Day 96 was our final day along the Pacific Coast, before we made our way into inland Oregon and the places of our future residency. I'd be foolish not to share some extra photographic results of the day's travels. Click below to enlarge.
Highway 101 was just as beautiful, and about as sparsely populated, as some protected drives we've seen in the past, like the Blue Ridge Parkway back in the Shenandoah Valley. On this side of the country, the Pacific Coastal Highway would do well to have federal protection from the National Park Service, to preserve and maintain this magnificent stretch of highway. Believe me, it deserves the attention.
We woke in a Motel 6 and got ready for another day seeing some of our most incredible views since the Grand Canyon, and by far the most scenic ocean views of the trip. We passed a little-bit-nicer-than-hole-in-the-wall place called Amigas Burritos, and after a bit of a delayed reaction, Tom and I decided to circle around and pick up some lunch. The food was excellent, and it was nice to have something more filling than a dish from one of the Taquerías we had been passing. I had the Enchiladas.
As we continued to drive along the cost, we spotted some redwoods every so often on our way to higher concentration in Redwoods National Park. It took us about an hour to get to the park entrance.
We didn’t know how long the drive in the park was going to be, but we were not disappointed with the length or scenery. I didn’t notice as high of a concentration of the Giant Sequoias here as in Yosemite, but the forest had some great views and the overall experience was very satisfying, with great views of tree-covered mountains for miles and miles. Besides the great views, there was nothing particularly notable to non-dendrologists like Tom and I to write about, so enjoy the pictures.
Eventually, we drove outside the forest. We realized that our choices were to turn around and see something we had already seen, or make a big loop south and get back to highway one. We elected the loop and as we followed the road outside the national forest, we were going down in elevation quickly. Neither of us thought much about this until the tires started smoking. A rock must have gotten stuck in the brakes, or there was something else wrong with them. What a place to have something like this happen, I thought, just when we need the brakes the most.
I took over the driver’s seat and continued down the hill. To keep our speed down, I didn’t use the gas unless absolutely necessary and shifted down, using the lower gears to reduce speed as we drove towards a bare, treeless area. The brakes still played a role during some of the sharper declines, but it was a minimal one. We finally arrived at a river and the bottom of this part of the mountain. We got out of the car and threw some of the water from our five-gallon camping “water bag” on to the wheels, which cause large puffs of steam to form and hiss back out at us. We kept putting more and more water on the each of the wheels, and the steam did not slow down, the wheels were hot to the core. We waited for fifteen minutes and decided it was safe, and then drove to the nearest convenience store.
I went inside. The lady was Native American, and kind of laughed at me. She told me that lots of people’s breaks overheated, and it was not an unfortunate coincidence that it happened while we were in the steep grades of the mountain road. She said we didn’t need a mechanic, we should just let it sit for about an hour and we would be fine. She suggested we walk down to the river.
Tom and I looked for a path to the river from behind the convenience store, but the walk down would have been more of a climb. We walked across a bridge that we had just driven over, and down a dirt road. We went past a stage of sorts, and down to the river, the river was fast moving and provided something fun to do, but we had to walk over rocks and through thorn bushes, making Tom wish he hadn’t worn flip-flops. We walked around and Tom skipped some rocks, and finished by hiking back up the hill. On our way, we noticed that the “stage” from the walk down was dug into the ground.
“It’s a cock-fighting ring,” Tom said.
“Really?” I questioned. We quickened our pace up the hill, walking quickly away from the houses with people who knew that we knew their secret.
We stopped back in the convenience store to grab some Gatorade. I told the lady that we had walked on the little dirt road down to the river. She commented that we must have seen the stage where Indian ceremonies were preformed. We had been on an Indian reservation the whole time! Had the lady know our suspicions, she would have had an additional reason to laugh at us. She told me a bit more about the ceremony, including how only virgins were allowed to dance. I chuckled inwardly thinking ‘how do they know?’
We continued driving and saw some paragliders. One was in the air and one had already landed. We watched and talked to them about the sport briefly. It looked like quite a sport, and the area this hobby club had available was beautiful.
We finally made our full loop and ended not too far from where we had started that morning. I joked that we could go back to Amigas for more Mexican. We drove up the coast, stopping to take pictures until it was too dark to continue, and Tom got some great sunset photos. We stopped at a tax-free liquor store that must have been on a corner of the Indian reservation and picked up some cheap name-brand liquors. We crossed into Oregon, the state where we would end our Journey (but not the last we would visit).
That evening, we drove into Eugene after having gotten a hotel on Priceline. We were very pleased with the quality of the hotel, and the general quality of the not-very-planned day.