Labor Day Respite
Trip Start Jun 01, 2009
30Trip End Sep 22, 2009
Leaving Heceta Beach and the lovely city of Florence, we decided to divert from the coast over to the interstate. The constant brake, accelerate, brake routine was aggravating Wendell's sciatic nerve and causing him increasing leg pain. He thought a break using the cruise control might be helpful so we continued a few miles south to Reedsport and headed east on state highway 38. This route took us along the Umpqua River and each twist of the road brought delights to the eye. We passed through many rural farming areas and vineyards. Did you know that Oregon has vineyards? Well, they do….and lots of them. However, it was still early morning and wine tasting doesn’t appeal to me until at last after lunch. We turned south on 138 at Elkton and found a nice spot for a lunch break before joining I-5. The Umpqua River also turned south and we criss-crossed it time and time again
We spent the night in Grants Pass, OR at the Rogue Valley Overniters Park. This spot was not too far off the freeway and in a very commercial area. It was a little noisy, especially when the garbage trucks rolled through at some unholy hour of the morning, but the place was extremely clean and well maintained. However, we had been spoiled by the scenic byways and just could not keep ourselves from returning to the coast for a bit longer. Just after one night in Grants Pass, we took the 100 mile route on US 199 and entered the state of California. We passed through the California agricultural inspection station and stopped a few minutes later at a rest stop
It was a short drive from Crescent City to our next camp in Klamath. We’re now at the Camper Corrale and have decided to stay here through the Labor Day holiday. The campground is huge and filled almost to capacity but the spaces are large and we have a nice big shade tree between us and the next site. It’s a short walk down to the river and the path is covered in blackberry vines. The owners, Ray and Val, told us to pick all we wanted and even offered to watch Nitchie if we wanted to do something where we couldn’t take her. There’s an additional 40 acres between the campground and the river and the dogs can run free, so Nitchie is really enjoying this spot. We originally checked in for 2 nights, then paid for a 3rd and have just decided to stay another night which will put us leaving on Tuesday to hopefully avoid a little bit of the holiday traffic as we head further down the coast
Yesterday (Friday), was pretty and sunny but this morning we awoke to light rain. It only lasted about an hour or two but it has been gray and cloudy all day. When the rain stopped, we jumped in the truck to tour the area. Wendell had gotten a map of the Redwood Coast and we took a couple of back road excursions that netted more "eye candy" but often had you holding your breath on some of drop-offs. One of the sites we stopped to view was an old World War II radar station. The Army cleverly disguised the station by building a “farm” style barn and house, complete with dormers. The barn housed the generators and the house accommodated the staff. Wendell has planned some additional tours for tomorrow and asked me to pack a picnic lunch. I’m sure it will involve seeing more of these incredibly huge redwood trees. Amazing!
Sunday, September 6th
After a couple of mugs of “Pool Coffee” (we like it strong) and some good old Southern style homemade biscuits and gravy, I packed our lunch, grabbed the camera and the dog and we set out for a day of exploring the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. We branched off the 101 onto the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway and our first stop was the Ah-Pah Interpretive Trail. The trail was easy, only a half mile round trip, and we saw lots of those big huge redwoods along the path. This was a reclamation area that had previously been a roadway but water flows proved detrimental so they restored the area and you could not see signs of its previous history unless it was pointed out.
We stopped, again, a few miles later and since Wendell’s leg was doing fine, we struck out on another trail
Next, we drove further along the parkway to a very exciting area: the Cal-Barrel Road. This little jewel of a road is almost all gravel, full of chug holes, and in places so narrow it was a question as to whether the truck would fit through the trees. The three-mile stretch, all uphill, was not covered quickly. At one point, we saw headlights coming down the road so we pulled off. When they didn’t pass, I had to get out of the car and walk up the hill to investigate. They had pulled off, too, and were waiting on us. I sent them on their way with instructions to send Wendell and the car behind us on. We finally reached the top, parked and had our picnic lunch under trees so tall you couldn’t crane your head back far enough to see the tops. Those are some BIG trees.
After traveling back down the Cal-Barrel, we drove through the Elk Prairie viewing area to see if any of the animals were out. They weren’t but just around the corner, we glimpsed a herd laying under some trees. Then it was time to get back on the 101 to return to Klamath. The scenery was entirely different from what we had been viewing and we could now see forested hills and mountains in the distance. Before returning to camp, we decided to drive back to the Requa Road since the weather was so clear
When we returned to camp, a young lady came by and told us we were invited to a Pot Luck BBQ at the rec area. We explained we had just returned and didn’t have anything prepared and she told us to come anyway. We did. The owners had provided chicken, hot dogs and hamburgers and the local Indian tribe, the Yurok’s, had donated some salmon. Several of the regular campers manned the grill and the food was wonderful. We sat with the folks that are camped next to us. They have been coming here during fishing season for years and have been here since the first of August. Now, with dinner behind us, we are waiting for it to get dark so we can walk down to the fish cleaning area and see the bears that come out every night. Rumor has it that they appear every night about 9 PM. I think I’ll take Nitchie for her walk now so she won’t scare off Mr. Bear later.
September 7, 2009 (Sunday) – HAVE A NICE LABOR DAY
As predicted, Mr. Bear appeared…and he was a big one. Wendell sat down on the edge of the road and held Nitchie, who never acted like something was out of the ordinary, while I crept a little closer to attempt a photo. From a distance of about 50 yards, in the dark, the photo didn’t do the bear justice but I did get one
Wendell made us leave this morning! As we drove out, I stepped into the office to turn in our parking tag and as the girl went to take it from my hand, I held on and said, “but, I don’t want to leave.” Val was on the phone and started laughing. She agreed with me that we should wait until Tuesday when the traffic would be lighter. Wendell said she just wanted the money!
So, about 9:30 AM, we hit the 101 heading south. Within a few miles we were climbing to a small summit and then descended a thousand feet within a couple of miles. We laughed about the three “runaway truck ramps” we passed. The descent was so long and steep, I’m sure someone has had to use those ramps before. Fortunately, Mr. Jake Brake was one duty and performed admirably. The rest of the coastal route was just one “ooh” and “aah” after another. We stopped right on the beach for a few minutes to watch the surf roll in, then passed through the small towns of Orick (didn’t see any vacuum cleaners), Trinidad, and Moonstone before turning east onto US 299 at McKinleyville, heading for the interior city of Redding. The forecast for today shows a high of 90⁰ and lots of sunshine