All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go I’m standing here outside your door. I always enjoyed that song and my bags are definitely packed and yes, I’m leaving on a jet plane. Ever since I got a taste of the Pacific Coast Highway a few years back I knew I wanted to return and see as much of it as I could. So, in a few more days we’ll be heading out to Eugene, Oregon. As usual there is no set itinerary, we’re picking up an SUV in Eugene and driving down to our final destination of Santa Monica, California. Along the way we’ll be stopping at Redwood National Park as well as Yosemite and taking in as many hikes along the coast as possible. I just shipped out our fly fishing gear, camping supplies and some other necessities ahead of us to pick up on our arrival. As much as I hate keeping a schedule I’m thinking this trip might have needed one. As early as it is in the year it appears that the campgrounds that are open in Yosemite as well as any hotel room will all be booked. It’s going to be a major bummer if we don’t get to spend at least one night in Yosemite. With two weeks to make our journey hopefully everything works out for us. I’ll be posting some pics and a little write-up of the day as we kick back around the campfire and have a little wine, oh…… and some smores, can’t forget the smores!! See you on the trail : ) Day 1~ Proxy Falls After a long travel day we finally hit the road and started off on our first real day in Oregon. To sum up Day 1, I would move to Oregon in a heartbeat if it were possible. We spent the day in and outside of Eugene. After a pretty hardy meal at Ihop (I love Ihop) we were off to our first destination, Proxy Falls. Proxy Falls is about an hour drive outside of Eugene following along the McKenzie River. Douglas Fir and Cedars line the road making for a truly beautiful ride. The hike into the falls is under a mile and the scenery is just indescribable.Wildflowers were abundant, Trilliums, Round-leaf violets and Calypso orchids were just a few we stopped to admire. You can hear the falls on much of the way in but when it comes into sight it simply takes your breath away. I have been to my share of beautiful places but this was THE most beautiful sight I have seen, nestled amongst the cedars and firs dropping over 226 feet it was just an awe inspiring place. As much as I would have been content to sit there all day or all my life for that matter we had to move on. Salt Creek Falls was next on the agenda for the day and was a good two hour drive through the Willamette National Forest. One of the places along the way was Terwilliger Hot Springs. After another short and gorgeous hike through the coolest forests we came upon the hot springs. There were about five pools that you could soak in. We didn’t know it at the time but clothing is optional, needless to say we didn’t get down to bare skin but it was a pretty neat experience to soak in the water amongst the towering trees. There’s even a gorgeous fall on the way into the hotsprings We finally made it to Salt Creek Falls which is the second tallest waterfall in Oregon around 6 pm. It was well worth the drive and again driving through some of the most scenic forests and mountain tops I have seen. I believe we were somewhere over 4,000 feet in elevation. The clouds moving through the trees and settling into the mountain side gave me a such an indescribable feeling and it was tough to capture that on film but I gave it my best shot. All in all a great day to be alive. Tomorrow we head out toward the coast to start our tour down the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway). Day 2 ~ To the Coast Another beautifully overcast day in Oregon. There’s something about the combination of the weather and the scenery here that just makes it perfect, primordial even, I love it! Today were leaving Eugene and heading out to the coast by way of Newport. I had planned a more direct route to Florence but I ran into a guy that said I wouldn’t want to miss the scenery between Newport and Florence, turns out he was correct. Before we left though there was one important matter to take care of, a wildflower guidebook. I’m spoiled with my Newcomb’s Guide for back home, there just isn’t anything that compares to it in my opinion. With all the flowers we’ve been seeing I wanted to know the species names that’s just me! Here’s a couple wildflowers we found along the way today.
Day 8 ~ South to Wherever
We left Fort Bragg this morning and made it about 12 miles before we first stopped at a trailhead that led out to the coast. We hiked around and found a few wildflowers we hadn’t seen yet like Indian Paintbrush. We also found a new pine to add to the MyNature Tree app, Bull Pine which was plentiful in the area. A little further down the road we started off on a hike to a nearby lighthouse, Point Cabrillo. The trail was actually a paved road which was a major turnoff, we hemmed and hawed back and forth about turning around and it was probably a little over a quarter mile before we just said screw it and turned back toward the car. I just can’t get into walking down a paved road, had at least been a dirt road I think we would have been a little more interested. Not to miss out on another lighthouse we came upon Point Arena Light Station further South. This was the first light house that we came upon that you could actually climb the stairs up inside, pretty cool. The view was incredible from the top but what was even more impressive was the wind. I have never felt wind like that before. We were able to go out on the observation deck that runs around the outside of the light house and I swear if I hadn’t held onto my camera tight it would have blown right away, we had to pretty much pull ourselves along the railing to walk. I had no idea what the wind speed was but it had to be somewhere over 40 mph. All in all a truly unique experience, definitely glad we took the time out of the day to stop. We stopped at several more spots along the coast before we ended up at Bodega Bay Campground. This was probably the most private site we stayed at to date. We two fox and a deer before we even registered for the campsite. A quick set up of camp and we were off to head back North to a pullout to gather some drift wood for the fire and get some sunset photos. Tenting it was going to be a cold one as frost was actually forecast for the night, nothing a nice roaring fire and a few glasses of wine couldn’t cure, at least until it was time to crawl into the tent.
