Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Wednesday, April 24, 2019, WA

Other than laundry, yesterday was a do-nothing day for us and it felt good to hang out at home.  The gray, cloudy skies have put made me feel kind of down - missing my family and yearning for some silly, childish fun with the grandkids and definitely warmer, sunnier days.

We were ready to roll about 15 minutes early today and had a short drive ahead of us, only about 200 miles.  Most of the drive was on I-5 and 
I-405 (except for a 20-mile GPS directed detour) to Everett where we will spend the next 3 days exploring this part of the country. We checked into the Maple Grove RV Resort (about $50/night with our Good Sam discount) a nice and tidy park that is centrally located to some of the places we want to see.


The sun is out and we have seen a very welcome blue sky this entire drive, unlike the last week or so when it has been gray, cloudy, and dripping. We even got to sit around and read and have a beer once we got settled.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Monday, April 22, 2019, OR, WA

On the road again!  It’s US-101 most of the way, to Astoria, then taking a right turn on US-30 to I-5 that will take us to our campsite for 2 nights - just stopping long enough to do some laundry and recover from our 6-hours of driving.  The drive was nice, but there were many small towns along the way and we probably averaged about 45 mph in the rain. Had we known this, we may have cut to the east sooner and skirted Portland on I-5.  We chose another KOA for this stop - they are kind of like the McDonalds of RV Parks - dependably consistent and usually decent.




Sunday, April 21, 2019

Sunday, April 21, 2019, OR

We sat here enjoying our coffee this morning and trying to decide what to do today. The retiree’s dilemma, right? Nothing? Laundry? More beach time? More exploring? And the last 2 turned out to be our choice.  After some breakfast and another walk with Frisco, we crossed the Alcea Bridge into Waldport and drove through the north side of town and didn’t find much of interest.

Back to the bridge, we drove north to Newport, a town large enough to have a Walmart - a nice, slightly larger beach town, we drove to the north end just to check it out. And then on to the historic bay front where we parked the car and walked the street, along the harbor. The barking of sea lions drew me to one of the piers and they were beaches on some platforms in the Yacquina Bay - they are  everywhere around here.  We strolled down one side of the street, checking out a few shops, stopping for some fresh-smoked salmon to take home with us and then we wandered back down the other side of the street to get back to the car.

The harbor at Newport, OR

These guys just said to me, ‘a family napping together’.

Back home, we headed down the path along the RV park that led us to the beach on the north side of Alcea Bay. We strolled the beach, marveling in the amazingly large, broken trees, stumps, and debris along the way.  I searched for a piece of sea glass to carry as a souvenir but didn’t find one.  We sat on a large stump and watched a boat that might have been checking their crab pots or nets, the seabirds and a few seals or sea otters that kept popping their heads above the water and then gliding back underwater to forage for something of interest.

Back home, I set to preparing a traditional Easter dinner of Ham basted in pineapple juice, baked sweet potato, roasted asparagus, and fried pineapple.  While that was cooking, Tom took a nap and I tried to sit outside, after all, the sun had come out and it really felt like what I should be doing. After a few minutes of sitting there with my back to the sun, my hood up, and the thought of going indoors for a blanket, I gave up and went inside.  Dang! I have really been starving for a bit of sunshine and it seems that it isn’t in the near future for me.

A HUGE piece of driftwood on the beach of Alsea Bay.

The Alcea Bay Bridge from the beach.

It felt good to have FaceTime chats with both of my sons, Tracey, and Ben’s family.

Our site at the KOA, Waldport, OR


Saturday, April 20, 2019

Saturday, April 20, 2019, OR

Exploring the coast was the order of the day and it was quite a day. It started out chilly and cold, so we brought several layers with us.  We had a nice conversation with a gal from Wisconsin who was checking for animal activity on the Alcea Bay when we were walking Frisco. She had seen us pointing at something out in the bay, we thought it might be seals but turns out it was wood debris or rocks.


Our site at Waldport, OR


All along the coast, scattered about every few miles, there are pullouts with scenic viewpoints, beach access roads, and roads leading to campgrounds and day-use areas.  We headed south on US-101 and we pulled in at Tillicum Beach campground in the Siuslaw National Park just to check it out and then a scenic drive through a residential neighborhood along the ocean in the small town of Yachats. And then it as on to the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center, a National Forest point of interest where we browsed around the museum and took a hike to the beach to watch the surf pound onto the rocks along the shore.  It was there that we saw Cook’s Chasm and Spouting Horn where the rough surf forces the water and air mixture up into the sky and it appears like a huge spout, several feet in the air.



