Eureka to Grants Pass, then Home – Days 14 & 15

Some of you may have already done the math and discovered that Eureka and Grants Pass are only 164 miles apart so why such a short trip this day? Well, almost the entire trip is composed of twisty, turny roads and lots of maintenance folks holding signs with “Stop” on one side, “Slow” on the other. We’ve all seen those. Without fail, we always wound up with the guy who had the “Stop” aimed at us. Not a bad idea, I suppose, since the road kind of caved into either a canyon or Pacific Ocean over some long stretches. Pretty exciting stuff if you’d been there when it happened, I’m sure, but totally mind-numbing delays currently. However, I have to admit that the delays were in probably the most beautiful country in the world.

I’m talking about the Northern California Redwood Forest.

If you’ve never had an opportunity to visit these majestic trees, you are missing out on a humbling experience.

Before leaving Eureka we had breakfast at Denny’s and had the pleasure of seeing our waitress, Lisa, one more time. Both the food and the service was exceptional.

Then we stopped at the beach so the girls could spend a little more time playing. Diane and I sat in the truck and read our respective books. it was all good. When the girls finished with whatever they were doing on the rocks they made their way back to us and we continued our trip North. Since we knew it was going to be a short journey we chose to stop when the mood struck … like when we saw another one of those immense trees lurking alongside the road. Had that been the only criteria for stopping, we’d never made it to the next mile posts. There are turnouts all along the highway to allow folks to exit their vehicles to enjoy the splendor.

At one of those spots there was a small stream where pretty rocks overcame the joy of extremely large trees for the girls. They found a small stream and spent their time searching through the water for rocks while I wandered amongst the trees. All of us enjoyed ourselves.

At Klamath, California we stopped to visit the Trees of Mystery. That’s the pace where Paul Bunyan and his faithful blue ox, Babe, stand guard alongside Highway 101. After a quick trip through the gift shop we got in line for a walk through the trees, something that would never get old for me, then a 7-minute trip on the Sky Trail gondola to the top of a tall hill with a stunning view of the forest.

We met some nice folks going up, and some more on the trip down. The girls opted for the mile walk down a very steep path. It didn’t take them very long and neither of them had new injuries so they apparently didn’t fall down. Ceiarra’s white sneakers took a hit and got a little dirty so it was kind of a minor disaster from an apparel perspective. But, bottom line, they were both smiling profusely upon their return.

This is a ‘selfie’ by a pro. I was trying to figure it out then Lydia took my phone away from me. Good shot.

Then we left, said goodbye to Paul, and headed north.

Eventually we made it to Crescent City, our original destination for the night, arriving just in time for lunch. We drove all the way through town looking for something likely. Finally, I was told to turn around and return to the first place Diane saw and it turned out to be a great place. Good food. I ordered fish and chips, Diane had a tuna melt, Ceiarra had a taco salad, and Lydia had chicken strips and fries. She was thinking about fish and chips then negotiated with me to trade one piece of fish for one of her chicken strips. I did it and finally realized why Lydia likes those chicken strips so much. However, one thing I would suggest to others who order fish then trade for some chicken, that you should also bargain for some of the ranch dressing that comes with the chicken because it doesn’t go well with tartar sauce. Apparently, though, according to Lydia, ranch goes with everything, even fish. Who knew?

After lunch we went a little way south to the beach for one more beach ‘fix’ before heading inland to Grants Pass.

Ceiarra was content to sit in the warm sand and just relax.

Then it turned into an art project. Pretty crafty, C.

Lydia spent her time searching for special rocks.

Diane was content to just sit and take in the sun.

