Or-Ca Road Trip–last leg

From Yachats we started the day with a walk along the ocean-front.  As mentioned in the previous post the Fireside Motel has a great location right on the water.  Might come back and get a room with a fire and watch some of the winter storms from here!



After short stop at the bakery for rations – we headed South to see a few of the promising looking viewpoints that we had passed the previous evening when food rather than photos was on our minds.  We were not disappointed  Saw and heard Sea Lions and some lighter coloured California sea lions right next to the coast road!



Driving just a little further South to pick towards the sand dunes.


Then North again back just South of Yachats to take a hike at Cape Perpetua.  First along the rocks taking in a blow-hole – and the tide was just right for a regular display – and also seeing a flood of photographers – it looked like they were being washed up with the tide!

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Higher up at Cape Perpetua we enjoyed one of the best lunch views of the trip – not to mention the great fare from the bakery!  And a Douglas Squirrel – but I didn’t quite nail the focus…


North again with regular stops to admire all the Oregon coast had to offer




A long walk on Cannon Beach – the sun was getting quite low in the sky – and about the last planned stop as we headed for Astoria and our last night away.




Out hotel at Astoria was the Hampton Inn and Suites – which initially looked to mean a trek back to town for some evening meal – but this welcoming site gave us better options – and within waling distance!  For the uninitiated Rogue is a river in Oregon – but also one of my favourite Oregon breweries!


209 beautiful coastal miles!


We had a look around Astoria – and more Sea Lions – which we had heard on our walk to the brewery the previous evening but could quite work out where they were.  It appears they have their own dock.  A local was telling us they are quite thinner than they have been – and are caught and branded for later identification up river.  If they are found eating salmon then they can be killed.  Why do we have a right to the salmon and the sea lions don’t?



For a higher view South we headed up to the Astoria Column – although my poor head for heights kept me from getting to the top of the narrow spiral staircase – the view from the mound was nearly as good (I tell myself..)



Back in to Washington a short stop at Long Beach then passing through some towns we see on sign posts but never get near – Hoquiam and Aberdeen – which to be honest looked very run g=down and depressing (perhaps we caught them on a bad day…) and then a final stop at Olympia which we hadn’t visited for probably 10+ years.



Back home and our final day had been 221 miles in under 5 hours – with the final tally for the whole trip being over 54 hours of driving and a total of 2,317 miles.  Average of 37mpg not too bad – but the Ford Focus is a little bit thirstier than I had hoped.


These and more pictures from the trip (and other trips!) can be viewed at https://www.flickr.com/photos/bsmi067/

Or-Ca Trip–Part 3 West to tall trees and the Pacific!

One last chance perhaps to see Mt Shasta, but it wasn’t to be.  We drove to Shasta Dam which was very impressive even if we couldn’t see the mountain.  Quite spooky looking down – but not much of a flow.


The early morning mist rolling back up from the cold waters below and over the dam added to the eerie feeling.


Heading West we took a very long and winding road – 299 then on to Highway 3 and 36 – to meet Highway 101 just North of the Humboldt Redwoods State Park – and the Avenue of the Giants!



Tricky to appreciate the scale but this fallen tree behind Diane in Founders Grove is the Dyerville Giant – and once stood 362ft tall.  Diane is nearer the top – but down by the roots the diameter is nearly 17ft.


Away from the Avenue of the Giants we headed over through the Rockefeller forest – which had the advantage of less traffic – and the trees were just as tall.  More windy roads and we saw the Pacific – missing the best photo opportunity on that stretch – but we’d have plenty more opportunities the following day.  The night was spent in a rainy Eureka at the Carter House Inn.  This was our most expensive hotel of the week – was very nice but they had no room in the restaurant.  The Lost Coast Brewery and Café more than made up for that (and probably saved us some money) where we had another flight of beers to share.


284 miles and nearly 8 hours driving – and the lower MPG value showing how windy and hilly that 284 miles was.  The following morning the rain was still heavy as we headed North along the coast – a short drive around Trinidad – then on to the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center to plan out the stops along the way.


A break from tYachatshe rain, and the Jebediah Smith trail (no relation as far as I know…).  Be sure to look down as well as up – the trees are magnificent – but what lies beneath is just as beautiful.


Back into Oregon shortly after that – and majestic views from headlands – sand dunes, rocks, stacks…



161027_ORCA_2016_948Our overnight stop was in Yachats, with dinner at Yachats Brewing – very busy even on a weekday evening!  The Fireside Motel was probably the best hotel of the trip for location, comfort and price.  Breakfast wasn’t great – but with a bakery just down the road that didn’t matter too much.

wp_20161027_011A long day’s driving up the coast and getting dark by the time we reached Yachats – so the following morning we backtracked to see some of the views that we missed – in part 4!



Or-Ca Road Trip–Part 2–Klamath Falls to Lassen

Leaving Klamath Falls we headed south into California and Lava Beds National Monument.  The landscape was quite eerie – a little like parts of Iceland – volcanic rock that looked like it had been ploughed into strange shapes. 


Close to the visitor center there is a well lit and accessible lava tube cave – and we visited that one before going down a couple of others that were easy to access – without the usual caving gear (first signing forms to say we hadn’t been in other caves – a protection for the local bats as a fungal infection called white-nose is spreading from the east).  There are over 700 caves in the park – and we first drove around the cave loop where you could see various entrances – before visiting Skull Cave and Big Painted Cave. 


Deep in Skull cave it was virtually pitch black – this next picture was a 20 second exposure, hand help, with Diane painting the cave depths with a torch.