Day 9 ~ Bodega Bay Beach to Point Reyes Light Station
Even though we froze our butts off it was a pretty restful night. Once camp was picked up we headed over to Bodega Bay Beach for a long walk. This must be the perfect time of year to visit here because there was not another soul on the beach for as far as we could see. I finally broke down and braved the cold air and fairly cold water temps and waded out into the surf to about waist high. I wasn’t out there to long, it was colder than the Atlantic on the Maine Coast which I was about as used to as you can get to cold water. Beautiful beach though, quiet, surrounded by dunes, a little mist coming in off the ocean and gulls suspended in mid air. You couldn’t get it any more picturesque than this. Always sad to have to leave some beautiful place in the middle of the morning and we always had to. Fortunately the next place was always just as awesome. Point Reyes Light was one of the places I knew before hand I wanted to go to. What I hadn’t expected was that it was over 25 miles out of the way. That’s quite a detour when we had it figured out we needed to make 100 miles a day to get to Santa Monica to pack up and ship out all our gear before our flight. A hundred miles doesn’t sound like much but when you consider that we had only been averaging around 85 miles a day this 50 mile detour was a pretty big thing. The one thing that pissed me off was that about half way there they had a sign with the hours the lighthouse was open, this wasn’t one of those days. Why would they wait to post the sign twelve miles into the trip? It’s not like this road goes anywhere else, they should have the days of operation posted right back on Route 1 so you can decide at that point on continuing on or not. Anyway, after what seemed like well over an hour of driving we finally reached Point Reyes. There was the usual sweeping views of the coast and high cliffs to sit and watch the ocean. The staircase to the lighthouse was gated off so we were left to view it with our binoculars and get a few long range shots with the camera. We searched the water for passing Grey Whales but saw none. A short distance up the road was Chimney Rock and there was a small pull off to view the Elephant Seals that were basking in the sun on the beach far below. It was a nice spot but we didn’t get a lot of “awe” for such a long side trip. Had the lighthouse been open for tours I’m sure my opinion would have been different. Now we had to hurry up and make some time, I wanted to be on the other side of San Francisco to a campground before dark. There was also the small detail of finding and In & Out Burger for dinner. If you’ve never been to an In & Out Burger you just wouldn’t understand the importance here. In & Out had the best fries and burger you will ever have. Everything is fresh cooked while you wait, no comparison with any other burger joint whatsoever. If you’ve never been to one make sure you do, you won’t be sorry. What a sight when the Golden Gate Bridge comes into view, incredible! We quick got off the highway and drove up Hawk Hill which was really crowded with traffic. We did manage to get a parking spot to get a great view of the bridge as well as a few photos. Crossing the Golden Gate was another matter all together. It took us nearly an hour to get across with all the traffic. I t wasn’t really stop and go as much as it was stop. The toll booths were at the South end and somehow I got boxed into the Easy Pass lane and couldn’t get out… oopppss! sorry about the six bucks, I’m sure they’ll bill the rental company for that and I’ll get a mysterious charge on my credit card at some point. $6.00 a car and an hour in traffic kinda made me wonder just how much they make off this bridge. In the brief few minutes I looked around Google I came up with an average of 55,000 toll transactions per day which relates to $275,000.00 per day in collected tolls. Not bad Huh? Put that into a yearly figure and it equals out to $100,375,000.00 dollars. I gotta get myself a toll bridge someday. Our GPS was a little shaky finding the closest In & Out and we did a few circles on the freeway. In fact we did so many circles that I didn’t even know where we were anymore but as luck would have it we finally by some small miracle ended up right in front of In & Out. Yes, the meal was delicious and worth all the trouble of finding it. It was right around 7 pm and obvious that we weren’t going to make any campgrounds tonight. It wasn’t like you had to twist my arm either to stay in another hotel. We ended up at the Holiday Inn Express in Pacifica. Wow what a beautiful spot, right on the beach. We sat and watched a couple Harbor Seals in the surf and saw another gorgeous California sunset.
Day 10 ~ Pidgeons Point to Monterey