101 and Beach Rocks

Another factor of my recent excursion was going throughout the Southern Oregon Coast via US Route 101. This route is set up on the Pacific Coast of this country, and a lot of its course almost touches the ocean, but some of it is a bit inland. As there is nothing like this road on the East Coast, this magical route is still a novelty for me, and I love exploring it in new sections  each time I am near the ocean.

We drove up Route 101 from Arcata, California, to the Oregon border, where we stopped in the small town of Brookings. An elderly gas station attendant recommended us to follow the signs to a coast guard station in order to access the beach.

We backtracked on 101 over a bridge, and drove down the hill to a small parking lot loaded with RVs and trucks. Some people were enjoying barbecues under awnings, and others were comparing stories about their traveling dogs. With all of these large vehicles, I thought it looked very American.

Of course the salty breeze, cold waters, rigid rock formations and sandy surface were extremely refreshing after a long car ride, but the most interesting part of this beach was this weird overlook area on top of a cliff. There was a lighthouse, two American flags, and a statue that seemed to replicate the over-arching Jesus I have seen in photos from some famous park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I was a fan of this unusual combination.

After the big cat zoo, we also stopped by the coastal part of Bandon, Oregon. The arching geological formations looked very sharp, the air was cold and strong, and some of the rocks were engulfed by shellfish on their surfaces. It was definitely not much of a tourist spot, and seemed to be frequented by locals and their canine companions who came out dressed in outer wear, trained to protect themselves from the elements.

We also stopped in some area around Coos Bay, Oregon, which I’ve seen as a designated dot on state maps many times before. It took a while to get to an actual beach spot, with a lot of winding through commercial strips with stores all closed for Sunday, followed by sharp turns that led us to roads lined with different RV parks.

We finally got to some small beach enclosure. There were a few women actually going into the shallow cold water, who appeared to be shivering in their bikinis and huddling into themselves for warmth.

We went off to a rock formation area, and I was happy I decided to wear my hiking boots, as its hard surface was all caked with holes of surprise mud. Though very aesthetically stimulating, it smelled somewhat like rotted seaweed and the oil from canned anchovies. Nevertheless, we were able to ignore the stench, climb up a rock and enjoy lunch with a view.

Driving to Cali

For this year’s birthday, I took a trip down to Northern California, amongst new frontiers. I’ve seen the entrance into this part of the country driving south via I-5, through excessively trashy Redding, California, to extremely impressive Mount Shasta. This time, we took a new route that will always stand out to me.

My friend in Humboldt told my boyfriend and I of a girl who was driving down from Portland to Arcata, California. We found out that she bought a car, and was driving her old Rodeo truck and her new 1983 Honda Accord southward and westward, to where we wanted to be. We at first went along the familiar way down the greenery and mountainous territory of Oregon, from the clustered traffic jams on suspended freeway ramps, to get out of Portland during rush hour, through boring Salem and then through youthful Eugene. We stopped in Eugene, and then got back on the road and enjoyed the steep inclines and declines that this sprawl-less little city exhibits when it goes straight from the compact college town to lush rural and forested areas.

Strange rest areas came about southward, with little pregnant, mewing cats and passing-through people going to relieve themselves or stretch, checking you out to guess your story while you observe them to think of why they are in such a strange place on this freeway in the middle of nowhere. Driving down through exits I hardly recognized and hill formations I vaguely knew that I became impressed by in the past; it was so interesting to travel by car again. Trapped in the city I usually am, bound by my bicycle and Trimet transit services, put off by flat tires or expired transfers. My boyfriend and I switched off driving sessions, accelerating and decelerating, hitting the brakes and the gas, and changing CDs.

Pass on through California through new territory, and get that friendly inter-state inspection of police officers asking if you have any fruits, vegetables or produce in your vehicle.

Magically, once you cross the Oregon-California border, all of the clouds go away and the sun starts shining!

Through new mountains, new pine trees and new rock formations that resemble Oregon but are highlighted differently by the obvious sunshine. Trying to decide if this territory actually looks different from back home or if my perspective has become tainted by the drab, constant overcast. Forward through the Redwood Forests, not sure if I’ve ever seen a Redwood in the past, but now sure that I do see them passing by on the left and right of my vision out of the simple white station wagon.

Down to the coast, through Crescent City, meet the 101 Pacific Highway and continue on. See the sunny and sandy and windy ocean beaches full of humans and leashless dogs that no one really tells you about, or what a foreigner would initially think of California to be like. Keep the window cracked a little, keep the CD selection diverse, follow the girl in the Rodeo truck in front of us to finish our temporary western odyssey.