Of the entire sojourn, the trip to Shelter Cove was the most challenging and grueling. However, a calm ocean-front community of undisputed respite awaits the wary traveler after enduring a 7+ hours drive through San Francisco, into the fog enveloped Sonoma County and racing through the dark and narrow roads amidst torrential rainfall of southern Humboldt County.
The trip to Shelter Cove began at 12 noon PST immediately after a short detour at the Point Lobos Nature Reserve on Tuesday, December 29th, 2009. The drive spanned from the Pacific Coast Highway 1 for approximately 45 minutes before merging onto the 101-N. Due to traffic in San Francisco and increased civilian activities, the drive crawled for about an hour before I was finally able to cross the Golden Gate Bridge and continue northward bound for another 4 hours.
For a city dweller, the drive through Sonoma County was a refreshing change of pace. The sparse traffic on the 101-N passing through Sonoma is entertained by endless groves of forest, easing the mind that is accustomed to the hectic commute often associated with megalopolises. As the drive continues for a few hours, passing Sonoma, rain began to fall non-stop. And by non-stop, it literally did not stop raining between the time I’ve crossed through the Golden Gate Bridge and reaching my final destination at Shelter Cove.
The drive gave me the rare opportunity to pass through small remote towns of northern California within the Sonoma, Mendocino and Humboldt county which I’ve never heard of before. Some of these towns, all of which are equipped with their own unique charm, includes (but not limited to) Healdsburg, Cloverdale, Ukiah, Willits, Willits, Laytonville, Legett, Redway and Garberville. As I approach southern Humboldt county, endless rows of ancient redwood trees stand tall and erect along Highway 101 and all throughout the distant fluctuating mountains like natural skyscrapers, withstanding the test of time.
My long drive to Shelter Cove ended in Garberville, where I had to take a detour through the only road that leads into and out of Shelter Cove. That road is Briceland Thorn Road. This road is a 20 mile two-way, single lane undivided road with an abundance of sudden twists and turns, curves that suddenly descends and ascends with no warning, coupled with thick mountain fog that limits your vision to within 50 feet.
While it is only 20 miles, the drive in itself can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour due to the aforementioned conditions. When I was arriving, it was already 8:00 PM and the foggy and rainy condition did not make the drive along Briceland Thorn road any less nerve wrecking. Especially considering that the road was pitch black and the only source of light were from sporadic patches from homes built deep into the tree carpeted mountainous region. Driving a front-wheel drive sport compact coupe also adds to the challenge of driving on this road.
Alas, I arrived at Shelter Cove of the Lost Coast.