December 26th, 2011 to January 4th, 2012 6610 to 8150 trip miles
remember: <wow> = fill in your own superlative, we’ve run out : )
Shocker: For some reason that we JUST don’t understand, some people have no idea who our famous traveling companion Glen is! Glen Watkins is a skillful, brave, and internationally known race driver, and is loved by the corner workers and spectators; well, they even named a race track after him. Glen was Dick’s co-driver for many years when he was racing a sports car. He’s also a cute little white teddy bear and his sweater says “Watkins, Glen”. See http://svra.com/SVRA/photog%20al.nsf/plinks/PHOR-6HA3Q2
. Let’s hope there are no more insults to Glen like this again. : )
And some folks have asked for parts 1 and 2 of our travelogues. These are being reserved for reports on our first two trips, and we hope to get them done soon. We also hope to pare down the number of photos we have, and present them in a decent manner on Flickr or Picasa or ??? Sorry to say to those who proposed that we just post a few dozen: “it ain’t gonna happen”. However, we will have a folder of “The Best of The Best” that folks can go to if they don’t want to slog through a lot of photos. In addition there’ll be individual place (e.g. Yosemite) and theme (e.g. bridges) folders.
Some more comments about our Christmas stay with Mary Ellen and Jim in Medford OR. First, they were very gracious (thanks), and it was a wonderful weekend. Secondly, Medford doesn’t get snow for Christmas, but they (and perhaps the whole west coast) makes up for it with Christmas lights; lots and lots of Christmas lights! There were whole residential blocks that were totally lit up, and there were police out managing the traffic jams; one was backed up for a half mile!
A few days before that, we had taken Routes 42S and 42 from Bandon OR to Roseburg, then I5 down to Medford. We wanted to continue our trip down the coast from Bandon “so we didn’t miss anything”. But we went back to the coast via US Route 199 instead, which hits the very northwest corner of California. This gave us a more scenic route <wow>, and then we headed north, up Route 101, back up to Bandon. We turned around and started back down. As usual, we stopped at some interesting vista points and lighthouses. We stayed one night in the Fred Meyers parking lot in Brookings OR on the way. Although Fred doesn’t have the same corporate policy to allow overnight RV parking (unless against local ordinances) as Walmart, “he” was nice enough to say yes when we asked.
Eventually we returned to Crescent City CA. It has a nice harbor and coast line (and very big tides), as well as great redwood forests nearby. There are National and State Parks all intertwined around the area, and amazingly, they cooperate well with each other and have a joint visitor’s center. We were inspired to drive around and look at some houses again (but just the outsides, as before; we’re not that serious), but they were still too pricey, but much better than on Orcas Island. There is also a huge rock (small island?) off shore (not that we hadn’t seen lots of rocks offshore before) called Castle Rock. No doubt the Scots would have built a castle/fort on it.
Should have mentioned that we been looking for migrating whales since we hit the Puget Sound area, and all along the coast of Washington, Oregon, and California. All we had to show for our efforts were some rocks off the coast of Oregon that looked like a whale. Also saw a rock there that looked like a submarine. We continued down Route 101, through lots of redwood parks, and we wandered off to the alternate “Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway”, named for one of the main folks responsible for saving these <wow> forests. Back on 101, we got back to coast again and saw some coastal freshwater lagoons, and then down to Fortuna (not Fontana), where we spent a night at the Riverwalk RV Park.
The next morning we headed out on “a highly recommended scenic route”. It started as CA Route 211 to Ferndale (flat and straight). If you make the correct (or incorrect?) turn out of town, it becomes Mattole Road according to our GPS. It is a loop from Ferndale to Petrolia, Honeydew, and the Weott Redwood State Park, through some small mountains and to the ocean and back. Interesting <wow> views but the road was bone jarring and teeth rattling, as well as steep and winding. Wouldn’t recommend it to the timid. Later we learned that this area is called The Lost Coast; if someone would pave it decently, it would be a pretty good route. How rough was this road? It took us almost 3 hours to do a mere 60 miles. But Weott Redwood State Park / Rockefeller Forest is wonderful and worthwhile, as was The Avenue of The Giants which parallels highway 101; we took the northern section of this from the State Park to its end, around Fortuna.
We were going to make an inland loop across the Coastal Range of mountains via Route 299 eastward, 3 southward, and 36 back to Fortuna, but decided to go even further, all the way eastward to Redding. Route 299 is steep and winding, but very scenic and worthwhile. Redding CA has the most asymmetric bridge in the world??? Don’t know how someone could have even conceived of it, let alone design it. It’s called the Sundial Bridge, and is a (wide) footbridge and the world’s largest sundial too. It is part of city recreation/trail area, and its glass deck is lighted at night (so we were told).
