Category Archives: California

Summer’s Pretty Much Over, So Why Not Another Road Trip?

Fall is Perfect for the Open Roads

Summer may be over, but that’s no excuse to not travel! If you’re looking for that last hurrah, look no further than this article about truly offbeat places by our Guest Contributor, Sally Perkins.

A big thank you to Sally, who has written for us before. We’re thrilled to have her back in this installment about unexplored places in America’s Midwest, West Coast, and the South. Sally is a professional freelance writer with many years experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family, and traveling as much as possible.

Spice Up Your Road Trip with These Unique Ideas

By Sally Perkins



There is nothing more appealing than setting out on the wide-open road with your friends for the road trip of your dreams. But wouldn’t it be even more fun to take a road trip that only you and your friends have witnessed? By setting out on any of these unique road trip ideas, you can guarantee that your trip is unconventional and full of irreplaceable memories that you’ll never forget.

Unconventional Road Tripping Maps 

We’ve all heard of the great American road trips on Route 66 or visiting any of the popular national parks, like Yellowstone National Park or the Grand Canyon. Make your road trip interesting by choosing to take a route that is, as they say, off the beaten path. Oftentimes, the best road trips are the ones that take place spontaneously and in places you wouldn’t normally view as exciting. Try driving across your own home state for a change! Here’s some examples…

Ohio: Ohio is the classic flyover state. Though it gets mentioned in television and films a lot, it is actually home to many strange attractions to spice up your road trip fun. Starting in the northeast corner, in Geneva, you can stop for a game of miniature golf at the oldest mini-golf course in the U.S. You can then visit the many graveyards in the state where former U.S. presidents now rest, including James Garfield in Cleveland. You can also pay homage to the Rockefeller family. There are also a bunch of truly weird attractions, like the world’s largest loaf of bread in Urbana, and haunted places like the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, where the famous movie Shawshank Redemption was filmed.



Bay Area: If strange places in the Midwest don’t interest you, there’s also the beautiful West Coast. The San Francisco Bay Area is a great place to start. Driving in nearly any direction for a few hours will bring you to stunning sites of nature and wildlife. Heading north three hours, you’ll hit the Anderson Valley region. A little less conventional than Napa or Sonoma, this wine-tasting locale also includes an award-winning brewery, Anderson Valley Brewing Company, facilities for cheese making that you can tour, and state parks like Henry Woods

Southern Charm: A third idea for an unconventional road trip is to visit the vast south and hit the road. Though you may not know it, Texas is home to plenty of bizarre happenings, from alien-sightings to spaceship dwellings. Beginning in the northeast part of the state, you can visit the gravesite of a pilot from a UFO in Aurora, Texas. Hitting a few of these stops on your trip will definitely add to the fun and eccentricity of your road trip.

Prepping for your Road Trip 

It is a good thing to keep in mind that you should make sure your vehicle is ready for the ride before setting out. While you and your friends’ attitudes may be to get on the road as fast as possible and deal with the particulars later, checking your vehicle’s oil, mileage, and tire pressure are all wise safety checks to confirm before driving long distances. Taking the proper steps to cleaning your car will make the trip easier, as you will have a clean slate and a more fuel-efficient vehicle from the very start. 
 
Planning an unconventional road trip takes time and consideration, but your friends will certainly thank you once you are discovering parts of the wild that you may never have witnessed otherwise.

The Redwoods of California: The Perfect Spot

Stop and Smell the Trees

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You wouldn’t think it necessary, as you’re cruisin’ along California’s Redwood Highway (U.S. Route 101), to stop and see the trees–specifically, the redwoods–since they’re all over the place. We thought we’d pull over to the side of the road once or twice to get some good snapshots as we traversed Northern California on our way to Crescent City. But then we spotted Frank and Bess Smithe Grove outside Leggett.

It looked like a place to just pull over for a couple of minutes, but we soon discovered that the Grove is a hidden, magical place. And that’s the way it’s supposed to be, so we got out and explored.

There’s no human development (except for a couple of carved out trees) and, when we visited on that particular day, there were no other humans! Just the giant redwoods and us. Nice and peaceful with California nature. 



