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Author Topic: Between San Francisco and Gold Beach, OR  (Read 9146 times)
resumner
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« on: March 18, 2008, 09:22:37 PM »
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I'm flying into San Francisco mid morning on a Saturday, and have to fly out on a Tuesday afternoon.  My plan is to rent a car, and head straight up I-5.

the proposed stops:
Day1:
1.  Shasta Lake, quick just to check it out.
2.  Lake Siskiyou with Mt. Shasta reflection, about sunset.
3.  Stay over in Medford, OR area for the night.

Day2: Big Day : )
1.  Early start, head along Rogue River on I-5 to 199, then up 101 towards Gold Beach OR.  Seems to be a small road I could take, does anyone know if it is a good route to take NF-23 through Agness, OR instead?
2.  Check out the southern OR coast, and look for whales and wildflowers.  Cape Sebastian
3.  Explore 101 south and Jedediah Smith/Prairie Creek forests
4.  stay over in Eureka, CA

Day 3: another big day
1.  Head south on 101 and check out Humboldt Redwoods SP about sunrise
2.  Take 1 along the coast, maybe stop in Mendocino for some food, quick stop around Bodega Bay
3.  Spend a few hours in Point Reyes Park, especially the lighthouse and the elk, and wildflowers and waterfalls.  Around sunset, preferably!
4.  Stay over in N. San Fran for the night.

Day 4:
Photos of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, SF skyline, and some of the cool places like that big hill with all the gingerbread houses...where's that?  

Never been to California or Oregon...this is a birthday gift...always wanted to go.  This is a lot to fit into just a short trip, with about 1000+ miles of driving.  I don't mind driving.  I am happy to get away...with 4 kids I need a break.  I was in the Army, so I don't mind getting a little dirty.  Ideally, I would have flown into Oregon and out of CA, but that wasn't an option.  

Are there any good waterfalls not to be missed?  I don't want to just skim the surface of all these places, so I plan on a few short hikes in the parks.  Are bears much of a threat?  My kids thought I'd get eaten by a mountain lion in Big Bend a couple of years ago when I went camping.  Didn't see a one.

Thanks!
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PSA DC-9-30
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« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2008, 12:17:59 AM »
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Don't judge times required for travel merely by distances, as some of these roads are very windy (esp. Humboldt to SF, which will probably take you a whole lot longer than you're budgeting). Any road leading into or out of SF is susceptible to horrendous traffic jams. Unless you want to spend all of your time on the road, you should really think about paring down your expectations about how much ground you can cover.
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resumner
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« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2008, 10:31:17 AM »
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If I leave Eureka at about 5 or 6:00am, and the actual driving time to Point Reyes is about 7 hours (from google maps), that leaves me 4-5 hours for traffic and for photos if I want to get to Point Reyes by about 5:00 or so.  Does that sound realistic?  

It doesn't matter to much to me what time I get to the hotel, I just want to see Point Reyes before it is dark.  I wouldn't mind staying in a hotel closer to Point Reyes either, as long as it is not more than 45 or so from San Francisco, and not too expensive.  I'd like to camp, but traveling by air, that is not an option.

I could just concentrate on the coast, but since I won't be starting until about 11am on a Saturday, I thought I could make better time to go up I-5, and see Mt. Shasta in the process, and then head to the coast the next day.  Would it be better to just drive up the coast, and then back down, perhaps?  I haven't booked hotels yet.

I appreciate your advice!
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One Horse Studio
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« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2008, 01:21:28 PM »
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Having driven all the routes that you want to take all I can say is you are going to be very disappointed because you won't have anytime to enjoy the scenery. You'll be driving all the time.
I think you are trying to cram a 10 pound pumkin into a five pound bag. I wouldn't do
Mt.Shasta, I would just do the coastal route. Even then you will be in the car alot.
Depending on where you come back and go over to Hwy 1 will also determine how much
time you spend driving as Hwy 1 is slow going because of the twists and turns on long stretches of the road, and it is almost all two lane.

