Riveting Redwoods & Rolling RVs (August 25th - September 4th, 2019)
Updated: Apr 20, 2022
For the first time in 352 days (this being September 4th now) we see an RV rolled on the side of the road...but that's at the end of this blog, so stand-by!
August 25th we left all the super nice people of Portland, OR and headed south on the 101...aka Pacific Coast highway...aka PCH...aka The One...aka CA-1...aka Daisa's Barf Barf Road. Our plan had been to boonedock near Florence, OR but being that the pull outs or turn outs on the Barf Barf Road were not made for big 60' rigs, we found Darlings Marina and RV Resort. A lovely little spot on a small lake just minuets from Torex ATV Rentals. The next morning we set off on an unforgettable adventure (not that this whole trip isn't exactly that). I had only driven an ATV once before, back in 2013 in Cappadocia, Turkey, those didn't have gears or shifting...nor did we ride on really soft sand dunes for that matter. After we signed our lives away and had a 5 min video and demo on what not to do and how to work the ATV, we were off! If you like getting that thrill...living on the edge...feeling the rush of life knowing it could end at any second because danger is near...then ATVing at high speeds through sand dunes is for you! I had trouble with my first ATV, it would stop on me and not start up again making me stuck on an uphill (I'm sure that my lack of knowledge in operating one had something to do with it as well). We finally called for help and they brought me a new one! While we waited I jumped on Ted's and did a quick gear changing drill to see if I could at least get some of that rush under my belt. Sure enough, something clicked and now I was really off. Ted took my new one and we started to test some limits. In case you didn't know, sand shifts really fast and when you are going really fast and are a little too close to the edge of that dune cliff, well you and your ATV are going for a sandy swim. I let go of the handle bars as soon as I knew I was going face first into the sand. Somehow I remembered to keep my mouth closed #poundwinning. Thank goodness I didn't get seriously injured. Ted quickly found me down in the ditch and came to the rescue. He flipped the ATV back over like it was a box of crackers, I brushed the sand away, and we slowed our roll a little. All in all, our one hour on the dunes will endure forever in our memories. With no damages done to me or that trusty ATV, we moved onto the Sea Lion Caves. Here we jumped out of the Jeep to remove our sneakers and dump all the sand out. It was like pouring water ...we were covered in sand from head to toe. Eventually it all came out though. The Caves were ok, we got to watch the Sea Lions bob in the water and lounge on the rocks, basking in the sunshine. The elevator down to the cave was quick and while they had really good info on the sea lions and local birds, there were no sea lions inside the cave. Regardless, we got to take an elevator down into a cave - seemed cool to me :) Once we checked that off the list we got cleaned up back at the Glamper and rolled out to Crescent City, CA. This section of the PCH wasn't so bad, we were inland quite a bit and at this point I didn't know the worst was yet to come. Shoreline RV Park is nestled on a wide flat, facing a calm bay. Our site was facing the ocean, separated only by a berm and some concrete slab remains. We have a quiet early night, allowing some rest from our insane morning. August 27th we set off to explore the city on a brisk walk hugging the shoreline. On our way back from the light house discovery walk, we grab some fresh fruits and veggies at the local Farmer's Market. I make a meal plan for the next few days and we spend the foggy afternoon cuddled on the couch watching The Last Kingdom, a gory tale of the 9th century power struggle between the Saxons and Danes in what we now know as England. August 28th starts out pretty foggy as well and we take the opportunity to get some cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping and car-washing done. The afternoon sun popped out and we went for a brisk beach walk...a little longer of a walk than we expected but lovely just the same. The next day we visited one of the Redwood Park's offices to get information on hikes and what the best things to see were. I had booked us camping at the Elk Prairie Creek Campground for Saturday (or so I thought) and we were planning our route for the weekend. Our first eye-opener was during our drive on the unpaved Howland Hill Road through Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. These trees were gargantuan! HUGE! The Jeep looked like a little toy next to these glorious giants. I felt like I was in the movie Honey I Shrunk The Kids! We pulled over at Stout Memorial Grove where we crossed a short bridge to an enormous tree where Ted proceed to mark his territory. Yep, he's peed in 30 States.
