Oregon Coast – April 2012

Our Trip Home – April 2-7, 2012

MONDAY noon- finished summarizing our winter home; left 30 degree Mesa and Off to Oregon – Fill up at the gas station where an ad says cheesecake slice for $2.49 and head out on the 202; takes about 3/4 of an hour to get through Phoenix; on the #10; just like we did the Monday before to go to the Dodgers/Whitesox ballgame.

Realize 100’s of 60-90 years olds who haven’t driven for months are pulling 5th wheels; driving motor homes and 1000’s more are in packed cars and suv’s headed north. We head for the California state line amid blowing dust. Inspector waves us through. 25 degrees. Poor visibility. Sand drifts. We’ve left the saguaros behind. We are in Desert Central. Dry ditches with bridges over them. Desert floor with mountains on either side; new green scrub brush with hints of spring; palo verde trees and yellow and orange flowers .

60 vs 100. Miles to Km; easier said than done. Bob and I are trying to figure out km as he has been living with miles per hour in his head. We move though Indian Wells, Palm Desert, Cathedral City and when we get to Palm Springs, it could be called sand dune city. Biggest wind farm we ever saw. The wind turbines are all turned off and we are wondering; was it too windy? See signs: Joshua Tree and Yucca Valley.

It’s 29 degrees at the bottom of the valley and snow on top of mountains. Greening up. Miles and miles of outlet stores just west of Palm Springs. Then landscape like pastureland, then thick weeping willow trees; green mountains in background; ivy part of the landscaping for freeways. Freeways not as nice as in Arizona. Mind boggling amount of gasoline that gets burned in a day; 100’s of miles of four lane freeways; and the huge malls, industrial areas, houses; schools, then groves farms; bursts of wild orange poppies growing wild; greenery getting thick and thicker; lots of cedars and palms as we go through San Bernardino Valley. We have dry throats from coming through the sandstorm in the desert.

In a way, as if the landscape is similar to the English countryside in May but not. This is too mountainous. Canyon roads, towering cedars; it’s 4 in the afternoon and people are leaving Los Angelas. We are going in. 6 lanes on our side. Go by Pasedena. Traffic not bad. Sign: Landscaping irrigated by non-potable water. Go under 4 freeways. We are at the bottom. Cherry trees in bloom. Residential walls are covered in ivy and it’s flowering ivy. Downtown. Slow down to 80 kms/hr. Sign: Metro Link: Next Exit. “One whack of cars”, says Bob. Not seeing any 5th wheels or motor homes here. Did not think would be this mountainous. Motorola sign says: Speaks Punjabi.

Big Green Hills like Quapalle Valley right in centre of Los Angelas; 65 mph speed limit now and signs all over about ride sharing, report drunk driving or park and ride. Past Annaheim and Long Beach. Freeway needs to be resurfaced; hard for Bob to tell the lanes and we are driving west into the sun. WHY? Other side of freeway is sometimes gridlocked except for the hover lane.

Wondering what does San mean? San Bernardino; Santa Monica; San Francisco; see sign for Monterey. Downtown Los Angelas. Huge, huge skyscrapers. Concrete jungle and then we’re out of it and there’s the ocean. Malibu. Pacific Coast Highway. AND THE SURF! High cliff type rock wall one side of us and ocean surf on the other. Drive along the ocean and on to Oxnard for the night at the Vagabond Inn. Suited me fine as I was getting a little testy.

TUESDAY: On the 101 along the ocean. People live in the hills like Beverly Hills. Groves on the Hills. Thick vegetation along the ocean; like bonsai trees; vegetable gardening; oil pumps along the sea cliffs; mussel shoals; people riding the waves. I thought they were big birds. Entering Santa Barbara. Huge green mountains on the right; ocean front properties on the left. Greenhouses bursting with vegetables and fruit groves. Heat and humidity makes for lushness. Lots of different greens like Ireland. Spanish sounding names for the streets and Spanish look to the houses; like the Mediterranean; although I’ve never been there; love the cream coloured homes with red roofs’ up in the hills. Most trees we are seeing, I’ve never seen before. We took a wrong turn into resorts and rich area with gardeners and landscaping. Quite neat!

Back by the ocean; oil platforms out there. Llamas in the pasture to the right; cows grazing the hillside; passenger train going by. Different again. State beaches non-stop. Sign: “Texting costs $159.00 Not worth it.” Call boxes along the way. Saw 4 car accident before police or ambulance; had just happened; Went through Santa Barbara and 5 minutes later; like out in the country again; different landscape which we say beats desert driving. Hills are looking like Jackfish Lake in the summer or like a green European landscape. Fruit and vegetable farming; fields of blueberries. California is feeding itself and us.