Do less enjoy more  

Greg....
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jdemott
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« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2008, 03:37:41 PM »
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Quote
all I can say is you are going to be very disappointed because you won't have anytime to enjoy the scenery. You'll be driving all the time.
I think you are trying to cram a 10 pound pumkin into a five pound bag.
Ditto.
Quote
does anyone know if it is a good route to take NF-23 through Agness, OR instead
You might want to do a search on the name James Kim, to read what happened to one family who tried that road from I-5 to the coast in poor weather conditions...the point being not that the road is inherently dangerous but that you must inquire locally before you head out on any of the less developed roads in the mountains, particularly if you are unfamiliar with the area.
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John DeMott
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« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2008, 04:01:00 PM »
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Another vote for skipping Shasta & Oregon.  It's just too, too much.  I showed your proposed itinerary to my spouse, the guy who planned our honeymoon to include driving from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon in one day with stops at Zion & Bryce along the way, and *he* thought you were nuts for thinking you could do all that!  (And the Shasta vicinity just doesn't have much of interest - yes, there's one tall mountain, but it's not a particularly scenic tall mountain, and the landscape around it is rather non-scenic).

I'd recommend focusing on SF to Eureka via highway 101, maybe with a short detour or two over to highway 1.

Jed Smith & Prairie Creek are very nice, but for a short trip you can see equally fine (probably better) redwood forests just at Humboldt Redwoods, which saves a substantial amount of northward driving.

Lisa
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resumner
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« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2008, 05:14:16 PM »
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OK, you're all giving me good advice.  I am a classic overachiever : )  I am taking all of this in to scale back a lot.  I am going to have to plan another trip soon, to do all the rest of the things I want to do.

I do remember the story of James Kim.  That was very sad.  I forgot it was in Oregon.  

I took a baby to Cape Cod with me about a 1 1/2 years ago...we drove 1500 miles in Cape Cod and all the way up to Cape Ann and back, through Sudbury, Martha's Vineyard...in 5 days.  You should have seen me with a backpack on my back, baby strapped to the front, and carrying my tripod.  http://www.reneesumner.com/gallery/2003868_7hHo9#103829284
When I was 5 months pregnant, I camped and hiked in Big Bend, river rafted and 4 wheeled, etc.  Saw Fort Davis, Caverns of Sonora, Big Bend, and the Devil's sinkhole in about 5 days.

I figured since I'd have no baby, I'd be able to do more...but you are right, do less, see more.  Thanks for the candid advice from those of you who have been there, especially before I booked the rooms.

I'll let you know what I decide and how it goes.
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dlashier
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« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2008, 07:10:51 PM »
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> I don't want to just skim the surface of all these places

I agree with other's comments - with that itinerary that's all you'll do - at best. Even though it's all beautiful country the really good photo ops are few and far between and you'll really be at the mercy of the weather and time of day for those.

I don't think I'd even go as far north as Eureka - the only thing that will really gain you is the redwoods and you can substitute Muir Woods in Marin County or redwoods to the south.

What I would do is maybe base in SF, then:
- remainder of Saturday, around SF itself (enough there for the whole time if you choose)
- one day loop north, Mt. Tamalpais for sunrise, up through wine country, branch over to coast either at Willits or north of Laytonville where 1 and 101 join, down the Mendocino coast for the afternoon.
- one day loop south, your choice, either more redwoods in the hills (Big Basin, Henry Cowell) or the coast, then Monterey area - Los Lobos, 17 mile drive, and if time permits a quick run down to Big Sur, maybe back up the coast if you went south thru the hills.
- last partial day in SF again

Still an ambitious itinerary but you'll spend much more time shooting and much less time driving.

ps steam trains N at Willits and S at Felton also.

- DL
« Last Edit: March 19, 2008, 07:11:56 PM by dlashier » Logged

resumner
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« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2008, 09:05:00 PM »
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This looks like a great itinerary.  Thanks for your input and for the very helpful suggestions.  The steam train looks fantastic, and I am going to re-work this based on your plan.  I'll save Oregon for another trip.

Quote
> I don't want to just skim the surface of all these places

I agree with other's comments - with that itinerary that's all you'll do - at best. Even though it's all beautiful country the really good photo ops are few and far between and you'll really be at the mercy of the weather and time of day for those.

I don't think I'd even go as far north as Eureka - the only thing that will really gain you is the redwoods and you can substitute Muir Woods in Marin County or redwoods to the south.

