July 3, 2011
I was so tired yesterday afternoon that by 6:30 p.m. I decided I would lay down for a while. I slept until 11 p.m. I got up for a drink of water and then went back to bed and slept until I woke up which was 6:00 a.m. I guess I really needed the sleep. It was cold in the camper in the morning, about 55 degrees. I was glad I slept under 2 blankets, one of which was a wool Pendleton folded in half. I got up, got dressed, and got ready for the days journey which was heading to the Redwood Forest near Crescent City, California.
It took about 4 hours to get to the Redwood National and State Forest. They are combined into one and it’s amazing. Before getting into the official “Redwood Forest” along the scenic byway, there was an occasional redwood tree along the road. I could tell immediately since their trunks were really wide and they were extremely tall trees. I also noticed after leaving Crater Lake, and driving towards California, the trees changed from almost all pine trees to other types of trees such as some red maple, live oak, cedar, etc. There were lots more wildflowers of different kinds and the colors were yellow, cream, white, purple, pink, and fuchia.
Even though I love my camper van, and the ability I have to stop anywhere, I’ve noticed that it does limit my access to certain roads and areas that I am able to explore. I saw this in Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Crater Lake, and now the Redwood Forest. Some trails and turnoffs are not made for tall or long vehicles so I just go to the trails or sites I can get to. After leaving Crater Lake, I did not see snow again all day. It’s like it didn’t exist anywhere else and it seems that it just stopped at a point along the way. Snow, then no snow. Strange.
I drove through Oregon to California. More winding and steep curving and winding roads. I’m not sure I will ever get used to them.
When entering California every vehicle had to stop and a ranger or some official person came over and asked if there was any fruit, vegetables, or firewood because they were inspecting for some type of insect. I told her about my 2 Florida mangos, which were confiscated. I didn’t tell them about the firewood I had in a plastic box that I was going to use sometime on my trip, not in California. It was packed under lots of other things and would have been very difficult to get at, especially since I was only going to be in California for a few hours, then leave the state. So the mangos were the sacrifice.
The Redwood National and State Forest were really a sight to see. The trees were enormous. If you have not seen them, it’s hard to describe how large many of them are around the base, not to mention the height. I took lots of pictures, including one where there were some small children in front of a tree, and another where there were cars parked in front of some so you can get a perspective of their size. I stepped off counting one of the bases of a tree and it was about 32 feet across, that is not the circumference.
I walked down one of the trails for a little while but not knowing how far it was I turned back. Just after I got off the trail and started walking down the road, a lady ranger was walking towards where I just came from. I said hello and she asked if I walked the trail through the redwoods that was in that area. I said that I had only walked a short way into it. She said the walk is about half mile and she was on her way to do it. I joined her and had my own private tour which was not only unexpected, but very interesting. She has been a ranger there for 3 years, 6 months a year and she lives in the area. She showed me some of the plants and flowers. Something I thought was just clover turns out to be Redwood Sorrel and there are a few species, each with a different delicate flower. She also pointed out the 3 different types of ferns, and some type of ginger which has a heart shaped leave and a flower that lays on the ground because the ants go into it to pollinate it.
She pointed out some of the oldest redwood trees and told me stories about them. The one she called the queen is about 1500 years old and is almost 70 feet in diameter. The one she calls the king, is over 2000 years old and is 77 feet in diameter. She took a picture of me in front of this tree by the burls at the bottom of the tree. This shows how large the tree really is. Also, in the hollow of a dead tree that had another part of it that was living, there was a bird nest hidden in a part of the underside of the tree and there was a little bird in it. I was able to take a picture of the nest and if you look closely you will see the bird inside.
As we walked past various trees she pointed out features in several of them how they put out new shoots to ensure that there were other parts of the tree to survive as one part got damaged or if the top broke off. There was a tree that fell over 2 years ago that you could see was dead, but there were lots of places where new growth was coming out of the tree trunk. There was enough nutrients and moisture that new growth was beginning. I took pictures of some of the new growth. She showed me in places on some trees where the bark had been worn away or somehow was not next to the wood of the tree. The bark was about 12 inches deep. I saw how new bark was trying to grow to cover the exposed area. Mother Nature is amazing.
