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  1. Default 3-week West Coast (CA, OR, WA) roadtrip, from LA to Seattle and back.

    So, a long time ago, I asked RTA for help in planning my roadtrip in the US. I ended getting some amazing advice and promised to return and write a report. Well, I think I've taken the saying "better late than never" to the extreme, but here it is. This is the first of three parts. I hope you enjoy!




    Day 1

    We landed at LAX a little before 4pm, cleared customs with an unfriendly CBP agent and picked up the shuttle to the car rental location. Unfortunately, getting the car itself wasn't that easy. First, they wanted to charge us extra because we were (less than an hour) early, even though we would be returning the car earlier than that time. Second, my regular card did not work. Another card did, but carried a heavy currency exchange fee. Third, we picked up the keys and headed to the parking lot, but our car was not where it was supposed to be. Queue again to get to the counter, to be told we needed to go to a different special counter. Queue once more and they switch our car because they couldn't locate the original one.

    Fantastic, we have the car! Let's put our stuff in the trunk and head to Santa Monica Pier for a few hours of laid-back late afternoon tourism. LA's traffic could have been better, but eventually we got there, a bit after seven. We strolled in the pier and watched the sunset. Then, for dinner, we decided to have an American start of our American adventure with burgers at Pier Burger.


    It was now dark and, because we wanted to have a good night of sleep, we decided to leave straight to Santa Clarita, where we had our AirBnB booked. It was in a residential neighborhood and it took us a while to find the right house in the dark. Eventually we found it and our gracious hosts welcomed and showed us around the house. We had a shower and fell on the bed like logs.




    Day 2

    It's early morning and our host prepared us an amazing breakfast, with pancakes, yoghurt, fruits, etc. She told us they had come from Eastern Europe with their young child and that they were very happy. She was very proud of their son, as he was getting very good grades in school. After we finished breakfast, we said goodbye and, equipped with our trustworthy Rand McNally atlas, we left towards our first major roadtrip destination, Yosemite National Park. However, we would first need to stop in Bakersfield to get supplies.



    We quickly rejoined CA99, then took the CA41 to enter Yosemite NP via the south entrance. This part of the trip was marked by the sad yellow landscape. We got to the entrance of the park, of which I highly regret not taking any photos (a common theme in this trip), got our Annual National Park pass and drove up to Wawona campground, where we had booked two nights. We were pitching our tent, when a friendly ranger greeted us and invited us for a ranger-led session later at night. But before that, we headed to Glacier Point, where we would be watching the sunset.

    It took us a few minutes and loops around the small parking lot of Glacier Point, but we got a spot. At Glacier Point, I saw one of the most memorable views of my life. My brain could not process what my eyes were seeing. Do you know that feeling you get when you see a bad green screen in movies or tv? When your brain is telling that is not real... Well, that is the best way I can describe my reaction. It was such a mesmerizing and unreal view that my brain was firing the same green screen "fake" signals, but at the same time knowing it was real. Unfortunately, no photo I took does it any justice.


    While there, a friendly lady told us that the sunlight looked really good on our faces and asked if we wanted her to take a photo of us. We accepted the offer and we are glad we did, because of how well the photo came out. I'm just sorry we didn't have anything better than my phone's camera, which applies to the whole trip. Then, we watched the last remnants of light hit Half Dome and not long after, it was dark. We returned to Wawona, had a quick bite and it was time for ranger-led entertainment.

    The session was great! The ranger was clearly very passionate about the park (and Wawona). She gave an overview from biology to history, especially John Muir and his central role in it. Then, she took out a guitar and we had a great sing-along around the campfire. It was a great first impression of NPS rangers, which would only be reinforced over time, the more NPS places we visited, the more rangers we met.




    Day 3

    Despite being a bit tired, I was so excited that I had no trouble getting up early to beat the crowds to the valley. We got there sometime around 7. It didn't take long to see wildlife, such as deer and squirrels having their own breakfast.








    We did the Valley Loop trail, as we had been advised it is one of quietest trails. We saw the beautiful meadows, woods and rocky formations of the valley. We also wet our feet in the Merced river during a break for lunch. It was also there that we noticed there were people climbing El Capitan. Little did I know it's a major thing with serious history.






