The Journey Home: Day 1

Every time we’ve come to Nevada, we’ve always taken the I5 there and back. During that entire trip, I complain about how cool it would be to take the 101 instead of the I5. This year, we finally did it.

On the route from Nevada to California, we watched the temperature climb almost as fast as the gas prices. Everything culminated just pass the I5 at Redding. Sarah’s Starbucks sense had guided us well, and we pulled into the parking lot to get a Venti, double-caffeine, extra cold, I-don’t-care-what-it-tastes-like-just-make-it-snappy (with a hint of hazelnut). We stepped out of the car into a sweltering 43; much higher than the, comparatively cool, 32 of Sparks.

The people of Redding are biologically immune to heat stroke. While we waited for our cup-o-ice, the people after us came and ordered a Grande Latte extra hot, and a Venti Mocha, with extra whip. We left the store at the same time as a another man, dressed in a sweater and jeans, stepped in. I wonder how they’d handle winter in Ontario?

Outside of Redding is an area that was very likely the Happiest Place in California PMM (Pre-Mickey Mouse). Three towns in a row, Whiskeytown, Whiskeycreek and Brandy River, made up what was very likely a bootleggers camp during the gold boom.

The road out of Whiskeytown was clearly designed for donkeys and drunkards. This is, without a doubt, the windiest mountain pass I’ve ever seen. Sort of like Lombard St through a mountain range. Several of the turns along this pass must have been close to 300 degree hairpin turns. The cat was not happy with us at this point – she gets car sick when we drive through parking lots.

Note to self: Next time, take an alternate route to the coast.

An hour out of Whiskeytown is the community of Weaverville. Weaverville is a very cute little town, and definitely worth a longer visit than we gave it (less than 8 minutes from end to end).

It’s clearly a logging town at heart. As we passed by the mill, we noticed that the logs were covered in something black. Tar, maybe? It was hot, so we imagined that they were covering the logs in something to lower the chances of fire, but nothing we could think of made much sense. As we left town, it became clear that the black stuff was char.

I gather there had been a substantial forest fire here in the past year or so.

It was another hour or so to the coast from here, and when we finally hit the water it was spectacular. I totally understand where the surfer culture came from — with waves like these, I’d want to find some way to play in them too. We stopped off at a beach, and spent some time running through the water. The sand was wonderful, and the water was warm enough.

Sarah, being smarter than me, wouldn’t get too close. I ended up getting drenched as I followed the water out, and then got hit by a huge swell coming back in.

This beach was right on the border of Redwood national park. It was almost too foggy to see anything as we went, but it was too early to stop driving. Even with the low visibility, you definitely got a sense of how massive these old trees were. It was reminiscent of the drive to West Vancouver through Stanley Park, but the highway was cut closer to the tree line than back home, making the trees much more imposing.

It was hard to stop and take any photos as the fog had totally rolled in over the highway. This also made it difficult to see the Elk that was standing in the middle of the road as we turned a corner. Luckily, Sarah’s eyes are good, and we ended up coming to a stop about 2 feet from it’s fuzzy little tail. Stupid elk.

Redwood National park is fairly close to the border or Northern California. There’s no place worth stopping along this stretch of highway, so we made a decision to push on to Oregon. Just inside of the Oregon border is the town of Brookings. Home of the Holmes B&B (which we, sadly, couldn’t find). There were a number of decent looking hotels here, as well as a Taco Bell, which was pretty crucial by this point. We stopped at the Best Western, and the lady at the counter directed my attention to the No Pets sign on the counter. She suggested a place a few miles away, in Gold Beach that would take our pets and be a clean alternative to other roadside motels. Ultimately, this is where we stopped for the night, at the local Motel 6.

On an unrelated note, Sarah has now permanently sworn off of Taco bell.

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