What I would do is maybe base in SF, then:
- remainder of Saturday, around SF itself (enough there for the whole time if you choose)
- one day loop north, Mt. Tamalpais for sunrise, up through wine country, branch over to coast either at Willits or north of Laytonville where 1 and 101 join, down the Mendocino coast for the afternoon.
- one day loop south, your choice, either more redwoods in the hills (Big Basin, Henry Cowell) or the coast, then Monterey area - Los Lobos, 17 mile drive, and if time permits a quick run down to Big Sur, maybe back up the coast if you went south thru the hills.
- last partial day in SF again

Still an ambitious itinerary but you'll spend much more time shooting and much less time driving.

ps steam trains N at Willits and S at Felton also.

- DL
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larkvi
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« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2008, 04:13:21 PM »
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The problem with going to Oregon from San Francisco, already described, is that there is very little of interest between San Francisco and the area North of Eureka/Yreka (depending upon whether you are on the coast or I-5). Basically all of Western Oregon is nice, but you are wasting two days of your trip just getting there and back. (I used to drive up to Salem from Palo Alto, 13 hours each way along I-5).

San Francisco, the Marin headlands, Muir Woods, and perhaps a drive to Point Reyes (North) or Point Lobos (South) are plenty to do in the time you have. dlashier's itinerary is quite good (though I am not a huge Tamalpais fan, and might suggest the Golden Gate bridge instead) and only scratches the surface of the available options (Alcatraz, Berkeley, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, tidepools along Highway 1, etc.). Where you go while staying in the Greater Bay Area really depends upon the type of photos and extra-photographic activities you are interested in.

I would suggest only one of the Redwoods locations, either Big Basin/Henry Cowell (South) or Muir Woods (North). Neither is as impressive as Humbolt/Prarie Creek/Redwoods NP, but you'll definitely get the idea. I have more experience with Big Basin (lots of time in the Scouts), but think that Muir Woods might be easier to photograph near the car, and is near Point Reyes/the Marin headlands (Big Basin is better if you want to hike, though). I think that in one day you could get shots of the Golden Gate, then go to Muir Woods, see part of Point Reyes, perhaps go to Sausalito or one of the other cute little towns for dinner, and then shoot the headlands on the way back to SF. If you go as far as Point Lobos you will probably want to stay in that area, to capitalize on sunrise and set (watch out for restricted hours at Point Lobos and shoot the local coastline for sunrise).
« Last Edit: March 21, 2008, 04:25:25 PM by larkvi » Logged

gibbsphoto
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« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2008, 04:35:05 PM »
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The "Gingerbread Houses" classic view is from Alamo Square Park, Steiner and Hayes streets. The views of the Golden Gate Bridge I like are from the Marin Headlands on the north side and Fort Point, Baker Beach on the south side. Check out Twin Peaks if it's not foggy for a 360 degree view. Go out to Treasure Island in the middle of the Bay Bridge for views back to The City and Alkatraz.

I hope you have a fun trip!

Joe
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Lisa Nikodym
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« Reply #11 on: March 21, 2008, 04:56:19 PM »
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I'll second pretty much everything larkvi has to say.  Unless you have your heart set on seeing the best redwoods, I'd see the second-best ones at Big Basin or Muir Woods (both in the "greater Bay Area") and save yourself a great deal of driving.

On the other hand, I would have a very slight quibble with one thing larkvi says.  There's some quite worthwhile scenery between SF and Eureka along highway 1 (and, after 1 ends, 101), especially the Mendocino coastline.  However, highway 1 is sloooow for driving.  The scenery along highway 101 in that same stretch is pretty good, but nothing really special, and that along highway 5 has pretty much nothing of interest whatsoever, as larkvi says.

And another vote for Point Lobos!

Lisa
« Last Edit: March 21, 2008, 04:57:26 PM by nniko » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2008, 07:51:10 PM »
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You are getting very good advice.  DL has proposed an excellent itinerary.  Keep in mind, that if photography is a major motivation of your trip, you may wind up with many tourist shots that show the scenery or landmarks, but have no drama to them if you have no time for weather or time of day flexibility.  

