On the road again! As is always the case, my time at home in Portland was far too short. On this trip, it was a mere three days – poor planning on my part. My hope is that the excitement of getting back on the road will help counter the sadness of leaving my parents and a place so steeped in happy memories.
We took off to the coast and drove US 101 nearly the entire length of Oregon. It’s a famous route, renowned for its dramatic vistas, and I had wanted to drive it for years. Having never been south of Newport on the Oregon Coast, I was looking forward to the trip and to seeing a new part of the state. Unfortunately, as is often the way on the coast, we had overcast weather most of the day, but the beauty of the coastline was still evident. We camped about an hour north of Coos Bay, at Eel Creek Campground, which is just outside of the Oregon Dunes. The site was nice enough, and it was cool to see the massive dunes roll on towards the ocean. They are not easy to climb, let me tell ya!
The next day we continued south, bound for the Redwoods in Northern California. Our first stop was Bandon, a neat little seaside town, where we took a quick walk around old town and grabbed a coffee. Our time there was brief, but it seemed like a nice vacation town. There’s something about seaside towns: as different as they can be, there’s a common vibe that ties them all together. Elements of Bandon reminded me of towns on Cape Cod, and even of Key West, a clearly different seaside experience.
We arrived in the Redwoods around 2pm and headed to Mill Creek Camp Site in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park. The Redwoods are divided into both a National Park and several State Parks, and delineating one from another can be a bit confusing. No matter – it’s all stunning. After setting up camp we headed south and chose a 2.8 mile loop around Big Tree (this name could really refer to any of the trees in the forest, but one in particular was large enough to earn the moniker) and took our time strolling the path, gazing up at the leafy giants nearly the whole time. It wasn’t a fast walk, but it was a pretty one.
The next morning we headed to Kuchel Visitor Center to try our luck at obtaining a permit to access Tall Tree Trailhead. Apparently only 50 permits are given out each day, but even arriving after 10am on a Saturday, we were able to get one. The trailhead is a bit of a drive down a bumpy, unpaved road, but the hike is spectacular. I’ve long been a waterfall snob, and now I’m also a tree snob – I don’t really know what can compare to these gorgeous giants. Talk about feeling small.
I really enjoyed the Redwoods. They strike me as a place where someone could easily escape into the beauty of nature; the trees manage to be awe-inspiring and peaceful at the same time. They’re also a nice place to camp, in among the forest. As we wrapped up our evening there with some marshmallows at the campfire my husband turned to me and said, “hey, remember that time we made s’mores in the Redwoods?” In fact, I’ll never forget it.