Day 2- Point Arena, California to Eureka, California

180 miles
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 —

MENDOCINO
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!

REDWOOD FOREST
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.


EUREKA
This is an adorable historic town that’s in serious trouble. Beautifully-restored historic downtown with original Victorian architecture, a gorgeous boardwalk on the bay, funky stores and restaurants, amazing murals…and you can’t walk around without being harassed by the numerous vagrants and homeless people. None of them were aggressive — in fact, the men went out of their way to be polite and ask about my dog  and comment on the beautiful sunset. But even the local news referenced the “problem” several times, and there are crime issues, including theft. While I felt safe, I was never sure if my car was safe. I do feel safe traveling with a dog — Panda is small, but mighty. He’s a ferocious protecter.

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…

Photo by Stephanie Roberts, ObsessiveHobbyist.com

MY PHOTO GALLERIES

Day 3 – Albuquerque to Shamrock

375 miles (not enough!)
Gas was $2.49/gallon in Albuquerque

Woke up to snowflakes this morning in Albuquerque, but it was all gone by the time we got outside, so Panda will have to wait to experience snow (probably not too long!). I spent some time in Santa Rosa, New Mexico today, which I missed on last year’s trip. It’s one of those cool historic towns on Route 66 that was bypassed with the building of I-40. It must have been ultra-cool back in the day, with neon lights to rival any town of that size. It’s sad to see the empty buildings languish today.

We’re not going all the way to Chicago, but…Panda don’t care…

Photo by Stephanie Roberts, http://ObsessiveHobbyist.com

 

One final stop of the day: Cadillac Ranch, the ultimate folk art installation in the middle of a field in the middle of nowhere. The first time I visited this mecca was in the summer and it was crawling with people — hard to get a clear shot of a single car. So it was a special joy to have the whole place to myself today. I’d spent the day listening to a classic rock station from Amarillo, and Keith Richards’ Autobiography, Live, read on Audible by the delicious Johnny Depp. So, I don’t know why, but it seemed fitting that the song playing as I drove away from the Cadillacs was “Free Bird.”

Ended up in Shamrock, Texas. Wanted to keep driving, but there was heavy fog, so we hunkered down in a hotel in the shadow of the historic U Drop Inn.

Photo by Stephanie Roberts, http://ObsessiveHobbyist.com

Day 2 — Kingman to Albuquerque

475 miles
Gas $2.23/gallon in Gallup, New Mexico

Couldn’t resist stopping at a couple of my fave places along Route 66 today. I adore Seligman, revived most-recently by Disney’s “Cars” franchise. And you are not allowed to bypass the Jackrabbit Trading Post without stopping for a pic…

 

My Day Off…Big Sur

Photo by Stephanie Roberts, http://ObsessiveHobbyist.com

When I lived in Los Angeles, a day off in August was spent in the air-conditioning, avoiding triple digits. Now, Big Sur is my back yard, and Highway 1 is my lifeline. The road from Carmel to Cambria is one of the most beautiful road trips in the world, topping travel lists globally. It attracts motorcycles, Mustang convertibles, and suicidal cyclists with its spectacular ocean views, sexy curves, and the I-dare-you-to-go-55 mph speed limit. But…SLOW DOWN. Take your time. And stop at every pull-out and vista point so you don’t miss a thing…

 

 

 

McWAY FALLS at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park…(yes, the water really is this color)…

 

KEEP OUT Cove (OK, I made that name up)…

 

 

The smartest people I saw all day…

Photo by Stephanie Roberts, http://ObsessiveHobbyist.com

 

 

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