Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Journey: Day 6

So much has happened! Day 1 to Waldport, Oregon. Day 2 to Crescent City, California. Day 3 to Fort Bragg, California. Day 4 Camping. Day 5 to Merced, California. Day 6 to Bakersfield, California. I've had to recite this and it is so easy for memory to fail when traveling even for just one week!

From Crescent City we traveled along route 101 taking the route 1 from Leggett over some very windy and twisting roads. It looked like a quick jog on the map until we would reach the coast -- but we climbed and climbed and twisted and turned until at last the Pacific Ocean in all its majesty opened up before us. What an amazing road to travel it is! One breath-taking view after another, more than we could possibly take in, more than it is possible to appreciate enough. Although we began our travels with the essential idea of taking our time, we were not really prepared for the time it actually does take -- as if you do not 'take time' but rather 'times takes you'! And the weather was with us! The day started a bit cloudy, but by the time we reached the coast the sun was shining. The temperature was in the high 50's low 60's so cool and for much of the time quite breezy, but not at all unpleasant.
Fort Bragg is the largest town along the way to San Francisco. We stayed in a Travelodge right on the Ocean. Nothing really special about this hotel other than its location, although we did not have a 'room with a view'!! But in the morning we had a brisk walk along the seashore via a pedestrian bridge and onto a bluff overlooking the Pacific. We didn't tarry though. The day may have been clear and bright, but the wind did not invite us to linger.

And so we were soon on our way.

Yeah, the next night we camped. That deserves an entry all its own. I was not a happy camper!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Journey: Day 3

This morning I sit looking out toward the harbor at Crescent City, California. We left Olympia Sunday morning around 10:30 am for Our Great Adventure. The weather was not bad -- cool and cloudy. We drove down Interstate 5 to Portland, Oregon and headed west for Neil's second glimpse of the Pacific Ocean at Lincoln City. (His first glimpse was on a very cloudy and windy Sunday somewhere near Westport, Washington.)

From Lincoln City we headed south in hope of arriving at Bandon before stopping at a hotel for the night. However, the roads are slow and meandering and we made it as far as Waldport's Howard Johnson for the night. It's hard to imagine a quieter Hotel, nor one with such promise. It's a bit down in the mouth right now, but has a lovely view of the bridge and bay.

The coast from Lincoln City to Florence, Oregon is spectacular. We are sorry we didn't start from Astoria at the top end of the Oregon coast even though it would have probably added at least another day to our journey. As is his habit, Neil has collected various real estate booklets and says that if he ever bought property on the ocean that coast is the one he would choose.

I made the journey from Florence to Eureka, California seven years ago. It amazes me how much of it I've forgotten. For example it was a long drive before we saw the ocean at all! And some of the towns we passed through were really not very inviting at all until we got to Bandon -- where we spent a great evening at the Bandon Inn .

Our plan had been to make the hightlight of our trip a drive down California Route 1 along the Big Sur. But time and distance have made us re-think this -- especially as the guide books say that the Oregon Coast is every bit as spectacular as it's 'California Counterpart'.

So here I am in the Lighthouse Inn in Crescent City. The room is very nice and very comfortable. We are shocked at California prices: Gas in Oregon was higher that Washington -- a few cents (3.65 in Oregon), but in California the cheapest we saw was $4.00 and so far the highest was $4.09) -- yes, for regular! California has a 10% sales tax! Olympia isns't far behind with 8.24%. Oregon has no sales tax -- however there was a 1% tax quoted at a Best Western somewhere in southern Oregon. We were surprised to learn that in Oregon there are no self-service gas stations. Neil actually left the first one we went to because they insisted on filling his tank for him!

Tonight, if it doesn't rain, we may try a little camping somewhere en route to San Francisco. Time to cross the Golden Gate bridge for the first time. After Eureka both of us will be on new ground.

I just love hotels with free WiFi!!!