It’s a strange world where one can sit next to a campfire on a remote piece of the Oregon coast with their laptop. It begs the question, why would someone bring a laptop to a campsite and use it at 9pm next to the campfire. To which I personally would reply, why would you use a laptop anywhere else? LOL
Today was a productive day. I woke early from my free little campsite on a dirt road north of Fort Bragg (really just north of a tiny town called Rockport) and continued north to arrive in Cape Blanco, Oregon. I covered 281 miles today. It was a BIG day for lots of reasons, but the biggest it that I left California. Whoo hoo! I did take the obligatory picture of the “Welcome to Oregon” sign. I was hoping there would be a “Now leaving California” sign, but no luck. FWIW, on the back of the “Welcome to Oregon” sign was a “Now leaving Oregon” sign. California much to my dismay didn’t do the same with there sign.
I had a couple of revelations about California’s northern coast. First, I’ll never think of SF as part of Northern California again. There is a little debate among Californians as to whether SF is really part of NorCal or not. Well, I love SF, but NorCal is something different than SF. SF is much more in tune with Central California, which is a wonderful place in it’s own right. Frankly NorCal coast has more in common with Alaska than it does Central California. It’s all about logging and fishing and small little towns filled with people full of life and vigor that thrive in a beautiful but climatically hostile environment. Second, NorCal is freaking HUGE. Having lived in SoCal the vast majority of my life and visited central California many times, I like many people had the mistaken impression that NorCal is somehow just a little fairly insignificant part of California north of SF. It’s huge…. did I say that already? It may be small by population count but by land mass, natural resources and beauty it’s HUGE. In truth one can’t simply divide California into North/Central/South, as many do. It’s way more diverse than that. Grouping Arcata with Garberville and Rio Dell or with Redding and Sacramento is too broad a brush. California really is at least six regions of unique character.
I started out driving slow this morning. Feeling slow. Savoring the lack of other cars on the road and stopping in lots of touristy stops and overlooks that were deserted. Early in the morning I came across one of the bigger little towns in the area, Garberville and saw a bus parked on the overpass, painted by the local veterans for peace chapter. I wanted a photo so I got off and also took the opportunity to find a bagel egg sandwich. Of note, next to the Bagel place (which BTW was all organic) was a hemp store. Cool town. Sadly the hemp store wasn’t open yet as I could use some hemp clothing…
Contineing my slow drive north I took the Avenue of the Giants through Humboldt Redwoods state park. The orad is a scenic bypass that parallels highway 101. I stopped at the first tourist marker along the road and again found it deserted. I took the opportunity to sneek Tucker in for a short hike among the redwoods while I took pictures.
Further on, while crossing the bridge into Rio Dell I noticed a couple trucks parked on the bank of the river below the bridge. The opportunity to drive on the shore of the river below was just too tempting so I hopped off the highway, and after some hunting found the right road down onto the river bank. I let Tucker out to run in the water while I took a few pictures of the van on the rocky shore and of one of the two bridges crossing overhead. Back up in town I took another couple pictures of the same bridge from a different view. I love bridges, it part of why I became a civil engineer, well until I learned the truth about designing bridges, which is that engineers don’t really design bridges, they design parts of bridges. At least thats what they do until they have lots and lots of experience and their own huge company. That fact coupled with the fact that bridge engineers rarely get to design cool bridges anyway, they design those boring concrete over passes all day… Anyway, on to the next town where I spotted another beautiful old bridge, this on built in 1911. Again some hunting and I found I could drive down under the bridge and onto the shore. Wow do I love have a 4×4 I would have never been able to take these pictures without it. BTW, this is in Rio Dell.
I drove through old town Eureka and stopped overlooking the harbor for a few minutes to re-evaluate the days plans. I’d been thinking about skipping the Somoan Sand Dune recreation area I’d read about in on of my “Dog” books about California,The California Canine Companion, but decided to try anyway. I didn’t want ot short change Tucker on fun on this trip. I’m so glad I did. It took some hunting and almost getting stuck in some soft sand (in spite of 4×4) but I found a beautiful beach that we had all to ourselves. We played for nearly an hour. With the tail wind and the Chuck-it ball thrower I was tossing the tennis ball at least 100 meters and Tucker was having a blast chasing. Lots of photos today.
After the Dunes it was time again to re-evaluate again and get some lunch. I also had a nearly full memory card in my camera and needed to download photos to the laptop. I found a cafe with free WiFi, Mosogo’s, in Arcata. I ended up spending about 2.5 hours there in order to update the blog posts and also to upload some photos to Flickr. Time well spent… but really I’m still way behind, especially in the photo department.
I was determined to make it out of California I pushed onward, stopping only occasionally for a few prime photo opportunities and then I finally saw it… the “Welcome to Oregon” sign… really that was an awesome feeling I’m still high from it.
In Oregon I pulled off a particularly beautiful beach on a whim and bumped into a fellow Synco Vanagon driver. Bjorn, a German-Canadian on the return leg of a road trip down through Utah/Arizona and back up the coast toward home in British Columbia. There are lots of vanagons in the area, lots of waving going on, lots of happy people.
I thought I’d make it ot Coos Bay, but saw a turn off for camping and a lighthouse and took it. It put me into Cape Blanco which has a really cool lighthouse.
It’s beautiful here, so much so I might even stay all day tomorrow and the next night… maybe maybe not… Next stop is Crater Lake. It’s about 5 hours from here to Crater Lake. From there the next goal is Yellowstone at 15 hours beyond Crater Lake. If I get far enough past Crater Lake tomorrow, which depends on how long I spend AT Crater Lake, I might be able to make it to Yellowstone in one day, if not I’m not sure where I’ll stop in between. Time will tell