There were some trees that were hollowed out due to lightening, etc. and there was still some new growth at the top or sides of the tree. I was able to stand in one and take a photo looking up through the center of the tree. I learned how the redwoods survive by having burls either at their base or just under the soil where new trees start when the tree needs to survive and create new growth. Even in fires, the redwoods can survive better since they don’t have resin like other trees, they don’t burn and get damaged due to the thick bark also. They also have pods, burls, etc. below the ground that grow. She explained so much that my brain only retained a fraction of the info. It was really a great learning experience. We stopped numerous times along the trail where she pointed out so many trees and how they were surviving. Redwoods have a shallow root system so often they share roots with a nearby tree. However, if one tree falls over, the other one goes with it. I also learned that the needles are long at the lower part of the tree so it gets lots of water, and up higher where water is not plentiful, the needles are small and close together. She showed me a branch on the ground that probably came from 300 feet up, she could tell by the way the needles were on the branch.
I thanked the ranger for the tour and info after we were finished with the walk. What great timing, I had not planned having a ranger be in the area. I bet she didn’t know she went there just for me!!!
After leaving the Redwood Forest, I headed up the Oregon Coast. What a beautiful and interesting drive. Also, more winding and curving steep roads. I stopped several places along the route to take pictures of the sand dunes, ocean, and rocks and mountains coming up out of the ocean. There were lots of sand dunes, and the ocean in some places came right up to the shore, in others came to the base of a mountain, and in others joined with rivers at inlets. It was really windy, which I not only noticed while driving, but while stopping to try and take some pictures. I almost blew off a hill trying to take a couple of the pictures. But it was worth the view to see it. There was one beach where it must have been extra windy, there were lots of cars parked in the lot and when I looked down to the ocean there were lots of kiteboard surfers or windsurfers whatever they are called. I bet they love the strong cold winds for their sport.
There were lots of state parks along the way. Since I was driving since about 6:30 this morning, by about 4 this afternoon I was ready to stop. I pulled into one state park which happened to be a dirt bike park, thought that would not be a good place for me to spend the night. So I kept heading north along 101, the ocean route. I found a National Forestry park and they had some sites but no electricity. I suspected it was most probably going to be a cold night, even though it was about 72 degrees during the day with a cold wind. I asked the forestry ranger if there was a park nearby with electricity and he told me about a state park a mile up the road. I went to that state park and they had a site for me with electric, and it was near the restrooms with showers. What a treat!!! I got to set up camp, take a nice warm shower and wash my hair, and then cook dinner with some leftovers for tomorrow. I cooked some ground beef, and put it in flour tortillas with refried beans and cheddar cheese and toasted them, yummmm… and I had a chocolate candy bar for dessert. I then walked around the campground to get some exercise. I took a few pictures of my camper in among the trees which is really pretty with the bright blue sky.
I’m updating my article for yesterday and today’s adventures so I can post them online when I get internet. I’m guessing I am going to need to find a place to stop sometime tomorrow for a few hours to upload these articles and the pictures. If I kept stopping every time I found a great place for a photo op, I would not get very far along the trip. As it was, with going through many small towns with 25 mph speed limits and the winding steep roads which slowed down the milage, it seems to take longer to get anywhere, mile distance does not equate with time, unless the miles are at least doubled to equate to time.
Something I have been noticing since probably before my time in Yellowstone, but more so since Grand Teton, is the number of motorcycle travelers with a carrier behind them that I could tell they are on a road trip and camping along the way. Sometimes there are large groups, sometimes solo. It seems they are also middle aged or so. I also see so many people on bicycles with either 4 saddlebags on their bikes or towing a small trailer or carrier on wheels behind them. I even saw a lady today who had her dog in the trailer she was pulling behind her bike. I talked with 2 bikers yesterday at Crater Lake, they said they road their bicycles the day before for 9 hours and only did 66 miles. It was a rough climb and they were going north to Grand Teton. I told them about the roads and how at Mt. Rushmore it took me 2 hours of driving to go 31 miles. They had 4 saddlebags each on their bikes. One had a tent, one food, one repair gear, and the other clothes. I can only imagine the stamina, determination, and physical and emotional strength it takes to do that type of trip on a bicycle with the weather conditions, and knowing the difficult roads I have had to drive and concentration it takes to drive them, not to mention them being on roads that don’t have designated bike lanes.
Another thing I find amusing is when getting into a small town from driving on stretches of road where there is basically nothing except landscape, is just before the town there is a yellow sign that says: Congestion. They should have those all around south Florida, I doubt the people here know what congestion and traffic jams are. I have driven through lots of construction in the last several states, there are signs tax dollars at work.
I went over a bridge in a small town in Oregon and it had a really interesting bridge so I grabbed my camera and took a picture while I was driving. It was a most unusual bridge, I loved the color of the girders and the shape of them.
I will leave here tomorrow and head further north along the Oregon coast and stop to see the seal lions north of Florence, and then to Depoe Bay to hopefully take a charter boat into the ocean for a couple of hours to see the whales. At least that is my plan at the moment as I close out the story for today.