We left Washington on the 10th, and drove to Portland, Oregon. Our friends Susank and Erik live there, and we stayed with them. They took us out for a yummy dinner and suggested a great breakfast place too. Portland is a nice city. It’s very green, and clean. The weather seems to be great, and the people were friendly.
We left the next day for the coast, and stopped in the forest on the way. I was very excited to see the super mossy bright green forests of the Pacific NW, and it was just as nice as expected. The forests there get enough rainfall to classify them as rainforests. The little spot that we stopped at was very lush and full of big ferns and moss. There was also a crystal clear river flowing through it.
We reached the coast, and spent the rest of the day on Cannon Beach. What a beautiful area! Huge rocks sticking out of the sea, with misty rainforest mountains behind you. It was just like Hawai’i, or the Caribbean, yet colder. Pippin and Katie went swimming in the water with all their clothes on, and I was stranded on the beach holding the cameras and cellphones!
We slept overnight at the beach, then drove down rt. 101 (the coastal highway) for a few hours, checking out the scenery. We then drove inland to check out Eugene. The guidebook mentioned that Eugene was a town where the residents have not yet realized that the 60s have passed.. We found that it was mainly annoying hippy kids asking for change — nothing radical there. We had lunch at a Thai restaurant who’s owner misses Thailand — I don’t blame her!
some hydrangea for my dad.
We left and drove south into California, and slept overnight about 1/4 of the way down the state, around Chico. We stayed in a state park campground. They had secret codes for the bathrooms, which they neglected to tell us. They started cutting down the grass at around 8:30am, a few feet from our tents, and they ran a super loud generator all night. Yuck.
The next day was spent driving and driving. We made it to Yosemite around dusk, and decided to brave the bears and camp overnight. All along we’ve been camping in “Bear Country”, but it hasn’t been a problem. We sometimes see various signs suggesting to keep your food in your car, etc, but nothing too stressful. When we entered the park we received strict instructions on bears, with graphic photos of bears sitting on cars! We met a friendly couple from South Carolina who showed us a place to set up camp, and shared the bear proof metal food box that the campground provided with us. (I think we essentially shared their space.) They told us how the night before a bear had visited them at camp three times, and had stolen their trail mix! They also showed us the hole it had torn into their bag looking for food. Needless to say, I slept a bit lightly! (Actually, I would have slept fine, but I was having a bit of elevation sickness, and was freezing — it was about 40 degrees out.)
We awoke to a beautiful forest, with super tall pines and large granite rocks. There was a tiny little stream which was nearby. We saw a deer, but the bear never showed up. I was looking forward to it too! We’re sad that we didn’t get to see a bear in either Yellowstone or Yosemite. Maybe in Colorado?
We drove to Mariposa Grove, where the Giant Sequoias are. These trees are BIG! We saw the “Grizzly Giant” — the largest tree in the park, which they estimate to be over 1,800 years old. We also got to walk through a tree. I found it interesting that the pine cones take 2-3 years just to grow, and can take anywhere between 20-30 years just to fall off a tree. Wow.
The rest of the day was spent driving through the park, over the mountains and into the desert. We reached Death Valley around nightfall. I sympathize with the emigrants who crossed this desert on covered wagons! I know now why it’s called Death Valley. It took us about 3 hours to cross it, and we went down to sea level from about 5,000 feet. The temperature rose and rose, the closer to the bottom. The peak temperature was 109F, at around 11:30pm! I’m glad we got there at night, I can’t imagine what it would be like around 1pm. The air was so hot and so dry. We left the vents on in the car (no A/C), and it actually felt like the heat was on, coming out of the vents. Same super dry heat. We opened the windows and the sunroof (nice stars!) and experimented with getting our hands wet and seeing how long it would take to dry. (less than 10 seconds.) We kept drinking water and went through more than a gallon in those three hours.
We kept driving past yucca mountain and area 51, and reached Las Vegas around midnight. We drove down the strip to show Katie, and tried to find a hotel. 2 hours later, disgusted with the place, we slept in the car about 50 miles away on a Reservation, which is where we are now. They were very friendly to us too. Las Vegas is disgusting, and I am reminded why I hate the place so much. Please remind me to never go there again.
Today we will see the Grand Canyon. I can’t wait! I will add some photos soon. Hope everyone survived the blackout!