(Ted takes over writing)
Back at the Jeep we drive the rest of the way through the park and get on CA Rt 199, which is a spectacularly smooth winding road through the park, both Daisa and I agree it was awesome! The next day we wake up early and head back the way we came to hike Boy Scout Tree Trail, a trail to a colossal redwood tree, the biggest one we saw while we were there, and the basis for all comparison to other trees throughout the Redwood parks. The trail is relatively easy as it winds its way further and further from civilization and ends at a tree that is damn near as big as a house! It is serenely quiet out there in the woods and just a fantastic stroll through a majestic landscape. We wrap up this hike and head back to the Glamper to prepare for tomorrow's camping trip. That's right...tomorrow Daisa is going to experience the great outdoors for real! We decide to chill the rest of this night and pack in the morning. Packing goes well and we get out of the RV site by 11 and head for Prairie Creek Redwood State Park, about 45 mins South of Crescent City. On the way we stop at The Trees of Mystery, a commercialized park relevant to Redwoods. They have a gondola to the top of a hill through Redwoods - that seems like a great idea, so we go. We walk through their forest and see some cool things, Cathedral Tree, which is a group of nine redwoods in an arc, which has an alter like feel to them, and Lightning Tree, which has grown in the shape of a lightning bolt. Brotherhood Tree is the second largest tree we see in these parks and is over 3000 years old according to the sign. Next we ride up the lift to the top of the hill and look out over the forest...not really that cool...and then we walk down the mountain. You can choose to ride down or walk down, but there are signs everywhere saying that the walk down is only for experienced hikers. I have to walk down cause that's just the way I am and Daisa, who doesn't want to, does because I am such a polarizing force...or at least that's what I tell myself! It end up sucking, it is really steep, which is tough on the body, but the trail isn't particularly technical, just steep. Alright, we are down and glad its over...except its not...we still have to walk through the Paul Bunyan story told on chainsaw carved redwoods. Very gimmicky and totally worthless from our point of view, but I am sure kids would love it...and of course ours is with his grandparents! #fml One saving grace though, the last thing you see is a cross section of a redwood tree with dates on it...Christ is born, the dark ages, the Renaissance, Christopher Columbus, America is colonized etc. Really cool to see it in relation to how big the tree would have been at that time, but nonetheless, the tree was alive and well during all of these defining events in history! We continue on to the park to check-in to our campsite...or so we thought. Uncharacteristically for Daisa, she made a mistake booking the campsite, we were supposed to be there yesterday. Oh Shit! Will camping be foiled again? Nope! They have some cancellations and we can go in and pick the site we want then come back to register...WHEW! Alright, we pick site 32, go register then head back to the site to set up camp. We get the tent up, sleeping bags zipped together for cuddling, wood by the fire etc and then try to take a nap...FAIL! SO, we get up and head off to explore. We roll out to go to the Ranger Station to get some guidance. We pass a Park Ranger and a few seconds later we hear him on his PA system, but pay it no mind. We are parking and Daisa says, "Oh Shit!" As it turns out, the latch on the tailgate didn't catch and the spare tire was swinging around, Daisa was prompted when it hit the motorhome next to us as I pulled into a parking spot. Well, I get out and check out said motorhome, decide we did no damage, and start to walk off...but the Park Ranger on the PA is there to greet us. He takes all our info and calls it in and then plans to find the owners so we can exchange info. We are talking and the owner walks up. No damage...and he's a retired Marine...and they are off. I ask the Ranger what his job is like and learn some surprising things about National Park Ranger employments. Like you have to go to the Academy twice! Oh well, scratch that off the list of potential future employments! We decide on Fern Canyon this afternoon and Cathedral Trees trail the next day. Off to Fern Canyon we go. Great drive, although unpaved! We drive through a very dust-covered Redwood Forest and end up by beach-side campsites and a beautiful coast! We walk to the beach first, after using the potty, and on the way are told of some Elk. I get really close and witness the majesty of them before rejoining Daisa to dip our toes in the ocean...We made it...Coast to Coast! This trip is fucking awesome! Back to the Jeep to put on our boots yet again and go to Fern Canyon. Fern Canyon is magnificent! It is this really cool winding trail up a riverbed with trickling water, trees to go over and under, rocks, birds, and a floor to ceiling, both sides of the canyon, bed of ferns! SPECTACULAR!!! This is a glorious walk, potentially one of the best on this trip! This is a loop trail, which normally I prefer, but I can see where the loop will take us, up out of the canyon, so fuck that, we turn around and walk back through it. Amazing! Back to the Jeep and the campsite for a little later than normal dinner...or so we thought!
(Daisa takes over writing now)
This is only my second over night camping trip in the last 39 years that I can recall. Luckily, we had no major hiccups other than really slow cooking food and my wrestling match with the tent zipper to go pee in the middle of the night (like 4 times). Needless to say, I am getting a funnel and chamber pot for next time!
Now we have reached September 1st, 2019. Bacon scent reaches my nose as Ted figures out how to speed up cooking. We break down camp after breakfast and set off on Cathedral Trees Trail, Circle Trail, Foothill Trail and Prairie Creek Trail for about a total of 4 miles. The previous Boy Scout Tree Trail was 5.6. We are working our way up in difficulty and length, over time, in preparation for hiking Machu Picchu one day. We were pretty beat after the walk so we spent the afternoon unpacking, napping and relaxing. The next day we meal planned, grocery shopped, and took an afternoon walk to the Battery Point Lighthouse which is only accessible to the public during low tide. You can actually sign up to be a lighthouse keeper and live in the house...that sounds pretty cool except that you would be trapped there once the water comes in. September 3rd comes around and we get ready to roll. Little did I know what was ahead of me. We stop by the town of Eureka to have lunch with a friend from Germany. Lunch is lovely (despite the cracked out homeless people on the streets) and we get back on the road for the long haul. This is the windiest, narrowest, scariest stretch of road we have driven in the last 351 days. I lovingly refer to this road as my Barf Barf road. Even with my Go bracelets, peppermint tea, and peppermint-ginger oil mix I couldn't shake off the nausea. We were turning again before we even cleared the last curve, my seat is swinging over steep ass cliffs, and the Glamper is shaking around like it's wearing a flapper's fringe dress from the 1920s! I manage to keep lunch down and eventually we find a turn out that I am comfortable enough with to stop for the night with a lovely ocean view.
The morning of September 4th, after a quick breakfast, we roll out only to find another motorhome had literally rolled out. Motorhome Down! Motorhome Down! This RV, about the size of ours, is spread out on it's side over the cliff 12' below and the extraction crew is arriving. I think it must have happened over night or the day before because we didn't hear any commotion. It was less than a quarter mile from where we had boonedocked...this did NOT help with my skittish behavior at all. I really hope no one got hurt when the RV went over the cliff - I really hoped that we would not be in the same situation - ever! We finished out the drive to Napa Valley without any incidents. I had to lay down in the back of the Glamper for a good portion of the ride but at least I didn't toss my cookies!!!
Stay tuned for Napa's week-cap!
Daisa, Ted and Azlan
PS - Azlan is doing great with Vovo and Vovo in Miami! He is taking swim lessons, going to day care and being spoiled rotten. We miss him and can't wait to see him later this month!