Roadtrip part 2

Day 3

The day started out with doing the 17 mile drive at Pebble Beach, which I think would have been a lot more impressive if it didn’t cost $9.75 and if it weren’t cloudy the entire time. For almost ten dollars, I was expecting something amazing, and the drive did not live up to the hype. Again, it’s not that it was a bad route, but there are plenty of very beautiful driving routes in California that aren’t so unashamedly commercialized. I did like the lone cypress, though.

Driving back through the bay area without stopping felt kind of strange. We took the 101 up the peninsula and then the Golden Gate Bridge, and then decided to drive up a stretch of CA-1 before giving up and taking the 101 up to Eureka, just a little south of Santa Rosa. It was a surreal experience going through Pt. Reyes and the Tomales Bay area and not stopping. And then going through Santa Rosa and not stopping there either. When I think of northern California, this is usually where it ends, at the northern periphery of the Bay Area. In actuality, there is a lot of Californian land above the bay (but not very many people). It was an interesting drive, although not particularly exciting. In total, we probably drove around 400 miles.

When you’re just driving all day and aren’t in a particular hurry to get to a destination, it’s nice to just let the mind wander and relax. It was interesting to think how beautiful the world is, both natural and human constructs. Just cruising and admiring the scenery that changes gradually and smoothly, every mile sort of blending together with its neighbors. Sometimes, everything just seems to click together when you’re far away from the troubles. It probably does me a great deal of good to just unwind and appreciate the vastness of nature; in my rather claustrophobic day-to-day life, I don’t think I experience that sensation nearly enough.

The funniest thing of the day (to me) was that we didn’t hit any traffic going through San Francisco, but we did hit a stretch of bad traffic in Santa Rosa.

The CD list (does Taylor Swift’s voice begin to sound a little shrill to you after listening to her sing for 5 hours nonstop?):

Artist, Album — Played Today (Cumulative)
Taylor Swift, Fearless — 5 (5)
Lenka, Lenka — 3 (9)
Bebe, Pafuera Telarañas — 0 (2)
Marit Larsen, Under the Surface — 0 (1)
Marit Larsen, The Chase — 0 (1)

Day 4

It’s kind of weird to think about the fact that Mountain View has nearly three times the population of Eureka (74k vs. 25k), and yet Eureka is pretty much the largest city in California north of the greater Bay Area and Sacramento. It definitely possesses that small-town feel to it, yet has an air of importance owing to its relatively large size. One wonders, though, had history been just a little different whether this area would be a bustling metropolitan area. At a quick glance, the north coast area is not lacking in any major resources.

Our day was spent mostly exploring the Redwood National and State Parks. We did two hikes: the Trillium Falls Trail at Elk Meadow (around 2.5 miles), and a slightly longer hike at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (around 5-6 miles). Despite the hikes totaling around 8 miles, it did not feel very stressful at all, and these were actually the most relaxing hikes I’ve done in memory. Part of it had to do with the fact that we were in no rush to get anywhere, so we were walking at our own slow pace of around 2 to 3 miles an hour. The other thing, which was pretty magical, was just the fact that there were so few people on the trails — much different than most hikes I’ve done. (And unlike trekking in the Indian Himalayas in the winter, I wasn’t in a constant battle for survival.) It is so calming hiking along well-groomed trails and not seeing anyone else for miles at a time.  For most of the hike, it was so quiet that the sounds of our breathing were the loudest things we heard. There is an amplified feeling of awe when you’re alone and surrounded by giant redwoods and nothing else.  Hiking up a 300-foot hill and still just seeing the trees towering all around you. The pictures don’t do the experience justice.

We also did a bit of driving in the parks. A lot of scenery is actually quite accessible from the car. While the 101 is already pretty scenic, there was a nice alternate route (Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway) which I think was considered more scenic because it was a 2-lane highway instead of the 4 lanes that the 101 had. We also did the Coastal Drive Loop, a short drive that had a small amount of unpaved road that had some pretty views of the ocean.

With some foresight, we probably would not have booked 2 nights in Eureka because the Redwood parks are north of Eureka, so we had to drive an hour back down to Eureka (and then back up again the next day). But it was nice to have Eureka as a home base for the couple of days.

The mystery of the day: what’s up with all the hollowed-out trees on the hiking paths? Are there just more hollowed-out trees than one might expect, or do people just make the hiking paths go near these trees?

Note to self: dk is kind of a tough slavedriver, refusing the gushers and fruit rollups during the hike.

The CD list, which was punctuated by the fact that we found a radio station that was playing Carly Rae Jepson’s “Call Me Maybe”, so we knew it had to be good:

Artist, Album — Played Today (Cumulative)
Taylor Swift, Fearless — 2 (7)
Lenka, Lenka — 0 (9)
Marit Larsen, Under the Surface — 0 (1)
Marit Larsen, The Chase — 0 (1)
Bebe, Pafuera Telarañas — 0 (2)