Sunday, August 19, 2012

Footloose and Fancy Free Vacation

Guess what?  Banana slugs are not banana flavored!

We took a vacation that I've always wanted to take - to see the redwood forests in Northern CA - but in a way that I'd never planned (literally).  We left on Saturday afternoon with a general idea of where we would go and only one reservation.  It was a road trip where we decided where we would go next and find a place to stay based on what activities we ended up doing and how far we wanted to drive.  I generally like to make plans.  I was a little apprehensive.  One week later we survived, saw some great places, did a few things we've never done before, and had a good time.

Here's the run-down:

Day 1: Drive through the valley of the shadow of cow death (there are cattle yards off I-5 that smell for miles where the cows wait for "processing".) Until about 11pm past Sacramento and stop a Willows, CA.  It's not a destination; just a place to sleep.  I did see something neat though.  When Patrick (yeah, we brought the dog ...grumble grumble...) wanted to go out at 5am, I saw shooting stars (Perseid meteor shower) and a crescent moon with Saturn shining above it and Mercury shining below it.  Amazing!  I guess technically it was day two, but I went back to bed until daylight.

Day 2: Drive to Klamath Falls Oregon.  As you drive past Redding, CA you climb in altitude and head into pine forests.  Crossing into Oregon we drove past Klamath Lake and stopped at a cabin on Crooked Creek.  No phone reception, no TV, no wi-fi...Aaahhhhh..... If we could have gotten rid of the ravenous mosquitos it would have been even more peaceful.
The cabin had canoes and kayaks which were lots of fun.  Nathaniel especially enjoyed exploring in the kayaks.

We tried to go for a hike in the Klamath Wildlife Refuge area to see the many types of birds that migrate through there - but after about 2 minutes we ran back to the car to escape the mosquitos.
Day 3: Crater Lake National Park was about 30 miles north of the cabin.  We stopped at Kimball State Park on the way up where the head of the Wood River pops up out of a rock.  There is so much more water in Oregon than S. Cal.
Crater Lake is a volcano covered with pine trees with a super blue super deep lake in the collapsed cauldron.  Very pretty.

Oregon had wildflowers all over the place, even in August when the weather was pretty dry. 
This is the phanton ship formation in the lake.

But, there is only so much "seeing" the boys are willing to do.

Day 4:  Drive to Eugene.  Patrick has a routine in the car.  Everytime we start up, he assumes a "ready position" on the center console near the driver.  He keeps a lookout for a few minutes until we are on our way and then goes back and instantly falls asleep by the boys.

Eugene was actually a fun place.  We stayed near the Univ. of Oregon so we could visit Hayward Field (the track where the olympic trials were held earlier this summer) and Davis could run on Pre's Trail (Steve Prefountaine - running legend from U of O).  Chris and I jogged on the trail too, but it wasn't nearly as satisfying as I had imagined (wish I were in better shape!)

Day 5:  Mountain biking on the McKenzie River Trail.  So pretty

but the trail was more than we were ready for.  We took a shuttle van up to the top of the trail head.  Chris and Davis started at the top (26 miles)

 and Nathaniel and I started half way down (13 miles). 

It was "mostly" down hill, but with lots of roots and lava rocks.  After covering 6 miles in about 2 hours I decided Nathaniel and I would end up with some sort of emergency if we tried to finish the trail (he was getting tired and the temperature was rising.)  We made our way to the highway and rode 2 miles down (SCARY!  Logging trucks driving by on a curvy road.)  We pulled over and then I saw a river rafting van pull over ahead of us to drop off some rafts and rafters.  We hitched a ride down to our car with the driver after leaving a couple of cliff bars on a trail sign for Chris and Davis to find. 

 We were hanging out by the river waiting for Chris and Davis to finish their ride, and the same river rafting van drove up with them in it!  Chris and Davis were going to ride down the hwy because they were so tired but then saw the cliff bars I left.  They decided to continue on the trail and when they passed a campground further down river, the river raft van driver had been checking on her rafters and saw them and figured they belonged to us.  They were worn out and she offered them a ride down to the car.  Nathaniel and I went about 8 miles total and Chris and Davis ended up going a little over 20 miles.  Phwew!

The temperatures were climbing near 100 degrees.  It was time to head to the coast.

Day 6:  Coos Bay is not really a vacation destination.  Of all the places we stayed, this was the only one where I insisted bringing the mountain bikes into the room overnight instead of leaving them locked on the bike rack.  But, it is a logging mill town and it was interesting to see.

The favorite activity of the whole trip was visiting the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.  We spent a couple of hours playing on the dunes that stretched for miles along the coast between the ocean and pine forests.  The sun was out but it was refreshingly cool (maybe 70 degrees?)

The dog ran like crazy.
And jumping contests took up a major portion of the time.

Then all three puppies had a great time digging.

We should have spent more time there.

 But, we had an appointment to take a dune buggy dune "tour", if you can call going up to 50mph over the dunes a tour.

It was scary-fun.  Kind of like a sandy roller coaster with an awesome view.  Unfortunately, Chris was woozy the rest of the day afterwards and then we drove in the foggy dark down the twisty coastal road to Crescent City, CA.

Day 7: Redwood National Park

Davis figures we were done with our vacation because this day was just "seeing" and not "doing anything".  We headed home down hwy 101.  We stopped to hike through fern canyon in Prairie State Park which is part of the Redwood Natl Park co-op.  Fern Canyon is sheer walls completely covered with ferns and was a "Jurassic Park" filming locale.

FYI - dogs are not allowed (oops.)  Mostly because of the Elk.

Then we continued through the "Avenue of the Giants"

And then we stopped in Ukiah, CA.

Day 7:  We drove home through Sonoma County and past San Francisco, but we were sight-seeing weary (well, the boys were.  I wanted to stop at a farmers market and Chris saw the fog covering San Francisco and shuddered with the bad memories of 9 cold months of living there so there was no chance of stopping there...)

We might have been a little stir crazy by the time we got home, but I think the trip was a success.


Country Mouse said...

I'm not sure how I stumbled upon your vacation pics but I did enjoy them. I loved the dune jumping, brought back memories -- and the dog looking like captain of the ship, on the console!

Well you never know who might drop into a blog I guess, do you! Thanks for the pleasant few minutes - Looks like you missed Santa Cruz, where I live though!

Susannah said...

Love your adventure! Thanks for sharing.