Sunday, May 25, 2014

Glass, Goosebumps and a Kardashian

What a week!  My head is spinning with all the things we've seen and done and felt and smelled and traveled and experienced!  Where do I even start?  We left Zion after a day of rest and having to buy two new tires for the truck.  I guess the unpaved 4 wheeling through Monument Valley took its toll on the tires.  We replaced the two worst ones and are hoping for the best on the other two.  We drove from Zion, through Nevada, into California.  I was in terrible "intestinal distress" (read diarrhea!) and had many emergency stops.  One of those stops was a casino just into the Nevada border.  That bathroom stop cost us $20!  It about killed me to drive through Las Vegas without stopping, but we kept driving until we reached Barstow.  It was 103 degrees and so windy we thought a few times the trailer would tip over!  Barstow is  nothing more than a gas stop in the desert, but it had a cute diner called "Peggy Sue's", filled with cute 50s memorabilia and tourist trap kitsch.  But hey, when in Barstow, do as the tourists do, so we ate there and snapped a few pictures.

Joshua Trees on the way to Barstow, CA

The following day Noel was driving and I was on the phone with my dad.  On the atlas, California is on two pages, so when Noel asked where he was supposed to turn at an intersection, I was distracted and told him to turn right.  Noel as the driver, just drives until I tell him otherwise.  I as the navigator, am supposed to pay attention.  Well my dad is quite the talker, so by the time I got off the phone and realized we had turned north WAY to early, as in I should have been looking at a whole different page, we were about 75 miles out of the way.  Rather than backtrack, we thought we would take a state route to head west to highway 99, where we were supposed to be.

Little did we know that the route we chose was a narrow road that goes up and over the Greenhorn Mountains.  The very STEEP Greenhorn Mountains.  The truck really struggled to pull us up the steep grade, and then on the way down, the trailer brakes failed, leaving only the truck brakes to keep us from careening down the 7% grade down the twisting turning, did I mention narrow? road!  Then the truck brakes started to overheat and the ABS light came on.  Noel was a nervous wreck trying not to kill us, I was almost in tears I felt so bad for getting us into such danger, and in my mind I was composing my goodbye text to my loved ones!

Not easy to navigate pulling a trailer relying only on overheated
truck brakes.  I was getting really scared, but Noel was cool
as a cucumber and got us down safely!

But my amazing husband got us safely down!  Yea Noel!   In hindsight (now that its a funny story and not a terrorizing death trap), the drive was beautiful, skirting the Sequoia National Forest, through some valleys of California happy cows, and a few vineyards.  Interestingly enough, once we got to the west side of the mountains, everything was brown.  Not just dried grass brown, not even dead grass brown.  Just dust.  That part of California is experiencing a serious drought.

See what I mean?

But just a few hours north of Fresno, we saw ride paddies!  Yes, rice, that takes tons of water to grow in drought stricken California!  Go figure!

and speaking of California...would you put this on your face?

So we arrived in Fresno, and as a happy accident, we made it in time for Noel's great  niece's college graduation party!  We don't see this side of the family very often, and they are just the nicest, smartest people and the kind of folks that you just fall into familiarity like you just saw them last week.  I miss them already!  Oh, and Jacque's bathroom is as big as our trailer!  I never wanted to leave that shower - it was like being at a spa!

 Alexis graduated and will be teaching children with special education needs

So we spent the next few days parked in a family member's driveway and enjoyed some family time.

 Alexis and her beau Richard


  Noel, Jacque, Hope, Me and Bob
My new Tee Shirt

So nice to just hang out with family for a while
 Nick is 15,  6'7" and a star basketball player!

We visited a place called Forestier Gardens  in Fresno.  Built, I should say dug, completely by hand, it was intended to be an underground resort but was never completed.  The man who dug it lived in it and grew all kinds of plants, including lots of citrus trees.  Oranges, grapefruits, lemons, kumquats, and more were planted there and grew up towards the light through openings in the "ceiling".

the fam...

click on picture to make it big enough to read
His underground bedroom

grapefruit bigger than softballs!

