Written by Gill Sissons & Dale Morrison
Reprinted from the Spring 2016 issue of our newsletter, the Milepost. This article was written to describe the Lost Coast Tour to club members. It shows the hard work, dedication, and enthusiasm from our tour leaders. 29 Model A’s took part in this fabulous tour lead by Gill Sissons and Dale Morrison in September 2016.
Can there really be a “Lost Coast” in California? The answer to this question is definitely yes! If you have never seen it, then you should join our Model A Touring Club September 2016 tour! There still are a couple of spots left as of this writing. Don’t miss the fun! The tour meets at Rohnert Park, Sonoma County, which is about 50 miles North of the Golden Gate on September, 11, 2016. This is harvest time in the vineyards, a beautiful time of year and Fall colors will abound with gold, red and orange vineyards. The temperatures should be quite mellow and the heat of the Summer is usually past and nice cool evenings should prevail. Some might consider coming a couple days early or stay later to enjoy this area, Great Model A, two-lane roads abound in Sonoma and neighboring Napa County. Lots of wineries and small towns, like St. Helena, Calistoga, Yountville, Healdsburg. Windsor and Sebastopol are great fun and are close by. There are at least a couple of hundred wineries in the area. TIP: Plan now to get hotel rooms as harvest and Fall colors makes rooms scarce!
We selected the Double Tree in Rohnert Park as our base because it is located just outside the busy city of Santa Rosa and it will meet our needs, for the most part, with beautiful recently remodeled rooms, quality food, tow rigs while we are on tour. The location is quiet being located away from the freeway.
Our tour officially kicks off with dinner together at the Double Tree Sunday September 11, 2016 at 6:00 pm PDT. This will be a time to welcome old friends as well as making connections with new members on their first Club tour. We will enjoy dinner and then will share a more detailed description of the tour.
Monday morning starts with breakfast at the Double Tree. At check-in the night before, everyone should get breakfast coupons. Following breakfast, groups will form and head West through the back roads of Sonoma County. Driving thru the vineyards and orchards, we will pass thru Sebastopol and Bodega as we head towards CA-1 and the Pacific Ocean. The roads on today’s tour will be much like the roads we will be driving on the majority of the time for the rest of the tour; small and two lane roads. Members are strongly encouraged to drive in small groups of just two or three cars, as the turnouts are very small far apart and there are few passing areas.
Arriving at CA-1, the ocean vistas are fantastic. Many times you are driving right on the buffs above the white water. There will be a few steep hills to climb as we meet CA-1 right at sea level, but none of these hills should a big challenge for our cars. We drive past the very small town of Jenner and on North and find Fort Ross a interesting stop. Fort Ross is a old Russian fur trading post now run by the park service. Continuing North, we pass Stewarts Point to Gualala, where we will find a couple options as possible lunch choices. Gualala is also the only reliable gas option on the drive today with a nice Chevron and 76 Station in town.
After a lunch, we continue on CA-1 to the quaint towns of Point Arena, Manchester and Elk. Soon, CA-1 joins CA-128. We continue North past Albion, Little River and Mendocino until finally arriving at our stop for the night in Fort Bragg. Our hotel here is the Harbor Lite, which is located right on the bluffs above the Noyo Harbor providing great views from the rooms and putting us close to most needs in the town. We will enjoy dinner together tonight at the Wharf restaurant right below the hotel and on the Noyo River.
Tuesday morning starts with breakfast at the hotel then, when your are ready to depart for an easy drive, you will obtain your lunch snacks from any number of choices in Fort Bragg. Photo ops abound along CA-1 driving North to the one-horse town of Westport before turning East and starts winding over the coast range. We soon find ourselves entering the land of the Redwoods–beautiful forests with 300-feet tall giant Redwoods and fern covered ground. After a few miles we come to the intersection of CA-1 and US-101 at a wide spot in the road called Leggett, where we take a short side trip on a trail that leads to “The Drive-Through Tree” a real, live Redwood tree that has this huge hole cut out and the road we are on drives right thru the center of that tree! Keep your cameras in hand for this one! Leaving the Drive-Through Tree, we head North on US-101 and soon pass the historic Benbow Inn where you may choose to partake of their 3:00 pm tea including scones—a real treat. From Benbow you are just a couple of miles from Garberville and our hotel for the night, Best Western Plus Humboldt Inn. Our hotel welcomes us by offering us a free treat of wine, sodas and cheese! Before we leave the cheese & wine time there will be a important drivers’ meeting so we are all on the same page for a big day tomorrow. Fill those gas tanks here boys and girls, fuel will be hard to find tomorrow! There are several local choices near by for dinner.
