Monday, September 3, 2012

The California Coast...to Home




At Leggett, CA, we left US 101 and headed over to the closer coast road, Hwy. 1.  Twenty-two winding miles later we ended up on the California coast.

We do love the California coast.  We went through Westport and were tempted to stop for the community BBQ going on there that Saturday.  It was a beautiful day for a BBQ: crisp and clear.  A few miles further down the coast in Cleone, CA, our weather check said it was 60 degrees.  Cool!
And there were these pink lilies everywhere!  I looked up pictures on the web and saw they are called Naked Ladies.




In California, August is the month of the naked ladies. They are to be found dancing in gardens and along roads up and down the state. They dance, however, only in the wind, being rooted firmly in the ground--not wild California women, but pink lily-like blossoms of the plant Amaryllis belladonna. The fanciful name was inspired by the fact the plans have no trace of leaf when they are blooming. (http://goldengategarden.typepad.com/golden_gate_gardener_/2011/08/naked-ladies-wildly-successful-plant-of-the-month.html)

We stopped for the night at Fort Bragg, CA, and the Surf and Sand Lodging. That evening we had blackened local rock fish with Yukon gold potato salad and slaw...and split a serving of chocolate bread pudding with Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey sauce from The Q in town.  It was all really good!


Sunday, the 26 of August, we set out to complete our touring of the California coast.  We decided to find a place on the way for breakfast, and I'm so glad we did!  In Elk, CA, we stumbled on Queenie's Roadhouse Cafe.  The food was exceptional and the atmosphere in the cafe was friendly and welcoming.  BYOB, but we had no champagne chilled. ;-)  I had wild rice and pecan waffles with maple syrup, butter, and a side of "really done" bacon (BTW, in Oregon and here the request was made and resulted in bacon as I like it: nothing shiny on it.  ;-)...and Wayne had a western omelet with jalapenos, whole wheat toast, home fries, and raspberry preserves.  One of the most enjoyable venues/meals/finds on this trip so far!


Apparently this is a favorite of the locals because many were greeting each other and the workers when they entered.  

Right across from Queenie's was a state park and before we went back to the car we took a few minutes to walk down there and take a peak at the shore....






We kept our eyes peeled for mountain lions, per the instructions on this posted notice...
From Queenie's we drove down the coast towards Point Reyes.  The ride was as spectacular as ever.  At one point we stopped at a pull-off and looked down from a spot that was so windy we felt like we needed to hang onto each other so's not to be pushed over!



Love the quirky fences along the way


For the evening we stopped at a Holiday Inn Express in Santa Nella, CA.  We were ready to drop by the time we got there after navigating the San Francisco area on an afternoon when the San Francisco Giants were playing the Atlanta Braves.  Santa Nella doesn't even come up on most of our printed maps, and it was really like just a wide spot in the road with a couple of motels and a couple of chain restaurants.  It was totally a stop for convenience.  

It was about 106 degrees late that afternoon, and we used air conditioning that night for the first time since we left Spokane.  The HI Express was like a little oasis, though, with all the rooms facing a lush (obviously irrigated) courtyard.  The breeze was up and we were actually comfortable sitting outside in a little gazebo area.  Must be the dry heat vs. the humid heat, right?  ;-)

The interior of southern California didn't have a lot of appeal for us.  It was barren, dusty,...and turned us against interstate rest areas until we got to Arkansas!  Monday, the 27th, after a day of this, we stopped in Barstow, CA, so we'd be ready to start our trek across I-40 the next day.  Barstow was a good size town, being the place where I-40 begins, but the only place we could find to stay was a Quality Inn on Route 66.  Not bad at all, clean and comfy, with a Mexican restaurant on site.  We had dinner from their that night and it was pretty good.

Tuesday, the 28th, we drove from Barstow to Flagstaff, AZ.  We traveled by the Mojave Reserve and Desert.  HOT!!!  Arizona offered some change in scenery, for the good.  I kept expecting to see the motorcycle rider from Raising Arizona...but, instead, saw a different sort of biker at one of our stops that day....


Looked like "worldly possessions" in the basket...so I looked around inside for the likely owner.  Spotted a young man with maps strewn all around and a large drink in hand (free refills).  

We ran into a heavy rain shower at 5600 ft. in elevation.  It did a little to wash off this poor little Chevy Impala, road weary and bug laden.  Lots of trains, long trains, as we passed through this area.  

