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Published: October 6th 2012
We moved rather slowly for a week or so through southern Oregon, and have finally arrived in California, our "last" state for this segment of our trip. Now we are looking for a place to store the two vehicles for a few months so we can fly home in two or three weeks.
We really liked Oregon very much. I especially liked that there were so many book stores with good selections of used books, and coffee shops everywhere. But overwhelmingly the scenery was the best, and we had an abundance of sunny, warm weather, which we know is not always the case out here (75 days without any rainfall is a bit of a stretch in Grants Pass).
We spent a few days near Eugene, hanging loose. We sat in the sun, did laundry, John washed and polished the front of the RV, took walks, etc. etc. We did have one reminder that there are some unfamiliar attitudes among some Oregonians. A couple who had a year-round home near our campsite were hoarding food, canning and preserving, because they believe that a revolution is imminent in this country. They were perfectly pleasant people, but...
We finally left our lazy site and headed south through the Willamette Valley. At the start of our trip, we met a very nice police officer who forgave John for making a left turn from a right lane... After a few hours on Route 5, we pulled into the Head of the Rogue State Park, which several folks had recommended. It is a lovely park, a few miles south of Grants Pass, right next to the highway. Lots of campers had campfires and seemed less eager than we were to explore the area.
Next morning, we headed off to see Jacksonville, Ashland, and Medford. We would be driving southwest from Grants Pass to the coast, so would not see those towns otherwise. Jacksonville seems like a charming retirement community with lots of interesting shops and places to eat, and evidence of plenty of community activities. Ashland is the home of the well-reputed Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and I had really looked forward to seeing it. But that day it seemed too busy and not especially friendly. Maybe our poor choice of an outdoor site to grab a sandwich was besmirched by the dog climbing up on the counter and the hundreds of flies buzzing around us. We also saw many, many vagrants, and although we are sad that their lives might not be as fulfilling as ours, they can become unsettling.
Medford is the home of Harry and David. When I was young, patients would send boxes of pears from Harry and David to my father (and us) at Christmas. I have fond memories of those juicy, beautiful fruits. I wanted to go on the tour of the fields and packing house, but we arrived less than an hour too late for the last tour of the day. Shucks! While in Medford, we did visit a small cheese-making operation which produces a blue cheese judged best in the world. Tourists are not allowed into the factory, but we did buy some, and it is powerful stuff! Also, next door to that was a small candy making operation, and we indulged in a few pieces. In fact, John chose chocolate covered blue cheese. One of the owners was exuberant about a conference he had just attended, and he brought back a coca bean. I had no idea they were so large; they look a bit like medium-size gourds.
John had made an appointment for an RV oil change at a place in Grants Pass, so I emailed to reserve a spot on the first Harry and David tour the next day. I drove all the way down there, only to discover that there were no tours for two days because managers from the H and D stores all over the U.S. were convened there. I was crestfallen, apparently, because they gave me a box of Moose Munch as an apology. And then I went and got a manicure and a hair cut. So, there!
When I arrived at the repair shop, John greeted me by saying that there had not been a tour; somehow they had emailed him to say so, rather than me, and he never opens his emails early in a day. Then...the mechanic had spotted a few problems with the RV, so John agreed to let them do the service. We could stay overnight in their lot, with electricity hookup.
Grants Pass has several parks, near the Rogue River, and we spent time in a few of them. And we went out for a pleasant Mexican meal. However, the next day turned sour because the emergency brake was dismantled but they had a hard time tracking down a necessary repair part. Ford only sells the whole assembly, for $1800, and we refused that. They finally located the part, which would be delivered the next morning, so we spent another night staring at a repair garage. We drove around town, spent time at more parks, took a long hot walk, etc. etc. Although the repair shop folks were very nice and friendly, we were very glad to bid them farewell in mid-afternoon the next day.
We had finished eating all the fresh fruit we had because we have had the California border stations confiscate our fruit in the past. But between Grants Pass and Crescent City, there was no inspection. Oh, well. The road was not too scary for me, and we managed to remain hitched. When we pulled into an RV park, the office was closed, and we were set to find an open spot. But I usually check the showers, and lucky I did that time. We hadn't been able to shower for a few days, and we were so eager to bathe. But there was a punch code on the door, and no apparent way for us to learn the code. (Of course, we can shower in the RV, but it is not our favorite option.) So we turned around and headed back up the highway to an RV place John had spotted on the harbor. The loquacious manager gave us the last two shower room keys, and told us we must lock the door after we go in as well, and be sure to relock when we leave. He had much to say about the increasing number of vagrants in the area who try to use the local facilities. So that's why the showers were locked. Oh, how we relished those showers!
Our site is right on the harbor, really only a few yards from the water. This is a prime tsunami zone. One devastated the town in 1964. John remembers being here soon after, and wanted to come back and see how the town had rebuilt. There have also been several smaller tsunamis since then, the most recent last year because of the Japanese earthquake. So, actually, we are quite safe here because this town is fully prepared to deal with a tsunami threat.
We see jetties on both sides of us, we hear the foghorns, and we hear the sea lions barking all day and night. The sunrises and sunsets have not been spectacular, but the big sky is lovely.
We happened to arrive here during "Sea Cruise" weekend. The town is full of "muscle cars," all shiny and bright and sending our memories back to our teens. We went for coffee at a shop recommended by a very informative fellow at a Chamber of Commerce center. It was at the fairgrounds, and the lot there was full of fire engines. We figured they were related to the Sea Cruise, but no, they were deployed here to fight a fire south of here. About 300 fire fighters. The trucks are labeled "Cal Fire" - as we all know, in California fires are a big deal. Later that afternoon, they were all gone.
Our Chamber of Commerce friend insisted that we go to "Stout Grove," a non-commercialized stand of redwoods about six miles inland in the Jedediah Smith State Park. The road to the grove was an experience in itself - dusty, very narrow, very curvy, two-way so we wondered at each turn if we would come face to face with another car. But everyone drove slowly and there were plenty of pullovers to accommodate passing. And the grove was a truly lovely place. There is a half mile loop pathway through it. Our friend had said we wouldn't even be able to see the sky through the treetops, but we could, a bit. Those trees are so tall! And up to 10 or 12 feet wide at the base. They were quite a few uprooted trees, of course, and we were rather surprised that the root base did not look to be very deep. If you're ever near here, don't miss this place!
Back at the RV, with our great view, our replenished fruit supply, and a nice steak for dinner after we watched the Orioles win their game. Just one odd event. In front of us is a small rise before the land slopes down to the beach. I kept seeing the upper part of a guy in camouflage clothes moving around on the beach in front of us, seeming to gather wood. It seemed a bit odd, but I wasn't alarmed. But when John went out to check the grill, there were three police officers, with a police dog, talking with the fellow, and he did leave the area.
We'll head south to Eureka today, and we need to get serious about locating a good storage spot for the vehicles, near an airport where Southwest flies. John will manage that, as he somehow manages to handle most of our challenges. We are aware that our usual job of registering new voters at the polls is perhaps going to be even more complicated and controversial than in the past, but after all these months of being self-indulgent, we should be ready to face some quirky experiences.
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