Since our last post, Sunday at the icky campground, we have had nothing but lovely camping experiences! We are now home and, for whatever reason, I just cannot write as well about camping when I'm sitting in my living room. Can't seem to conjure up the experience. (Maybe I should go up to the coach and write from there? I actually did do that once, when the septic service guy was in the backyard. I took the laptop and the dog up to the coach and worked up there. Awesome to have a "remote office.") But, today is Thursday, and that means all morning at the gym, which we need to do. We did do a good bit of hiking, including 2.5 hours of strenuous hiking at our favorite place in Oregon--Cape Blanco--but we were not good about keeping up with yoga or strength training. Gotta work on that since we will be embarking on a 2-month trip soon. But, I digress. Here's the recap (along with apologies for the several blurry iPhone photos. Wonder if that little lens is dirty? Must check....)
Got out of the icky campground early. No showers, just fleeing. Drove down the coast, which just kept getting prettier and prettier. Stopped at many places along the way, including Cape Foulweather, so named by Captain Cook, the English explorer who sailed up this way in 1778. 100 mph winds are apparently not uncommon.
We also got to play on the enormous sand dunes in the national recreation area. It's a unique sensation to walk down a steep sand dune. If you lead with your heel, you create the feeling of "steps" and can securely march down. If you don't, well, we did see a lot of scooting marks down the sand (!).
Lots of lighthouses, too.
A great lunch stop in Bandon, where you can actually rent a crab pot, catch your lunch, and have a place like this cook it up for you. We didn't do that (too cold and windy on this particular day), but we did partake in some raw oysters (so fresh!), BBQ-ed oysters (some with cranberry BBQ sauce on them from the local cranberry bogs: outrageously delicious!), and Dungeness crab. Lisa braved a 1/2 crab, but I went for the "famous crab sandwich," which was indeed quite tasty.
We must go back to Bandon on our fall trip up to Seattle. We've enjoyed making notes of the things in Oregon that we love, knowing that it's really just a short trip back up here.
And just tons of awesome nature. (I didn't get any photos of many herds of elk we saw, but suffice to say that they were pretty. Now, if I get that telephoto lens someday....)
We ended up staying 2 nights at Cape Blanco State Park. When you look at a map of Oregon, this park is located at the part that sticks out farthest in the west. We heard it described by a few folks as Oregon's "Best Kept Secret." Shhhh. Let's keep it that way. $12 a night off season. Our site was forested and very large. No close neighbors. But a short walk down a pine-needle cushioned path led to the Oregon Coast Trail and a very scenic overlook about 500 feet above the beach. We could hear the ocean roar.
The full day that we spent there was one of our favorites of all time. We have to remember to build more of these days into our longer trips. We had a great breakfast of blueberry pancakes (which we had made at home and frozen) and then hiked from 9:30 till noon down that very steep 500 foot cliff and along the driftwood-strewn beach over to the Elk River and back. Lots of river rock along the beach. We picked up a few small bits of jade and some fossilized shells trapped in rocks. The weather was constantly changing: windy, cold and raining (jackets on, hoods up!) to sunny and almost hot (jackets off, hoods down!). Made for interesting skies.
Back at the ranch: showers, lunch, a little coach cleaning, and some work at the computer. Then, we felt decadent and, almost guilty somehow. The sun was finally out, but we drew the shades, converted the dinette into a couch, and all 3 of us (Nick was worn out from the hike, too) watched a movie. Glorious! We've really found that daily traveling--creating each day and its activities and its overnight accommodations--does take a fair amount of energy. So, it's nice to veg out in one place sometimes. Here is PM vegetation around our first campground fire:
We had planned to stay along the coast another night, do laundry, and continue our meander back home with a stay at the Azalea Glen RV Park in Trinidad and a scenic journey east over the Trinity Alps and Route 299 back to Redding and I-5. But, we got two curve balls: The weather forecast turned ugly for the next few days (no sense going over mountains when you can't see anything) and poor Lisa was really sick. Really sick. So I just got in the driver's seat and drove south on 101, the Redwood Highway. Gorgeous scenery: up into mountainside forests then down to rocky beaches with tons of sea stacks. Lather, rinse, repeat for many miles.
We made it down to Willits, CA, and the most overpriced KOA-campground ($46!). But, this made more sense than staying in any of the very ratty CGs we had seen in this area. And with no internet, we couldn't check online to read reviews. We had to rely on our visual (and gut) assessments. We pulled into one place (Lisa was looking paler and paler and I had a rather roaring headache from not stretching enough during my 8 hours of driving), desperate to secure a spot and stop driving. Thank goodness it said NO VACANCY.
Here's what we read later, the next day, on RVParkReviews.com from another person:
"I made reservations at this park after reading that the rates at the local KOA were too high. We did not pay in advance (thank goodness!) and when we arrived, the office was closed. There was a note on the door as to which campground was ours. We drove-in and felt like we had found a leftover commune from the 60's. Most everyone there lived there full time, including the people staying in their tents. As we started to back into our spot, my husband and I noticed the shirtless man coming out of the trailer next to ours with a long beard smoking a joint, and we both said, "Let's get out of here!" I would have spent any amount at the KOA right then! We didn't actually stay, nor would I recommend this campground to anyone."
Yup, that about describes the place. I felt better about paying $46.
Lisa was feeling better, finally (food poisoning, we suspect), but I wouldn't let her drive right away. Had to be sure. So, off we went, taking one more scenic route, rather than beelining it home. We drove highway 20 through Lake County--had never been that way. What a surprise! Clear Lake is just an enormous lake, very pretty, the "Switzerland of America" they claim, but in reality, while the lake is gorgeous, the man-made parts are straight out of the 50s. Pretty run down, but the natural beauty was something. Then we hit I-5, 505, and 680 before rejoining 101 for our well-traveled route home. I'm glad we didn't stay on 101 and go through SF on a workday. We'd probably just be getting home now ;-)
When we refueled in Gilroy, we saw our 8th View/Navion of the trip, filling up in front of us. Our little coaches are on the road!