    On the minus side, some of the woods were burned, which wasn't that pleasant. We then headed to Bridalveil Falls. This was late summer, so most of the falls were either dry or running low and indeed that was the case for Bridalveil Falls. Nevertheless, we could still see why it has that name. Finally, we headed to the famous Tunnel View, another place from where we could absorb the beautiful landscape of successive peaks and formations on either side of the valley and its beautiful forests. A great end to a great day.





    Day 4

    Unfortunately, we only planned for two days (1 full + 2 halfs) in Yosemite. In hindsight, that was obviously too short and I would have extended it for at least a couple of days. We also wanted to check out the Mariposa Grove before we left, but, unfortunately, it was closed. So, we decided to get an early start to Lake Tahoe, our next destination. On our way to exit the park via the north, we stopped a few times to check out short trails and roadside beauties.








    We got on US395 next to Mono Lake and by the time we got to Tahoe, it was a bit after lunchtime. This time around we stayed in a hotel, as we wanted to have a nice comfortable bed to replenish energies. There was also another reason to be happy, a private hot tub, something that I hid from my partner when I booked it and which made for a nice surprise. So, we checked-in and headed out to see the lake. We weren't that impressed by it. Maybe we didn't go to the "right part"... Anyway, we decided to get early dinner and return to the hotel to take full advantage of the room's amenities.




    Day 5

    Today's destination is Lassen Volcanic NP. We checked out of the hotel and had breakfast at a nearby café. Then, we hopped on the car and not long after... check engine light. The closest rental office was now Reno and we went there to see if we could swap the car. Weirdly, the office was smaller than a photo booth. The lady there vehemently refused to do anything about it, saying that it was LAX's issue. Hmm, ok, no worries! There were signs telling us to have faith.


    We arrived at Lassen a bit after lunchtime. The blue crystalline lakes, green and gray rugged landscape and the meandering road made for an incredible experience driving in the park.






    We parked the car and took the short Bumpass Hell Trail. Whilst I had seen photos of Bumpass Hell when planning the trip, I was struck! First, by the beauty, with the light blue of the hot springs contrasting with the yellowish of the ground. Second, by the smell. It was the strongest rotten egg-like smell... ever. And while I tolerated it, it did not get any easier with time. But it was worth it, as the hot springs, fumaroles and especially the boiling mudpots were really surreal. On the way back, I caught a little guy admiring the surrounding landscape too.






    We also checked out Sulphur Works before we made our way to Manzanita Lake campground, our accommodation for the night. It was about an hour before sunset and I treated myself to a nice Oregonian IPA, while my partner started to pitch the tent. After we finished pitching the tent, we walked from our camping site to the lake. There, we sat on a large tree stump by the water and observed a picturesque sunset over the lake.





    Day 6

    Wake up, quick breakfast and put everything back in the car. Today's destination was one of the landmarks I was very eager to see. Yes, Crater Lake it is. We left Lassen Volcanic NP and it wasn't long before Mt Shasta appeared, first on our right, as we drove towards Redding, and then straight ahead, after we joined the I-5. Unfortunately, it will have to remain for another trip. Soon enough, we were crossing state lines for the first time (well, we did cross into Nevada, but I don't count that one). Actually, we didn't cross one time, but multiple, as we had to do several takes to get the state line crossing video right. And then one more time to stop by the sign and take photos next to it. A lot of fun!







    Quick stop at Klamath Falls to grab a quick bite, replenish ice for the cooler, buy things of which we had run out and importantly, send messages and photos to family & friends back home using some café's wi-fi. It wasn't long before we were back on the road and entering Crater Lake NP. We went straight to our campground to pitch the tent, before doing any sightseeing, since we wanted to avoid doing it later in the cold and dark.

    We took the Rim Drive around Crater Lake and it was stunning! I had very high hopes and they were definitely matched. At a point, due to road works, we were stopped for what seemed an eternity. Luckily, it was still quite a while until sunset. It was quite windy, but we nevertheless stopped at every viewpoint. At one of these, we offered to take photos of a (ridiculously photogenic) family, so that both parents could be in the picture with the kids. They returned the favor and we started to chat. They were super friendly and wanted to know what we had seen thus far and whether we were liking it. They were happy when we replied we were loving it!