Wednesday has a real adventure in store for us who have come on this tour to find the real California Lost Coast! We depart the hotel and continue North on CA-101 but soon exit the highway on the” Avenue of the Giants” highway. This beautiful two-lane road wanders along side the Eel River and is dwarfed by massive Redwood trees. Thirty miles later we are in Founders Grove for a great pit stop as well as a stroll among the trees. Soon, back in the A’s and on the Avenue of the Giants, cross the Eel River and immediately turn left towards Rockefeller Forest and all points West. What a Model A road we are on today! Enjoy the ride, there is no hurry. There are few turnouts here, but the cars will be few, so they are not needed! We climb back over the Coast Range and soon drop down in to the beautiful Mattole Valley and the Pacific. There before us is the California Lost Coast! We drive along the sand dunes and discover that it is just us and the ocean! Where else in all of California can you say that? Thus, “The California Lost Coast.” We leave the coast line and drive back up and over the Coast Range and drop down into the town of Ferndale. After sitting in your A all day, most will consider it a welcome sight to pull over in downtown Ferndale and discover a few of the antique shops. They will not be hard to find as they are on almost every street corner! From Ferndale we get back on US-101 and head North to Eureka and our hotel for tonight, The Red Lion. Eureka is a real seaport town with a number of good choices for dinner. This is Salmon season for those who like real wild Salmon!
Thursday morning starts with a great hot breakfast at the hotel. No need to be an early riser, but if you are there are several local things for your enjoyment. Mid-morning, we will meet at the Ingomar Club/Carson House. This is one of the most famous buildings on the North Coast. It is now a private club, but we have been invited to come to lunch in this great old building with construction that will put your head spinning. Beautiful woodwork everywhere you look. We can take photos of our cars out front and those who wish may take a guided tour of the building. As this is a private club, will must abide by their dress code, which we will describe later. Right after lunch, we will head North on CA-101 and drive past Arcata, McKinnleyville and Crescent City on our way to our hotel for the night in Brookings, the Best Western Plus Beachfront. This hotel is right on the water and we should have great views from our rooms.
Friday starts with a great hot breakfast at the hotel and a early start to the day. We only have to drive 25 miles to Gold Beach today, but need to be there early so as not to miss the boat! Today we park the A’s and spend the whole day in a jet boat on the Rogue River! This should be one of the high points of our trip. The boat makes a stop mid day at a small town for lunch. This trip gets great reviews from everyone who takes the ride. After the day on the Rogue its just the 25 mile drive back to Brookings and our hotel and dinner on our own.
Saturday is an easy ride back to Eureka. For those who wish to get a little jump on the day there will be time in Eureka to explore Old Town and the many shops there. We are back at the Red Lion for the night. There is a list of good local eateries for your consideration. Sunday will be a full day behind the wheel of the A’s. Leave when you want. We are heading back down US-101 South. At Leggett, we will turn West on CA-1 heading to Fort Bragg. More of those fantastic views will soon be on your right. The Harbor Lite is again our lodge. Monday is the day to “Do What You Want To Do” as the old song goes. We are staying in Fort Bragg all day. There is a ride on the famous Skunk Train for everyone. There will be a sheet with many options for your consideration: Wonderful bluff walks, Beautiful Botanical Gardens (the Dahlias will be in full bloom!), the short drive to historic Mendocino or just hang out at the hotel and enjoy the views over Noyo Harbor. This day will slip by way too fast!
Tuesday, the day we all dread; We head South on CA-1 and aim the A’s back towards Sonoma County and our starting point of Rohnert Park. Remembering our first day, we know this is 150 miles and a full day driving. The beautiful CA-1 has great views out the right window all the way. We can go at our own pace, but remember our tour wraps up with dinner together tonight at the Double Tree at 6:00 pm. We have stories to tell and promises to keep to meet on the trail of the next Model A Ford Touring Club tour.
Again, no promises, but as of this writing there are still a couple of slots left on this limited space tour.