We are 300 miles away from San Francisco. We stop for gas and they tell us wine country is the main economy. Gets 80-90 degrees now and throughout the summer. Pleasant drive. Could be in France or Germany. Signs: Olive Mill Road, Report drunk drivers, Click It, No Ticket re seat belts.. Vineyard after vineyard. Red winged blackbirds and hawks circling. We are on the historical El Camino Road. It is marked with an old school bell type sign.

We left the main road to go the ocean route. See sign: California Men’s Colony. Think it’s a prison. Then Moro Bay. Purple Lupins in full bloom. Stopped for a walk by the ocean. Bob gave me a stone. Surf pounding. Pink flowers like straw crocuses but twice the size that grow in the sand by the ocean. The landscape shifts to marshland with white herons standing. We stop for a theatre performance of the history of Hearst Castle.

Back on the ocean route at 2pm in the afternoon and get stuck in a line up of cars a few miles long. They tell us it will be a two hour wait to get road in shape to continue due to rock slides in spring. We are okay as we are by the ocean listening to the surf that sounds like thunder.

Back moving and we now see blue flowering trees; lots of them. “Pretty impressive,” says Bob every few minutes as we see the white spray of the water hitting rocks. Big Sur is the place we spotted our first redwood trees. Seeing some 1/2 the size of the vehicle. The further we go the more amazed we get. Sometimes driving in dense shade. Now Bob is saying, “That is a postcard.” Bob does phenomenal mountainous switchback driving. Hours and hours of park like setting. No litter. By Salinas and Pebble Beach. Sand dunes in Monteray. Side hills covered in orange lichen. Kids flying kites and playing soccer. Artichokes – 6 for $1.00. A near full moon for our night in Santa Cruz.

WEDNESDAY: Wake up dreaming that we were out skeet shooting. Where did that come from? We had Mexican food for supper and enjoyed seeing the wooden buildings of downtown Santa Cruz. It’s fresh out by the ocean in the morning at 8 degrees and we are now on the California Coast Road. Surf comes in like a wall. Stands of forest, then fields, then a lighthouse, hundreds of state parks. Surf pounding, and the visibility is down as we drive through mist. Must always be a west wind based on the shape of the evergreen trees. Kind of bonzai like. Sand cliffs to the right; ocean left. Mist ahead.

Downtown San Francisco. Spanish look. Going towards the Golden Gate Bridge with pastel coloured houses side by side. Stop at the vista point looking towards Alcatraz and Berkley before leaving through a rainbow coloured tunnel. House boats galore in the bay with float planes tied up to them. Hills around the Bay look like Condo Cities; pretty ritzy condos. Saw the sign for Santa Rosa and thought we were there last night; but that was Santa Cruz. Realize all these San words mean Saint.

We are held up on the highway for awhile due to a motorcycle accident. We’ve moved inland and see large, brilliant orange California poppies the size of tulips. Thousands of acres of grapevines ready for summer and California wines. Amazing how straight the rows are. Back to seeing the blue trees and beautiful homes. Continual curving roads like race car driving as speed limit is 65 or 110km. Never knowing what’s around next corner and landscape keeps changing. Old scraggly grayish; maybe oak trees all over the hillside and we stop at Willets for gas where sign says “Gateway to the Redwoods!”

We are in forest. Driving through a canopy of light and shadow. Moss covered trees. People camped along side with pools, cabins, boats, messy yards. Have a few minutes of raindrops; then nothing; then blue sky; lots of rock slide areas. Redwoods amazing!!!!! Had a 2 minute sleet experience and then rest was a beautiful day of driving.

When out of the forest and in a town; cherry trees are in bloom. Sometimes like BC in the summer. I’m saying, “Wow, that’s impressive” and Bob is saying, “Holy Lick, those suckers are big!”

And then we are on a winding mountainous road going about 30-40 mph and I say, “You don’t know what’s around the next bend” and the next sign says “Confusion Hill- 1 mile.” Don’t know what that was about. Next a huge river and long bridge. Next sign “Bear Pen Under crossing.”

Lots of signs that say, “Slumped grade” where lanes closed as hills being stabilized after mud/rock slides. Had to wait once more but not real long. Big trees make me feel small. Last day for shorts as still 8 degrees. See 4 of something. Bob said deer or elk. I thought they were pigs. Have to keep your eyes on the road sometimes. Not raining but fog or mist by the ocean. We are 47 miles away from Eureka. No clouds, then clouds and redwoods. Then patch of blue sky; then full blown sun; 10 minutes later, clouds and mist. A giant redwood fell across highway just before we got there. A little bit of everything.