    The sightseeing part of day concluded with The Pinnacles, but before going to bed, we checked the Mazama Village Store and got our first (and very cherished) souvenir, a Crater Lake license plate, which is now part of our National Parks license plate collection.





    Day 7

    Day 7 started like most, pack up and back on the road. We were once again stopped for a while because of road works and we took the opportunity to have breakfast. Our next stop would be Bend, where we would be taking a tour of the Deschutes Brewery. On the way, we passed by a store that read on the side "GUNS AMMO LIQUOR BEER WINE" and I thought that it could not get any more stereotypically American than that.


    It was a very calm and relaxing drive to Bend, with my partner taking the wheel for most of it. We got to there early and decided to do laundry. By a stroke of fortune, the laundromat we ended up going to was right next to "The Lot", a small square with lots of food carts and a central bar that had a couple dozen taps of local beer. Absolutely amazing! It was also fun when the waitress asked for IDs to check our age and we gave her our passports. She froze for a second and told us it was the first time she was ever given a passport for that.

    After lunch and getting our clothes back, we headed to the Deschutes Brewery for our tour. At the end, we were served a few samples. They were so good that we ended up buying some a dozen bottles (and a beautiful t-shirt), many of which were flown back home. In the tasting room, we ended up striking conversation with a lovely retired army man. He told us a few stories, like of when he was stationed in Europe. He was currently doing a roadtrip of the country with his wife. He advised us to take advantage and travel and see the world as much as we can, as he was sorry he had only started doing that after he retired and not sooner. A good advice, which we were already following.


    We still needed to make our way to Portland, where we would be spending the night. But instead of taking the direct route from Bend, we would be taking US97 and then US197 up to The Dalles and then follow the Columbia River to Portland. The stretch along the river was really pleasant. There is just something unique to the Columbia River. And seeing the infinitely long cargo trains on the opposite side of the river chugging along added to the whole experience. Most definitely worth the detour!




    This concludes the first of three weeks and therefore the first of three parts of this report.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 02-20-2021 at 05:56 AM. Reason: Added link to planning thread.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
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    11,637

    Default Better late than never for sure !!

    Welcome back and thanks for the reoprt so far, it's great and a real shot in the arm for those of us who are dreaming of being able to hit the road again one day soon. Hopefully !!

    At Glacier Point, I saw one of the most memorable views of my life. My brain could not process what my eyes were seeing.
    Your trip has brought back wonderful memories of our own adventures and no more than that statement. It was our first trip to the States and our second day on the road that we witnessed this absolute wonder ! Looking forward to the next installments.

    Dave.

  3. Default

    You are a good writer and I look forward to reading your next installment.

    Oftentimes, the Check Engine light is merely a reminder that an oil change is due. Hopefully we won’t learn that it was more than that.

  4. Default

    @Southwest Dave, thank you! I'm glad you've enjoyed it so far. We were perusing our old photos, reminiscing about the trip. I thought I should write and document it, as some details get forgotten with time. (For example, just an hour ago I realized I forgot to mention we dipped in the Merced River while staying at Wawona Campground.) And so, I remembered that I had promised a report here and decided to stay true to my promise. To be honest, we have been wanting to do a montage of the trip since we finished it, but still haven't come around to do that either.

    You're absolutely right! I've also been planning future trips and reading other trip reports to get my "fix".

    @travelingman, thank you for the kind words! I am happy you're liking it. With respect to the Check Engine light, I'll spoil that bit of the story and confirm that nothing happened with the car. :)

  5. #5

    Default

    A wonderful reading. Hoping to return to the highways myself in August/September. One vax shot down, one to go... and still being careful. Looking forward to Parts 2 and 3.

    Sorry to read about your car rental experience. Was it a major car company, one you feel comfortable naming?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
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    11,637

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by rans View Post
    You're absolutely right! I've also been planning future trips and reading other trip reports to get my "fix".
    Well you where to come if you need any help or suggestions ! ;-)

  7. Default

    @landmariner, I'm really glad you've liked it. It must be exciting knowing that "soon enough" you'll be able to hit the road!