Flagstaff was a joy!  At 7000 ft. elevation, it was cool and breezy.  The home to Northern Arizona Univ., it is small, but has a real personality.  We decided to check out one of the DDD recommendations here, Salsa Bravo.  The food was good, but we'd have to give it a 3 out of 5 since they didn't bring our margaritas before the food.

Wednesday, the 29th, brought us to Albuquerque, NM, for the evening.  The landscape in New Mexico was immediately different.  In particular, there were areas to the west of Albuquerque that had outcroppings of black, charred looking rock.  Turns out it's volcanic rock...and we probably noticed it in the area close to...wait, it's coming...Black Rock, NM.

I'm quite sure we didn't see the best of Albuquerque.  For one thing, we were on the west perimeter of the city, right next to the interstate.  At this point in our trip, we weren't even interested in going downtown to see the sights that night...

Thursday, August 30, we decided we'd seen enough of I-40 and were ready to be home.  We left Albuquerque that morning and didn't stop until we'd gone through Texas and all the way to Oklahoma City, OK.  (Well, we stopped, we just didn't STOP.)  Most memorable about Oklahoma City for me:  Angry Birds.  Morning and night, this is what I saw outside our motel room in the courtyard area.  Lucy was spooked!


video
  

Friday, August 31, we made it all the way back to Jackson, TN.  The trip included a brush with remains of Isaac as we got to Little Rock, AR, that afternoon.  The winds weren't too bad.  The rain was steady.  The interstate, though, with the road spray, 75 mph + trafffic, and close quarters between cars and trucks made us uncomfortable.  We spotted Hwy. 70 on the map, running parallel to I-40, and ducked off for a little while.  It was lunch time, anyway, and we were hoping to find a local cafe.  Viola!!  There was a sign to Advada's Cafe in Carlisle, AR.




We did a little back tracking and found it, parking lot filled (always a good sign.)  Inside was like a warehouse with all kinds of bric-a-brac hanging 'round.  A buffet was set out with southern style cooking...and a menu was available.  Wayne went for the patty melt with FF, and I got the hamburger steak with salad ("a la Mother": iceberg lettuce with tomato pieces).  It was good, and the feeling in the cafe was good, too.  There were a lot of people around in large groups enjoying the time there.  Check it out if you're in the area.


Saturday was an easy drive home.  We pulled in around 3 PM.  

It was a wonderful trip!  Would we do another road trip again?  Not this road trip...but another one, yes.  Would we go back to the Northwest Coast?  In a heartbeat.  We logged 7500 miles on the Impala and went through 17 states besides Tennessee.

I was thinking about the conveniences we had on this trip that travelers didn't have even 10 years ago.  We had a GPS, though it sometimes chose some weird paths, just like Google Maps.  We switched from US Cellular to Verizon before this trip because we realized US Cellular's coverage in the traveling area was often poor or nil.  We have a data plan on our phones so we can get internet coverage through them, and we used an app called FoxFi that would create a wifi for us anywhere data coverage existed. This allowed us to use our computers when necessary, even if we weren't around a wifi.  Wayne got a booster for his cell phone to make sure he'd have coverage on the trip...and there were  times when it was needed.  Business went on, as usual, as we were traveling, meaning Wayne often spent 4-5 hours working during the weekdays.  

TripAdvisor app was a big help in assessing motels and restaurants, as was TV Food Maps, Local, and Google Maps.  We started using the voice recognition option for searching on Google or for composing emails as we progress in the trip.  We'd usually have to make a few changes to the text, but overall it was easier than typing in everything on the phone screen keyboard while riding in a car. 

 Soundhound app was good for identifying artist and title when listening to those oldie stations.  Gas Buddy was great for finding the cheapest gas around, especially since we always seem to travel at a time when fuel costs are on the rise.  I tried a new app called Glympse to allow others I specified to see our current location, but couldn't get the hang of it (at least no one acknowledged the message sent).  One Bus Away app was great in Seattle.  It could spot our location at a bus stop and indicate when the next bus was arriving.  And, of course, the phone camera and video cam came in handy for impromptu recording of events.

I'm sure we'll think of things to add to this "journal" as the days go by...and I will re-edit the posts as needed.  Hopefully I'll get all of this down in a written format soon for us to enjoy for some time.  




















