Sunday, April 24, 2011

From Beach to Volcano in One Day

Our new location is far up the West Coast. We left Paso Robles and moved up through San Francisco and Marin County. Once we got into the Redwoods we found so much to capture our interest.
One thing that hadn’t changed from when we came down the coast back in December was the pricing on campgrounds for tenters. At $35/$45 per night, they had priced themselves into economic hurt. The problem was that private campgrounds tending to be less expensive, when we could find them, than those in the State Parks.
One resident, in the Redwood forest area, told us that the state government had lost its mind to be charging those kinds of fees in years like this. We didn’t disagree with her at all. Few of the campgrounds we passed were even half full of RVer’s and few accommodated tenters.
This section of California is so beautiful and so big that seeing all of it would take weeks. Vineyards are just as available that far north along the coast as they are further south. Giant trees loom along the roadsides, giving the largest herd of Roosevelt elk a protected place to reside.
We caught part of that herd early one morning. The cows and young females were looking for handouts at one of the local campgrounds. Some of the young bulls were acting as sentinels at one of the state part entrances along the 101. With their antlers in velvet and their minds on relaxation, they didn’t bother to move when we stopped to snap photos.
We saw more elk in that park half an hour later. No deer put in an appearance. A few squirrels scampered among the trees, but they were much faster than a camera shutter.
By the time we made Crescent City, California, we had overdosed on redwoods and were ready for beaches again. And our sojourn from CA in OR didn’t disappoint us at all.
Our last stop along the Oregon coast was South Beach. We stayed in a nice campground there among the trees and the protective dunes. We shared the space with a troupe of small vintage RVs, some prize winners. A tour group in a school bus took one end of the park for teen girls toting personal tents. Everyone turned in early, though, which meant we could all sleep pretty well.
We left that park this morning and moved north. At Lincoln City we turned onto Hwy 18 and went east to hit the I-5.  From there we moved through the upper end of that Oregon area, through the farms, groves, vineyards, and orchards of the Willamette Valley. Portland was an easy crossing today. I know, odd, huh?
Once inside Washington State, we took a detour at Castle Rock to make a sojourn up the mountain to see Mt. St. Helens as she stands now. Irony reigned today, though. It sprinkled as we drove up to the upper Visitor’s Center. At that point St. Helens stood swathed in cloud cover. We continued upward from the Center. By the 1800 ft. level, the mists had lowered even further.
We made the decision that further exploration was pointless and turned back down mountain. Halfway down it began raining in earnest. Toward the bottom, rain pounded the car. When we turned back onto the I-5, the sun popped out. Now, an hour later, the sun is still out. I guess the mountain didn’t was to wave hello today.
We’ll be leaving this McD’s soon to find our camping spot for the night. Tomorrow we’ll move on to Tacoma where we’ll spend time with Sister Jo’s kids and grandkids before turning east once again.
I hope you continue to stop by to see our reports. Be sure and comment on anything that strikes your fancy.
Until then,

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