Frank and Bess Smithe Grove is operated by California State Parks. Officially, it’s a “State Natural Reserve”. And reserved it was; it was frozen in time. It’s a place to remind us that we must live in harmony with nature. We promise that you’ll have a newfound appreciation for redwoods after you visit this place. 

Links
Official website

Aliens in the Desert

We Kind of Believe

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This week marks the 70th anniversary of the famous “Roswell Crash”. Regardless of what actually happened, July 1947 was when the aliens + desert = UFO phenomenon was born. And since we enjoy aliens so much, given our visit to Area 51 last year, we thought it a fitting tribute to post about our stop at Alien Fresh Jerky in Baker, California.

Only an hour and a half from Las Vegas, along I-15 in SoCal’s Mojave Desert, Alien Jerky is a cornerstone of Baker. Although the store is still from this world–complete with intergalactic space cruisers and plenty of alien buddies hanging around–it pretty much operates in its own universe. It’s the closest thing to an extraterrestrial space station that the average red-blooded American can visit….unless maybe you work for some cryptic government agency no one’s ever heard of…

Alien Jerky is the brain child of Luis Ramallo, who started the business with a table in the desert, where sat his homemade jerky. Sticking with the popular alien theme, his idea took off, and the rest is history.  There’s even a UFO-themed hotel in the works, set to be built right behind the store.

A nice break from reality on Planet Earth.

Alien Jerky Store Website

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Travel & Dating: Some Ideas For the Unconventional

A UWanderings Reader Shares Her Perspective on Hiking and Dating

A very special thanks to one of our readers, Sally Perkins, who graciously offered her insights into combining hiking and dating. Sally is a professional freelance writer with many years experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family, and traveling as much as possible. Sally also writes for Backpackerverse. You can read her other article about prepping for a hike by clicking the link immediately following this article. As she explained to us:

“Whether it’s a first date or a wedding anniversary, hiking can be a wonderfully romantic way to spend time with someone…”

Sally was kind enough to share her thoughts about hiking and dating from a woman’s perspective, and today offers suggestions for those in the Bay Area and SoCal. Pay attention, guys! Since we’ve covered a lot of California lately, and since summer’s around the corner, her contribution couldn’t have come at a better time. Thank you, Sally! 

Two Hiking Trails That Know What a Lady WantsBy Sally Perkins

Cute animals, wine, and a romantic hike – it doesn’t take an expert on women to know that these are the elements of a perfect date. With its extraordinary wildlife, vast wineries, and gorgeous scenery, California is the perfect state for a date spot. Here are two different hiking trails in the sunny state that will put you up close with animals, nature, and wine to create the perfect romantic date for any couple.

Freemont Older Open Space Preserve 

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A 763-acre open space preserve, Freemont Older is the perfect destination for a romantic hike. With incredible views of the oak studded hillsides of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Freemont Older is home to many native animals such as bobcats, coyotes, deer, and bird species. If these animals aren’t cute enough to make your date say “Aww”, the horses of the park are sure to. The preserve borders the Garrod Farm Stables to give you and your date an up close and personal experience with some of their horses. You can even ride one through the trails if you’d prefer.

Regardless of whether you hike on two feet, or are assisted by a four-legged friend, you will start the trail in the Cooper Garrod Estate Vineyards parking lot and end in the tasting room. The grand finale will have you tasting their wine and even munching on a mini buffet. Wine, horses, food, and romantic views – What more could a girl want?

Malibu Wine Hikes 

Directions

Located in Malibu, California, just thirty minutes from Los Angeles, you and your date can sign up for a hike through the Malibu Vineyard and Saddlerock Ranch for a day filled with precious animals, breathtaking scenery, delicious wine, and ultimately romance. You can choose between a group hike or a private hike to fit your needs. The 2.5-mile hike is classified as an easy to moderate hike and will take you about two hours to complete. Therefore, you should wear clothing that is comfortable to do a light workout in, and make sure you have proper footwear as closed-toed shoes are mandatory.