The Walmart in Redding was “off limits”, so we stayed at a campground in Whiskeytown National Recreation area, about 10 miles west. Whiskeytown was one of those many mountain towns that sprung up in the mid-1800’s during the California Gold Rush. The next day we headed north to Shasta Lake, and Shasta Dam. This is about 50 miles(?) south of Mt. Shasta, but we could see it in the distance. There had been heavy rains a day before we got there, and this translated into a lot more snow on Mt. Shasta that we had seen a few weeks ago when we were there. We took an interesting tour of the dam, which was built to “tame” the Sacramento River, as well as produce hydroelectric power. It’s not as big as Hoover Dam, but not small by any standard. Then south to Red Bluff, and we stayed at a Walmart for New Year’s Eve (whoopee).
The trip back across the mountains on Route 36 started just outside of Red Bluff. There was a “curve” sign, and a sign below saying “curves for next 140 miles” (no, that’s not a typo). There were also signs that said “not recommended for rv’s and trailers”. Indeed! : ) We pressed on, and were rewarded with another <wow> scenic drive, a bit tougher than the Route 299 crossing, but not nasty like the Lost Coast route. It took us about 4-1/4 hours; not bad by MapQuest standards which predicted 4. Because it was New Year’s Day, and we got an early start, we got most of the way through during the morning, and had almost no traffic. Along the way was “The Shoe Tree”, out in the middle of nowhere, with at least a hundred pairs of shoes and boots of all colors. After getting back to Fortuna, we had time in the afternoon to go back to Ferndale, and walk around a bit. It is a quaint Victorian town, with lovely architecture and some very expensive tourist gift shops. Then we went back to the RV Park in Fortuna that we had stayed at a few nights before.
Next day we headed south, revisited the Rockefeller Forest / Weott State Park, and then did the remainder of the Avenue of The Giants. This latter route <wow> might well be the easiest way to see redwoods. This route may have been the original Route 101 in this area, perhaps replaced in recent decades by the nearby four-lane. Back on 101, we traveled southward some more, stopping briefly at two sites with “drive-through” trees; alas, too small for a Roadtrek. Then down California Route 1. Yee-haw! Dick recalled a couple of ”slightly faster” runs through here 40 years ago in a Datsun Roadster. Says he never got to fourth gear let alone fifth, but rumor has it that the tach readings were a bunch higher than in the Roadtrek. Nicely paved, winding, but not too steep. If you like winding roads, this one is worth it just for the road; if you don’t like winding roads, it is worth it for the ocean views that it leads to. <wow> Along the ocean, we finally “sort of” saw some whales. i.e., we saw them “blow” way off shore, but didn’t really see “them”. We ended up staying at MacKerricher State Park just above Fort Bragg.
Headed south again on Route 1, and stopped at the Cabrillo Point Lighthouse. Very nicely restored along with several light keeper’s houses, and you can rent one. Easy 1/2 mile walk from the parking lot, and you can drive all the way if handicapped. Although we’ve seen many beaches along this Route 1 stretch of coast, here it was very rocky cliffs with some “small fjords”. Definitely a must see. We could hear, but never saw, some seals, and again we saw some whales “blow” way out. Comment on this section of California coast: there are much worse places to live!
We decided to take another inland “loop”, and took Route 128 southeasterly to Calistoga. First there was 15 miles of very dense forest (mostly redwood), and it “suddenly” opened out to some vineyards, then some more hills, and then eventually lots and lots of vineyards. We were in the Sonoma-Napa Valley (or valleys). We went to a smaller version of Yellowstone’s “Old Faithful” geyser; this one spouted every 10 to 15 minutes, but only perhaps 25 feet up. Then on to a Petrified Forest. These were big trees (some redwoods) that had been knocked over 3.4 million years ago by a volcano, and had been covered with ash. Eventually water seeped through the ash, the trees rotted, and were replaced cell by cell with rock. Amazingly, most of the chunks of these were not heavy as expected, and you had to look very hard to see that they were made of rock, not wood. Most were white-gray, not the colorful and heavy ones you see in the Southwest. We took a wrong turn, and then backtracked on a road with 12% grades, both up and down! Not much in the way of campgrounds in this area, and we ended up at the Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa for the night.
Good grief, Charlie Brown: Santa Rosa was the home of Charles Shults, creator or the “Peanuts” comic strips. They built a very nice museum here, and we spent a few hours in it and the large gift shop, which also has displays. Back when I was working, and way back when I had to wear a tie, my two favorite tie tacks were Snoopy ones. You might notice some common traits between Snoopy and Glen. We went just a bit further north to Lower Lake to spend the night again with our buddy Wally.
Finally got a couple of Geology books a few days back. The “Geology for Dummies” one is pretty tough to slog through; glad it wasn’t “Geology for Smart People”! The Smithsonian Handbook “Rocks and Minerals” is easier because there are so many good pictures, but it sure isn’t an easy subject.
Dick, Marti, & Glen RT09/10C190P “no more deadlines” Allegany NY