Monday, September 29, 2008
If you’re counting along here, you’ll see it’s now been four/five days since we’ve had showers. The city rec centers and laundromat/shower places that were so plentiful in Washington and Northern Oregon had seemed to dry up as we moved south. We continued trying to locate reasonably-priced places to take showers, but were instead met with turned up noses and price quotes of $15 per person for day passes and $25 campsite fees just to use coin-operated campground showers.
Dirty but undeterred, we headed west again to finish off the Oregon Coast. The route we took reminded me of the route to our remote campground the day before – a steep, extremely windy, and seemingly-neverending road through the mountains. This is where I started to get behind on my blogging. The roads were so windy I had to keep my eyes trained straight ahead to avoid car-sickness, so I couldn’t type updates while riding in the car. I don’t know how Sawyer handles it, in his rear-facing carseat!
We reached the coast and continued south to California, the first stretch of which (Crescent City area) we didn’t find too impressive. Things started looking up (and so did we) when we reached the Redwoods. We drove a few miles inland from the highway to take a look at a campground, and I felt like we were driving into a deep, dark enchanted forest. The redwoods towered above us, some with trunks that looked to be seven or eight feet in diameter. There were tree stumps everywhere that were even bigger – ten to fifteen feet across. I would have loved to see those trees when they were still standing.
Along the way, we kept seeing billboards for “Trees of Mystery!”, which I perceived to be some sort of tourist trap that charges you to see trees you can look at elsewhere for free. What I didn’t expect was this:
I thought statues of famous, tall, tall-tale lumberjack Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, Babe, were only in Minnesota or somewhere, but here they are in California. It turns out there are Paul Bunyan statues all over America (see list here at Roadside America: http://www.roadsideamerica.com/set/bunylist.html Research shows that these may be the biggest.
Not bigger than Tyson, however.
We continued on from Trees of Mystery, choosing to look instead at trees that were free (though perhaps less mysterious).
It had started raining again by now, and we stopped at the Redwoods National Park visitor center to let Sawyer crawl around for a while. Looking at our map, we realized we were making much quicker progress down the coast than we had anticipated. This was no problem, except for one thing. My friend Alice, on behalf of her parents, had generously offered us a few days’ stay at their vacation home near Fort Bragg, California, but only after October 6, as the Fishers would be there themselves the preceding week. We thought we would meander a little more on our journey, but the many rainy days had caused us to move along more quickly, because if we’re going to sit in the car all day anyway, we might as well drive.
We were disappointed that we would miss out on the vacation home and an extended stay in one place. Many years ago (half my life ago, to be exact), I accompanied Alice and her family on a camping trip to the same area of the Northern California coast, and I was excited to visit the area again with Tyson and Sawyer. I was probably even more excited to cook on a real stove, shower in a real bathroom, and make Sawyer’s morning bottle without hunching over under the shell of the truck and pouring hot water from a thermos filled the night before. However, it was not to be. Understandably, the Fishers have first dibs on their own vacation home.
Even though we wouldn’t be staying, we did need to meet up with the Fishers at Branscomb House because they were bringing with them our replacement Cantenna, which we had had delivered to their home in Centerville. I called to make the pick-up arrangements and learned that the Fishers were already on their way to the coast, and were spending the night in Elko. At this point we were in Eureka, California, a couple of hours from the cabin. Alice’s mom very kindly invited us to spend that night at the cabin and be there when they arrived the next day.
I was torn. It seemed too rude to encroach on their vacation, to be sitting there in their house when they arrived. On the other hand, when I was in my teens, the Fishers were like a second family for me; you could do this with family, right? What really won me over was the fact that I was desperate for a shower, and Sawyer (thought he may not have known it) was desperate for a bath.
Before leaving Eureka, we ate at Wendy’s, which it seemed like we hadn’t seen since a few states ago. While we were waiting to order, in walked the missionaries (elders). They and we were the only customers in the restaurant, and I remarked to Tyson, “Little do they know [referring to Wendy’s], their restaurant is full of Mormons.” Then a young couple walked in, and greeted the elders familiarly. It was clear they knew each other. Later we all sat down together and we introduced ourselves. The missionaries told us the owner of the Wendy’s franchise was a Church member, and that he gave them food coupons. Wow, that Wendy’s in Eureka, CA really was full of Mormons!
When we drove into Eureka, it was still light outside, and we got to see Old Town Eureka, a restored Victorian area near the waterfront. These were some of the cutest Victorian homes I have ever seen, most of which have been converted into businesses and galleries. By the time we left Eureka, the sun had set and we could not see more of the city.
We continued southward, trying to make good time toward the house on Branscomb road. We had been driving on Highway 101, which turns inland at this point, leaving the “Lost Coast” with limited access by car. After a number of miles, Highway 1 forks away from the 101 and heads toward the coast. On the map, the distance to the coast looked like about 15 miles. In practice, it was closer to 30, due to the extreme windiness of the road. We were snaking through the redwoods again, and I’m sure they would have been a sight in the daytime. We finally reached the coastal highway, and not long after, the turnoff for the vacation house. After locating the hide-a-key, the water valve, and the water heater switch, we went to bed.