Roadtrip part 3

Day 5

Most of the day was spent driving from Eureka, CA to Coos Bay, OR, the latter town being our disembarking point to Oregon Dunes the next day. Turns out Coos Bay is basically the largest town on the Oregon coast (population 16k), and also a heavy lumber area. I’ve never seen so much wood lying around. Also, there are a lot of trees up here. It kind of makes you wonder, but for humans, if trees would eventually take over all land (probably not).

Because we didn’t go through the Avenue of the Giants, we had to do the drive-through tree near Klamath. The drive through tree was pretty much exactly as described: you drive through a tree. Yes, it’s kind of gimmicky, but also slightly amusing. Maybe not worth $5, but it’s vacation.

After a quick stop in Crescent City for food (The Chart Room, which had pretty delicious fish and chips as well as other fried seafood), we drove on the Howland Hill Road trail, which is a mostly unpaved drive through a jungly-looking section of redwoods in the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. Evidently this is a popular place, because we saw more travelers here than in any other park in the area; it might have also been due to the time and the day (Thursday) as well.

We did make a short stop at a beach just north of the California-Oregon border, which was quite pretty. Besides that, it was mostly driving.

The CD list, which today was competing with my hearing Dire Straits’ “Romeo and Juliet” for the first time on the radio:

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

Day 6

It’s a fairly short drive from Coos Bay to the Oregon Dunes. However, the visitor center is quite far up north relative to where we ended up hiking, which meant a little extra driving. What’s interesting about the dunes is that it’s a 2-mile stretch of desert that’s actually flanked on both sides by trees. There are a few oases and a few forests randomly in the desert as well, which I think means that the water table reaches the surface. Quite an incongruous sight. It’s pretty good that dk has some sense of direction, because I was way off in terms of navigating back to the trail. That’s the tricky thing about sand dunes and deserts: the wind blows away all traces of where you walked before. It’s quite fun to wander around what seems like an endless stretch of desert and dunes, when in reality you’re never more than a mile or so away from the trees. We should remember to bring out stillsuits next time. The beach itself was rather unspectacular, especially compared to the trees and the dunes.

The drive to Medford lasted a little over three hours and was rather uneventful. The highlight of the Medford Holiday Inn Express was the VHS player in the room. Is there someone who drives around with a bunch of VHS tapes in the hopes that their hotel room will have a VCR?

As a note: t-mobile kind of has terrible coverage in these areas. I was able to get edge in the Eureka/Arcata/Crescent City area, but basically had no reception at all on the coast of Oregon, not even in Coos Bay. You know you’re in a huge town such as Medford when you can get 3g or even 4g wireless. I’m kind of glad that dk has AT&T, which actually has at least some coverage almost everywhere we’ve been; and that I didn’t toss out this Garmin GPS, which, despite having maps that are now about 5 years out of date, is still pretty damn useful during road trips.

The CD list, a reminder of how great a song “White Flag” is:

Artist, Album — Played Today (Cumulative)
Dido, Life for Rent — 4 (5)
Taylor Swift, Fearless — 0 (9)
Lenka, Lenka — 0 (9)
Bebe, Pafuera Telarañas — 0 (2)
Marit Larsen, Under the Surface — 0 (1)
Marit Larsen, The Chase — 0 (1)

Day 7

I’m glad we decided to make our return journey down the 5, which allowed us to visit Lava Beds National Monument, which was pretty awesome. There are lava tubes and caves you can crawl into. There are actually quite a few caves of varying difficulties and lengths, some absolutely enormous. We were not quite adventurous, lacking hardhats and all, so we did a few of the easy and moderate difficulty caves. It’s kind of interesting to go down caves that are constantly 40-50F even when the surface temperature was around 100F. And seeing how caves are pretty much dk’s favorite things after castles, it was a pretty fun experience. Not quite as grand in scale as Carlsbad Caverns or Postonja, but well worth the detour. Some of the caves had these bacteria that kind of glowed a golden color in light. I also took a short video of the cave, which was dark.

After Lava Beds, we drove down a rather long stretch of unpaved road to get back to the main freeway. I wasn’t sure my car would be able to survive that stretch, but it did. The Garmin GPS was kind of wonky around here, constantly trying to tell us to turn around or take detours on tiny roads. Luckily dk went to AAA before the trip and got actual paper maps, which turned out to be useful.

We made a short stop at Mt. Shasta, which was a nice contrast to the desert and trees and caves that we saw the rest of the trip. There was actually a bit of snow on the sides of the road near the top of where we could drive. Pretty nice views, although by the time we got there, it was nearly dark so we had to book it down and get to our hotel in Redding.

I think by this time we were pretty sick of these CDs. Luckily, there were some radio stations that we could receive. A lot of country stations out here.

Day 8

The highlight of the morning was watching Federer win Wimbledon. Then we made a short visit to Sundial Bridge in Redding, which looked pretty nice. However, it was getting pretty hot, so we pretty much left in a hurry. The Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding, where the bridge is located, does seem pretty nice. Might be worth a couple days exploring at some future date, maybe when it’s not 100F outside.

Drive back to the bay area felt pretty long. It surprised me that the biggest stretch of traffic we hit was when going through Vacaville. I was not all that excited to be back in the bay. It just feels like there are so many people here.

Listened to radio stations all the way. I think there was a “Call Me Maybe” sighting; still can’t believe that song is actually getting so much airtime.

dk made a google map of our driving route. I could’ve sworn we drove over 2,000 miles, though…

Some pictures posted if you’re on G+.