    Re car rental, it's one that has recently filed for bankruptcy. I don't have any other data points for LAX, but I have rented cars many times (mostly in Europe) and it was by far the worse service I've had. On the positive side, it was the only one I could find a promo code to waive the young driver fee.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Joplin MO
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    10,088

    Default

    Would that be Hertz?

  9. Default Second part (subpart 1)

    My objective was to write one day of trip per day. Obviously, that didn't happen, due to work and life getting in the way. I also didn't foresee that the second part would turn out to be much longer than the first one. Anyhow, here it is. I hope you enjoy it!




    Day 8

    We had planned to see the centre of Portland during the morning. Our first stop would be for breakfast, at a food cart pod. We got there a few minutes before the carts opened, but we weren't the only ones waiting, as a few goups coming from a night out were also eager to get an early (well, late for them) meal. We got some waffles and they were good, but nothing to write home about. Then, we decided to see downtown. We didn't enjoy it that much, but perhaps it isn't the place for tourism. Also, it probably didn't help that it was gray and raining.
    Given Portland's (and Oregon's) reputation for beer, I couldn't leave without getting my hands on some local bottles, which we did at the Beer Mongers bottle shop. By then, it was almost lunchtime and we settled on going to Frank's Noodle House, which had been featured on DDD. We went in with high expectations, but both food and service were just ok. It was now time to leave Portland, which, if I'm being honest, was the first place in our trip that we didn't feel sad for not spending one or two more days in. Maybe it was just bad luck.

    Today, we drive to Mt Rainier. But before leaving Multnomah County, we would be visiting the famous Multnomah Falls. Despite being a tourist hot spot, with hordes of tour buses and selfie sticks, I had a great time. The falls were gorgeous! I think the two tiers make it more impressive than if it only had one. Interestingly, I also think this is one of the few cases where a human-made structure (the small foot bridge) doesn't detract from the natural beauty of the place. We hiked about half of the trail to the top of the falls to get a vantage point, but it was getting late and it didn't seem like the views were getting any better, so we decided to return.


    Instead of taking the I-5, we would be following the Columbia River, in the opposite direction of the previous day's journey, up to Biggs Junction, where we would cross the river to Washington state and take US97 north. The idea was to see more of the countryside and natural landspace, versus an interstate such as the I-5. In hindsight, I feel that, possibly, it wasn't the best decision, as a good part of the trip in Washington was devoid of vegetation and topograhical features. In any case, we still enjoyed the ride, where often times we were the only car for miles, which gave me that sort of "big west" feeling. We stopped in Yakima to stock up on essentials and while we spent very limited time there, I liked its small town vibes.

    It was already seven when we entered Mount Rainier National Park, but there were still a good thirty minutes before sunset. The landscape was beautiful, with valleys and hills, ridges and rivers. However, what I loved the most was the strong green of the pristine old-growth forest.






    Twilight was upon us, so we headed to the White River campground. We had a little trouble finding our site and by the time we did, night had arrived. So, we had to pitch the tent under the car low beams. We ate sandwiches that we had prepared earlier, before calling it a night. A very cold one! My partner wore 5 layers of clothing, not counting the sleeping bag, and gloves too. If we weren't at freezing temperatures, we were very close.





    Day 9

    The morning light allowed us to finally see the campground and I thought it was well conceived. It seemed that only the essential was chopped down to allow for the road and space for the sites and bathrooms, making it feel like we were camping in the forest and not in a campground. After breakfast, we packed everything in the car and moved it to a parking space at the entrance of the campground. We would be hiking the Glacier Basin Trail, which started at the campground, but there was a possibility we would not be back before check-out time to free up the site.

    The standard hike is 6.2 miles, but we did a fair bit more. It was a really nice trail, offering good views of the glaciers. We could also see the gravel bed of the river, with a lot of dead wood deposited on it. The trail also featured numerous little water falls crossing our path. On our way back we also managed to see a beaver, which scared my partner when I said "Look look look!!!". Overall, a great trail!