It was another curvy journey on Highway 199 to Grants Pass. Really narrow in spots, too. We stopped in Cave Junction, once we made it to Oregon, and got dessert at DQ. I offered Ceiarra a turn at the wheel but she said, “No way! I’ve got a Blizzard to eat!” So, I took my chocolate malt back to the driver’s seat and continued the journey. I haven’t driven this much on a trip since I was, like, 22. That was before I was married and had the option to drive when I wanted to. Once married I still drove quite a lot, but having a partner in life meant I had another driver, too. And she loves to drive. As we’ve aged Diane has taken over the lion’s share of driving and has become a far better driver than a passenger. It’s OK with me. Gives me a chance to sleep. With her broken arm, however, driving on crooked roads isn’t an option. So, it’s me. And I’m doing a good job, thank you very much. Lydia was so comfortable when I drove that she slept most of the time. Or, may she slept because she was afraid.

After a restful night in Grants Pass, we headed north on I-5. Since it was freeway all the way, Diane chose to start us out and drove to lunch. I don’t remember where we ate. I don’t even remember if we ate. We got home on Wednesday, day before yesterday, day 15, about 3 pm.  Lydia’s baby, Kylo, was over joyed that she was home. Knocked her right off her feet. He’s not a light-weight 3-month old puppy.

Our dogs were happy to see us, for about five minutes, then they took a nap. That’s OK. We were home.

I’ll finish with a nice poem and photos of some really awesome trees.

Pretending to conduct a wedding.

Fort Bragg to Eureka – Day 13

I had another title for this but decide it was really appropriate for one aspect of the trip. It was going to be “The Trip to Hell that ended in Eureka – Day 13”. The Hell part only related to the parts on Highway 101 where the highway maintenance department chose to ruin our day by closing down sections for hours at a time. Flaggers literally littered the highway making us stop for a time, then allowing us to drive by 200+ cars waiting in line to go the other direction, while all the workers just stood around doing apparently nothing. Oh, I know they were actually working at some point, but seems like they could at least look busy while all the cars were driving by. We did this about 5 times. The time lost caused us to reel back our chosen stopping point from Crescent City to Eureka. It’s a small difference, actually, but will serve to add another day to our projected return home.

Also, we had committed to stopping to enjoy the Redwoods, so we did it, causing further delays. Turns out it was perfectly OK. Here’s what we did …

First, Lydia drove all the way from Fort Bragg to Highway 101 and she did a terrific job. I sat in the back seat with Ceiarra and only almost got car sick once while trying to read a book. Highway 1 is incredibly curvy and narrow so it was a challenge for her. I shouldn’t have tried to read.

Just before Highway 1 hits Highway 101, there is a road that leads to the tree you can drive through. Actually, it was one of the two available in the Redwoods, but is now the only one because the other one fell over in a storm. We chose to forego driving the truck through the tree because, you know, why take a chance? That, and Lydia was driving. She wasn’t too keen about doing it.After looking around in the gift shop for a while, the girls wandered around the park and I found this nifty poem I thought you’d like. Perhaps some of you have had the pleasure of seeing this in person …

Being in a forest of redwood trees is very humbling. They are magnificent. Here in the park, however, you can climb in and on all that magnificence.

We searched for Diane in the likely spots near the gift shop, but the girls discovered her sitting on a bench, in the sun, gazing out over a pond behind the gift shop creating a perfect opportunity for a photo opportunity.

Then, Lydia spied a frog and the hunt was on. She gathered up as many as should could and came to show us. When she opened her hands up, they jumped everywhere like little springs.

Ceiarra did the same and lost all but one that stayed on her finger watching the world go by as she carried it around the field. Funny frog.

Then Lydia had one final trick before releasing the last two into the wild.

Then we were off to find the really big trees, which we did. They just kind of make you want to look up and admire them.

During one of the stops, they found a small stream and lots of rocks which captured their interest more than the trees. Lydia found room for the treasured rocks in the back of the truck.

Oh, yes, and here’s Sweet Lisa, our waitress from yesterday. She’s special to us.

That’s it for Day 13.

Travis AFB to Fort Bragg – Day 12

To ensure the tense is correct, I must admit that I wrote all of this yesterday.

