Ah, the open road!
We’ve buttoned up our place and set sail. Here’s our first week’s route…all 1,263 miles of it.
Day 1: We lit out of Walnut Creek at 8:00 am on the dot and choose to do the more scenic HWY 101 route up the California coast. We stopped for a late breakfast/ early lunch in Healdsburg, a little gem of a wine country town. Had a great meal and cruised the town on foot browsing an amazing antique store, an old friends jewelry store /gallery “Lulo“, and the local candy shop before getting back on the road. The drive up to the redwoods and the “Avenue of the Giants” highway was HOT! Boy, oh boy, we talked most of the way about how we need to get the airconditioner fixed. We started listening to “Game of Thrones” on audio and popped out to swim in the Eel River, while trying not to think too much about the name of it. In the late afternoon we found ourselves amongst the mighty redwoods, and in fact inside of a drive-thru tree! Check it out:
The Chandelier Tree
Height: 315 feet Diameter: 21 feet Age: 2,400 years
We started searching for a spot to camp, but everything was so expensive! $35 for tent camping?! So we kept driving, and finally, as evening wore on, we got nervous enough to say “that’s it, the next camping sign we see, we’ll take it”. It ended up being 6 miles off the 101. But this 6 miles was on a gravel/dirt/pothole ridded road up and down a winding mountainside and it took us probably 40 minutes to get out there. Of course there was no place to turn around and we were seriously regretting not stopping at the market first! Oh well, Banana’s and peanut butter for dinner and Man’s “Hunted Shrimp” (hunted by hand, I might add) for breakfast.
Not that any of that mattered, when we realized we were camping right on the beach with seals and elk all over our backyard!
Day 2: We meandered over to Ashland, Oregon, most famous for their Shakespearean flair. An easy driving day and plenty of exploring the town, parks, and lakes. This time we managed to grab some grub before posting up at a small lake with a great little camp site. Lesson learned today: Never underestimate the importance of a level camp site.
Day 3: On our way up to check out Bend, Oregon, we took a detour to Crater Lake. AMAZING. Well worth the time and Man even started getting comfortable behing the wheel, though I was stifling screams on every corner. We saw tons of wildlife today (one of the best parts about road tripping across North America). The best were all the mama deer with their teeny spotted fawns. Adorable! From Crater Lake we continued up to Bend, cruised the town, did a little shopping and then hit the road again for our camping destination at Smith Rocks.
Day 4: You couldn’t ask for a sweeter view out your front door, but I have a feeling I’ll be saying that A LOT on this trip. Our Smith Rocks camp site was one of my favorites. We had a Bald Eagle nest in the tree directly in front of us and the “chicks” were at least 18″ tall already. We would see their mother circling bringing them snacks high above the river. The only bummer is…it is starting to rain. WHAT! I thought this was summer. But we’ll forge ahead. up and over Mt. Hood and down to the Columbia River Gorge. This river is HUGE. I had no idea? And the scenery is stunning, so stunning I think we were too stunned to snap any pictures. That, and the rain has really set in, with quick patches of clearing. Enough to get out and see Multnomah Falls, a 620 foot waterfall along the gorge. In fact the whole scenic route is strewn with waterfalls. But this one is king.
We were getting pretty soggy and tuckered out by the time we crossed the river into Washington state and landed a campsite. The weather cleared long enough for Man to BBQ a tri-trip. So yummy cooked over an open flame. We had to head into the tent early on account of the weather though. And it rained. ALL. NIGHT. LONG.
Day 5: Look Northwest. I like you. I like you a lot! But this weather sucks. Our original plan was to head up to Mount Rainier, but it was snowing there. And then onto Seattle to see a friend. But we were so tired of being rained on in the tent, and I just couldn’t face another two days of being soaked before a shelter break, that we decided to cut east to meet up with Ma, Pa, and Brother John (the original Freebirds) for the promise of a roof over our heads and some home-cooked soup. It was an 8 hour driving day. Man got A LOT of driving practice and even said “this is fun!” at one point! The new plan is to stay with the family for a few days and then loop back around, up through Canada and down through Seattle as the weather supposedly improves.
Day 6: Oh the luxury and home-cooked goodness of Mom’s place! It’s so nice to see these guys. A big part of our road trip was our intention to meet up with the family along the way. This branch of the Curletto family travels in style. They are rollin’ in a 45 foot long Newell “coach”. Thats a motorhome, caravan, or camper to the rest of us. My mom, since she was a little girl has always wanted a “camper”. She always thought it would be so fun to travel in your house and see the US. Well, her wish was granted. These guys started “coaching” nearly 10 years ago and they absolutely love it. I have to admit. It is really fun. It is like there is a whole subculture out here on the road of these motorhomies. There are parks all over the country where they congregate. Some coaches roll in for a night or two, some come for the whole summer…and they bring garden decor to decorate their patch. Think plastic flamingos and potted plants. It’s all somewhat weird, but you can’t help but get into it!
We spent the day visiting and catching up. We haven’t seen the family since we left for Thailand in the fall. They took us on a tour of Mc Call, Idaho, where they have landed for the last two weeks. It is a sleepy little mountain town with a beautiful lake and a cute cowboy-esque downtown. They like it because it reminds them so much of our home town, Tahoe City, Ca. It’s funny how we travel so far to figure out the things we really like about where we come from.
David and Goliath
Day 7: And god said “let there be fish”. Some of you may know that the only thing Man loves better than climbing – is fishing. He is obsessed. So of course Mom and Dad take him to get him squared away with his Idaho fishing license. We have barely seen him since. Actually we only see him when he comes by to drop off his latest catch. Of course it’s all very foreign, this river fishing. To a guy who was born in a fishing village on the Andaman Sea and was used to raking in 80 pounders on the open waters. He is in trout-land now. But did see the shrimp he caught by hand off the coast of Northern California? Give this guy a water source and he will extract something to eat. So once the homemade soup ran out it has been nothing but trout, trout, trout. The whole neighborhood is eating trout. And I think they must be getting ready for us to move on….holy trout. However, I have to say, Man is the very definition of a happy camper!
This guy was huge. At least 24 inches long. He barely fit on the BBQ.
And that wraps it up for now! Stay tuned for next week’s adventures!