Thursday, April 03, 2008

Trip to California, Day 6 & 7

As we prepared to depart Clear Lake, we pondered rumors and reports of snow and hail up north. A check of the forecast revealed rain spreading in to northern California. I hoped they were wrong. The clouds thickened as we joined Highway 101 northward. You could see them nicely in this picture of the Willitts town sign...

The rain started shortly thereafter and didn't stop for a few more hours. After getting some gas (for those who are interested, the total gas bill for this trip was $200.00), we slogged through more rain straight into the heart of Redwood National Park. Big trees and wet roads...this was definitely feeling more like the landscape I grew up in; except some of these trees were thicker than all but the oldest growth of trees in Oregon.

We stopped for a quick picture at the Giant Treehouse (which was not yet open for the season).

We discussed various options and decided that we could encompass the most Redwood experiences by stopping at the Trees of Mystery tourist trap in Klamath, CA. The first thing we saw upon our arrival was a giant Paul Bunyan statue next to a giant blue ox which was missing its head.

Apparently the ox head fell down last fall and they are working on repairing it. I'm glad I wasn't underneath it when it fell. You can't enjoy litigation when you are dead. The Bunyan statue is even more impressive when you realize that Ladybug is actually 20 feet 3 inches tall.

You enter the facility through the gift shop/museum and then head out on the trail out back that shows you the "mysterious wonders" of the Redwoods. The superlatives were flowing from every sign and pamphlet as if these beautiful trees could not speak for themselves in their grandeur. In between the editorializing was some quite interesting information about the area.

Here is a rainsoaked little of many we happened across in our travels.

The gals stand in front of a paltry little tree.

The Sky Train is a gondola that carries people up to the top of the ridge. The seven minute ride lifted us up off the forest floor and into the canopy of the redwoods to some degree. They had to blaze the path up the hill so the cars wouldn't get snagged by branches, but the view below and to the sides was pretty neat. The rain ended as we boarded and the sky began to lighten.

Before long we were deposited on a platform at the top of the ridge. We arrived in time for a decent parting of the clouds.

This is a view of the ocean from the top of the ridge. If was the best view of the Pacific we'd seen all day since the previous rain was thick enough to obscure it even when the highway passed along its edge.

We rode back down (a hiking trail was available, but we still had a couple hundred miles left) and took the trail back to the gift shop. The return trail sported a number of chainsaw carving displays of different scenes and figures. We paid our fee ($13.50 per head and $10 for seniors), checked out the museum, then got back on the road.

I found it ironic that we had driven for hours in heavy rain only to see the clouds part just a few miles from the Oregon border. Sunny California. Rainy Oregon. We all know the reputation and it was fun to see it turned on its head for once.

We stopped at a Thai restaurant in Bandon for the best Pad Thai I've ever had. The other dishes included Tom Yum soup, a green curry chicken dish (that was quite spicy), and one other thing nobody remembers. We watched the sun going down and pressed onward.

We pressed onward towards Reedsport towards our evening destination at the Salty Seagull hotel. It was inexpensive and had a heater which were the good things about it. The beds, smoke smell (on a supposedly non-smoking room), general other odor, wimpy pillows, and lack of promised WiFi were the downers. Luckily it was only a sleeping pad for one night.

We got our first dose of the northern cold snap as we turned out the lights for the evening. The rain shower outside got quite loud and we looked through the blinds to see a hailacious hail storm clattering away. The ground was white at the end (for a short while anyway).

Ladybug and I got up early, driven by discomfort, and went for a little drive while the other two slept. We ventured north out of town for a few miles when the rain turned to snow. It appeared the snow level at this time was about 100 feet above sea level. When the fir boughs on the trees started turning white, we turned around and returned to Reedsport. We got the troops up and had a nice breakfast at the Harbor Light Family Restaurant. The food was very good and the staff was nice. The nicest looking breakfast was Grandpa's Marionberry French Toast.

From there we ventured up the Umpqua River on Highway 38. Ladybug's dad told us that the previous State representative was Speaker of the House for 20 years and that this highway was one of his pet projects. Considering the lack of population on either side, it was a very nice highway indeed. We encountered a slurry of hail and snow that at time accumulated on the roadway, but nothing that made driving difficult.

This was a cold morning in the lower Umpqua valley.

The rest of the trip was mostly uneventful. We passed by Pacific Yurts in Cottage Grove and saw show models of the semi-permanent tent houses (well, actually yurts) as we drove by. The Oregon State Parks department buys these, puts lighting, heat, and a couple bunks inside for those who don't want to rough it in tents. They are quite a pleasant and inexpensive way to get away.

Before long we were home. Our cat actually cried a little "I miss you" cry when we let him in the house. Jeebus is getting older and likes more stability than having a neighbor leave food for him outside. All we needed was about a week to recover from our vacation. Sigh.


Dean Wormer said...

The Ox head thing is hysterical. They should paint a smiley face over that blue tarp.

Overdroid said...

When do you get to Los Angeles. :P

Don Snabulus said...


They did have a tiny head attached to the middle somewhere. Not sure if it shows up on the closeup.


Ladybug's dad has a timeshare thing and the host company is building a big resort at Disneyland, so it may be soon!

Arkonbey said...

1) Your cat's name is Jeebus? That is fantastic

2) Upon viewing the first image, the following thought popped into my head: "Whatchyou talkin' 'bout, Willits?"

3) Babe looks like he's standing in for Cobra Commander.

4) I love highways with sparse population. Except when my car is acting up. :)

5) Though travel is wonderful, it's always nice to have a place you like to come back to.

Overdroid said...

Ok. Let me know, we'll get sushi.

Swinebread said...

I stopped to see paul and Babe when I was a kid but i've never been inside the trees of mystery.

I'll make sure to show this to the SO.

The Redwoods are one of the things I really want her to see.

I'm glad things weren't too rough!

A wet end to spring break...

Pa've said...

We did a month long trip down to the tipof california and back up along the coast

Don Snabulus said...


1. Yup. Thanks Homer Simpson!

2. That sign may be all there is to talk about in Willits.


Mmmm, sushi.


I think she would like it around there.


A month would be more time to enjoy stuff for sure. We'd definitely need to bring the cooler and stay out of restaurants for that amount of that.

ladybug said...

I'm hoping to find, scan, and post pictures from past visits to Trees of Mystery and the Tree House store.

We have ones from when I was a kid, from when I was in college, from when Summer was tiny and now. It'd be interesting to compare!'s at least a 30 year difference...

Also, we didn't get a picture of it, but closer to the coast, there was lots of snow-covered trees & hills along Hwy 38...very beautiful.

Finally the picture I took in Bandon was on the corner across from the Cranberry Sweets store...most of the stores were closed so we couldn't walk around town (not that we had the time anyway)...but it's one of my fav stores and has wonderful treats!

Overdroid said...

I just remember a joke from a road trip I took with a group of smart asses:

"So these are the Trees of Mystery."
"What's the mystery?"
"Why would anyone pay $5 to see a bunch of trees."

Pandabonium said...

Fabulous scenery. Love the pic with the ocean and a wisp of cloud over the forest.

For a minute I thought Paul Bunyan's Blue Ox "Babe" had become a Muslim. (not that there's anything wrong with that, just odd for a mythical ox in American folklore).

Momo the Wonder Dog said...

Jeebus, I'm hip to your feelings. Getting left behind is a bummer - and boring. I always put on a show when Pandabonium and K come home from a long outing and try to make them feel as guilty as possible. Truth be known, I miss their company.