Today was supposed to be a quick trip because it was only about 180 miles. Less than 4 hours, right? Well, that plan was derailed by two of our GPS systems when they routed us across Highway 37 which runs through the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge. It wasn’t the Wildlife Refuge that was the problem because it’s actually not a bad road. The road is only one lane each direction but once you’re on it, the only way out is to keep moving forward. On this Sunday, moving forward meant going very slow most of the time, stopping completely some of the time, with short bursts of speed all the way up to 30-40 mph. What we didn’t know, and apparently our GPS didn’t either, was that Highway 37 is one of the main ways to reach the Sonoma Raceway which is located about 2/3 of the way across.  Once we reached that exit we could see the stands for the racetrack and they were full. This was about 1100 this morning so our arrival in Fort Bragg, which isn’t really a fort at all, just another town on Highway 1, was pushed out to after 4 pm. We wanted to be there nice and early, like 1 pm, so we could visit some of the sites in this city. Specifically, Diane wanted to visit Glass Beach.

For this stop, Diane obtained two rooms at the city’s Motel 6, an establishment she previously vowed to “never” use during our travels. But, the price of two rooms there was cheaper than one room at any of the other establishments and the girls won’t have to sleep on a sofa bed.

Once we got checked in and hauled our luggage upstairs to our rooms (no elevator), we went searching for Glass Beach. We found it about a mile north of Motel 6 and it was easily accessible for most, even those with broken arms. once we reached the beach, the girls were fascinated with the glass on the beach then Lydia went looking for hermit crabs which were abundant. Ceiarra chose seek pieces of rock and agate mixed, leaving the glass alone.

There were people all over the place checking out the beach. An Indian family saw Lydia with one of the hermit crabs and had to have photos of her messing with them. She’s always gone down that road less travelled by girls, opting for the bugs, snakes, and such, so crabs were right in her wheel house. She had a ball discovering, and harassing them. She was not allowed to bring any with her back to the truck. So, she found a really nasty looking shell that had once been stuck to a rock, and was partially covered with debris that had once been growing, and you just knew it was going to smell to High Heaven once it dried out, and insisted that we take it home. We folded on that request because we knew there were plastic bags in the truck she could use to wrap it up. The bag remained in the truck bed. By the time we get home whatever is in that bag is going to be nasty, I’m sure.

Ceiarra, thankfully, kept it clean and was allowed to get her rock collection back to the motel in the truck proper.

After the beach we discussed dinner options and chose Denny’s which was next to the road leading to the beach. We don’t normally patronize Denny’s during our trips because we’ve bad experiences in the past. It’s been a while, though, and thought we’d give it another try. Glad we did because the food was great and the people greater. It was a pleasant visit.

Our waitress, Lisa, came and took our orders and when she left Ceiarra said that Lisa smelled like her Mom did. When she came back, Diane asked her what fragrance she was using and she said, “Just my hand sanitizer.” That was unexpected. Diane explained the reason for her request, that C had lost her Mom no long ago, and that Lisa’s fragrance reminded her of her Mom.

Lisa teared up and walked away from the table and went back to work but she was truly mulling a proper response for Ceiarra because she returned after a bit, tears streaming, and explained that she truly believed that C’s Mom had been there at that moment because our loved ones are always close, even when they’re ‘gone’. Then she placed a bottle of strawberry scented hand sanitizer on the table as a gift for Ceiarra. A little later she dropped off a piece of chocolate cake of some sort and said “hope you aren’t allergic to peanuts.”

Needless to say, Lisa got a good tip and a hug from Ceiarra before we left. It was a good stop. One of those times when you know that you were led to a place for a reason. It was good for both Lisa and Ceiarra.

Now we’re back in our respective rooms settling down for the night. We plan to revisit the beach on our way out of town tomorrow on the next leg of this trip that will find us in Crescent City. Should be an interesting arrival there because even though Diane received an email confirmation of her reservation, she received another email reporting that it had been cancelled for some obscure reason. Interesting. There will be more on that tomorrow.

