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phoebus - The Amazing Adventures of Sid - Week 4
Carmel, Monterey, Mendocino, Redwood NP, Oregon Coastline, Oregon Dunes, Sea Lion Caves
South along Carmel Beach
Looking south along Carmel Beach.
North along Carmel Beach
Looking north along Carmel Beach.
Carmel City Hall
Carmel City Hall. Where Clint worked?
Went round to the girls' motel for 11am but since they were still in bed I drove around for a bit until they were ready. Left Monterey about 12.30 and headed down the coast towards Big Sur. We stopped off in Carmel to get some money and discovered that it is in fact an excellent little town. Mainly consisting of hundreds of shops (clothing boutiques, cafés, and so on) and a large, sandy beach at the bottom of the hill, it's much nicer than Monterey, far less commercial (no McDonalds, Burger King) and has a 'small town'
West along Ocean Avenue in Carmel
Looking west along Ocean Avenue in Carmel.
feel about it, even though it's called the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea. After buying a Carmel top (only my second clothing purchase so far), we headed out to Big Sur, driving along
South along Big Sur
Looking south along the Big Sur coastline.
the fantastic coastal road. Stopped off for various photo opportunities on the way and drove straight through Big Sur without realising since it has no tangible centre as such, more a general spread-out layout along 10-odd miles of road. We turned around and headed back, stopping at a State Park Visitor Centre to see where we were, and got back into Monterey around 5.30. We went back to our rooms and left again around 7.30 for dinner in downtown; Emma drove. We went in search of a curry house that Emma had seen or read about (I think) and discovered it had closed down the day before we got there, so we went for a wander to find somewhere else to eat, avoiding the Italian place from two nights ago. Eventually we found another curry house and ate quite a good Tikka Masala (smaller portions than in England so we were able to eat everything).
South along Highway 1
Looking south along Highway 1 north of San Francisco.
Drove into town with the girls to get gas and snacks. We said goodbye to each other and then we headed out of town on route 1 (also known as the Cabrillo Highway). They left the highway at the junction for US-101 about 15 miles up the road (they were going to Yosemite) and I continued up the coast. When getting so Santa Cruz I managed to get lost in exactly the same place that Rich and I did the other day, and managed to confirm my impression of the place as not very nice. Having escaped the maze, I drove up through San Francisco (the
North along Highway 1
Looking north along Highway 1 north of San Francisco.
thick fog was back and it was sluicing rain) and out the other side over the Golden Gate Bridge. Route 1 hugs the coast quite closely and as soon as it leaves San Fran gets into probably the mistiest, twistiest roads I've ever driven on. It took ages to get very far along the very scary road and at every turn it looked as if I was driving off the end of the world. Once the fog had cleared a little I could see the coast properly and realised it was extremely rocky, with large chunks fallen in to the sea everywhere. The sea was
Stanford Inn Room
My room in the Stanford Inn.
quite rough with waves at least ten feet high rolling in, yet there were still surfers everywhere, somehow avoiding the rocks. I drove for eight hours before coming into Mendocino and decided to call it a night. Drove around the town for a little while looking for a place to stay but nothing leapt out, so I headed back to the beginning of town remembering a place I saw on the way in. The Stanford Inn by the Sea was fantastic, even though it was a little expensive (about $200 a night) but since the next nearest place was an hour's drive I decided to stay there. The room was fantastic, with an open hearth (with logs ready to burn), a garden to walk around in, a hugely comfortable bed with at least a million pillows and excellent gowns. The setting was idyllic to say the least. I went down to dinner around 9.30 and discovered it was a vegetarian restaurant. I opted for seapalm strudel, which turned out to be excellent, and had a bottle of wine to wash it down.
Stanford Inn Grounds
The grounds of the Stanford Inn.
Mendocino Coast from Main Street
The Mendocino coast from Main Street.
Mendocino Coast
The rock bridge I walked along. It's a long way down either side.
Checked out of the motel around 11 and drove back into Mendocino to look around in the light. It's quite a small town, although quite nice, and has a fabulous coastline, which I walked along for a little while photographing. You can walk right out on the rocks and over rock bridges where the sea is smashing up over them. After walking along the rocks for a while I continued north out of Mendocino and drove through Fort Bragg, the next place I could have stayed at last night, and was instantly glad I didn't. It seemed a bit
Mendocino Coast
Part of the Mendocino coastline.
Mendocino Coast
Another part of the Mendocino coastline.
industrial all in all, with the coastline populated with beach bums and dread-locked surf dudes. I continued up the coast and drove through more very twisty roads surrounded by giant redwood trees and joined back up with US-101. Made it into Eureka about 5 and booked into a Super 8 Motel (cheap and cheerful). Spent a while typing stuff up and hit the sack.

Miles driven so far - 2160.
Redwood National Park
A few of the Redwoods in Redwood National Park.
Driving through Redwood National Park
Driving through the Redwood National Park.
Checked out of the motel and headed back onto US-101 (also known as the Redwood Highway in this area) in the direction of Crescent City, near the state border with Oregon. I stopped off along the way at a few state beaches, including Little River and Freshwater Rocks to take photos and walk along the sand next to the crashing waves. The highway headed
Elk Sign in Redwood National Park
An elk warning in Redwood National Park.
inland after Freshwater Rocks State Beach and into the Redwood National Park. The park is quite large and is filled with Coastal Redwoods (as one might expect from the name), elk and bears. There are signs everywhere warning against leaving the set-out trails, as elk can be quite territorial. The Redwoods are huge, some are over 350 feet high and can be as old as 2000 years, in fact over 3% of the trees in the park are over 1000 years old. The shallow roots reach hundreds of feet in length and tangle themselves with other trees' roots to provide stability. Once in the park I left the 101 onto the Prairie Creek Highway, a smaller, single-track road going deeper into the forest. Half way along that I turned off again onto the Alder Camp Road, a potholed gravel track twisting and turning around trees and making it's way down towards the coast. Along yet another gravel track I
South from High Bluff Overlook
The Oregon coastline south from High Bluff Overlook.