We really wanted to see the Heceta Head Lighthouse and were afraid we might miss the tours. It turns out that we did miss the tour but hiked up to the lighthouse and the assistant light keepers house. The lighthouse was first used in 1894 and continues to flash every 10 seconds of every day.

               




Heceta Lighthouse from down the road.

Down the road a few miles to the Sea Lion Caves where we went down several flights of stairs, then took an elevator down 200 feet to the caves where the nations largest population of California and Stellar Sea Lions gather on the rocky ledges during the winter months.  In summer, they venture out of the caves and breed and have their young on the more exposed rocky ledges. It was loud and stinky in there but we saw lots of sea lion activity.




Just a little bit farther down the road was the Hobbit Trail (named because the path to the beach appears like a tunnel) and we both thought that sounded interesting. When we parked the car, I noticed some activity in the vehicle next to us and sure enough, they had a flat tire.  It was a young couple from Germany and they were having trouble figuring out how to get the spare tire released from the mounting under the rental car.  They would have called roadside assistance but had no cell signal. Tom offered his assistance several times and they were quite appreciative. We hung around until they had the spare tire on the car and then we headed down the trail.





It led 1/2 mile downhill through the wooded forest and through several tunnels and on down to the beach where we walked around and poked at some of the debris that had washed up. As we headed back to hike up the trail, we met up with the folks with the flat tire again. They thanked us again and invited us to get in touch if we ever get to Germany. We learned that their names are Christoph and Seda Rass from Osnabruck and they left us with a business card and contact information. Seda told me that nobody in Germany would have offered assistance, as they tend to keep to themselves. They felt that Americans were very friendly and helpful and I felt happy to hear that. 


The hike back up the hill was a tough one, but we made it. Yes, we are out of practice and haven’t done the hiking that we had in the past.


We stopped in Yachats (yah-hauts) for a halibut dinner at the Blue Whale restaurant, after a couple of attempts at a brewery and a pub that were quite busy. Dinner was good stuff and a cocktail would have been nice, but not necessary. We were both tired after a full afternoon of activity.


Friday, April 19, 2019

Friday, April 19, 2019, CA, OR

Yesterday morning was spent researching where our next 2 stays will be. We have been making reservations 2 stays out, although I’m not really sure that it is necessary, as few of the places we have stayed at have been busy.  By the time we finally got moving, it was almost noon. We went to the nearby Walmart for some groceries and to see if the replacement CO2/Propane detector that Tom ordered had arrived (it did). My car needed a wash after going through the wet, wet roads through the Redwoods, but when we found the car wash, it was closed to to operational problems.  We made 2 more stops, at Safeway and Tractor Supply before heading back home.


I just wanted to sit and relax in the sunshine when we got back home but one look at the dirt streaks on my car made me get out a bucket, fill it with water and rinse it off. Of course, that was a much bigger job than I set out to do.  I did manage to have some time to relax, read, have a cocktail, and enjoy the last of the day.


Since our site did not have sewer hookups, we had to do that at the dump station before  leaving this morning.  We have got the setup and take down procedures down. Tom does the outside stuff; the water, sewer, electric, and truck hookup and I do last minute cleanup and secure the inside for travel, then Frisco gets another walk before we take off.


We pulled out at 10:00 and headed north on US-101 and stayed on it, hugging the coast and sometimes driving farther inland for the next 180 miles.  There were a few sections where the road was hairpin curves, sometimes with the rocky coast on one side of the road and tall pines and rocky ledges on the other. The route took us through lots of small towns with ‘beach’, ‘port’, or ‘bay’ in their names.  It is beautiful country, not seen anywhere east of Pacific Coast.





It has been very cloudy and rainy off and on - not a dripping rain, mostly just a mist that kept the wipers going on a low setting but at times there were some big drops.


We checked in at the KOA in Waldport, situated between the Alsea Bay and the Pacific Ocean, got to our site and found that it was a bit too narrow.  We were either crammed into the bushes on one side and couldn’t get at the sewer hose or connection and on the other side, it would be 2 steps and we would be on top of the picnic table.  The gal in the office was so nice and came out to tell us that we were welcome to choose another site, possibly even one of those that backed up to the bay. We chose another pull through that will be sheltered from the wind, but also have a view of the Alsea Bay bridge.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Wednesday, April 17, 2019, CA

What a day! It feels so good to be back on the California coast, smell the rich piney fragrance of the Pacific Coast Redwoods, feel the damp dew on the grass in the morning, and to breathe the fresh air from the currents above the Pacific Ocean.  I’m so glad that I have had this opportunity to be back in this part of the country again, thanks to Tom, we get to experience it together.