A quick look at Symbol Bridge then back to the car to dodge a short shower.  Fleener Chimneys was the next stop – and a view across to an odd shaped hill that seemed to be catching the sun all day.


A trek around Captain Jack’s Stronghold then on to Petroglyph Point – which was a bit disappointing – even before the rain came.  But that hill still attracted the sun!


Our overnight stop was in Redding, back on I-5, but we had a feeling that we wouldn’t get a great view of Shasta that day…


To make the most of our day though, we headed East to Burney Falls and well worth the drive and getting wet – as these falls were quite breathtaking!


Our day ended in Redding and for some fast food we found an Indian Restaurant close to the hotel – the Taj Mahal.  Good food – could have done without the staff vacuuming around us while we were still eating.  The Hampton Inn & Suites was to be our home for two nights – as we were heading East again to Lassen Volcanic National Park the following day.  288 miles and 6+ hours driving.


The following morning we headed out to Lassen, already knowing that part of the park was closed due to snow – so we aimed for the visitor center to find out where we could expect to visit.  Just close to the visitor center there are the ‘Sulphur Works’ which was about as far into the park as you could drive.



Heavy rain and steam from the hot springs made for some interesting shots!









Another accessible area of the part was a 4-5 mile roundtrip trail to Devils Kitchen.  The off-road drive was a little daunting without the luxury of AWD – but we made it through the rain, and with our wet weather gear the trek through the steady drizzle was very well worth it.  Pictures courtesy of my Windows Phone (Lumia 920) as I even though my XT-1 is weatherproof – that was just too much weather!



An unforgettable walk!  Nothing more to see – and again missing seeing the main local peak (Lassen) we headed back to Redding and took a quick look in the city – walked across the Sundial bridge – then Panda Express the fast food we were ready for after a wet and muddy day.

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255 miles for the day – and again around 6 hours driving.  The following day we were to head West – to tall trees and the Pacific!

Oregon and Northern California Road Trip – Part 1 – Seattle to Klamath Falls

Our second road trip of the year took us down through Oregon, into California for some amazing scenery and finally over to the coast for some tall trees and back up the coast.  This was late October – but some early snow did change our plans a little…

Day 1 was straight down I5 from Seattle, then crossing into Oregon on the 205 and following some scenic byways South, keeping well East of Highway 5.  Initially following 224 down to Estacada before turning left onto the Clackamas Hwy to NF-46 Clackamas River Road.  We had some miles to cover so not many photo stops – but some great scenery along the river!  The road name changes to Breitenbush Rd SE before reaching Detroit Lake.  Worth a slight diversion West on 22 to get good lake views!


Turning back on 22 East – N Santiam Highway – then onto 126 McKenzie Highway then back onto another Forest Road – NF19 just past Rainbow.  The first few miles initially called South Fork Rd before reaching Cougar Reservoir and becoming Aufderhride Dr.  Cougar Reservoir was impressive – and part of their conservation work was to ensure the water leaving the reservoir was a good temperature for the salmon – as the cold depths of the water were not good to release right into the South Fork of the McKenzie.  The tower in this picture allows the run out to be controlled by releasing water from the different depths – to ensure the right temperature.


NF-19 switches rivers and picks up the North Fork of the Willamette, eventually entering Westfir just by the Office Covered Bridge – well worth a stop!

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From here we followed the 58 back towards I-5, crossing Dexter Lake at Lowell and a short stop as the sun was going down.



Needing food for the evening we headed towards Eugene, but then spotted the Plank Town Brewing company – a perfect place for dinner – and a sampling of some of their ales – the first of many sample flights of this trip!   Our night stop was the Windmill Inn of Roseburg – quite close to the freeway, but surprisingly quiet.  A long day’s drive – over 500 miles and nearly 10 hours, but a nicer drive than if we’d just headed down I-5!


Day 2 – and heading out to Crater Lake.  We’d been keeping a close eye on the weather as an early snow storm had closed the Northern Road and the Rim road – and even the Southern entrance for a while.  Fortunately the Southern approach was open and the forecast was good – so we headed out on the North Umpqua Highway taking in some wonderful river views along the way – this first just a few miles out of Roseburg at Glide.


Quite a few stops along the way – for some river, rock and foliage shots!


Worth a longer stop and a short hike (less than a mile round trip) are the Toketee Falls.  The trail head is near the Toketee Ranger Station and you will also see a wooden 12ft diameter pipeline that diverts water to a powerhouse.


Continuing on you will get some excellent views of Mount Bailey and Mount Thielsen (below) as you reach Diamond Lake.


We then skirted around Crater lake to make the Southern approach.  In the warmer season you could go in from the North.  The rim road was still closed but some wonderful views looking North – with the recent snow adding to the beauty!  I took plenty of pictures – but I’ll just limit this blog post to one – more on Flickr if you are interested – https://www.flickr.com/photos/bsmi067 


We had a good view South towards Klamath Lake – or next stopping point, and also took in views of the cinder cones on the way out of the park.



As we drove down to Klamath Falls little did we know that the glimpse we hade of Mount Shasta would be the only time we would see it.  I’d have taken a special picture if I’d known!  The colours along the lake were beautiful – so many changes of season and scenery through the day.


Day 2 ended with dinner at the Klamath Basin Brewing Company and a night spent at Cimarron Inn – which will soon have a Starbucks next door!  Not soon enough!

A shorter driving day – 209 miles in just under 5 hours.


Next blog will take us into California!