    I know Mt Rainier has a lot more to offer, but this visit was meant to be a "taster", as I hope to come back and do a roadtrip through the northwest (including Canada). Next stop: Seattle. Given it was mid-afternoon when we got there, we eschewed any sightseeing and preferred a nice afternoon having drinks. You will probably have inferred by now that drinks=breweries. Ballard neighborhood it is, where many of them are located. Most being located within walking distance of each other, we decided to do a tour. We would have one or two beers at each brewery and then a nice stroll. At one of them, we had a great time playing cornhole, which was new to us. Finally, for dinner, we found a restaurant with good reviews online, but it turned out to be equal parts pretentious and unimpressive. Finally, it was time to call it a day and head to our AirBnB.





    Day 10

    We left the AirBnB relatively early. Our hosts were up and somewhat suprised about our very short stay. Our morning would be dedicated to checking out some of Seattle's tourist attractions and around lunchtime we would take a ferry to Bainbridge Island. Our first tourist spot was Pike Place Market. It was unsurprisingly very busy and whilst I'm not a fan of crowded places, I still enjoyed its ecletic atmosphere. It was also nice to see small vendors selling their homemade stuff, like cookies, hot sauces, etc., many of whom seemed quite passionate about their products, though I think we only bought a slice of cake. We exited the market and immediately saw a very long queue that wrapped around the corner of a building. It wasn't long before we realized it was the queue for the first Starbucks. It beats me why anyone would queue for that, but to each their own. We walked along the shore to the Olympic Sculpture Park. Away from the market crowds, it was more relaxing. From there, we walked to the Space Needle. We didn't go up because the price put us off, but we did have a good time walking in the surrounding gardens.

    Time to get the car and board the ferry. From the ferry, we got great views of Seattle. Plus, we were on a boat, which was cool on itself. Taking photos, on the other hand, wasn't easy due to the rocking motion of the boat (as you can attest by the tilt in the photo below). The ride took a bit more than half an hour. After disembarking at Bainbridge Island, we drove to Silverdale, where we had booked a night at the Oxford Suites Silverdale.






    For about one and half hours, we had the indoor pool and hot tub to ourselves. Then came a family with two very young kids, who were more than happy to splash around, giggle and do what kids do. It was our cue to leave. Not that they bothered us in the slightest, we just realized we had spent enough time there. After a quick shower, we got burgers for dinner in the hotel bar. Collegiate American football was on and we entertained ourselves looking up the rules online to try to understand what was going on.





    Day 11

    For the first time in many days, we got a full hearty breakfast in the morning. The scenery was also very pleasant, as the hotel faced the water to the east and the light from the low sun was reflecting on it.
    We got in the car and started driving towards Olympic National Park. First, going north on WA 3. Then, after crossing the Hood Canal and following WA 104 northwest, we joined the mythic US 101, which we would eventually take all the way back to LA, except for the PCH stretch (except the parts of the PCH that run concurrently to the 101). At Port Angeles, we veered inland to Hurricane Ridge. As we always do, though I haven't mentioned it yet, we went to the visitor center. We not only get up-to-date information, such as trail conditions, but I also find I learn a lot about the place itself, like its flora, fauna, geology, etc.

    Like most people in Hurricane Ridge, we took the Hurricane Hill Trail. It is said that one can sometimes see Canada from the top of the hill, but we wouldn't know, since it was very cloudy. That didn't stop it from being one of my favorite places in the trip. The landspace was really beautiful, but what took it away was the wildlife. While going up we could hear marmots whistling. Then, we saw two beavers fighting (or at least, that's what it looked like). Finally, there were loads of deer munching up top. After returning, we also did the short trails next to the visitor center.










    After Hurricane Ridge, we wanted to go to Neah Bay, as recommended by landmariner. Unfortunately, it would have been too long of a detour and we decided to put it in our to-do list and go directly to the beaches of La Push. The first beach is easily accessible by car, so we didn't have to walk much. I liked this beach for its open view of the ocean, as well as for what is called James Island (though calling it an island might be (la) pushing it), which had trees growing in it. But, of course, the most striking feature of this beach is its copious amount of driftwood, which accumulate because of the beach's shape. Due to the action of the sea and the sun, the driftwood gets white and some looked like dinosaur bones to me.






