How do I drive long distance and still enjoy the scent of roses?


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May 16th 2016
Published: May 16th 2016
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Getting to Reno


TrinidadTrinidadTrinidad

In the redwood forest
Day: 29/30

Distance: 10,837

When last we left our intrepid voyager he was in Crescent City, California. He realized he needed to travel more distance if he wanted to be home Thursday and keep his wife happy (as he has already extended the trip by a week). His conundrum is how to do that and enjoy the views at the same time. Fortunately he is adept at taking photos while driving down the road. He is only slightly more dangerous than someone in a texting argument via phone. So with careful consideration, perhaps he'll minimize photo taking unless absolutely necessary.

Alright, enough 3rd person. Right now I am sitting in a service waiting area at a Buick Dealership in Reno after visiting a Costco for a tire rotation. I've some issues with the car unfortunately. Fortunately, some of it should be covered by warranty. But the questions is where do I get the car fixed? According to the mechanic the tires are shot. The good thing is that he, or whoever in Texas, would work with me on the getting new tires since I've been doing the tire rotation. But before I get the tires replaced, I need to get a strut replaced and get the car aligned. So here I am waiting in customer lounge seeing what's up.

Back to the narrative. I left Crescent City going south on the US 101. The PCH runs through Redwood National Forest. I think I misspoke when I said that the Redwood Forest wasn't as lush as the Rain Forest because there were areas that were fairly awesome in the variety and abundance of lower fauna. Perhaps not quite as "cool" looking as the rain forest but it was still beautiful. I'm a little disappointed that I didn't see any monster redwoods, but I guess I'd need to drive into the park interior to see those or maybe the park isn't like Sequoia NP or Kings Canyon NP. Still, it was a lovely drive. Unsurprisingly, I'm having problems controlling my photo stop urges. I think I may need help when I get back to break this uncontrollable urge. MUST RESIST.

After leaving the redwoods, the road starts having some switch backs and steep inclines with sheer granite walls. I passed a sign stating "Warning: Active Slide Area". What does that mean? How is that different from "Warning: Slide
In Lassan National ForestIn Lassan National ForestIn Lassan National Forest

I know, where's the forest? :)
Area"? A few miles later I come to a long line of cars with engines off. So I pull and turn my car off. People are out of their cars, talking and generally being social. After about 20 minutes a long line of cars start coming from the other direction. Everyone gets in their car and we waited about another 5 minutes before our line starts moving. As we slowly drove, the road becomes one lane and there are kinds of construction equipment moving earth, rocks and what not out of the way. I'm not sure if they were bulldozing the results of a slide or if they were shoring up the mountain side. We traveled around the mountain side for about a couple miles before the road opens up and we see the another line of cars just starting to form. I had not travelled more than a quarter mile before something comes smacking down on the hood of my car with a huge BAM. I almost died. It scared the hell out of me. The stupid mountain decided to drop a rock on me! Lovely. Now I have a deep dent on the front hood of Blue the size of golf ball. Somehow, I doubt it will be covered by insurance (force majeure and all that). Grumble, grumble.

I left the park behind, cruised through more incredible ocean vistas and got to McKinleyville where I turned onto SR 299. The further west I drove, the more the vegetation morphed into a drier, less dense under foliage and piney trees. Very "westerny". I passed through Redding and picked up SR 44. It's after 10PM when I came to Lassan Volcanic National Park. I'm tired of playing DODGE THE WILDLIFE (do you realize how big a Great Horned Owls can get? Think Mothra) and I am tired. Too tired to even want to make dinner. Anyway, the gods of fortune smile upon me and I see an open National Park campground. I drive in and it's mostly empty. Nice. I find this great place near a rushing stream (well I can hear it) and setup camp. I then crawled/snuggled into the sack and start nodding off. I heard a rumble that quickly climbed in decibels to a roar followed by a shrieking blast of air from an engine braking truck as it is speeds around a corner which is quickly followed by the loud growl of an accelerating diesel engine. Oh damn, I didn't see the road proximity when I set the camp up in the dark. No wonder there was no one on my side of the campgrounds.

I woke up in the morning after numerous audio assaults that went on through the night. I'm ravenous (remember I didn't eat dinner). I made breakfast then broke camp to continue my trip north/east on SR 44. Unfortunately I didn't see and volcano stuff since I went north and those features were to the south. As I traveled through the Lassan National Forest, the landscape transformed into gently rolling tree covered hills and mountains. It reminds me a lot of eastern Tennessee.

At Susanville, SR 44 becomes US 395 which will took me all the way to Reno. The landscape evolved into high plains and brooding mountains far in the distance. The road before me opened up and became much easier to navigate. That drive is probably the easiest driving I've done since the beginning of the trip. I'm not sure how it is going to be after Reno as I continue east, but I enjoy the respite from the constant hair trigger alertness required by crappy roads, suicidal animals and hairpin turns.

The plan is to head east on US 50 all the way to Utah. Whenever that is (come on car guys, get 'er done).

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