Your romantic hiking trip will take you through the Saddlerock Ranch where you can meet the animals that live there. These exotic animals include zebras, camels, alpacas, and bison. You can even meet Hollywood’s retired superstar, Stanley the Giraffe. As part of your hike, you can feed Stanley and maybe even ask for his autograph. After you’ve worked up a sweat on your hike, you will go to the Malibu Wine Tasting Room to taste a flight of five different wines. Grab a spot on the lawn or pull up a chair at a table to enjoy the beautiful wine, weather, and scenery.

From animals to wine, and incredible scenery, these hikes will be sure to have your women falling in love with the area, and ultimately, falling in love with you.

Learn how to get prepared for your hiking date: tips, prep ideas and more!


We always enjoy hearing from our readers and welcome you to send us your travel stories through our Share Your Travels page. Your contributions help make UndiscoveredWanderings possible.

Photo credit: Austin Neill. Point Dume, Malibu, United States. Used under Creative Commons Zero License.

Top of California: Crescent City

NorCal, Times Two

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Special thanks to the Crescent City Harbor District and Del Norte County Chamber of Commerce for assisting UWanderings with this article.

As we made our way through California last summer, we couldn’t wait to get to the aptly named Del Norte County. Located in California’s far northwest, right on the coast and just below Oregon, this area is famous for its jagged coastline and fantastic views. When you hear the words “Northern California”, your first thought might be San Francisco or San Jose, but Del Norte is a good four-hour drive north of Silicon Valley. It’s a beautiful drive up to this remote oasis, especially if you take Route 101 through the redwood forests. There’s nothing else like it on the planet. Seriously.



After a pleasant drive through unfamiliar terrain, we finally made it to Crescent City.

Crescent City is small
, and at first glance resembles, as one local explained to us, an “Alaskan fishing village” more than a typical California city. Its location puts it in rough waters, jagged and cliff-filled coastlines, and a cool climate, where 75 degrees is considered a heat wave, even in August. It’s windy, rain comes and goes, but that doesn’t stop the masses of tourists, backpackers, fisherman, outdoor adventurists, and wanderers from visiting. In fact, that’s exactly what brings them here. Crescent City attracts people from all over the world, visitors and residents alike. The reason we heard most: it’s the best place for the outdoors. No surprise there: plenty of outdoors in this neck of the woods…and there’s a lot of woods! And yes, CC is near the famous redwood tree that you can drive through. 

The most famous place in Crescent City? The harbor (right), which thrives on commercial fishing. Fishing is a way of life here, including at the Gold River Lodge just 20 miles south in Klamath, which we stumbled upon by chance.

The harbor is a must see for visitors looking for amazing views and exploring–no, experiencing–a place with so few equals in the world. If you’re lucky, you’ll meet the local sea lions, who hang out on their very own dock in the middle of the harbor. They were nice enough to say hello to us when we visited (video below). 



The beach may be chilly, and the water’s not so warm for swimmers, but a walk along the beach will clear your head and make your trip feel complete. In a strange way, it felt like the best possible terminus for our cross-country road trip, since we drove all the way from New York. What a difference! With giant boulders sticking out of the coastal waters, you might be on the beach, but you also might be on some alien world on the other side of the galaxy, especially at sunset. That’s how different and unmatched this place is. The background noise from the waves crashing onto the giant rocks and driftwood resting on the beach is oddly relaxing. We knew Crescent City would be different from most places we’ve seen, but it is truly an Undiscovered Wandering, a title we give to places that are so offbeat, so interesting, that we award it with the hope that everyone visits someday.

So why does this part of California still seem unknown to the mainstream tourist? Maybe because it’s a little out of the way, or because it’s not a big “California city”. Yet for those who endeavor to find a place more foreign, more unique, more unconventional and even unexplored, Crescent City is waiting for you.



There’s so much more to see, but we don’t want to spoil it for you. We’ll leave you with some snapshots to give you a taste. But these pictures don’t do Crescent City justice–you have to visit for yourself to truly appreciate little corners of the Earth like this!

With the breathtaking scenery, endless outdoor options, friendly people and, yes, the sea lions, it’s easy to understand why so many people are proud to call Crescent City and the land of Del Norte home.