Stormy Weather

Since my last post I continued south along the Oregon coast through some beautiful vistas and heavy weather.  By the time I broke camp after my trip back up the Umpqua River it was well into the afternoon and I didn’t make it too far south before the stormy weather was back in full force. I found an RV park along the water in Gold Beach OR and, given the choice of sites on the nearly empty grounds I chose to plant myself between two big groves of trees hoping they would block some of the heavy winds. I’m sure they did, but it was still the most veracious storm I’ve had to ride out in my motorhome, and there were times when I thought I’d surely lose the AC unit or fan vent or SOMETHING off the top. The deafening sound kept me awake much of the night. By the next morning there was enough of a break to take the dogs for a walk on the beach. Always a big hit with them! I think anyone watching would have been particularly entertained when I diligently bent over to pick up after Sadie and was swamped from the backside by a rogue wave that came much further up shore than the others and soaked me all the way up to my tush! The next downpour came well before we arrived back at the RV, but at that point it really didn’t matter. I was already soaked! From there we pulled up stakes and headed south, stopping numerous times along the way where turn outs were provided. I took one where the state park sign promised a scenic vista but neglected to say it wasn’t RV friendly. It was the most heart pounding bit of roadway I’ve encountered so far. Hills so steep I didn’t know if my RV would even make it (and what if it didn’t??), and upon arriving at the “vista” (every bit as beautiful as many I’d seen from the highway) I was faced with a corkscrew turn on the edge of the bluff overlooking the ocean. Needless to say I made it, but not without a few anxious moments. Two more times that day I took turns to destinations I anticipated seeing, only to find the roads were closed for the season, with no place to turn around, and no warning until AFTER being committed to the turn. Both times I had to unhitch the car along a roadside, get both vehicles turned around and re-hitch. Frustrating, but I have to say that most of the “off the beaten path” turns I take are well worth it. [Note to self and others: anticipate off season closures, and check ahead if planning your route.] Once again my journey took me past some unbelievable vistas. I have never traveled the south end of the Oregon coast, nor the very northern tip of the California coast. Both are spectacularly beautiful. On the way I drove over Oregon’s tallest bridge (Thomas Creek Bridge at 345′), through (literally) the largest herd of Elk I’ve seen (Roosevelt Elk near Klamath, CA), and into a couple odd little towns that made me shake my head wondering if I’d somehow slipped into The Twilight Zone.

Note my RV sitting on the bluff above.

I spent the night near Eureka, and the next morning  took a side road off the highway at Fernbridge, drove across a narrow two-lane bridge (which was really only a one lane bridge with me on it), through the countryside and into the quaint Victorian town of Ferndale. This place (like many) was void of activity during the off season, but worth seeing. According to Google Maps there are only two roads between Hwy 101 and Ferndale. Since I took the main road in I opted for Grizzly Bluff Road out. Not a route for the “weak of heart” RV driver as it is long and steep and very windy, but worth the challenge to me. The road meandered through farmland filled with cattle and lots of big, old barns. I could tell it was not a road traveled by many large motorhomes because even the cattle, normally in a comatose state to passers by, picked their heads up in unison and watched as if highly amused as I drove by. The rest of the drive was tight turns through the surrounding hills… the kind that make it difficult to appreciate the view unless you have great peripheral vision. I was barely back on the highway when I ventured back off again at The Avenue of the Giants. This 31 mile stretch of old highway is a must for anyone traveling through Humboldt County. The drive takes you through the largest old growth stand of Redwoods in the world, some hugging the road so tightly they’ve attached reflectors. I was happy to find the road devoid of traffic so I could take my half out of the middle as needed and slow down to gawk whenever I wanted to. There are numerous turnouts along the way, some even big enough for me, BUT… most of the side roads leading to noted trails and points of interest are not very (large) RV friendly. Another thing worth noting… I was disappointed to find that dogs are not allowed on the trails in this state park. Understandable I guess, since not all dog owners are diligent about picking up after their four-legged companions, not to mention the fact that many of these trails must be packed with tourists during peak season.

I actually lived along this stretch of roadway for a couple of months nearly thirty years ago, between my two years at UW and starting the program at Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara. The area is as breathtaking as ever, and it has not lost its uncanny ability to take you back in time. What used to be a few decades of time travel is now a few more. 🙂 Those of you who have been here and bothered to get out of your car will know exactly what I mean. Once back on the highway I drove straight through to Geyserville where I was greeted with a big smile and warm hug from my old high school buddy, Star Thorpe. More on my time with Star and her husband Steve in my next post. In the mean time, I’ve got lots more images to share…

Gotta throw a "touristy" one in from time to time. 🙂 This one to show scale.

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