After enjoying the desert in Las Vegas and Death Valley, we transitioned into the redwood country of Northern California. But before we arrived, Whitney and I enjoyed an entire week in San Francisco. A friend of mine let us house-sit his apartment while he skied in Lake Tahoe. So for five days, we lived like city folk. We showered a lot, cooked food in an oven, and enjoyed high-speed internet, Netflix, and full-sized furniture.
Every day we investigated the city. We spent lots of time walking Dottie, sitting in parks, and riding bikes. Sage sat the entire time. Resting her bones and saving up her gasoline for her next drive to more Northern parts. A highlight of the city was the food. We tried Burmese food for the first time, enjoyed Venezuelan arepas, went to a fancy chocolate store, and gobbled up desserts at a Cantonese dessert bar.
After the city, we got the opportunity to visit my grandparents in Cloverdale, CA. I remember visiting when I was a kid, but to see their cute neighborhood as an adult helped me realize how beautiful the area is. The redwoods towered in the distance, and spring wildflowers were popping up all over.
I was thrilled to spend time with them and to finally introduce Whitney. We shared a delicious lunch altogether. Afterward, my grandpa and I went for a walk and we let Dottie run around in the backyard. They were impressed by her rambunctiousness, to say the least.
Upon departing, my grandma prepared a big bag of food. Frozen soups, snacky things, and fresh fruit. My grandpa gifted his trowel and collapsible toilet seat. Plus, a little cash for a fish and chips dinner in their old stomping grounds of Crescent City, CA. And Whitney got away with three new books. We left feeling so fulfilled and happy.
On our way north, we stopped in Arcata. For some reason, I have always wanted to visit. We were lucky to arrive to the Saturday Farmer’s Market. It was lovely to see the local scene and people. We went to breakfast, did some grocery shopping, and bought fresh produce. The salads, sandwiches, and wraps we enjoyed over the next week were delicious because of the spring mix we bought.
After lunch, we went for our first hike in the redwoods. The outskirts of Arcata are all considered second-growth redwoods. But they are still big and beautiful. The lush and vibrant spectrum of colors we observed on our hike was striking. Dottie was happy as could be. And muddy as ever.
Crescent City, CA
Crescent City turned out to be one of our favorite parts. After spending a night at a rest stop, I woke up to a serious case of food poisoning. I made trips to the bathroom while Whitney and Dottie went for hikes in the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, previously the lands of the Yurok people.
When we arrived in Crescent City, we decided to get a hotel so that I could stay near a bathroom. It was more expensive than what we wanted but totally worth it. Because I couldn’t go out, Whitney took herself to dinner per grandpa’s instructions. She kindly brought me some take-out.
The next day we moved the van a whopping 200 yards from the hotel parking lot, across the street to a beachfront parking zone along the 101 highway. We opened up the doors and enjoyed the fresh ocean breeze all day. We took a massive beach walk along the crescent-shaped beach, hunted for sand dollars, and threw the ball for Dottie.
The next day, we dropped Sage off for maintenance. Our radiator cracked and was leaking engine coolant. We tried to seal the crack ourselves with a repair kit, but it was more of an art project than a viable solution. It was time to get a professional involved. There was one shop in town that could fit us in, so we dropped her off and hoped for the best.
In the meantime, we went for one of the best bike rides we have ever been on. With Dottie running alongside me and Whitney following, we headed straight for the coast. The craggy cliffsides of Crescent City were stunning. The morning started off foggy, but eventually, the marine layer burned off and we were in full sun. We had a picnic lunch in a super scenic spot, loafed around in the sun, and went for a beer at a local brewery. Originally we were bummed that we needed to invest the time and money into replacing the radiator. But with a day like that, our frustration promptly melted away.
By lunchtime, the car was done. I tipped in cash and left the mechanics with a little cannabis gift to express our gratitude. Against all odds and only slightly behind schedule, we were on our way to the Southern Oregon Coast.
The southern Oregon coast was mind-blowing. From Crescent City, the cliffs only got higher and the redwoods grew bigger. Sage was now running like a charm and we were thrilled to be back on the road. No radiator leakage whatsoever ( and thankfully not from me either).
Despite the cooler temperatures, the ocean was calling. I really wanted to jump in so I could wash away the foul mood that had overcome me. At some point after filling up gas, Dottie jumped up in between Whitney and me and spilled coca-cola everywhere. I was immensely frustrated. So in Port Orford, OR we spotted a scenic-looking bay with enticing waves. We parked the van, changed into our bathing suits, and blasted down to the beach. We ran so to not get too cold before hitting the water. On the count of three Whitney and I ran into the ocean, diving headfirst. We came up laughing, smiling, and shivering. Dottie had followed us in also.
I went for a second dip, but could not convince either Whitney or Dottie to join me again. We let the warm sun dry us off and threw a stick for Dottie to help get deplete some extra energy. I was feeling much better. We changed into warm and cozy clothes, dried Dot off, and were back driving on the most beautiful road ever.
By nightfall, we made it to Florence. It’s an old and sleepy riverfront town. We slept downtown and woke up to a beautiful morning. After a stop at the local used bookstore and a walk along the marina with Dot, we hit the road for Eugene, OR. Whitney had a flight to catch. She was off to Texas to join her family at the wedding of a special family friend. While she was gone, I would drive east to visit a friend in Bend, OR.