Now some photos, some of which relate to other days.

Here’s a tribute to one of Diane’s high school class mates that we found on the Walk of Fame …

The girls, in the elevator, on the way back to the room after retrieving them from Universal Studios. I have no idea what they’re looking at.

End of a Rough day.

A puppy treat at one of the rest stops we chose to use.

This breakfast would have been really good if the biscuits would have been waaaaaay smaller.

We got an education at this cafe. It’s located in Boonville, CA, out in the middle of about a zillion wineries. This is the place where inhabitants developed an entire language called Boontling which they used to confuse non-natives to the area. It is currently spoken by only about 100 residents. This restaurant is the location of choice for those folks to gather and share news. Interesting.

On our way to Glass Beach the girls found a squirrel that wasn’t afraid of them.

Lydia spent most of her time catching and harassing hermit crabs while the rest of us checked out the beach.

This is what Glass Beach looks like. Pretty awesome.

Even while standing on an awesome beach, folks gathered to watch Lydia catch crabs. This particular one was making it’s way toward Diane who was semi-sitting on the rock in about the place Lydia is working.

She finally captured it but we wouldn’t let her keep it.

Girls just having fun.

That’s Diane’s hand holding a handful of beach that I provided for her to display.

C found a small cave

That’s it.

Glendale to Travis AFB – Day 11

We all got up early enough to shovel a warm breakfast down our throats in preparation for the trip north to Travis. It was not a minor trip for us old folks – 5-7 hours dodging maniacs is not a walk in the park for most people because of the random idiots who think bad driving is a skill. Thankfully, most of those we encountered on this trip were sane and stayed within 10-20 mph of the speed limit meaning we moved along at 70-90 mph for most of the trip.

I began the drive which is unusual for us because Diane is normally the pilot. But her broken arm was giving her fits so she didn’t need that distraction while navigating through LA traffic. We left the big city at 1000 and as we progressed, one thing led to another and I wound up driving for 4.5 hours, almost to Stockton, pretty much non-stop. When we did stop for a Rest Area, Diane took over and had me look for a place where we could sit down and have a decent meal.

I chose Sizzler, the one in Stockton, and directed the driver to that location. It was a very nice one and we all really enjoyed the restful, nourishing delay. It made the remainder of the trip, about 2 more hours, much easier to endure. Getting to the base was via a very bumpy road. We were glad when we reached the gate and an adorable security airman directed us to the Air Force Inn. “Signs are hard to see so just go straight ahead and it’s at the 5th light, on the left.”  Excellent directions.

I got us checked in – one room for the girls, one for me and Diane. We’re in room 4040 and they’re in 4041, directly across the hall from us. How handy.  Considering that we at late, and didn’t get to our rooms until 6-something pm, I didn’t figure there would be any major food purchase this evening. We have snacky stuff if anyone wants it.

I’m done for today. Apparently I’m getting too old for this stuff. Tomorrow will be spent at a more sedate pace after we get past San Francisco, on our way to Fort Bragg on Highway 1.

 

Taking a Break, and Universal Studios Hollywood – Days 7 thru 10

Wednesday we took a break from running all over the place doing stuff. It started well with most of us not getting up until 9-10 am, or thereabouts. I made coffee (pretty good coffee, too) and let Diane sleep in until 1100 or so. Then, at 1215 I drove the girls south to Del Mar so Ceiarra could meet her Aunt Penny for the first time. Lunch and a visit was included in the trip.

After meeting their host, a very nice lady, I went back to Carlsbad and helped Diane do the laundry. Then we just sat around doing nothing until 1600 when I was summoned back Del Mar for the pick up.

Safely back in Carlsbad I continued to rest, preparing for the journey north and back towards home.