    Accessing the second beach required a bit more effort, as one has to walk 15 minutes through dense woods. It was somewhat surreal to exit the woods directly into the beach, especially because it is only very close to the beach that one starts to see it and hear waves. The beach was gorgeous and I loved its scenery. Protected on the rear by the woods and on the sides by headlands, it had a sort of cozy place atmosphere. There is also a beautiful arch on the right headland, to which a photographer pointed his camera for (more than) a while. There were also people camping there and I would have loved to do it too.








    It was getting late and the sun was setting, giving off a lovely red-pinkish light. We had walked around, soaked the beauty in, breathed the sea air and taken a few photos, but we had to get going. With not a lot sunlight left, we still had 15 minutes of walking to do through dense woods. Then, problemo! We can not locate the trail entrance. Because it is nothing more than a normal gap between trees, it is inconspicuous and we were having a hard time looking for it. After walking along the woods for a few minutes, I remember that I had filmed the moment we exited the woods into the forest. I pull up the video and try to figure the place from where one has the same view as in the video. Fortunately, it didn't take long to find the spot, but there was now very little sunlight left and we were forced to use the phone's light to light the way. I made the best of the situation and had fun making haunted house-type noises. Unfortunately, my partner did not find it as funny (or at all) as I did.

    On the way to our accommodation for the night, Kalaloch Campground, we managed to get a shot of the welcome sign of a famous town, at least for those of us who lived through the craze.







    I've had to split the complete post here because I have exceeded the maximum number of images.

  10. Default Second part (subpart 2)

    Day 12

    Kalaloch Campground is right next to a beach, which was the perfect place for a walk after the morning routine. It was lovely, but a bit windy, as the trees can attest.




    Our first visit of the day was the Hoh Rain Forest. This place was absolutely mesmerizing! With moss growing on almost every surface and ferns covering the ground, green was everywhere! Add in very tall spruces and other trees, and the humidity and it felt like we were in a druids forest-type fable. We even saw some nice looking fungi.






    There was still a lot to be seen in Olympic NP, but, once again, we will do it in a future roadtrip. Astoria was our next target and although the distance is less than 200 miles, they take 4 to 5 hours. I remember that I really liked this drive, culminating with crossing the Columbia via the Astoria Bridge, with its nice truss structure on the Oregon side. Its color is also very pretty, and I recently found it's called ODOT Green for Oregon Department of Transportation Green. After crossing, we drove to the Astoria Column. The murals are pretty, but hard to decipher from the ground. We climbed the 164 steps to the top and, with few people besides us, we took our time to fully the absorb the excellent 360-degrees views (and take photos). I particularly enjoyed having a vantage point overseeing the Columbia River, past the bridge and towards its mouth.






    We spent about 45 minutes randomly driving through Astoria, stopping to check out small shops. At this point, we felt that it was time for dinner and while we were not looking for a brewery (if you can believe it), good online reviews for food made us go to the Buoy Beer Company. This place is on a pier and parts of its floor are made of glass. Through these "windows" we could see what looked like statues of sea lions. While eating, we see parents and their kids giggling while looking through these floor "windows". My partner tells me "Hmm. I think those sea lions might be real..." We got up and looked again through the glass and, what would you know, the statues moved! There was even one having a hard time climbing onto the platform and another one being a prick and pushing his mate back into the water. So, this ended up being a totally unexpected highlight! And the food (and beer) was good indeed.




    After dinner, we crossed the Columbia back to Washington state, to get to Cape Disappointment SP, where we would be spending the night. It was a fantastic day!





    Day 13

    We woke up, and similarly to the previous day, went for a walk on the adjoining beach. After packing up, we hit the road. This was relaxing day of sorts. We would be driving down, going with the flow, without any planned stops or hikes. When we felt like it, like when seeing a pull-out for a viewpoint, we would stop and check the surrounding area. We stopped at various spots along the Oregonian coast and I found it to be genuinely beautiful, even on a cloudy day. Particularly, the succession of rocky cliffs with trees growing on them, giving way to sandy beaches and the sea.