Persimmon, and it baffles me why they don't either donate the fruit
to some homeless shelter, sell it or give it to the people on the tour,
but instead it just falls on the ground and rots!  How wasteful!

From Fresno we headed north.  We stayed in a town north of San Francisco called Williams, where we parked the trailer and then headed to the pacific coast to a town called Ft. Bragg.  The drive was another mountainous scenic byway, full of twists and turns, ups and downs with no guard rails, but at least this time we weren't pulling the trailer.  We drove past Clear Lake, and parts of the Mendocino National Forest.  We saw a few wild turkey and some black tailed deer (much smaller than Ohio's white tail), and soooooo many flowers!  Rhododendrons and azaleas just blooming in the woods, wildflowers everywhere, it was really beautiful!

wild turkey
these just grow wild everywhere in Oregon!

We chose Ft. Bragg as a destination because I had seen a picture on the internet of a place along the coast called "Glass Beach".  It wasn't easy to find, but find it we did!  It wasn't as great as I thought it would be, but it was still pretty cool.  The site used to be the city dump - where literally the city would just dump their garbage into the ocean.  They stopped using it as a dump and have since cleaned up a lot of the tires and metal and plastic, but its still pretty trashy and I certainly wouldn't swim or walk barefoot there. You have to climb down to it and there is no signage to tell you if you are in the right place or not.  We had to ask some locals how to find it.  But there literally is millions of pieces of glass that have been worn down by the waves and rocks to millions of pieces of "beach glass".  They ranged in size from nickel to pea size, and I didn't see any blues, just clear, brown and green.  I found a few pieces I thought would make good jewelry pieces though, and I'm still glad I went, but the surrounding area was prettier than the old dump site beach.

glass beach

all the pretty sea glass instead of sand

you climb down this rocky path in the foreground

more sea glass

I was thrilled nonetheless to see the Pacific Ocean again - its been a lot of years since we've been there and never this far north in California.  I just love the ice plants, colorful plants with a green and red tip succulent type leaf with beautiful flowers that grow all over the west coast beaches.

ice plant flowers

beautiful stretches of beach

beautiful flowers growing near the beach
wild flowers grew everywhere along the rocky coastline

I've never seen anything like this plant before!

After leaving Williams, we drove north, past Mount Shasta....

and on into Oregon.  We stopped in Grants Pass, at a lovely campground called Moon Mountain RV Resort.  I, as official navigator of this trip, chose a triangular shaped loop of roads to take us over to the Coastal Redwood trees in northern California (near Crescent City), then up the Oregon coast, and then back to Grants Pass through the Klamath Mountains and the Siskayou National Forest.

Where do I begin to tell you the amazing beauty of a redwood forest?  The sheer size was awe inspiring.  The smell, almost floral, was intoxicating.  The silence.  The greens of the ferns growing on the forest floor, the green moss, the green was overwhelming and a "goosebump" experience I will never forget.

I'm standing on a tree stump!

just a portion of the roots of a fallen tree

Crescent city was nothing much to speak of, but did have a beautiful lighthouse...

Going up the coast, every turn brought more beauty that I can describe.  As the day went on, the marine layer fog cleared up and I'm not sure which was blue-er - the sky or the water.  Unlike the Atlantic coast, here the mountains and forest butt right up to the edge of a cliff and then drops off to beach.  We stopped at one trail head and hiked through deep forest, then overgrown plants and bushes - and then I fell.  But not before I took a bunch of pictures!

 This is the overgrown trail where I fell.  I had the camera in
my hand, so I had to use the back of my hand to stop
myself, and I really scraped up my knees.

But look at the fabulous view!  Worth it!

We stopped at other beaches to see seals and sea lions and to watch for migrating whales (didn't see any whales, but I still have hope that we will in Alaska)

 Looking for signs of whales
Got Crabs??

The seals were so much fun to watch...
when they were awake!!
We saw lots of huge starfish and these beautiful
green anemones!  Gorgeous!  My face hurt from smiling so much I
was so excited to see these cool starfish plastered all
over the rocks at low tide.  And they come in so many colors!
Thanks to Noel's eagle eye - I would have missed them!
Thanks to Eagle Eye - I would have missed them!!