Friday, August 31, 2012

Update on our progress

We're in Jackson, TN, tonight and will make it to Knoxville tomorrow.  We drove from Oklahoma City, OK, to Jackson today...and went through the part of Isacc's remains that came through Arkansas.  Not bad...I'll report in detail later.  Will finish recording the events after Oregon Coast when we get home this weekend.

Down the Oregon Coast

We left Seaside, OR, on Friday, August 24, and headed down the Oregon coast...staying as close to the water as possible.

When we originally planned this trip we were going to head due west from Seaside and hit towns like Salt Lake City, Boise, St. Louis.  Our stay in Seaside just made us hungry to see more of the West Coast, though.  We have, on another trip, been down the coast from Point Reyes, CA, to near Mexico.  If we were to follow the coast down to Point Reyes on this trip...we would have all the West Coast covered except for that part on the western shores of the Olympic Peninsula.  AND...if we then hopped on down to Barstow, CA, we could catch the beginning of I-40 and follow it all the way home, completing the feat of traveling I-40 (at one time or another) from one end to the other.  Dubious a goal as it sounds, it has appeal to us.

Things we observed that day on our way down to Bandon Beach, OR, from Seaside:



  • The scenery is so pretty, you almost can't get "there" from "here."  We must have stopped 10 times before we realized we'd better get on with the day.  (Our rental is due back Sunday, Sept. 2.)  


Another stop...

The raw, Oregon coast



Beautiful and rugged looking.  We didn't see any cruising boats along this coast....
Can you see the road snaking around the hillside...with not a lot of guardrail?



And another stop....

Loving this ride!



  • Back to what else we observed.  You can't pump your own gas in Oregon.  Didn't know that.  Looked it up on the Net and found this in a Wikipedia article on filling stations: 

  •   "...the 1951 Oregon statute banning self-service gasoline lists 17 different justifications, including the flammability of gas, the risk of crime from customers leaving their car, the toxic fumes emitted by gasoline, and the jobs created by requiring mini service.[20] In addition, the ban on self-service gasoline is seen as part of Oregonian culture. One commentator noted, "The joke is when babies are born in Oregon, the doctor slaps their bottom, ‘No self-serve and no sales tax’ [. . .] It's as much a cultural issue as an economic issue. It's a way of life."[21] In 1982 Oregon voters rejected a ballot measure sponsored by the service station owners, which would have legalized self-service gas.[22]" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filling_station)  


BUT...they don't offer to wash the windshield or check the oil.

Not self serve...but not FULL serve.  ;-)

  • And there really is no sales tax.  
  • On the same pathway you will see people wearing shorts, flip flops, and tank tops...and others wearing boots, jacket, and wool cap.  Cold is relative.
  • Evergreens growing on rock outcrops in the bays.
  • Greenery everywhere...and it's not Kudzu!
  • "High winds on bridge when lights flashing"
  • Trees sculpted by the wind to an almost horizontal shape.
  • Waysides, state parks, viewpoints...everywhere!  Lots of opportunities to enjoy the coast.
  • Spray from the ocean making a haze along the coast.  In some cases, sand whipping over the road off the beach.
  • Florence, OR:  Sand dunes!!  And signs for dune board rentals on the road.
  • Historic bridges!  Way too many.  Most are seeing renovations in progress...and that made it even more "iffy" when crossing.

We stopped at Nye Beach, near Newport, OR, for lunch at The Chowder Bowl.  Good fish, chips, and clam chowder.  While at Nye Beach I also visited the Nye Cottage Beads to look around and pick up some essentials.  Great shop!  Very informative lady working there and an excellent selection of buttons, beads, findings, etc.

Nye Beach was WINDY!! We saw this wind for the rest of the day on the coast.

Finally made it to our room for the night at the Bandon Beach Motel.  What a view!! 

Stairs lead down to the beach


Gorgeous view from the top





View near sunset
Bandon Beach Motel was great.  Friendly hosts, nice room with view of the beach.  

Saturday, August 25, we continued down the West Coast, eventually moving from Oregon to California.  We stopped for breakfast at the Paradise Cafe in Port Orford, OR.  We were trying to save time for scenic views along the way, so we both ordered a breakfast sandwich to go.  We sidled up to the counter and sat down next to a line of men, all with, as Wayne says, "facial hair."  I overhead part of the conversation with the two men next to me.  It involved one of them being harassed by The Court over child care payments.  "Are they staying off your back now?"  "Yes...long as I keep payments up."  

