2015
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NICE THINGS ABOUT THIS BOOK. It is possible to say some nice things about this small book, but the book has so many weaknesses and omissions, that it can reasonably be concluded that this "book" should never have been published. The nice things include the photography. The nice photographs show Bixby Bridge (front cover photo, page 4) located on the legendary ROUTE ONE, Golden Gate Bridge (pages 8,16), and redwood trees (pages 9, 28, 33, 35, 72).
It is nice that this book describes POINT CABRILLO LIGHTHOUSE (pages 66 and 69), and LARRUPIN CAFE (page 71). The book fails to point out that what is mounted on the ceiling of Larrupin Café is a sculpture by famed artist, Dale Chihuly. Larrupin Café is in the town of Trinidad, CA, a town with little off-shore islands and sea stacks that have been featured in photography books.
MISLEADING BOOK TITLE. The title of the book is misleading. The title is, "Pacific Coast Highways Road Trips." First of all, this book is only about California. There is nothing about Oregon or Washington. The last time I looked at the map, the Pacific Coast included Oregon and Washington. Second, the book has too much emphasis on cities and the restaurants and hotels that are found in cities. Third, the book has a rude and dismissive attitude about many of the best things on California coast, namely, Point Reyes, Muir Woods, Point Lobos, Big Basin State Park, Fort Ross, and Salt Point State Park.
The book has a chapter called, "Disneyland and Orange County." But please note the following. It is not the case that a conventional "road trip" takes the form of a visit to Disneyland. The way the term "road trip" is used in the English language, conventionally means a long drive through the countryside, where the road winds and weaves here and there, and where one can park for an hour here and there to view rivers, cliffs, waterfalls, wild animals, or to visit an artists' colony. On the California coast, artists' colonies can be found at Davenport (pottery) which is near Santa Cruz, and at the town of Mendocino. But the notion that including info on Disneyland and various urban beaches in Orange County and Los Angeles County does not really make sense, at least, not in a book called, "Pacific Coast Highways Road Trips."
INAPPROPRIATE TREATMENT OF POINT REYES, MUIR WOODS, and PELICAN INN. Pt. Reyes is described on page 24. What is written is, "Detour: Point Reyes." How inappropriate and rude to characterize Pt. Reyes as a mere "detour." Pt. Reyes is described as, "a rough-hewn beauty." This is incorrect. It is not the case that Pt. Reyes is "rough-hewn." Any visitor can see that Pt. Reyes has smoothly undulating cliffs that go up, down, up, down, up, down, just like a smooth sine wave. The undulating cliffs are at Drake's Bay. An attraction close to Pt. Reyes is MUIR WOODS NATIONAL MONUMENT, located just off from the legendary ROUTE ONE. But Muir Woods is not mentioned anywhere in this book, and it is not in the index. I have been to Muir Woods on about 25 occasions. Muir Woods is located in a valley, with a popular gift shop, book store, and cafe. Sprouting off from the main trail in the valley, are several other trails that lead you to higher elevation spots on the flanks of Mt. Tamalpais, where one can see the Pacific Ocean. Every day, for the past several decades, a dozen buses pull into Muir Woods, filled with tourists from India, China, Japan, Germany, as well as from various parts of the US. Even a book called "Coastline California for Dummies" would be expected to include Muir Woods. But Muir Woods is not here.
The book fails to mention ARMSTRONG WOODS STATE PARK, located a short drive inland from the coastal village of Jenner. Armstrong Woods State Park is located in the town of Guerneville. Guerneville has an unexpectedly domestic beach called, JOHNSON BEACH. Johnson Beach is located on the shore of the Russian River, and it is a place to rent pedal boats. It is a good place for toddlers and kids, and for adults who don't mind lounging (while drinking lots of cheap beer) amidst the throngs of happy waders, swimmers, and boaters. Okay, this aspect of Johnson Beach is not one of the "great spots" of California, on the other hand, JOHNSON BEACH does have an annual jazz festival, that is worthy of visiting by way of a multi-hour drive. Armstrong Woods is a better place to see redwood trees than Muir Woods. At Muir Woods, the redwood trees are fenced off, and many are located on steep slopes of the valley, but at Armstrong Woods, the redwood trees are on a flat plain, and you can walk freely among them. If you climb over the wooden barriers at Muir Woods, the rangers will pounce on you, and tell you to get back on the trail.
