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Posted on Sep 3, 2015

Driving up the 101 – Part 1

As I mentioned in my last post, our plans went out the window and we decided to cross over to the coast. We would drive up the 101, stopping to visit the California Redwoods and whatever else struck our fancy. With such short notice, we couldn’t reserve a campsite anywhere so we crossed our fingers that we’d find a vacant spot at a campground and hit the road.

Our first stop was Whiskeytown Lake for a quick little photo op along the shore. The water was clear and pristine, demanding that we spend more time there. Unfortunately, we couldn’t tarry too long as we had quite a bit more to see!





As we drove west toward the coast, we hit a major delay. Roadwork was in progress and traffic was reduced to one lane. We would be waiting quite a while for our turn. No problem! I had downloaded an audiobook from the library for us to listen to – a cozy mystery titled Buried in a Bog by Sheila Connelly. A young American woman visiting Ireland to learn more about her roots stumbles into mysterious circumstances as a long-dead body is pulled from a nearby bog. Sounds interesting right?


Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

The milliseconds ticked by as we listened to the main character hem and haw about what she should do. Should she move to beautiful, charming, perfect Ireland? Or return to violent, cold and rude Boston? Should she turn left or turn right? Should she wear a raincoat or a sweater? This indecisive line of thought sums up about 85% of the book. The remaining 15% is filled with the most boring “mystery” ever …. in fact the real mystery is how this story ever became a NY Times bestseller.

It was SO boring that we had to come up with a game. Andrew’s Nana had sent us out the door with a giant bag of Jelly Beans. Any time we head the words ‘she wondered’ or ‘maybe’ or ‘should she’ we would yell ‘Bean!’ and everyone had to select a gross-tasting jellybean (watermelon, I’m looking at you) to eat. Anytime something interesting actually happened, we got to eat a good-tasting jellybean (popcorn …. mmmm). Any guesses on how quickly the gross jellybeans were filtered from the bag??

Eventually time crawled by and we were able to wave good-bye to the road work. We stubbornly continued to listen to our audiobook, mistakenly assuming that at some point it had to get better. (Spoiler: it never did).

We reached the coast and stopped for a quick bite to eat in Arcata at Luke’s Joint. I had the Veggie Diem which consisted of a poached egg served over roasted veggies, almonds, a slice of sourdough and greens, all topped off with a balsamic glaze. It was delicious and totally hit the spot!

Refueled and refreshed, we hit the road again and drove north until we reached the redwoods. We stopped off at the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center for a glimpse of the ocean before heading into the trees.



(I did my best to warm up by a non-existent fire 🙂 )

From there, we took the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, stopping to see a herd of Roosevelt elk munching in a meadow.


Further along the parkway, we took a short hike into the woods to check out Big Tree and it certainly lived up to its name!



We wandered along in awe of the ancient giants towering over us. Gazing up at these incredible trees, I half-expected them to suddenly start moving – for them to reveal their true identity as Ents, a la Lord of the Rings.




Humbly reminded of our comparatively small stature and brief lifespans, we returned to the car and continued up the coast.



We hopped out a few more times, once to see the waves rolling in and breathe the fresh sea air and once to get our photo taken in front of the ‘Welcome to Oregon’ sign. You see, when we moved to Oregon, we were all excited about getting our photo in front of such a sign as we crossed the Columbia River from Washington into Oregon. Sadly, we crossed at Umatilla, a tiny town which has no welcome sign. Finally, almost a year later, we got our photo!


Our hopeful final destination for the evening was Harris Beach State Park. The campground promised plenty of sites and easy access to the beach. Unfortunately, a million other people also thought that sounded appealing, and sadly our car rolled to a stop in front of a ‘Campground Full‘ sign.


We took the opportunity to stretch our legs and observe the beautiful beach as sunset closed in.











We hit up a nearby grocery store for some provisions for dinner and I had a mild panic attack in the frozen foods aisle that it was pointless to even buy any food to cook as we were never going to find a campground because the entire state of Oregon goes camping every darn day of the summer and we would just end up sleeping in the car.

I’m not dramatic or anything.

Luckily, food was purchased, weary legs climbed back into the car and we continued north. As sign after sign indicated no vacancy, I wondered just how far we’d have to drive before we found an open spot …. Canada?

Finally, our tires crunched along the gravel of the road to Humbug Mountain State Park, which miracle of all miracles had several open sites! Thrilled that our search was over and we would not be sleeping in our little Jetta, we hopped to life setting up the tent and cooking dinner.


Mmmm, doesn’t all that invisible food look delicious?? All kidding aside, we enjoyed a delicious stir-fry dinner that Andrew’s mom whipped up on the little camp stove. Full bellies and a place to lay our heads for the night …. not much more you can ask for in this world, is there?

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our drive up the coast!


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