Pacific Coast Dreams: Oregon to California

Mingus Park in Coos Bay, Oregon

Mingus Park in Coos Bay, Oregon

After a night spent sleeping close to the road. We woke up to a world filled with fog outside our window. We ate breakfast and watched the mist recede back across the bay while eating stockpiled Ranier cherries, apples and jerky. When it was clear to the bridge, we took off. Our first stop was a cute little neighborhood park. Mingus park is beautifully maintained and had an easy one mile trail around a lake with an open section guarded aggressively by geese and a beautiful wooded section with a Japanese theme and a few friendly cats smoozing for pets. What a great start to the day, eh?

MarcTyrano

Marc meets a Tyrannosaur at Prehistoric Gardens

Next up was  a kinda kitschy, but eminently cool roadside attraction called Prehistoric Gardens. Being located inside an Oregon rainforest gives this park of life-sized dinosaur replicas an even greater sense of realism and it was fun to compare ourselves to the models. We talked to the owner on the way out and she  told us about her grandparents building the park back in the 1950’s and her commitment to keeping it going. Needless to say, the kids we saw along the way loved it… and so did the adults!

Big brontosaurus and teeny me!

Big Brontosaurus and teeny me!

Pteranodon

 

I bet you’re wondering how much stuff two people can fit into one day. The answer is a helluva lot actually, when Marc is driving. LOL. I’m going to skip the last two stops for the day but suffice to say we saw another lighthouse from a distance ( missed the low tide window and didn’t want to wade through icy cold water). Also saw another cool rock formation at a scenic outlook, and crossed into California. Odd to have to go through an agriculture checkpoint from one state to another.

Day six was dedicated to finding Redwoods.  Marc headed us down the road toward Lady Bird Johnson’s Grove. On the way though,  we had to stop for a couple of photo op’s. I mean, how often do you come across gigantic statues of Paul Bunyan and Blue or wild elk?

Paul Bunyon and Blue

Paul Bunyan and Blue.See Marc underneath Paul’s foot?

Elk! They were wholly unimpressed with me.

Elk! They were wholly unimpressed with me.

We met our first redwood trees at a spot that felt almost sacred. Lady Bird Johnson was one of many people who realized early on that the Redwood trees were special and needed to be protected from commercial logging and timber industries before there was nothing left for future generations. This 300 acre grove was dedicated to her in 1969. It’s quite different from the Kauri’s in New Zealand. Here, a lot of the trees are hollowed out and blackened in spots from periodic forest fires that clear ground cover and new opportunities for life. Interestingly, fire  doesn’t necessarily  kills these trees because  their bark is a thickly insulating layer their sap is mostly water.  It was a beautiful tramp in an almost hushed atmosphere  with cool clean air brushing my cheeks occasionally as we investigated the forest.

LBJPark

We drove on refreshed, towards Avenue of the Giants and Humboldt Redwoods state park. This is a thirty-two mile driving tour through groves of Redwoods that are named for the folks that paid to preserve them or the towns they’re inside. There are trails, campgrounds,  and overlooks with plenty of pull off spots and souvenir shops along the side of the road. We saw fallen giants and victorious survivors along the way and took plenty of pictures.

 

Fallen Giant

Toppled Redwood tree. Massive, eh?

The Immortal Tree. This tree has survived fire, loging axes, lightening, and floods. It's between 950-1000 years old.

The Immortal Tree. This tree has survived fire, logging axes, lightening, and floods. It’s between 950-1000 years old.

The Eternal Treehouse. Used at various times to house people, supplies, or livestock. Hollowed redwood base.

The Eternal Treehouse. Used at various times to house people, supplies, or livestock. Hollowed redwood base.

Just driving through

Just driving through!

Yes, I had to do it too

Yes, I had to do it too!

It got hot as we drove out of the forest. Amazing what those massive trees do to cool the temperature down. We kept our eyes open for a spot where we could reach the river for a skinny dip, but the one potential spot  we found without people we began to realize may have been being set up for an illegal pot growing operation and we got the hell out of there. Still, the scenery in the distance was awesome.

NiceView

Wow! No wonder I was tired when we got back home! Four posts into the trip and I think I should stop here so no one gets too tired reading all this at one time. One more to go. I’m sure of it now. Thanks for following me and see you again soon on Chasing Summer!

 

 

 

 

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