The whole place was being run by one cook and one waitress...and they had over 20 customers, easily.  The waitress never stopped moving.  When she wasn't dishing up food she was refilling the Splenda containers or plumping up the napkin holders. Anyway, when she brought our sandwiches over, bagged up, she asked if we wanted forks and knives.  No, we thought, these are breakfast sandwiches, right?  These were the biggest breakfast sandwiches we've ever seen.  They were $6 each and we noted the price on ordering...but chalked it up to this being the "only game in town."  The biscuit on which this was served was 6" in diameter if it was an inch.  And I'd swear it had been "baked on the grill," since it looked much like an English muffin, flat on both sides.  Oh, it was good...but there is no way either of us could eat the whole sandwich.  ;-)

There was some road work in Oregon on the way down.  Interesting procedure for handling the traffic. A pilot car, labeled "Pilot Car: Follow Me" guided a string of cars around orange cones...stopping for the occasional "Mad-Max-like" truck to pass.

Speaking of the road in Oregon...they have this Coastal Bike Route all along these roads we were taking.  Trouble is, there's often no bike lane AND there are curves, hills...  I talked with one biker as we were shopping the grocery deli area for supper one night.  I asked about the "route."  He admitted it was iffy...and asked that we watch out for him.  Note to my biking friends:  think twice!!

We crossed the Rogue River (on yet another historic bridge!) and saw the small fishing boats lined up on either side of the bridge right down the middle of the river.  When we were in Seaside we talked to a commercial fisherman who said these boats are usually fishing for salmon or sturgeon.

  • "Animal Hospice Rummage Sale."  Hmmmm?  Wayne speculated it was a rummage sale for the local animal shelter.  "We'll take care of this pet until it dies...and we'll say when it dies."
  • Signs indicating "slides."  We were looking to the upper hill for rock slides.  Nope.  It was road slides like the kind they have on Jellico Mtn.
Right before we left Oregon roads we saw a sign designating an "Elk Meadow" and elk viewing.  Well!  We'd spent all this time roaming around this region of the country and while we'd seen lots of "Elk Crossing" signs, we'd seen no elk.  We quickly made a turn and were rewarded with the sight of a small herd of elk!


I was wondering whether this was some sort of domesticated herd when I saw this sign:



Imagine:  an elk meadow sign on the road....and wild elk there for the viewing.  Who knew elk could read????

Monday, August 27, 2012

Seaside, OR

We had a great time in Seaside.  We walked around the area on our first full day there and met some people "crabbing" off the 12th Street Bridge over the Necancium River that runs through the town.  It's a well-known site for catching Dungeness crabs in this area of the country, as described here.

There’s no need to get cold, wet and tossed about on a boat to get your Dungeness Crab.  Join the crowd on Seaside’s 12th Avenue Bridge over the Necanicum River.  The newly improved bridge features extra wide sidewalks where you can pull up a lawn chair and cooler, dip your crab pots into the river, and wait for the catch of the day!  Parking is just across the street at Goodman Park, where the kids can entertain themselves on the playground!....

The legal size for Dungeness Crab is 5.75”, measured across the widest part of the shell (in front of the spikes). You are only allowed to keep males measuring over 5.75”. Fines are imposed for anyone taking undersized males or any females. You are also limited to 3 traps per person, and limited to taking 12 males per person per day.

(http://shearwaterseaside.com/sports_rec.htm)

I would have loved to get a picture of the people we talked to...but, instead, shot one of the river from the other side of the bridge.






I took a walk on the beach and came back with these items:  A feather (many more on the beach), a burnt pine cone (beach bonfires are common here), a fossilized shell, and what looks like a piece of a paperback book....  The beach is dark colored sand and not much to "collect" other than feathers.





The end of the beach at Seaside and best area for surfing.  We saw one surfer on the last day there...and he was disappointed with the surf.  But...Seaside is known as a good surfing spot.


The Promenade in Seaside (to the left) where people walk and bike all day and up into the night.  Pacific is on the right.
View from the Promenade towards the ocean.
Path from Promenade to the beach

Walking along the promenade we came on these bouquets for sale.


Big doings going on in Seaside at the end of the week: Hood to Coast 

But what I loved most is looking at the really neat houses in Seaside:


















Fence detail


Seaside Pier area




Our favorite place to eat was Bell Buoy's restaurant.  Bell Bouy's has a store front, too, where they sell canned tuna and Dungeness crab.  We had a couple of meals there...the best being the daily special of fried tuna and chips.  Very tasty.   (Just like chicken!)  Talked with the cook who said, "We don't make a lot of money doing this...but we eat really well!"

