There are photos of the prettier locations here if anyone truly wants to see.
Oh, and of course I was not able to avoid thinking of LOTR while admiring the landscape. On the way south on I-5, through the nasty hot hills and rolling fields around Stockton, where everything was brown or black (there had been some field fires), I was thinking, "Gee, looks like Mordor." Then in the forests of the coast: well, see for yourself: The Shire? ("I think we should get off the road...") And perhaps Lothlorien?
Anyway, I have a sore throat now, so I'll go make myself some more tea. Bleh.