The Golden Gate Bridge, for instance, is something I commute across daily and I see its many, many moods.  It will be a crapshoot as far as weather (think total whiteout from fog, low level fog that looks magical, or gorgeous crystal clear skies ), but you will have the most potential for drama early or late in the day.  It is a little early in the season for our classic fog pattern, so it is a little harder to predict right now.  

I suggest a sunrise from the Marin Headlands with the city in the background, or sunset from the marina green in SF for sunset.  If you aren't there early or late in the day, a great location is from the foot of the bridge near Baker Beach on the West, or Fort Point on the East.  Someone posted a really nice angle of the bridge on LL a few weeks ago that was taken from just outside the gate near Baker Beach.

Best of luck, and have fun,
Ron H.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2008, 07:52:29 PM by Colorwave » Logged

larkvi
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« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2008, 12:44:58 AM »
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Lisa is entirely correct.

I think that the plan has moved away from going to Oregon, but what I should have said is that, for the relative amount of time one is driving, I would prefer to take 101 straight up to Eureka, and then see the more-rewarding (more concentrated scenery) Southern Oregon coast. I honestly do not remember Mendocino very well--I shall have to make a point of going there this Summer when I drive back from Toronto. I seem to recall a big draw being the funky architecture, and for that, you might try Half Moon Bay or (more upscale) Carmel-by-the-Sea. Nothing to compare to the Russian Gulch area, with its blowholes, though.

There are some interesting things on the Highway 5 corridor once you get somewhere North of Redding, but even then, photographically, they are generally hard sells better left to those with local knowledge. (Shasta and Black Butte seem like they should be photogenic, but they really aren't when compared to just about any volcanic mountain in Oregon or Washington. Castle Crags really needs atmosphere and the right angle. Most of the lakes are actually reservoirs, with ugly banks. You get the idea.)

I have never seen the excursion train in Willet, but I have been on the ones in Niles Canyon (out of the way) and at Roaring Camp (lots of fun, nice looking train, but I don't recall there being any really good photographic angles). If you are really into trains, there is a good train museum in Sacramento which, despite being the capitol is otherwise almost completely uninteresting.

Lighthouses in the area tend to be on cliffs or hills above the sea, rather than dramatic rocky points with nice angles (don't think we don't lament this). Point Bonita (Marin headlands) is worth dropping by if you are there, but hard to get an angle on when you are close and closed at sunrise/set. Pigeon Point is midway between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz; it is very tall and probably needs a really good sky to make the photo. Point Santa Cruz/Lighthouse Field State Beach is somewhat homely as a lightstation, but right in Santa Cruz--you could photograph surfers in the late afternoon and the boardwalk toward evening. I attended UC Santa Cruz yet never went to the Marina light, but it is right in the city too. Point Piños, near Monterey, is a nice lighthouse, but far from the shore and lacking in particularly good angles for photography, mainly due to two large trees on either side of it. Alcatraz also has a lighthouse, which is mainly interesting if you are shooting that way at night, dusk, or dawn.

If you are interested in seeing the elephant seals at Año Nuevo (the lighthouse is gone), they will no longer be breeding, but it may be worth calling and asking the park rangers about the conditions at the beach when you will be there. Might be a good mid-day activity if you are on that section of coast, to see Pigeon Point, or just driving by.
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« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2008, 10:50:00 PM »
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I guess I'd have to disagree with Lisa on one point, I believe the redwoods at Jed Smith in particular surpass those of Humboldt Redwoods in general ... or at least I've done much better with images from Jed Smith, Prarie Creek, etc.  I suspect, as I think about it, that I've had much better light at Jed Smith, it's closer to the coast, and is far more likely to be in fog than Humboldt.  

Whether it's worth the difference is a far more complex question, you've got a big itinerary there.

I'm pretty familiar with both areas, and am giving a workshop in May that will cover those areas, I'm allocating a lot more time to the stuff near the Oregon border, and will only pick up Humboldt Redwoods on the last day.

