Gas $2.75/gallon (thank you, Oregon!)
Pacific Reef Inn, Gold Beach
$99/night + $20 pet fee
Oceanfront room with full ocean view and private patio
Before cruising out of Klamath (minus several $$$ left behind in the Redwood Casino), I cruised through town. Whenever I’m in redwood country I feel compelled to drive through a tree. It’s not PC, I know, but you kinda have to admire the business model, at least. All day long, Jewel at Tour Thru Tree (I think Drive-Thru Tree was already taken) sits there (or goes to the post office and leaves a note), collecting $5. And there can’t be much maintenance on a 785-year-old tree.
I think Panda thought it was one of those drive-through car washes. He doesn’t like those.
After Panda took a quick stroll with Bigfoot…
…we finally reached the Trees of Mystery. Greeted by a 44-foot tall Paul Bunyan, and Babe the Blue Ox, it’s hard to miss this classic roadside attraction. You can take a gondola ride up above the trees, but I’ve always had a dog with me, so I haven’t gotten to do that. Yet. It’s good to have something to look forward to.
I almost bypassed the Klamath River Overlook but made a last-minute exit from Highway 101, and I’m so glad I did (thanks, Trip Advisor). It’s interesting to me when rivers empty into the ocean (how far up does the saltwater go???). A 10-minute drive up a beautiful road ends at an overlook that lets you just look (which is amazing enough), or take various trails down to the beach.
Finally in Oregon!!! Guess how I knew…
Plus all the beautiful Viewpoints (in California, they call them Vista Points)…
Finally landed at the fabulous Pacific Reef Inn in Gold Beach, Oregon. What a great find! The room was huge, immaculate, and had a full view of the ocean plus a private patio. And Laurie at the front desk was super-nice and helped me book an extra night. And they’re super pet-friendly! It’s an unusual place with an outdoor movie amphitheatre (they show a wonderful film about the Oregon coastal attractions), a random totem pole, and easy access to a beautiful beach. They also own the Chowder House restaurant next door, so instead of a lame buffet breakfast you get a $10 credit for a nice hot breakfast.
Gas $2.86/gallon in Fort Bragg, California
Red Lion Inn, Eureka
$71/night + $15 pet fee
Nice big room with a view of Humboldt Bay. Very nice staff. Location not great (can’t walk to anything), but there’s a restaurant on-site.
Beautiful weather today — unusually warm for October, 82 degrees. Just 40 miles north of Point Arena —
Mendo has long been one of my favorite destinations on the Northern coast. A former logging town, it’s obvious the lumberjacks tried hard to out-do each other here — the houses are Victorian masterpieces, worthy of the San Francisco gentry who originally occupied them. The town is very walkable, no matter where you stay. Now a haven for the artistic, and the artfully unemployed (the locals call them “trustafarians”), Mendocino is mostly cute stores, art galleries, restaurants, B&Bs, and gorgeous beaches and ocean vistas. I always like to stay at the MacCallum House, a gorgeous boutique hotel and originally home to one of Mendo’s founding families. I loved staying in the converted (but still working) water tower suite. The on-site restaurant is one of the best in town, and their breakfasts are amazing.
GLASS BEACH IN FORT BRAGG
This magical sea glass destination started out as a dump. Years ago, the good citizens of Fort Bragg dumped their trash into the ocean, as so many coastal towns did for years. Now the ocean has returned the favor by recycling the trash into tiny treasures and depositing them on beaches. The former trash is now protected and you are not allowed to remove any sea glass from the beach, but it makes great photos. A cool place to stay while you’re trolling the beach is Shoreline Cottages, a cool retro-style cottage haven recently updated by new owner Paul, who is a wonderful host. Very pet-friendly!
I hated this drive the first time I did it a couple of years ago. The forest plunged me into darkness in the middle of the day, and the curves blew out my tire sensors (all 4!). But I drive slower now. I’m not in a hurry to get anyplace. And there’s something really sexy about taking curves slowly and enjoying the view (take note, future boyfriends!). And it was a sunny day, so some light did leak through. And the redwoods are amazing. PLUS…it’s home to some of the most-fun roadside attractions, where all the redwoods seem to end up carved into cute bears…
Confusion Hill and The Grandfather Tree
World’s Tallest Free-standing Redwood Chainsaw Carving (according to Ripley’s Believe It or Not), stands at Confusion Hill. At 44 feet tall, this totem was carved in place from a dead tree, with scaffolding erected around it. The train and the snack bar are not open after Labor Day, so the only thing to do is wander around looking at the exhibits, and enter the Gravity House for $5.
And just down the road, the Grandfather Tree seems to be a really old redwood. Hmmm.
But it’s sad. It’s hard to enjoy your vacation when you see so much suffering around you. Why do we have homeless people in America? In the richest country on the planet???
So, in spite of a great hotel with a view of Humboldt Bay, I decided to move on, deeper into the Redwood Forest…
Why??? That seems to be the universal question when I tell people I’m leaving California’s central coast to move to Missouri. But they all understand the answer: for family. What they don’t know is that Missouri is a beautiful state, the people are nice…I mean really nice. My parents are getting older and I want to spend time with them while I can — I left Missouri for California 34 years ago, so…it’s time. The worst thing about Missouri is the winters. When I first moved to Los Angeles in 1981 I thought…what took me so long? And…if everyone has a choice, then why doesn’t everyone live in California? And it was a blast…33 years in Los Angeles, and the last year-and-a-half in Pebble Beach. Pretty good. (Someday I’ll insert a link here with more details).
And now I’ve really done it. I’ve quit a perfectly respectable job in a beautiful coastal town, and am packing up my car… (You can’t ride in my little red Prius…my camera and my dog and my car will free us) (sorry, Miranda) …and hitting the road. But you’re only middle-aged once, and since it’s so easy for a pudgy middle-aged woman to find a job…why not??? (Oh, yeah…I need a job when I get to Kansas City). But first…a roadtrip…Carmel to Seattle, then across to the Palouse, then…???
GOIN’ TO KANSAS CITY…
KANSAS CITY, HERE I COME. GOT SOME CRAZY LITTLE WOMEN THERE, AND I’M GONNA…
…but Panda don’t care…