Out of the rain and out of the forest and into a town that looks really run down. Historic Fort Humboldt part of Eureka. Stop for a nice cup of green tea in a poor, poor part of town of 30,000. When we asked, they said economy is marijuana; that they could point out 5 grow op houses out the cafe window. Lots of unemployment. Used to be logging. The guy brought us tea; plus slices of oranges; like 1/2 an orange and with the bill; a mint chocolate cookie. Awesome.

As we were leaving; man comes walking across street; looks homeless; derelict; comes up to Bob who has no idea he is coming up behind him as Bob is taking his coat off over his head; and the guy says to him; “Boy, I like your jeep”.

Bob stood and talked to him about it; saying it’s been good to us.

Daffodils growing and looks like romaine heads of lettuce growing wild. Tide is out. Elk viewing sings. Interesting trees in bloom. Summit: 1495. Brake check area. Driving in the clouds.

Left main road to get gas. Sign said 3 miles. We are in forest and on an Indian reserve; the Yakuri Tribe. Three miles of hairpin road over river. Sign says leaving Tsunami Hazard Zone. Didn’t know we were in it. Next sign is “Rock slide area.” All housing; if you could call them that; are heated by wood. We turn around. Bob said, “They don’t put those white crosses on the trees for nothing.” Back on road. In and out of the Tsunami Zone according to signs. Now we are high above the ocean. Lots of newly redone road work and retaining walls. Back into forest and need headlights to drive the forest.

Pavement is roughed up to give vehicles traction. We decide to stay in Crescent City, California. After we’re checked into our hotel by the ocean; we walk and read the stories; town wiped out by tsunami a few years ago and also back in 1964; and the salvage from Japan’s 2011 tsunami is showing up here now. We walk the harbour under the full moon after the shrimp cocktail that came with our room; and our clam chowder, prawns and oyster dinner with salad bar. Cherry Cheesecake and California wine. What more can we ask for?

THURSDAY: Wake up dreaming I am fighting off a man trying to get in our vehicle and next dream; that Bob ordered last fruit and vegetable tray before a tsunami hits. When we had gone for walk the night before, we saw pictures of what it looked like after 8th wave hits; and a sign up on the second story of building showing the water level from the 1964 tsunami.

We are on the Oregon Coast Redwood highway. Sights of the Day: Sunshine. Diverse landscape; trees; then in the clouds, then farmland; coast; logging; clear cutting; an RV park, vegetables with irrigation pipes and then a cattle ranch. Ocean berms, tsunami hazard signs, ocean surfing, beach, resort town. Native casino and native cigarettes advertisement. Two story ocean front properties. Meeting logging trucks;seeing a boat on the ocean; lots of fancy houses overlooking Whale’s Head. Rainbow over the ocean. Oregon Law: Stop for police, ambulance, or fire.

One lane traffic with a flag person for a sunken grade; hole is a long side of the road. Trees down. Rough patches of repaired roads. Had to stop. Men working 100 feet above us; chipping rocks and letting them fall down where slide occurred. See wood sculpture gift shops in the towns. Sign: Weigh scales Open. Speed 3.

Coos Bay: saw trawlers loading from wood chip trucks. Casino along the waterfront. Yellow lilies growing in the bogs. Evergreens growing in the sand dunes. One small town after another. Tsunami Sirens and a Tsunami art gallery. See quite a few drawbridges where ocean goes into rivers. Is this salmon spawning country as we head further north? See the first lakes on our trip.

Major sand dunes surrounding the towns. Continual mailboxes along the highway. We see big sign, “SEA LION CAVE”. We stop and 300 feet under the highway; go in an elevator underground where the ocean and 3-400 sea lions are in the cave with us. An unforgettable sound.

We continue along the Oregon Coast road. Abrupt edge means shear drop. Resort towns. Apple trees in bloom. Dead End Street signs are in better places than in Saskatchewan. Beachcomber towns. Car charging station sign. Houses with buoys hanging from them. Marinas galore. Fishing Villages.

45th Parallel. Half way between Equator and North Pole. 10 degrees as we leave ocean and head for Portland. First thing we see is clear cutting, a barn, horses, tree cutting along the highway, can smell the wood fires. What we learned. Saw the biggest redwoods in California; not in Oregon which surprised me. Still wondering when do salmon spawn? Moss covered forest and white snow behind us on top ridges of mountains. Summit says 750 feet. Weird trees look ghostly; like a ghostly forest. Wet and gangly arms on the trees.

