Wednesday, May 30, 2007

S2S Day 4: It's the Law to do That?

I now understand why my father didn't like to stop and sight see along the way on our spring drives to the Sunshine State. I didn't dilly-dally too much today, but spent about 14 hours in the car. Yup, I underestimated the distance between tonight's hotel and last night's. Plus, I took a detour through Ashland (for a wine tasting) and Medford (I noticed people drive the speed limits around here. Safe, cautious drivers).

Before I left the state park this morning, I went to see the seals again. They weren't lounging on the rocks but had moved to another area and were fishing for breakfast. I walked down to the tidal pools for a closer look. Their heads bobbed up and down and every so often, they'd dive and splash their fins.

As I walked closer to the water, one took notice and popped his head up. Like the deer, he seemed as though he was checking me out. We made eye contact, me curious about him, him probably thinking, "oh, another tourist." He disappeared and re-appeared with two friends. The three of them swam closer to get a better look of me. I just stood on the rocks, trying not to step on the exposed sea critters. Closer and closer then in unison, the three dove under the water and dispersed, each popping up in different locations.

I then hit the road. More cool stuff to see...

I lost count, but think I went through six mountain passes, most with hairpin turns every mile or so. The scenery has been incredible. I love the rocky coast meeting the Pacific Ocean, with a bit of sandy beach. Saw a house for sale on a cliff overlooking the Pacific for $750k.

I realized I've become the type of tourist I loathed in my younger days. The type who just gets out of the car, takes a picture and jumps back in without taking the time to explore and appreciate. I now realize there is still appreciation but EVERYTHING is so new and different, I want to experience as much as I can.

Drove through Avenue of the Giants, more fabu TALL trees then reached a place with Big Foot stuff all over the place (I'm too tired to look up the name). But, apparently, it was the area where Big Foot was captured on film (but I thought that was fake???). There's a scenic highway and it's called "The Bigfoot Scenic Highway." I stopped at the town's visitors center and asked if the highway was mountain driving. "Oh, no, it's flat and you don't have to go over any passes." Guess things are up to interpretation, because I went over two mountain passes.

The hotel called around 8 p.m. to make sure I was still planning on staying. YES! I hadn't planned on arriving past 8, but that's what happened.

I stopped for gas three times today, 2 fill-ups and one, "oh, it's a mountain pass, I better top off." The last was in Oregon at a Chevron and I went to pump my own gas but the attendant said it's the law that all gas stations are full service. Is that for real or was he pulling my leg? Either way, it was nice of him to do that and wash my windows, all for a cost cheaper than in Tallahassee.

And tonight, I'm in a really groovy, funky hotel in McMinnville. Doors lock at 11 p.m. and I pulled in at 10:09 p.m. There's a microbrewery and pub attached and all the patrons were out around 10 p.m. Lots of happy, drunk people on the street, maybe that's where Oregon gets its happy-go-lucky reputation - from microbrews and good wine!

The hotel is awesome, phrases written EVERYWHERE on the walls, colorful, funky paintings, elevator doors painted differently. Each sleeping room has its own name. Downside, had to park two blocks away and the bathroom is across the hall, but for 50 bucks, it's well worth it.

Calling it a night (it's about midnight), another big day tomorrow - more wine to taste (and maybe some beer) and sights to see. In Portland tomorrow night and the night after. At least I'm going to sleep in until 8 a.m.

S2S Day 3: Wolves, Seals (!!!) and a Sunset

Yesterday ended watching the sunset into the Pacific Ocean. It was the first time I've seen it. I was at Mackerricher State Park, sitting on a big rock at the ridge of a sand dune. While the sun made its descent into the Ocean, instinct told me to turn around and I did.

Watching me about 25 feet away was a young white tail buck. His amber fur glistened with the sun's orange rays. His big, curious brown eyes gave me the look over, as though checking me out to see if I were "okay." He ran down the opposite side of the dune to an area being restored with vegetation and met up with two other young bucks. A rider atop a horse came through and chased the deer away.

The wind blew harder and the air grew more crisp. But man, I love the smell of salty, sea air. I also love what it does to my hair, creates big, "sea," loopy curls (think Shirley Temple). That was yesterday. While in San Francisco, my hair was frizzy like a Q-Tip, today it's flat. Anyway...

Yesterday made my way back to Sonoma. Stopped at the Rosie the Riveter National Memorial - I didn't know there was one - then onward to the Jack London State Historical Park. I didn't realize how young he was when he died - 40. I'm three years away from 40 and haven't accomplished even a FRACTION of what he has. More than just the writing, but the family and his home. (If you're unfamiliar with who Jack London his, this is the "wolves" section of the blog post - he wrote "Whitefang," among other stories involving wolves).

Mackerricher State Park was next, just north of the town of Ft. Bragg on California's coast. I got to pick out my camping spot - yippee! But have to admit, being the day after, I realize why I haven't camped in more than 10 years :)

It took maybe 20 minutes to "set up camp" - which was basically popping the tent up. I then went to look for my beloved seals. And I found them, at least a dozen round "sausage links" lying lazily on the rocks with the crashing waves of the Pacific around them. They seemed unfazed by this and occasionally flapped a tail fin or two.

Sunset followed then bed by 9 p.m.-ish. Then I began to get creeped out. I started hearing noises in the bushes around me and it began getting cold. I imagined the tent being shaked, like in "The Blair Witch Project," which I think is the scariest movie ever. Tried thinking happy thoughts and went to sleep. Awoke after thinking I slept several hours at 12:30 p.m. I dreamt that a small tremor went through the campground - I felt it in my dream, not sure if it were real.

I was COLD! Thought about getting in the car but the thought of lugging my stuff and going outside seemed worse than bearing through the rest of the night. After it all, I did get a decent night of sleep. Which leads to the next post...