Crescent City
Crescent City from the highway.
hit a huge pothole that threw everything off the seats, probably not what the car was designed for, but it's a hire car, so there we go. Made it to High Bluff Overlook, which provided excellent views of the coast from several hundred feet up. Went back to the first gravel track, which eventually twisted it's way back onto the highway and down towards Crescent City. On the way to Crescent City I passed a rather strange place that was purporting to arrange tours of a tree-filled area nearby. Obviously the trip on its own was not exciting enough so they added a sense of excitement by describing the event as the "Trees of Mystery". I drove around the small town for a little while (it's quite like
Road through Stout Grove
Stout Grove. Yes, that's a road through there.
Eureka, low buildings, sparsely distributed) and checked into a Travelodge. The Japanese woman in the office suggested a much better journey a little further up and off the highway. I left the motel and followed her directions to the road and it indeed turned out to be fabulous. The road had a 15mph speed limit, and for good reason; it had to snake its way around all the giant redwoods, giving seemingly impassable obstacles at every turn. I stopped half way along the track to walk around the Stout Grove Loop, a short walking track set into the woods. The trees are fantastic, in some places the trunks must be more than 15 feet in diameter and they're packed so close together that you can't even walk between them. Couple that with being vertically dead straight and incredibly high, it makes for a very strange environment. I walked back to the car and continued on the road, occasionally having to stop heart-stoppingly close to the edge of the road (it was frequently cut into the side of steep hills) to allow other cars to pass. Made it back onto the highway, back down into town and into the motel.
North along Pistol River Beach
Looking north along Pistol River Beach.
South along Pistol River Beach
Looking south along Pistol River Beach.
North through Brookings
Driving north through a town called Brookings.
Checked out of the motel and asked the woman behind the desk if there was anywhere else worth going around here. There wasn't, but she said that the coastline north of here was good, so I headed straight out north on US-101. I drove out through Fort Dick (thought it worth mentioning) and into Oregon. Stopped at a couple of beaches along the way; one in particular, Pistol River Beach, was incredibly windy, so much so that the sand was stinging my face so I didn't stay too long there, although there were a few lunatic wind surfers out on the water flying along at a high rate of knots. None of the towns are particularly large and so there wasn't really anywhere to stop and look around so I kept driving until I reached Coos Bay, a large bay with several small towns placed around it. I checked into the Best Western Holiday Motel in Coos Bay town and went out for dinner.
I decided that today should be a down day since I had loads of laundry to do and also some decisions to make as to where next to go. Went for a swim (yes, a swim - American food is taking it's toll) in the morning and bought some maps of the surround areas and states to the east. Spent the rest of the day doing laundry and consulting the aforementioned maps. Went for a short drive around town (it's too spread out to walk anywhere quickly) and realised there is very little except lumber companies, fast food joints and car sales places. Finished off the laundry and went for dinner.
Oregon Dunes
The Oregon Dunes - the area is actually much larger than you can see here, but it was difficult to show that in a photo. You can see the pacific in the background.
Checked out of the motel and headed north on US-101. Passed through a number of towns on my way north, and each time I descended from a hill into a valley by the coast there was
Oregon Dunes
More of the Oregon Dunes.
a sign warning that I was entering a tsunami zone. It seems that all along the northern California and Oregon coast tsunamis are a danger due to off shore underwater earthquakes. Fortunately I have yet to see one, although it might be interesting to observe one from a high distance. I stopped off at a viewpoint to look over the Oregon Dunes, a series of sand dunes blown inland from the Pacific due to the absence of a rocky coastline in that area. Basically it's just a vast area of sand dunes with the occasional small forest and lots of European grass that was planted in the early 1900s to halt the advance of the sand. Afterwards I continued north and stopped for lunch and gas in Florence, where I discovered that there are no self-service gas stations in Oregon (explained to me by the attendant who came rushing out after I'd filled the tank. He also mentioned that both he and I could have been fined.) It turns out that it is illegal for anyone to dispense gasoline unless they have been "properly trained" - I suppose because it's such an incredibly complex procedure. A little further on I stopped at Sea Lion Caves, which was recommended to me by the Japanese woman in Crescent City. Sea Lion Caves is in fact
Sea Lion Caves
Sea Lion Caves - it doesn't look it, but this area covers two acres.
one cave, despite the name, which is two acres in size (although it doesn't look it) and 200 feet high. At the same time it is 300 feet below the highway so there is quite a
North through Lincoln City
Lincoln City - this is much like almost every other town in the US.
long lift journey down to the bottom. The cave is a refuge for steller and California sea lions during rough weather, but the season was almost over so there were only a few there. The cave itself is quite interesting as one can see the two fault lines in the ceiling that created it; it is also apparently the largest sea cave in North America and one of the largest in the world. After a few more towns I drove through Lincoln City and then met the state highway 18 which had a signpost to Salem (Oregon's capital) and Portland. Getting a little bored of coastline, and with the fog once more drawing in, I decided to start heading east for a little while. Having driven through McMinnville and Dundee (which was a nice, pretty little town) and a couple of other Gaelic-sounding names, route 18 met up with I-5 and then went into Portland. After that I turned off onto I-84, heading east and stopped in a town called Gresham where I booked into a Super 8 Motel for the night. Gresham is a pretty small town consisting entirely of fast food places, restaurants, motels and petrol stations. Went out for an Italian takeaway (unsurprisingly there was way too much food) and then back to the motel.
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