Next in a shaggy, grey valley. Deer, buffalo and salmon jerky signs. Move into different landscape in less than an hour seeing a winery; fields lined with daffodils, muddy roads, standing water, cereal crops; some grain; but light greenish yellow crops like have had too much water. Christmas tree farms as well. Every 2 acres a different type of activity as we get closer to towns outside of Portland. Beautiful flowering bushes everywhere. Then one mile of snowy slush; about two inches of it on the highway. And then out of it. Portland threw me for a loop. Saskatoon calls itself City of Bridges. That’s the MEGA City of Bridges. So many bridges. So much industrial. Rush Hour. We don’t learn or we learn a lot. We keep hitting cities at rush hour!

We took the 85 East along the Columbia River Valley after being lost in Portland for about a half an hour extra driving. We drive the River Valley east across the top of Oregon. New sights: Water falls from way up high in the mountains. Unique rock formations. Evergreens here look like spindly sticks compared to the Redwoods. A bald eagle is floating over our vehicle just before we stop for the night.

The Dalles Inn in Oregon; $87. with breakfast included and they recommend The Baldwin Saloon for our dinner. 1857. Original Wood, Original Bar, Piano Upstairs, Oil Paintings like an art gallery, fine dining. Bob has the fresh Seafood Platter. I have Avocado Salad with shrimp, crab and olives. Mouth Watering. Two glasses of Wine, 2 entrees; one bud light; Caramel chocolate muse desert we share;$10. tip for $57.00. Good sleep too.

FRIDAY: Landscape like Mid-England. Is that where the name The Dalles came from? No Spanish names here. Hundreds of wind turbines on top of the hills as far as we can see. Pull out my journal as I remember how the other night when there was that full moon; told Bob he must be so excited to be with me, he forgot to drink his beer. Had to write it down.

Stop in Tri City, Washington for gas. Ranch and farm land. Irrigation. Go by Mesa, Washington. No wonder the border guards ask people which Mesa. Lots of mesas around and also spring calves with their mothers. This is Cattle Country and grain and airplanes are spraying crops. It’s Friday and first time we have driven 70 mph since Monday. Flock of twelve white with black wing tips above us. Think Whooping cranes.

Like a scotch pine forest just before Spokane. Two degrees and feels like it could snow. Easiest city to drive through. Ten minutes out of it and we are in Idaho with snow covered mountains in front of us. They are building highways outside of Cour De Lane. Some snow in ditches. Yuck!!!! Bob has to point it out so not much. Beautiful large lake at Sandpoint. Dry Highway. Sunshine. White snow capped mountains. Beautiful drive. Chain up area. Still 7 degrees. US Customs at Eastport; Canada Customs; Kingsgate. No issue.

Nine Degrees in Cranbrook. My aunt not home. The Rocky Mountains GORGEOUS. Blue sky and snow white tops. WOW. One day and we were in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, BC and now heading for Alberta; and we are not even overdoing it on the driving. Went for a walk; deer on the golf course at Jaffrey, BC; 6 bighorn sheep at Elko. Spring Splash going on in Fernie; snowmobilers having a hey day at Crowsnest Pass; Frank Slide is mind-boggling.

Canada’s wind farms look pretty paltry at Cowley and Pincher Creek compared to big ones we’ve seen. No more snow. Sun has the wheat stubble golden as we pass Fort McLeod. Stop in Lethbridge for the night and find the Blue Note Lounge; blues go well with burgers.

SATURDAY: Scraping windows at minus 2 in Lethbridge. Bob drives the flat prairie as I read him the comics and his horoscope. Glad he said he is doing fine with 5 1/2 days of driving; and said if wanted to; could probably take off for Ontario too. I have loved this. It’s April 7th today and the 20th year anniversary of my memories coming into awareness. Love my life now.

First person seeding as we go through Taber. Would be a bird trip from there to home as we see geese pecking away in last year’s stubble; many coloured pheasant; mostly orangy brown; on outskirts of Medicine Hat. Baby Hawk and then white snowy owl attempting to stay on fencepost at windy, seven degree Swift Current. Bob’s brother phones us while we are there and says there is a foot of fresh snow in Tisdale. A hawk with a gopher in it’s beak struggles against the wind in front of our vehicle. Last fill up.

Used $500. gas; $450. hotels; $250. food; at most $650.00 each for a FANTASTIC trip. Now fields and fields of snow geese on the stubble but not snow. Great horned owl and the red willow pussy willows are out. New housing construction as we near Saskatoon.


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