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Northern California: Old Sacramento, Napa Valley, Santa Cruz, and driving Highway 1

March 24, 2018

What a lovely trip we’ve had so far. Spent the first night in Medford, OR before we took off early in the morning to California. Our first stop in California was Sacramento. We spent only an hour in the city, but took advantage of the beauty in the historical district in Old Sacramento. The dogs were excited to be there and I don't think they've ever got that much attention before from visitors. There were tons of cozy restaurants and cafes as well as dozens of locally-owned small boutiques with gifts and upscale accessories, clothing, and delightful treats. If you have more time than we did, there're plenty of more things to do in Sacramento. There's an unique 28-acre National Historic Landmark District and State Historic Park located along the Sacramento River. The district has plenty of shopping, museums, entertainment, and dining experiences. We had such a fun time browsing around in Old Sacramento.

Our second pit stop in California was Napa Valley, we decided to just drive by to see the different wineries. I wish we would have more time there to experience the known Wine Train that takes you on a 36-mile round-trip to discover St. Helena and back, stopping at many different celebrated wineries along the way. Not only is it a train ride, but also a luxuriously vintage setting where you get to experience a mesmerizing landscape, four-course dinner, and an exclusive wine tour. 

Our third stop was in Santa Cruz. We arrived late in the evening after having spent time driving in the rain for hours. We were lucky enough to get a suite at the Hilton that looked like a castle. We were even luckier to be upgraded to a suite with a fireplace in our room. The dogs were thrilled to have so much space running around after having spent the entire day in the car.  We ate a late dinner, a grass-fed juicy Angus beef burger served with truffle fries. It was almost difficult to leave such a beautiful hotel, but we left the next day very rested and drove to Redwood to take a short walk to see the huge Redwood trees. The nature was foggy and incredibly beautiful. 

For a long time, I’ve wanted to cross off Highway 1 off my bucket-list. However, we were a bit unfortunate and were only able to drive 1/3 of it because of mudslides. Had to turn around and drive back to Monterey and take 101 down south to Santa Barbara. It was still such an amazing drive though! Some people say it's better driving from south to north and others say north to south. As I was driving in both directions, here's what I think:

Driving from north to south on Highway 1 is much more beautiful in my opinion. You'll get to drive on the oceanside. In other words, you'll get better views and it's easier to stop to the side taking pictures as there're more lookouts on the oceanside. Although, it feels more unsafe to drive on the oceanside and I can imagine when it's sunny weather, you'll get the sun in your eyes. Sunglasses highly recommend! Driving on serpentined roads with dogs in the car may make the dogs carsick, and therefore, many stops will be necessary for your furry friends. 

Driving from the south to the north on Highway 1 feels much safer, but it's more difficult making stops as there are less lookouts. Crossing over to the oceanside can be difficult in heavy traffic due to the serpentined roads and sometime you cannot see if there're cars coming around the corner. You can park on the East side of the road, but you'll have to cross both lanes and it makes it dangerous. You don't need to worry about getting the sun in your eyes though. Making stops on the East side with your furry friends due to car sickness may be more of a challenge as just mentioned above. 

All dogs are doing so well in the car, everything goes very smooth. I believe they are used traveling by now after all the trips we’ve done together. 

I’m so thankful for every adventure I get to experience in my life. After this road-trip, I’ve visited 40 states in the US. Life’s simply beautiful! 

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