    When we reached Tillamook, we saw signs for the Tillamook Air Museum. We didn't intend to go in, because we've visited many over the years and live close to a big one, but I always enjoy passing by airports and aerodromes to see what they have outside and have a go at identifying them. Well, I've got to be honest, I was not expecting a Guppy! One of only two Mini Guppies ever built, and the only one that ever entered service.


    We continued driving and about 45 minutes later were in Pacific City, a stop that had been recommended to us because of Cape Kiwanda. It was also good to once again be close to the sea, which we hadn't seen for an hour, due to the 101 going inland. Kiwanda Beach had a particularity, which might be common in the US (I don't know), but it is definitely foreign to me, with cars, trucks, SUVs and vans parked on the beach. And not just on the sand where the beach starts, but quite close to the water. The beach was beautiful though, very long and wide, with a big pointy dome-like rock just offshore. To top it all off, the restaurant/bar on the beach was a brewery! It just seems like the US has one on every corner. We sat outside, with a lovely view of the beach, and shared a tasting tray. Also, the waiter was friendly, and had a small notebook, where he would ask people to write where they came from.


    An hour later or so, we were reaching Newport when we saw a sign for a lighthouse just off the road. It was the Yaquina Head Lighthouse and lucky us, we didn't have to pay the entry fee because we had the National Parks pass. The lighthouse itself was closed, but the site offered great views of the coast. It also had stairs down to a cobble beach, from which we saw whales that a nice lady pointed out to us. Well, I did not as much see whales, as I glimpsed the tail of one, but it was cool nonetheless.


    Sunset time was approaching and we still had about 1.5 hours of driving to Jessie M Honeyman SP, where we would be sleeping. About halfway through, we pulled out onto a viewpoint and enjoyed a beautiful sunset, with its smooth orange/red light illuminating the coast.


    It was also this day that we saw the second sign about traveling on faith.






    Day 14

    We started our day trying to slide down the dunes of Jessie M Honeyman SP. Unfortunately, without a board, our attempts weren't that successful. Like the previous day, we were driving south and stopping at various viewpoints along the way.








    We crossed states lines around mid-afternoon and returned to California eight days after we first left it, although it felt like more time had passed. Our first stop was the Tour Thru Tree in Klamath. It could probably be classified as a tourist trap, but I had fun in it. It's not often that one can walk through a tree, much less drive. I don't have a good photo of the tree alone, so, for illustration purposes, here's one off the web.


    We then continued our trip to the Redwoods National and State Parks, the main stop of the day. First, we did the Avenue of Giants. It was absolutely gorgeous! I love roads through forests, where I'm surrounded by trees. This drive, however, took it to another level, with the amazing size of the trees and the beautiful reddish brown of the wood. There is also a good amount of places where to stop and admire the landscape on foot.
    After this, we did a couple of trails. Once again, this was no common forest. The trees were most impressive, with their wide trunks and reaching incredible heights! I was definitely in awe. I think I got some neck pain from frequently looking up in disbelief. It seemed straight out of some fantasy story.








    It was getting late and we decided to go to our accommodation. We had chosen the Prairie Creek Redwood SP campground. This is when things started to turn sour. We get there, but they were full. The ranger recommended another campground, but it was full too. It was already dark and we were driving down the 101, trying to spot signs for campgrounds. Eventually, we see one for a private campground, exit the 101 and drive for what seemed like an eternity. I go to the reception to ask the price, and while I forget the exact number I was given, I still remember thinking it was ludicrous, like a multiple of the usual rates we had paid in National and State Parks. And we weren't even near any touristy zone.
    Naturally, I thought the price was unacceptable and I suggested we drive down a bit further to see if anything else showed up. Unfortunately, nothing did. At this point, my partner (fortunately) put her foot down and told me to return to the campground we had seen. In the end, we stayed there. Driving from the entrance to the camping site wasn't easy, as it was a dirt road with narrow passes. Neither was pitching the tent in the dark and cold. In the end, we were exhausted and it didn't take long to fall asleep.

    Because I don't want to end the report of this amazing week with a downer, I can tell you I was feeling much better the next morning and after a nice shower and breakfast, my grumpiness had mostly subsided and given place to more excitement about the rest of the roadtrip!

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