Joe
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Joe Decker
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resumner
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« Reply #15 on: March 23, 2008, 12:02:13 AM »
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I'm trying to take this all in, thanks for the great advice.  I agree that there are lots of places that I want to see...but lots of "dead space" in between them and not enough travel time.  I've definitely ruled out the I-5.  The Oregon coast is going to be another trip.  I would like to fit the Humboldt redwoods or Jed Smith/Prairie creek in there if I can, but it might be too far, and 101 doesn't seem as interesting as the coast might be.  Pigeon Point looks nice, but yes, it looks pretty tall.  I do love light houses.  The steam trains I wanted to get in on in Willetts and Ft. Bragg aren't running when I'm there; except there is one south of San Francisco that goes through a Redwood park, so I may try it out.

How about the elk at Tomales Bay at the end of Pierce Pt. Rd in Pt. Reyes?  Supposed to be 4,000?  I'd like to see the lighthouse there, the elk, and the wildflowers.

What do you like best about Henry Cowell?  Seems like there are lots of redwoods to choose from, what make that one a top choice?

Can't wait to go...I'm sure I'll get something awesome...I'll post after the trip.  It's in a couple of weeks.
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larkvi
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« Reply #16 on: March 23, 2008, 07:31:18 PM »
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It's closer to Santa Cruz (you can make a nice loop going up 9 and coming down Bonny Doon to Davenport, or just drive Skyline all the way back to San Francisco, depending upon where you are going) and, much like Sequoia or Redwoods NPP, the road leads right up to a nicely manicured trail. So I would say that the best asset to Henry Cowell is the accessibility. From the main entrance it is really easy to get directly into a large grove.  This may not be the most valuable photographic asset, but it is good for just seeing redwoods. The understory is not as impressive as some redwood parks, but there is the obligatory creek with waterfall, old mining equipment, and slice of fallen redwood. There are lots of differences between Big Basin and Henry Cowell that are hard to explain without going into specific detail (a good vocabulary word to pick up before heading to the SF Bay Area is 'microclimate'), but I would broadly characterize Big Basin as wetter (in the main area), darker (the main area is in a bowl, whereas Henry Cowell is largely on a hill), and with better sights that require hiking to.
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« Reply #17 on: March 24, 2008, 12:09:55 AM »
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What do you like best about Henry Cowell?  Seems like there are lots of redwoods to choose from, what make that one a top choice?
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Sean pretty much summarized. It's been many years since I've been there but iirc Henry Cowell has a better "stand" of redwoods and is perhaps more photogenic, but it's very small. If you want to hike go to Big Basin. They're close enough that you can do them both. Felton/Roaring River is also in the same proximity. As already said N Cal has bigger redwoods but the ones in SF area are still impressive and the odds of weather are probably better.

> I'll save Oregon for another trip.

Good plan. And I may be biased but the southern Oregon coast pales in comparison to the central and north (in particular) coasts. There's some very photogenic sites on the south with sea stacks and such, but the highway frequently runs inland and photo ops are much more sparse. From Florence north the hwy runs mostly along the coast and the scenery is much more spectacular with mountains plunging to the ocean. If you're going to focus on only one stretch of the coast my choice would be from Seaside south making sure to go west from Tillamook for the Three Capes loop (Cape Meares/Oceanside/Pacific City). If time permits then the central coast south to Florence.

- DL
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« Reply #18 on: March 24, 2008, 01:28:23 PM »
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I just got back from San Francisco about a week ago.  I would suggest getting a Frommer's book to give you a good idea of what you might like to see / photograph.  They have great maps and show you the main attractions to see and insight on how to enjoy them best.

The Golden Gate bridge is great and I shot it from several vantage points.  I got a great shot from Fort Point on the lower base of the bridge.  I'll attach a link to show you some of my IR shots.  I highly recommend Muir Woods!  Stinson beach is a great place, but it's a long and winding road. If you would like to PM offline, please do.

http://web.mac.com/clawery/iWeb/Site/Napa.html

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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #19 on: March 24, 2008, 05:34:03 PM »
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Suprised no one has mentioned Patrick's Point State Park.

Some of the best cliff seascapes and ancient forest opportunities to be had ...












http://www.humboldt1.com/~popenoe/scenes/PatPoint.htm

http://online.redwoods.cc.ca.us/depts/scie...patpt/patpt.htm




These are but a few images and links. Patrick's Point is located in the center of the Redwood Forest, at the coast, and it is definitely worth the trip.

Jack
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