From Seattle to San Diego: Day 4

IMG_9749In my 23 years of life on this planet, I’ve learned that in order to have a great vacation, you can’t treat every day like you’re on vacation.

If you think about it for a second, it’ll make sense.

That was undoubtedly the story of this morning. By the ungodly hour of 8am, we had already had our coffee(s), turned on our heated seats, and hit the road for a day filled with… even a little more than we had planned for.

I know what you’re thinking, “Who in their right mind wakes up at 8AM!?”

It’s crazy, you’re right, but it’s also a testament to the many sacrifices we were willing to make on this trip. We both voluntarily slept 9, instead of 11, hours so we could get a head start on the day.

Don’t ever say vacation isn’t hard work…

Beach Loop Road, Bandon State Park, Oregon

Our first stop – Beach Loop Road along Bandon State Park – wasn’t on our itinerary. It was one of those instances where you looked over to the right and thought, “Hmm, I wonder what’s over there?”

Then you find this…

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I have to warn you, there’s a downside to discovering such amazing locales. If you get lucky once or twice, you start wondering if every narrow, rocky, generally unsafe road along the coast leads to a haven of waterfalls on an isolated beach.

“That road back there looked acutely dangerous and unusually menacing. Maybe we should turn around and see where it goes?”

Of course, if acutely dangerous and unusually menacing leads to this next spot (it does), the reward is well worth the risk…

Port Orford, Battle Rock Wayside, Oregon

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It’s true, I used to live in Kansas City… not to be confused with Kansas. When I moved (back) to L.A. in ’07, I remember someone asking me once if Kansas City was “like, over there by, like, Cleveland or whatever.”

Yeah, right by Cleveland, which is the capitol of Oklahoma City, because cities have capitals.

For the record, I’ve taken my wife back with me to visit Kansas City. She’s experienced the BBQ (Jackstack > Oklahoma Joes), and the…

And the…

Okay, so KC isn’t San Diego (actually, it’s the exact opposite), but it also isn’t the Walmartian, Hills-Have-Eyes wasteland that some people think it is. So, you can imagine how disparaged I felt when we saw this guy roaming the PCH…

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And my wife says to me, “Crazy! It looks like we’re in Kansas!”

… Because the whole time we were in Kansas City, we saw nothing but cows on the road.

I give up.

Let’s keep going.

Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge

The most daunting part of this entire blog series wasn’t recounting our adventures, or remembering what we did each day. It was trying to figure out where half of these photos were taken.

Over and over again, we found ourselves looking through the photos and saying, “Oh yeah, that was a crazy view, I think that was somewhere in Oregon.”

It took some time (and some map coordinates from the photos on my iPhone), but we figured out exactly where we took these photos (below): On the map, it was just south of Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, and just North of Lone Ranch Beach.

You should go there.

Like, tomorrow.

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It’s hard to summarize the tranquility of the Oregon coast. There’s a somber allure about the entire state that I really can’t convey. From the unconventional city of Portland, to the uninhabited miles of coastline, it’s a place that requires exploration. There are certain, uncommon things about Oregon that could (and would) never exist in California, but at the end of the day, there’s no place like home…

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Redwood National Park

IMG_0666When I was planning this trip, I did a whole lot of, “Ooh, let’s go there, that looks amazing”, and then added it to our itinerary.

That approach didn’t exactly work in my favor for our next stop – Redwood National Park.

You can’t say, “Let’s go to Redwood National Park”. That’s like saying, “Let’s drive on the earth.” The comprehensive park is a whopping 133,000 acres of land, spanning over 207 square miles (or, if you’re of Asian descent, 53823190417.92 square decimeters).

Thanks to my poor planning (and a general lack of daylight), we drove around aimlessly for an hour, gawked at the preposterous size of the trees, the absurd density of the forest, and for the obligatory Sara hugs 3% of a gargantuan tree photo.

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As we drove through the Southern tip of the park, our daylight was quickly vanishing behind us. I was terror-striken thinking about how my wife might respond to not seeing the sunset from a remote, picturesque, uninhabited beach on the shores of Valhalla (let’s call that the first, and last, Greek joke of my life).

“Babe, the best thing about missing the sunset tonight is that I spoke with God via text message, and He told me He’s going to host another one tomorrow night.”

Disaster averted. Thanks, God. I’ll text you later.

Humboldt Bay, CA

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You see that strip of land? Yep, that’s where we went…

The best way I can explain how we got to the area of Humboldt Bay we explored, is to tell you that I have no idea how we got to the area of Humboldt Bay we explored. At some point we turned right, then left, then made at-least one U-turn, and spent a minimum of 4-5 miles on a dirt road.

And by dirt road, I mean a 4-mile pothole that happened to have dirt on it.

By the time we found a reasonably safe place to leave our car, the sun had already brushed his teeth and taken a Melatonin, so there wasn’t much time before he was firmly done for the day. We quickly ran towards the ocean, although we couldn’t see how far it was because of the towering sand dunes we had to climb to get there.

What would be on the other side? Anything, really…

By this point in our trip, nothing would have surprised me. Had there been an upper ocean waterfalling into a lower ocean, I probably wouldn’t have been visibly impressed.

Here’s what we found…

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By the time we got back to the 101, it was completely dark outside. This is a really good time in the blog to give you two pieces of advice if you ever do this trip:

(1) Don’t do it in the winter. Not because it’s cold (it is), or because it’ll probably rain (it will), but your hours of daylight will inevitably force you to miss some really amazing stuff (we did).
(2) Don’t do it in the winter.

Because we didn’t heed to either piece of advice, we had mega-driving days, like this one. And let’s be honest: The only thing longer than this rambling blog is the number of hours we spent in the car on this day. Thankfully, we had a hotel just outside of Humboldt bay.

In Santa Cruz. … 341 miles away.

What’s another 6 1/2 hours of driving? Psshh.

IMG_0807By the time we got to San Francisco (5+ hours later), we were both officially in so-tired-i-can’t-see mode. It really should be illegal to drive-and-drive. I was in no condition to operate a vehicle, let alone maneuver one over the Golden Gate Bridge…

Then through the city…

Then through San Jose…

By the time we arrived at our hotel in Santa Cruz, it was 11:00pm, or maybe 11:30pm, or it could have been 37:50fm, which isn’t even a real measurement of time, but at this point, I wouldn’t have known the difference.

We immediately crawled into bed, turned the lights out, but couldn’t go to sleep without watching HGTV first. House Hunters is the NyQuil of TV programs – it’s just interesting and uninteresting enough to force you into a sleep coma. Well done, cable.

Up next: The most anticipated day of our trip…

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