We were sad to say good bye to San Francisco. The week we spent there really gave us a good feel for the city and what it’s like to live there. Justin collected our rental car before we headed out for one more meal on Chestnut Street at Tacolicious. We ducked back to the apartment to say good bye to Aimee before hitting the road. Destination: Fort Bragg.
The bay was covered in fog as we left SF. As we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge we could only just make out the red rods around us before they disappeared into the sky. Once we’d gotten over the bridge and reached higher ground, looking back out over the bay was awesome. It was like a huge fluffy white blanket had been draped over the whole area.
While we were driving north I noticed that a lot of the beautiful yellow and orange leaves had fallen to the ground and turned brown, leaving behind scraggly looking bare trees. Even the vineyards that were bright and colourful last time we drove through the area were now looking lifeless. We took the highway for the first section of the trip before cutting west toward the coastline. Fog once again enveloped us in a misty haze. It was a surreal feeling driving across bridges that disappeared into a wall of white in front of us. The cliffs along the coastline dropped away to a vast expanse of nothing where the ocean would usually be.
It didn’t take long to get to Ted’s place which was another Airbnb. Ted’s house was incredible! It was right on the beach overlooking the dunes and was designed by Ted himself. During our stay in Fort Bragg we checked out nearby Mendocino and the surrounding coastline which was just gorgeous. I was still unwell with a migraine so I didn’t get out to explore as much as I’d hoped. Ted is really interested in fermenting and he let us try some of his delicious kombucha and kimchi, which must have worked wonders because I woke up the next day feeling great.
The Avenue of the Giants is a 31 mile stretch of road that runs parallel to the highway in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, just north of Fort Bragg. In a word, the area is magical. After lunch at the Avenue Cafe we drove along the Avenue of the Giants, stopping a couple of times to look at the ancient trees. Rockefeller Forest was our favourite area as there was minimal undergrowth so we could get really close to the redwoods and fully appreciate their size. Some of the trees were close to 2000 years old. It was an absolutely amazing experience.
We stayed in Eureka for the night which was a small town with not a lot happening. It was cold and rainy when we arrived so we ordered in and had a quiet night.
After our Best Western breakfast of waffles, banana and honey, we checked out Old Town Eureka. It was a strange town in that it had a lot going for it – cute little stores and funky cafes – but it seemed like a ghost town. There were more homeless people wandering the streets than locals or tourists. It was pretty cold, so maybe everyone just had the good sense to stay inside. We found a great little bagel place so we tucked in and had some yerba mate, my new favourite beverage, before hitting the road.
The car we’re renting doesn’t have blue tooth or a USB port so we can’t listen to music on our phones. We don’t have any CDs either so we’ve been listening to the radio every day. As we’re driving through small towns, we’ve only had the option of listening to country music or “Jesus music”, as Justin calls it. I laugh and laugh as we sift through stations trying to find something we like as Justin sings along about praising the Lord and Jesus saving him. I actually don’t mind the music but I can’t stand Justin singing along about being saved, so we’ve learned to like country.
We drove through more redwood forests today and the mist in the canopy made the trees look extra special. A random guy named Mario came up to us at one stop and showed us a bunch of pictures he took of local mushrooms. We must have accidentally looked interested because he ran to his car to pull out the rest of his portfolio. The whole situation just got weirder and weirder so I was glad when he finally packed up and moved along. We went for a short walk along one of the trails but moved on quickly as we were running out of light. As we head further north and closer to winter, the days are getting shorter really fast. The sun hangs low in the sky and it looks to be about 10am for most of the day, until it looks about 5pm. Even at midday, the shadows are long and the light is soft. It’s actually really beautiful.
We are staying in Crescent City at the moment, which again is a small town with a whole lot of nothing happening. After breakfast at a small restaurant next to the Best Western, we drove back to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park which is where we passed through yesterday. There was a lot of moisture on the road as we drove through the forest, and as the sun worked its way through the canopy and touched the ground, steam slowly drifted up into the trees. It was stunning. We went for a hike along one of the many trails in the park and got to see another face of the forest. Everywhere we went was different. Where Rockefeller Forest had no undergrowth, this forest was wild and thick in some areas and sparse in others. The trees were huge. It was actually really hard to capture just how big they are on camera.
There were a few elk hanging around the car park and I was so excited when I saw them right up close to the pathway. We’d been wanting to see elk for ages and just hadn’t spotted any, so getting up this close was pretty amazing.
When we got back to Crescent City we went for a drive around the town to get a feel for the place. It was pretty deserted except for a guy feeding seagulls, an old dude on a bike and a few cats wandering the streets. I was waiting for the tumble weeds. The coastline was gorgeous so we hung around until the sun went down before heading back to the hotel.
We did most of our sightseeing from the car today due to the rain and the wind. The weather served to make the coastline seem even more wild and rugged, so it was kind of neat. Old towns are scattered here and there, and most of them look like they’ve seen better days. We saw a guy cycling down the highway with all his gear strapped to him braving the elements on a unicycle! Kudos to that guy. We stopped at a little restaurant called The Porthole for lunch. It looked out over a harbour and a little seal swam past as we ate. I had a home made apple pie with ice cream and it was a serious “Ma-sized” serving, exactly what a cold wet day called for to warm up! We arrived in Coos Bay and just chilled out with some movies in the hotel room for the evening.
Yet another cold and wet day greeted us this morning. We were in for a long drive to Astoria so only made a few stops along the way. The first was the Horsfall area just north of Coos Bay. There was Horsfall Lake and Horsfall Beach, so we couldn’t pass up stopping to have a look. We’d heard that the dunes that run along the Oregon coastline were amazing, and that they were. They reminded me of giant camel backs, all “hairy” with grass. We climbed up one to get a great view of the beach and surrounding area. With rumbling bellies we pulled into a small town to have lunch at Gracie’s Sea Hag, a small seafood joint with pretty average food, something we are getting used to on this road trip. From Arcadia Beach we watched the sun set over the ocean, which still seems a little strange having grown up on the east coast of Australia. It was absolutely stunning. We also made a quick stop at Cannon Beach before it had gotten completely dark, arriving in Astoria soon after that.
All up, it was about a 6 hour drive from Coos Bay to Astoria, not including all the stops we made. It was great to see the little towns and houses and farms. I really enjoyed the drive and taking in the beautiful Oregon scenery.
We love Astoria! Out of all the small towns we’ve seen along our road trip, Astoria is our favourite. It’s the oldest town in the U.S. west of The Rockies, and it has a ton of charm and character. It also has sensational food, which we are very grateful for! We drove to the Astoria Column this morning for an amazing view of Astoria and the Columbia River. The column has about 160 stairs to the top, which we climbed, and is an awesome, albeit freezing cold, vantage point. The town centre has plenty of old buildings which house quaint shops and cafes. The homes in the area are a little rough around the edges, and there’s definitely a sleepy feel to the place. Logging trucks and old vintage cars drive the streets and huge boats make their way around the harbour. Although it’s not somewhere I would spend a lot of time, it was well worth seeing.
With the sun low in the sky and most of the leaves gone from the trees, the scenery on the drive to Portland was pretty picturesque and very different from anything we’ve experienced back home. The landscape is grey and dark green and brown, and a soft warm orange from the sun lights the scraggly bare branches.
Our hotel in Portland is lovely and all the staff are super friendly. We had dinner in the restaurant downstairs before watching some movies in our room. It is nice to be back in the city after spending so much time on the road.