Thursday was a short drive to the Embassy Suites in Glendale which was the closest city to Universal Studios that had a room we felt was reasonably priced. Everything else was ridiculous. Glendale is only about two freeway and 8 miles from Universal and it only takes 45 minutes to make the trip one-way. We booked the room for two days so the girls could spend the entire day there on Friday, the first day that the new Harry Potter ride opened. We got up early, ate our complimentary breakfast, and had the girls at the Universal entrance right at 0900 when they opened. We turned them loose on the masses and returned to our room where we spent the day planning the segments of our trip home. We also watched the Oregon State Beavers lose their first baseball game since April. They played LSU and would have advanced to the championship game with a win. Now they have to play LSU again tomorrow for that honor. Dang. After the loss we left the hotel in search of sustenance which we found right next door at Conrad’s Family Restaurant. Diane had a hamburger and I had a Denver omelette. Both were very good.

Just before we were finished eating Lydia texted to report that she and Ceiarra were 30 minutes away from needing a ride back to the hotel. We delayed that a bit because we had to finish eating then had to go back to the hotel for the truck. It was way too far to walk both ways.

The girls were stranded in an ice cream cone line when we first arrived at the entrance so we had to exit and make another run at it. They weren’t there the 2nd time, either, but finally appeared on the 3rd time around. It was all good. They reportedly had a marvelous time and didn’t spend all their money.

That’s pretty much the day in a nut shell. Tomorrow we head north to Travis AFB where I reserved two rooms at the Air Force Inn.

I didn’t take any photos today so don’t have any new ones to share. So, I’ll just show you a couple of old ones when Lydia, our High School Graduate, was really short and liked spaghetti.

 

San Diego Zoo, NAS North Island – Day 6

Tuesday was a day at the zoo, then a trip to NAS North Island on Coronado. The San Diego Zoo was one of the “must do’s” on the girl’s list. Since Diane and I knew it would involve miles of walking, we opted out and just got tickets for our girls, letting them run willy nilly amongst the animals.

After they entered the zoo Diane and I just wandered around smartly, from shady spot to shady spot, enjoying the beauty of Balboa Park. First, however, we took a short trip on the Balboa Railroad …

I almost forgot about the most amazing event of the day that happened when we drove into the parking lot and, amazingly, found a spot literally 5 cars from the main zoo entrance. One in a million, right?

The brown pickup is us and the entrance is just a short ways to the left of where we parked. Pretty cool.

Here are some photos of the things we visited … all manner of artistic folks inhabit these spaces. Very creative people.

Then we found the Botanical Garden building. Very unique, with lots of pretty stuff inside.

We walked around outside some more and rested when the moment called.

After the girls saw everything at the zoo, we went to the beach on the beach on Naval Air Station North Island. The beach went to is next to the Navy Lodge on the base. It’s a huge beach right on the Pacific, just a little north of the Hotel Del Coronado.

When we arrived at the beach we noticed that there was a pleasure boat trapped on the beach and submerged in the sand. The top part was still attached but by the time we left the surf had torn it apart and pieces were floating all over the place. Folks closer to the boat were dragging things ashore to get them out of the way and the girls moved quite a few until it became hazardous due to the amount of debris.

Then we helped Diane get vertical …

… the swimmers rinsed off almost all of the sand …

… we drove back across the San Diego – Coronado Bridge

… past the 32nd Street Naval Base

… and back up the freeway to Marbrisa in Carlsbad.

That’s it for this day.

Sea World on Monday – Day 5

Seaworld in San Diego is a fun place to visit. Diane and I hadn’t been there since the early 80’s. The big change was that Shamu wasn’t there anymore, but they have several replacements and the shows are always pretty terrific.

And they had some pretty fish to look at …

… and tons of flamingos …

The short story of this day is that Diane and I walked about 8 miles while the girls ran and played on everything they could find. They had a great time while Diane and I got lots and lots of exercise.

That ends Day 5