Wednesday, June 1 & Thursday, June 2
We departed Texas and started the boring part of the drive until nightfall. I slept most of the way through the state and some of New Mexico. I started driving at dark and we made our way through Arizona, and Southern California. Light broke as we were getting to Bakersfield, no real treat there but at least we were in California. Made our way through the boring parts of Cali – Central and the 5 – and then up towards the Golden Gate via a nice state road through golden hills. We went through Silicon Valley and crossed the Golden Gate. We took the 101 up, up and away. Stopped for lunch in Santa Rosa and drove to Leggett and decided on a whim to go to a “drive through” tree park. It was evening, it wasn’t busy, and it was our first taste of the trees and tourism of Northern California fort this trip. Drove through a big redwood, took some pics, had our first encounter with big trees, and hit the road north to Arcata. We arrived at the Red Roof Inn, a total dump, and checked in to our room. I had to deal with a crazy man in the lobby, obnoxious smells in the hallway, and a generally worn down and unclean room. We were exhausted, but hungry so we had to choose a place to eat. We found a place in Arcata called Crush which featured local brews and food along with entertainment – it was trivia night when we happened upon the place. With some research, we learned that Arcata passed an ordinance/zoning law allowing only a small portion of all restaurants to be chains – to encourage local growth. Sleep felt so good after 33 hours in a car – even if the hotel was shit.
Friday, June 3
Woke up, hit up the Starbucks (in the neighboring town) and headed north. We got up to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and stopped for a bit to see if we could see any elk. We hiked down the Lost Man’s Creek trail for a bit, and continued our drive. We hiked around the Big Tree and Chandelier trees, and just took a few other short trails. Spent several hours driving and hiking around, and had lunch at the Harvest Café in Crescent City, CA. It was a nice, clean place to eat with a variety of items. We were pleased, and would go back. After lunch, we loaded up and took off to do a scenic drive. We found the Howland Hill Road, a narrow dirt road through a redwood grove for about 11 miles. It was a very scenic, slow-paced, and relaxing little drive – even in a Chevy Cruze. We wound our way through and eventually followed, then crossed, the Smith River and came out on US 199. We decided to follow US 199 North and see where it took us. The scenery along the Smith River was breathtaking, the roads were winding, and the trees were plenty. The traffic moves quickly, so we turned out a lot as we were in no hurry to get anywhere. Eventually, we ended up crossing into Oregon and found ourselves in Cave Junction, OR. I had recently applied for a job there, and knew about the National Monument/Park called Oregon Caves, so we went the 17 miles east to the caves! We did a cave tour with a nice Park Ranger that had a degree in geology. Our group was okay, but there were some teenagers trying to prove something with their words. Overall, the caves were amazing and cold. It was a nice break and an unexpected destination that will be recommended to all of our friends. The road up to the caves was a trip, and the scenery just amazing. We made the trek back to Arcata, got some shitty fast food, and went to bed very early at 9:30.
Saturday, June 4
Another morning and I was up early due to the early bedtime the night before. I waited a while, eventually woke the partner up, and we left for the Avenue of Giants. We found the scenic route and some hiking spots along the way. We stopped within the first 500 feet of the drive, to check out some trees and groves, and then stopped again at a nice loop known for berry picking later in the season. We managed to go down to the riverside and saw where the locals swam and partied, along the South Fork Eel River. We then went to the Rockefeller grove and saw the trees. Sat on a log by the river, listened to the stream flow by, and just took it all in. We drove out to Ferndale, CA and saw the historic Victorian homes and quaint little town that it is. We saw a neat cemetery on a hillside, the big park, and took a mountain road for a bit to enjoy some scenery. We attempted the trek to the Lost Coast, but it was a bit too far and traffic was intense on that little road. We ended the day with lunch-dinner at Lost Coast Brewing in Eureka, CA. The beer was okay, all kind of mellow and low alcohol, and the food was tasty. We went to bed VERY early, nearly 7:30 I think, and have zero regrets about that.
Sunday, June 5
Our intention was to wake up early, but we still managed to lay around for a bit. Got up, and did leave before 8:00 to head south toward Leggett again. In Leggett, we can take the California 1 (Shoreline Highway) west and south and follow the Pacific Ocean. Had a nice jaunt through the mountains to the coast and we stopped at a little park near Fort Bragg. I could immediately smell the ocean and feel the salty air when we exited the car. It was amazing. We go from redwoods to the ocean in minutes. Soaked it in, got back in the car, and went on our way down the coast. Plenty of little towns and quite a nice drive if you have the time – which we did – that follows the in and out of the rocky cliffs through groves of trees and cow pastures. We only saw 3 free range cows near the road, but we did see plenty of other happy cows in fenced areas. The further south we got on the California 1, the busier it got. We hit Marin County and it was slammed with people and festivals and congestion. We made our way down to the Golden Gate via the Point Reyes National Seashore. We proceeded across and down to Campbell, CA where my friend currently resides. We checked in to the Campbell Inn, a much nicer and quainter hotel with a nice pool and an excellent breakfast. We met up with my friend, whom I haven’t seen in eight years, at a place called Orchard City Kitchen. It’s a high quality, high priced place that I would recommend again – with caution. I spent a lot of money there, because the food was good and the drinks were strong. You could get away with a decent bill if you stick to a few things overall. A bit of an elaborate experience overall, but very fun indeed for meeting old friends and getting a little tipsy. They have a huge selection of booze – from the fancy to the fanciest to accompany any type of food. We went back to the hotel, walked that is, and ordered pizza because we’re fat kids. I regret the pizza, a lot. To bed we went.
Monday, June 6
I woke up feeling like I was going to die at 3:00 due to all the excess of food, abundance of salt, and probably the alcohol consumption. I proceeded to toss and turn for another six hours. We finally got motivated and went to San Francisco around 10. We went to the Golden Gate, explored the Marin Highlands on the north side of the 101, and then parked in Daly City and took the BART into the lower financial district. Found some grub at Super Duper – a burger place – and then continued our exploration down to the waterfront. We explored the market, saw Sur La Table, and wandered through the city streets. This portion of the trip makes us want to revisit the city – and allocate enough time to enjoy the city. From here, we took the BART to the car and headed back to Campbell. We went city streets via Palo Alto, Mountain View, and other rich suburbs. It was a nice drive, filled with Tesla dealerships and a fun game of spot the Tesla on the road. We met up with my friend and walked to downtown Campbell for dinner and relaxing. The town of Campbell is quaint and yuppie, which is perfect for visitors. We settled on a place called Sushi Confidential for dinner with some ice cream nearby for dessert and some coffee after that. Overall, it was a nice night to close our trip in California. We headed back to the hotel, snuggled in and went to bed with intentions of leaving by 6:00 in the morning.
Tuesday, June 7 & Wednesday June 8
Well, 6:00 came and went and we hit the road about 9:00. We opted to take the route skirting Los Angeles and going through Phoenix and Tucson on the way home instead of the way we came through Flagstaff and Bakersfield. It was an interesting drive, with car fires in the desert hills and carpool lanes working to our advantage. My favorite sign was when we hit the desert and it just said “other desert cities” as shown below. We got to Phoenix about sunset, and the rest was a dark history until morning came and we were still only in West Texas. We made a detour to Granbury, TX to stop by an eye doctor and visit our friend’s new house quickly. I got to sleep about 4:00 and slept for about 3 hours on top of the naps I took in the car. Work was happening at 10, regardless if I wanted it to or not.
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