One day we drove back up to Astoria on the Columbia River.  On the way back we stopped for lunch in Gearhart, right north of Seaside, at the Gearhart Cafe.  The only thing that disappointed us about the meal was that they didn't have the home made blackberry fried pies that day!



We left Seaside on Friday, August 24.

The weather was perfect while we were in Seaside...and we liked the feel of the place so much we could see coming back here for a month in the summer.  

That was what we thought until we saw Cannon Beach about 10 miles south of Seaside...a lovely town with a resort feel.  I think there might be several places here we'd be very pleased to visit again....








Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ride down US 101 and Seaside, OR

Tuesday, August 21 -

Left Seattle yesterday morning with our triple shot Latte and Americano in hand...and an old fashion donut to munch.  (Not Top Pot, but still good.  We did have Top Pot donuts here and they were tasty!)  It was a great visit and we'd definitely come back for more.

We took I-5 down to Olympia, then got off on smaller roads to head over towards our preferred "ride"...US 101.  We immediately felt better!  Trees all around...occasional little towns to provide visual entertainment.

Shortly after we started out we decided to call the Knoxville Budget Rental office about our car's mileage.  So far we've put over 4,000 miles on the Chevy Impala.  When I picked it up, I talked with them about the trip and was thinking it would be "about 2,500 miles each way, 5,000 round trip."  They gave us the car that had 6,000 to go before it needed an oil change.  We're going to need an oil change before we get back to Knoxville.  I was thinking maybe we'd just swap this car for another at a Budget office.  No...the guy said just "Go ahead and get the oil changed when you get to 12,000 miles on the car.  Nothing pricey, something around $20, and keep the receipt."  All righty then!

For lunch we stopped in Montesano, WA, and lucked on the Savory Faire restaurant/cafe/caterers.  Now, it's not a place to drop in if you're in a hurry.  I'd say we spent a good 1.5 hours there.  But...the food was good and uniquely prepared.  They make their own breads (and desserts, though we didn't indulge).  Wayne had a reuben that came prepared on orange rye bread...and I had a spinach salad with egg, bacon, cauliflower, cashews, and a sweet celery seed dressing (with fresh wheat roll and butter).  I'd recommend it if you're in the area.

Driving down US 101 we'd catch glimpses of water...sometimes a bay or river...and, finally, the Columbia River at the Pacific Ocean.  We made sure to take all the "alternate" routes that took us closer to the coast.  We crossed the Astoria-Megler Bridge that took us from Washington to Oregon, and went on down to Seaside, OR, our home for four nights.

We're staying at the Tradewinds Condos/Motel.  To look at the outside, it's not much.  But inside the studio condo, ocean view, we have a really nicely done room and bath.  It has a kitchenette with surface cooktop (2 eyes), microwave, little refrigerator, sink, and enough dishes and cookware to be able to actually cook something that's not from a freezer!  With that in mind, we got pork chops to fry and corn on the cob, slaw, tomatoes, and cooked beets for supper.  Can you tell we've been dying for some "normal" food?

Back to the Tradewinds condo...We face the ocean and have a nice big window that opens up for the breeze.  No air conditioning here, just as with the last place in Seattle, but a corner electric fireplace and a couple of other wall heaters for what must be the typical weather here.  Yesterday was one of those "hottest days of the year" around here, so we opened the window and the door to get a good cool breeze going.  This morning we're sipping coffee and looking out at the ocean with the window mostly closed because it gets down into the 50's at night.  Very pleasant.

Dining Room

Kitchen
Bedroom

Bathroom



Vanity

Dog Area
View out our window.  That's a promenade walkway in front.  Today's supposed to be 65 degrees and no rain....


This is the first time we've stayed in a place that has a Tsunami Evacuation Route.  We even have instructions posted inside our room for how to get out of here in case of tsunami:


Can you make out all the arrows on that map???  If you thought those hotel emergency exit drawings were complicated, you'll die in the next tsunami to hit here.

BTW, these are my photos of our cottage in Seattle...just in case VRBO listing disappears someday, this is my record:

Kitchenette/Living area

Murphy bed on right, dining/work area by windows...and doors to the patio area

To patio

Cozy patio

From patio.  Host house is beyond the yard to our right.
Cute place!