Another beautiful vista of the Pacific from a field of flowers

After enjoying the coast, we took a turn to head east and back to Grants Pass.  I'm finding I have a real knack for picking obscure, dangerous roads through mountain passes that have no guardrails!  Noel isn't a fan of heights to begin with, and this road was sometimes only one lane and not two feet from the edge of the road was a drop off thousands of feet down to the Rogue River.  It took us forever to get back, like slolom skiing with the truck straight down a mountain.  But it sure was pretty!  Flowers everywhere!!  Foxglove just growing by the hundreds all along the roadside, wild irises, azaleas, rhododendron - all in bloom.  It was gorgeous!

I've tried and tried to grow these in Ohio without much luck.
Here they just grow wild - everywhere!
 We were at dizzying heights!

 The Rogue River

Wild iris
Not a guardrail in sight!

As we were driving, we both saw something out of the corner of our eye - we looked at each other like "was that what I think it was?".  Noel slammed on the brakes and backed up - sure enough!  A baby bear cub was bounding into the grass, too late for me to take a picture of it.  He was SO cute!

We made it back to Grants Pass just after dark and started to pack up to head further north the following day.

Now you are probably wondering why the title of this post mentions a Kardashian.  I have a funny story for you.  I have arthritis really bad in my big toe.  It barely bends and it hurts a LOT.  It started hurting a few years ago when I was in Sanibel and I jokingly refer to it as "clam toe".  (If you can have tennis elbow, I can have clam toe!).   So a few days ago Noel was on Facebook and he says to me "you think you have it bad, Khloe Kardashian has CAMEL toe!".  hahahahahaha!  I had to explain to him what camel toe was, but we had a good laugh over that one!!

After leaving Grants Pass, we drove north to Portland, Oregon.  Portland is a big city with a maze of highways.  This time I get an A+ for my navigational skills for getting us out of miles of backed up traffic by going around it through city streets.  We are staying at a campground called Jantzen Beach.  Being Memorial Day weekend, its packed.  What the campground website failed to mention was that it is in a busy shopping district, directly under a flight path of the nearby airport, near a train track and near the river with honking barges.  Its very noisy!  And the wifi is so maddening I have spent about 5 hours trying to get this blog post posted!

Yesterday we drove to the nearby Columbia River Gorge.  All along the drive there are stops for various waterfalls, which are all rushing with spring rains and snow melt.  It was also PACKED with tourists, and it was maddening to see people picking flowers, trampling all over off marked trails and just parking where ever they wanted (granted ALL the parking lots were full).  I was hurting and getting frustrated to the point I was ready to push a few people over the edge, and in my mind, I was resorting to cussing in Hungarian, since my American cuss word vocabulary just wasn't cutting it.  Believe me, Hungarians have cuss words that would make a sailor blush!

Nonetheless, I managed not to kill anyone, Noel managed not to kill me for being so bitchy, and the waterfalls were all so beautiful that I'm glad with braved the crowds.

 In "temperate rain forests", the humidity is high and the
greens so lush and bright, and everything is covered with moss and ferns

Still in love after 34 years and 9 months of being on the road!

One of many waterfalls

 Latourel Falls

 See the idiot at the top?  I was ready
to film his demise and post it on you-tube.
What a moron.

Obviously NOT a marked trail!

 The famous Multonomah Falls

 The blue jays out here, called Stellers Jays, are
so pretty and noisy!

Memorial Weekend traffic jam on the way to the falls
Today is rest, laundry, shopping, etc.  Tomorrow we head over to the coast again and check out the northern Oregon beaches!  You know I love me some beaches!!

1 comment:

beth cole barrineau said...

I think this blog post has to be one of the most amazing ones. I can't even remember all the stuff you did that I just read but it sure was brave, amazing and BEAUTIFUL! The redwood forest, AWEsome....
Stay safe!! XOX