Getting to Willows that morning wasn't too bad once I got on top of the clouds. I had filed an IFR flight plan, but I was running late, knew the IFR release would take a while, and knew I could get on top VFR, so I turned left/west after takeoff (the wrong direction), got on top, and since Norcal was very busy with existing traffic, instead of getting a Bravo Clearance to cross, I just went around south and crossed at 3500ft quicker than I could have made a request from the controller who was rapid firing to a bunch of existing planes.
On the way back, it got a bit more interesting. Forecast was for a 5000ft overcast in PAO, so my plan was to fly through oakland and stay under the cloud layer so as not to get trapped on top, but over Oakland, the clouds got as low as the hills I usually cross over, so I ended up flying over the water at 300ft for a while and the controller routed me towards SFO instead. I got an improvised bay tour out of it, and I ended up flying over the bay with San Francisco on my right. By the bay bridge, I figured I'd be better overflying between 2 spans of the bridge instead of the last span and the city since that would put me too close to densely populated area.
Interestingly, I ended up having to climb back from 500ft to 3500ft (on top) after that due to headings from the controllers, and needing to stay clear of clouds (going under over san francisco and hills didn't look safe). Eventually I got a hole over Palo Alto and came back down that way.
That made for some interesting pictures. I could of course have flown IFR, but the rental plane I had was a backup plane, it was old, and I preferred flying VFR with it than trusting a single VOR needle without any panel GPS in actual IMC if I could avoid it (I did have hand held GPS).
someone got to willows with a nicer ride than I did :)