After breakfast this morning, on recommendation from John, the friendly guy who checked us in yesterday, we headed to Jedediah Smith State Park to see the giant Redwood trees and forest. He directions told us to follow Elk Valley road to Howland Hill Road and to enter the park at the brown gate.  From there, we followed the very detailed route to various mile markers and connecting trails or scenic walks back in the woods.  



There are many small pull offs from the single lane, wet, and rutted road that seemed like it probably should have been a one-way road. We hiked the Nickerson Mill Creek Loop Trail that led us through some beautiful old growth redwood forest and across Mill Creek at several points. We stopped to take a few pictures, because it felt like we had to capture the immensity of these trees. 







A couple more miles down the road, we parked and took the Stout Grove Trail.  In one direction, the trail was blocked because several forest service staff were clearing some wood in the area, so we went back and followed the trail that looped from the other direction. That trail led us to the point where the Mill Creek flowed into the Smith River. When we got back on the road, it follows the Smith River and I just couldn’t believe the beautiful aqua-blue color of the river. Unfortunately, there was no safe place to pull off to capture a photo.


We stopped along Pebble Beach, just to see the Pacific Ocean one more time, checking out a few tide pools but finding no living, moving creatures - our timing must not be coinciding with the tides.  We stopped to talk with a friendly gentleman on the beach and it was nice to get a feel for the local perspective of living near here.


We went back to the trailer, left Frisco behind and headed into Crescent City for dinner at the Chart Room, a restaurant recommended by the guy that we had a conversation with earlier at the beach.  When I saw that they had Parmesan Crusted Halibut on the menu, that instantly became my choice.  Tom had a sampler platter with deep fried Pacific Cod, prawns, scallops, and clam. He also chose the clam chowder but was a bit disappointed, remembering that he had had better flavored chowder at other places.  We also shared a carafe of Chardonnay that was a bit much for the two of us.  That meant that we had to walk around for a while before driving, so we walked around the harbor and stopped to watch a couple of guys

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Tuesday, April 16, 2019, CA, OR, CA

Talk about America the Beautiful! We sure saw it today when we headed north on I-5. Once we crossed into Oregon near Ashland, the hills seemed to smooth out, the trees changed to a combination of hardwoods that were just starting to leaf out and pines, interspersed with shorter flowering shrubs.  The sky opened up and the views were breathtaking. 


Driving through there reminded me of the time that Mike and I spent with my niece, Brittany and her friend Kyle back on 2008. Back then, we toured some of the areas wine wineries and Crater Lake with them.  


From Grant’s Pass, we took US-199 west toward the coast and that part of the drive was through the Smith River National Recreation area. The fast moving, white-capped Smith River meandered along, crossing from one side of the road to the other.  It was dense forest the entire way, especially when we got near Jedediah Smith State Forest and the trees were mostly Redwoods.  Suddenly, it became quite dark, with only a tiny bit of blue sky overhead.


The total drive was 208 miles and it took about 5 hours. With a couple of fuel stops and a stretch stop at a rest area. We are settled in at the Redwood KOA near Crescent City, CA for the next 3 nights. It was a challenge getting into our site but once we were settled, we were quite happy with it.  The ground is saturated after some heavy rains and there are some muddy areas that we have to avoid, mostly up close to the road.  Once settled, we walked around the park and came across a herd of elk grazing in a large field. Since the field is fenced, I’m not sure if it is a wild herd or not.  Tom also spotted a small jumping creature, pointing it out to me, and when it jumped again, we both thought it might be a mouse as it had a long tail and moved quickly.




Yesterday was cold and rainy, so we took a drive to see Weed. It seems that everyone has heard of Weed, but there sure isn’t much of a town. In fact, we even had trouble finding the downtown area.  It’s too bad that we had just had breakfast because the Mt. Shasta Brewing Company looked like a tempting spot to check out.


Back in Mt Shasta, we stopped at the Elevate Shasta Cannabis Dispensary to see what the recreational pot thing is all about.  This store looked like any other with neatly displayed products in glass cabinets.  They carry smokeables, vape-ables, edibles, and tinctures and a large assortment of accessories.  Interesting!  From there, we stopped at a consignment shop, a liquor store, and the grocery store.  Prices are high, so we decided to hold off on groceries until we can get to a big chain store or a Walmart.