From Tacoma to San Francisco

Published: August 22nd 2012
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Wednesday 15 August

We left at 8.30 am and started the long drive from Tacoma to Newport which took about 5 and a half hours. We passed by Olympia, the Capitol of the State.

Unbeknownst to us, there was some old guy shooting at freeway traffic but we missed him - or he missed us. We crossed a bridge to Portland, which was also the border to Oregon. Tim said that everyone moves real slow in Oregon and then we promptly hit heavy traffic. We moved real slow.

It was a long, long drive to Newport past lots of dense woods and passing a good few logging trucks. I was excited to see a covered bridge just like the one Geena Davis died on in Beetlejuice.

We checked in at the Econolodge which Stacey had booked at a bargain for $48 per double room. It was pretty standard but we could see the Pacific from our windows.

It was very windy at Newport and we put warmer clothing on before heading to the Yaquima Head Lighthouse which typically was closed on a Wednesday. So we drove to Yaquina Bay Lighthouse which was run by very friendly volunteers and free to get in. This is the first light house I have seen that rather than a tower, is literally a light on a house. It was built in 1871 and closed in 1874 due to the fact that the headland blocked the light and it really wasn’t a good place to put a light house.

We walked down to the very windy and foggy beach where we were quite cold, even with sweaters on, which seemed ironic when we were so hot up the mountain the day before in sandals on the snow.

We then went to the ‘historic’ waterfront which was a mix of commercial fishing companies and tourist tat. There were a bunch of sea lions by the pier and on some rocks making a right royal racket. All the kids were doing impressions and maybe some of the adults did too....

After a bit of wandering about and definitely not visiting the expensive underwater gardens, waxworks or Ripley’s ‘Believe it or Not’, we found a nice bar. Glyn got to taste the local clam chowder and I got to taste a Rogue Ale called Dead Guy.

Later on we took a foggy and dark walk to the beach after Tim was satisfied that the local ne’er do wells on bikes by our rooms were probably not going to rob us.

We went to a local tavern complete with an over friendly drunk at the door. I went to use the loo and accidentally walked in on said drunken girl having a pee, I didn’t know if she was talking to me or herself but she was saying she didn’t like the perfume but all I could smell was bog cleaner.

We tried not to make it obvious that we were listening in on the local pissheads next to us. One guy’s phone rang and we could here the caller, she was yelling so loud. “Wah wah wah” was heard to which the guy replied, “So I told you I was at the bar with a friend!” and the girl next to him snaps, “I’m not your fuckin’ friend!!” The guy carries on “So I told you I was getting drunk, THINGS TAKE TIME!!” Pure class! I enjoyed my first and last night in Oregon.

Thursday 16 August

We woke up to thick fog. Glyn invented a new breakfast combo of cream cheese and peanut butter. Tim drove us south to the Umpqua lighthouse. We didn’t have time to take the tour, but saw part of the museum. The lady in the gift shop reminded me that they don’t add sales tax to marked prices and asked if I knew why. I guessed it was to be like the British but she said no, that’s the Canadians! Turns out it’s something to do with local industry. She also waxed lyrical about myrtle trees but quite frankly, we weren’t impressed with those, although apparently they do keep away the fleas!

It was a very long drive to Crescent City, the Oregon coast is very pretty but was totally covered in fog. We saw plenty of eagles thoughout. We arrived at the Curly Redwood Lodge which was made from the wood of just one Curly Redwood tree. The lady at reception gave us directions to Stout Grove, the place that impressed her so much, she decided to settle here. We headed to the Grove and were unsure at first as to if we were there already until...... OMG!! Those trees are HUGE!!

It was a single lane gravel winding road through a giant forest. We were in awe. I must have 100s of photos of trees! Eventually we pulled up and got out to become instant mosquito food. Poor Glyn got attacked the most. We walked around, staring upwards mostly, quickly past the hissy fit children and eventually found the Stout Tree which is the biggest coastal redwood and is 340 ft tall.

Later we had a small walk around the harbour and photographed feral cats next to seagulls. This town suffers from regular tsunamis and the last most recent only being in March 2011. We finished the day drinking Californian wine and a few beers in Tim and Stacey’s room.

Friday 17 August

It was very thick wet fog in Crescent City which isn’t really a city but a small fishing town. Tim and Stacey took us to a tiny, tiny airport where we picked up our hire car. Compared to the hoops you jump through to hire a car in the UK, this was amazingly simple. Glyn presented his driving licence, but they didn’t need to see mine or charge us for a second driver because we’re married. I gave her my credit card but she listed it under Glyn’s name so I’m baffled as to how the payment went through. There were no checks on the car, we were just given the key and off we went. But we didn’t get far as we couldn’t suss how to move the stick as it wouldn’t budge. Tim had to come back and instruct us - apparently you need to put your foot on the brake.

We drove to the Trees of Mystery where a giant fibreglass Paul Bunyan chatted to us as we gathered around his giant boots for photos. He also had a blue ox.

The trees were impressive with a Family Tree that had 12 trunks, a Cathedral Tree where you can get married, a horizontal tree plus loads more! The same squalling kids from yesterday had followed us here and we had to hoof it to avoid them as much as possible. We then took the sky ride through the tree tops which was impressive. It was all interesting, but mysterious? Stacey pointed out the mystery was we had no idea what we were looking at because the promised amazing view at the top was completely shrouded in thick fog. Five miles away was the Drive Thru Tree and that is what we did, at a cost of $5. We had to fold in our wing mirrors because it was a tight squeeze even in a Toyota Yaris. I’d been wanting to drive through a giant redwood for countless years and so we did it three times!

Sadly, this is where we said Goodbye to Tim and Stacey. They were to head home as we headed for San Francisco. I couldn’t believe how quickly the time had gone by. They have been the most excellent, generous hosts and also very entertaining. I’ve had some great laughs this past week with them and there was a lump in my throat when it was time to say goodbye, I wanted to cry!

So we headed south on 101 through yet more fog and finally saw the elusive elk that the road signs had been falsely promising for 100s of miles. After the elk stop, I decided I should start driving myself as today, Glyn had done it all so far. I’ve never driven in the USA before or used an automatic car, so I was pretty nervous, but after having watched Tim drive for many days I decided that the 101 was a pretty good road to start with. Glyn gave me instruction on a gravelly off-road bit of ground by the sea and them I was off! It was quite easy really, the drivers around this area are pretty sedate and courteous compared to the UK and the roads are far less congested. People aren’t in such a hurry to overtake you and I didn’t experience the usual bullying you get on British roads (where people tailgate you and flash their indicators because they want to overtake you even when you are over the speed limit.)

I ended up doing 130 miles and put on ‘Buck Satan and the 666 Shooters’ as that is proper country driving music! We spotted a sign for the Avenue of the Giants, so I risked pulling off my beloved 101 and did the scenic drive. And scenic it was too, but I soon got back on that 101, only stopping for gas and slightly crapping myself driving through my first town, Eureka.

We missed the second drive-through-tree as we didn’t see it signed but eventually saw a sign for the chandelier tree and we knew we had to drive through it! Glyn drove from there for a while, but later on I did about 80 miles until I realised we were getting close to big stuff and I kindly let Glyn drive the last 50 miles to San Francisco. He did get to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge for the tune of $6. We arrived at the Greenwich Inn not long before 9pm and it has the crappest wifi in the world!!!


23rd August 2012

Sounds fab! X

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