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Trip Report Sunny on the San Mateo County coast! - A Day Trip

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They were forecasting fog, bet we needed to get the hell out of Dodge and the new convertible's top needed to be DOWN. Hell we could always turn the butt warmers on and keep the windows up if we needed to.

As they are often are, the forecasters were wrong. The fog where we are burned off early and the coast started looking promising, so off we roared with top down, butt warmers on, and with hats and sunglasses positioned just so. We took the 101 to 84 (Woodside Road/La Honda Road) and went up and over Skyline Blvd and made a squiggly line to the coast. Our destination: Princeton By the Sea and Barbara's Fish Trap.

Taking 84 over the hill is a lovely drive. It takes a lot longer to get to Highway 1 than doing101 or 280 to 92, but it is very scenic as it winds through the redwoods, goes through the town of La Honda and finally drops into the coastal valleys before it intersects with Highway 1.If I were visiting the area and wanted a scenic drive somewhere in the Bay Area, this is one I would do.

After zooming by San Gregorio and its famous store we come to where 84 dead ends at Highway 1. We turned right and headed north on 1. The road at this point is somewhat inland and elevated high above the coast. You are not hugging the coastline as it does going south from here towards Pescadero. To the left and the right are fields and farmland were some of the best produce in the country is grown. To our left is the ocean with a hazy fog bank maybe 1 mile offshore. Inland it is sunny and the temperature gauge in the car says it is 65 outside. NICE!

In less than 30 minutes we are in HMB. We don't stop in the quaint downtown area, but it is a fun place to stop, walk around and visit the shops. We, however were on a mission: Barbara's Fish Trap.

Princeton by the Sea is north of HMB a few miles and is actually its commercial fishing port Pillar Point is here. Off shore is where the famous Mavericks Surf Competition takes place most every year in January and February.

Turning left off of 1 just after the over rated, but very popular Sam's Chowder House takes you into the harbor area. There, to your left in a few hundred yards is literally a shack that is built over the tidal flats/water.

I have been going to Barbara's Fish Trap for as long as I can remember. It looks a bit like a dump on the outside (and some would say on the inside too), especially when compared to all the newer, upscale places that compete with it for business, but on closer inspection, it is actually well maintained and sort of cute. The decor is coastal kitsch meets garage sale and the place is small, cramped and the inside gets noisy. They don't take credit cards, only cash and personal checks.

The seafood here is soooooo good. That's why we go. The dungeness crab sandwiches are huge and not inundated with mayo and lots of foreign objects. Crab, man, crab! The tempura fish and chips are ample and always delicious. The fried prawns are consistently ***yummy*** and the chowder, while not my favorite in the world, is good and chocked full of clams. It is a little to thick for me. I like mine a little thinner than this. Today we ordered a bowl of chowder to split (if you're both having chowder this is the best bang for your buck), an order of fries and the "mini tempura platter" with cole slaw. The platter had a nice, good size piece of cod, three prawns, four scallops, two halves of a zucchini and way too much calamari on it. I could have done without all the calamari. Another piece of fish or a few more prawns would have been nice. We debated about getting an order of fried artichokes, but decided our arteries could do without that for today. Next time.

All the food at Barbara's is not deep fried in case I am making it sound that way...just the best things are. :)

There is a take-away counter outside if want your food to go for a picnic or to eat at one of the outdoor tables along walkway and park-like area to the right.

After lunch we drove out to the beginning of the trail that takes you out to the beach at Pillar Point. This is a nice walk along a coastal swampy area, the inner harbor and finally past the breakwater to the open ocean and the beach. Today the tide was out and the beach was wide. When the tide is in and the waves are rocking, there isn't much of a beach here. We sat in the sun and talked about upcoming trips and how nice it was to be so close to such a beautiful place.

The journey home was 1 south to 92 east to 280 south to our home town. The temperature gauge read 80 as we cruised home on 280 happy and feeling like we needed a Tums. :-d

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