After driving over the Golden Gate Bridge, we stopped at Vista Point for great views across the bay of San Francisco and Oakland. We did the mandatory walk about halfway over the bridge. Driving on Highway 1 along the California coast is just like highway 1 in the Baja – rarely shoulders, narrow and very twisty. Spectacular views of the rugged cliff bordered coast, small pocket beaches, and sea stacks loom around every corner. All the villages are small and quaint, with many restaurants and souvenir shops.
Muir Woods National Monument is a grove of old growth Redwoods with a trail that winds along the creek and then onto the ridge with good views of the ocean. Van Damme State Park has a pygmy forest – stunted trees because of thin very acidic soils and a water impermeable base. The trail continued down through redwoods to Fern Canyon. Mendocino is just north and a must visit with its Cape Cod architecture, galleries, and high-end real estate. Mendocino Headlands State Park has sea stacks, arches and the typical rocky beach.
The rest of northern California is redwood country and we made a good stab at seeing many of the few remaining groves at Patrick’s Point State Park – redwoods are the tallest living things, up to 370 feet tall and up to 2000 years old. They are really big and we developed sore necks from looking up. Scotia is a lumber company town and were given a tour of the old hotel when, even though it was closed, the manager saw us peering through the windows. Ferndale has been restored to it’s Victorian splendor. Eureka also has kept its pioneer roots alive with its Old Town. We walked most of the streets but Barb found the ET doll at $600 in one of the antique stores a little too pricey. At we went down to Agate Beach and Barb became “lost” for several hours. Bringing back another bag of rocks and driftwood, I’m becoming paranoid about beaches. We must have 200 pounds of rocks on board. She found some very nice agates. We spent a day hiking in Redwoods National Park and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park – very majestic places.
Heading north we finally entered Oregon. Gas prices dropped from the highest in California ($3/US gallon) to $2.75. Highway 101 follows the coast with lots of vistas of ocean, rocks, sea stacks, surf, surge channels, sea lions and dunes. Bandon has a particularly beautiful beach and sea stacks. Many of the towns have “old towns” including Florence and Newport where we cruised and shopped. Despite the frequent NO CAMPING signs, we still stayed on the beaches and weren’t hassled by the authorities. We are the people in the camper driving 10-20 miles slower than the speed limit with endless lines of cars backed up behind us. Everything is so pretty, we’re just not in any hurry. Souvenir shops and galleries abound. Cape Foulweather, named by Captain Cook, lived up to its name with views stretching 10 feet in front of us. The Tillamook cheese factory was packed on a Sunday, one of our few rainy days, and Barb bought a selection of cheese including some good cheese curds.
Cannon Beach is the most popular place on the Oregon coast with a gorgeous beach and big sea stacks, and lots of trendy, shingled homes. Astoria, at the NW tip of Oregon, has many galleries and old Victorian homes. The Astoria Tower is built on a hill and was wrapped in panoramic etchings. We climbed the spiral staircase inside and had our workout for the day. The bridge that crosses the Columbia at its mouth is huge. This is where Lewis and Clark ended the first overland crossing of the US in 1803-1804. Every inch of their journey is revered in American history. They named the northern side of the Columbia where it meets the Pacific and where they ended their journey, Cape Disappointment. What a couple of wimps. They even looked like sissies. From what little we were taught about Alexander McKenzie in school, it is disappointing what a poor job we do on our own history. His crossing of Canada several decades earlier traversed much more difficult country.
Entering Washington, we’ve decided to go around the Olympic Peninsula missing the traffic mess of Seattle and Tacoma. The rain is getting to us – quack, quack. Hoping to arrive in Vancouver by Wednesday the 21st, the first day of spring, we are looking forward to getting close to home and entering Canada. Driving around the Olympic Peninsula, we saw small areas of beach and unlogged forest and large areas of clear-cut and second-growth. It was raining and cold and we basically bypassed Olympic National Park (I have hiked and backpacked several times here). Port Townsend, at the NE tip of the Olympic Peninsula, is a great place to walk – we did several selfguided walks over 2 days. Their downtown and many grand Victorian homes date from the 1880’s. This is the location of the original and largest sea kayak festival held in mid September. We took the short ferry across to the mainland, drove to the border and crossed with absolutely no hassles. It was emotional to have finally arrived in Canada. The trip odometer was at 18,087 kilometers.
Finally arriving in Vancouver, we had a celebratory meal at Vij’s, possibly the best East Indian restaurant in Canada, and the best restaurant food we’d had on the entire trip. Barb took the Greyhound to Kelowna to see her parents and Ron stayed to see his three children, all who live in Vancouver. Rain and more rain.
It’s now April 14, we survived Friday the 13th, and we’ve been at home in Warfield for at least 2 weeks. Six months of mail, bills, letters, moving out of a camper that’s been home for 6 months and back into Barb’s beautiful little Mickey Mouse in Warfield. Catching up on the realities of life is not romantic. During one of the respites in the rain, we went kayaking on Kootenay Lake for four days and camped over near the Tipi Camp on Pilot Peninsula. Still having no time frame is the magic of being retired. We’ve been building a retaining wall out of Allen block for the past two days and we’ve both ruined out backs.