The book also fails to mention PELICAN INN, which has Tudor-style architecture, several bedroom suites with 17th century furniture, a restaurant, and a pub with British beers on tap and a dart board. Pelican Inn is located on the legendary ROUTE ONE. I have no idea why the authors include a paragraph about LUCKY PENNY, a pizza joint in Santa Barbara, when they could have devoted a paragraph (no, an entire page) to PELICAN INN located near Muir Woods. PELICAN INN is a leisurely 5 minute drive from Muir Woods.
INAPPROPRIATE TREATMENT OF POINT LOBOS, BIG BASIN STATE PARK, and CARMEL. The chapter on the Central Coast (pages 74-81) and the chapter on Big Sur (pages 37-41) are where the reader might expect to find information on POINT LOBOS, BIG BASIN STATE PARK, and CARMEL. Carmel is just south of Monterrey, and Point Lobos is just south of Carmel. Carmel is the most charming town in all of California. Carmel is more charming than Julian, which is located near Anza Borrego State Park. Carmel may even be more charming than Sausalito, which is located just north of Golden Gate Bridge (the charm of Sausalito is dampened by the hoards of tourists). But the book does not mention Carmel. Carmel is located on the legendary ROUTE ONE. In fact, Simon and Garfunkel have recorded a song about Carmel. The title of the song is, "Cloudy." POINT LOBOS is arguably the most beautiful spot on the entire Pacific coast, with the exception of the view from Fort Barry just north of Golden Gate Bridge, and with the exception of the undulating cliffs at Drakes Bay located at Point Reyes. But there is no mention of Point Lobos, which is also located on the legendary ROUTE ONE.
BIG BASIN STATE PARK is located just north of Santa Cruz, and it features a five mile trail from the ocean that hugs the wall of a long valley, and then leads you through a shaded trail that brings you higher and higher until you reach BERRY FALLS. Berry Falls is an industrial-grade waterfall, something that Ansel Adams might have photographed. This five mile trail continues uphill for another five miles, until it reaches a large visitor's center. This visitor's center can be reached from Los Gatos, but the road from Los Gatos to Big Basin State Park is tedious and unendingly winding. Thus, if you want a more scenic and stress-free way to a trail head in Big Basin State Park, I recommend parking at the beach terminus (and not parking at the main visitor's center).
The hiker at Big Basin State Park, and at nearby Butano State Park, will enjoy the many, many bright yellow banana slugs. Although a banana slug is less dramatic than, for example, one of the whales that can be seen from Fort Ross, Fort Bragg, or from Salt Point State Park, it is still the case that these bright yellow animals are a memorable thing to examine. Please note that the mascot of University of California at Santa Cruz is the banana slug.
INAPPROPRIATE TREATMENT OF SALT POINT STATE PARK AND FORT ROSS. Page 25 informs the reader that, "Bodega Bay and Jenner's seal colony are the last things you'll see before Pacific Coast Highway dives into California's great rural northlands (page 25). But this is completely incorrect. The authors forget that FORT ROSS is located just north of Jenner, and that Fort Ross is a restored historical fort, which is filled with authentic hunting and fishing gear. Fort Ross was the hub of the Russian settlements from 1812 to 1842. The employees are dressed in colonial clothes, and on weekends, they set off a real cannon that goes, "Boom!" Fort Ross is truly an elegant facility, and any visitor can see that the State of California has invested a continual stream of money into keeping it in good condition. Pathways at Fort Ross take you down to the shore, where you can meander among tidal pools, and admire hundreds of cala lilies.
The book also rudely ignores SALT POINT STATE PARK, which is noted for its awesome stone formations called, "tafoni." Tafoni resembles an other-worldly city from an alien planet. Other stone formations in this park include arches, and colorful layered rock formations that sometimes have a conformation like a multi-pointed star. Salt Point State Park is a haven for abalone divers. Salt Point State Park is also the best place on the Pacific coast for viewing seals, in part, because of the many viewing areas available in this 5-mile long park. How rude and inappropriate it is, that this book describes a cheap burrito stand (La Taqueria) in San Francisco, and a cheap burrito stand (Taco Loco) in Laguna beach, but that the book dismisses Fort Ross and Salt Point State Park as things that do not exist. How rude.