Fri 26th – More Redwoods, and Crater Lake

One more picture of the cabin in the woods, just because I can:

I started today with Howland Hill Road through Jedediah Forest.  Totally amazing.  I was in two minds whether I’d take the curvy slow road through the woods or the main road, but I’m so glad I bothered to take the scenic route.  You make your way through suburbia (very very small town suburbia) and then suddenly the road peters out into a narrow one lane track (with two way traffic!) through these amazing woods. Coastal Redwood trees that seem like they’re miles high, really green and lush.

Thankfully the road has lots of pullouts, and demands you drive slowly, because this is as wide as it gets along most of its length:

But what an amazing place to be!  It was really quiet, and unless a car was really close you couldn’t hear anyone else.  And you COULD hear birds, the wind in the trees, and some scuttling wildlife occasionally.  And of course that wonderful damp forest smell.  Really lovely. 

After that I headed for Grant’s Pass just over the border in Oregon, where the local camera store advised me that they don’t stock Olympus, and maybe I should try (the town) Bend.  All well and good, but Crater Lake is between here and there, so that first.  But before I even got there, there were wonderful views such as this – the road more or less follows it for a time.  I’m pretty sure it’s the Smith River.

I saw a sign at the side of the road pointing to a lookout over the Rogue River.  OK, I’m up for that!  And this is what I found:

The river itself runs through a really deep gorge and though you could see it pretty well, it was hard to take decent photos.  Apparently it runs through old lava tubes, some of which have collapsed over time, leaving the river in this really deep gorge.  Very pretty!

It was getting pretty late by the time I got to Crater Lake National Park.  I was actually worrying about it being dark by the time I got there, but I timed it perfectly for sunset.  I drove the East Rim – the longer route between the South (east) entry and North entry.  I was lucky I wasn’t a day later – they were closing it late this evening so bicycle riders could have it to themselves tomorrow.  The road in this park basically has a loop all the way around the crater, with a few entrances and exits going off it like spokes from a ring road.  The lake is the caldera of a volcano that over time has filled with rain and snow.  It has no flows out, only evaporation.  It’s still active (as are most of the volcanoes in this area, Mt St Helens isn’t far away).  But incredibly beautiful:

It finally got so dark (and foggy) that there was no way I could take more photos.  Plus: COLD!  The car reckoned it was 36F outside- just over 2C.  I’d believe it!

I again hadn’t booked any accommodation, so needed to get creative to find somewhere to sleep.  Everywhere in and around the park was either booked full or closed for the season (I’m encountering more and more of that as I go along).  So I headed north, I figured I’d find somewhere sooner or later.  I’ve been relying on hotels.com quite a bit to book accommodation, but being out in the boonies here there was no internet coverage.  So, driving it is until I either find a vacancy sign or an internet connection! I ended up finding a Marriott hotel in Bend – after another hour and a half on the road.  That was further than I really wanted to drive, but never mind.  It’s less that I need to do tomorrow.  Thankfully I don’t feel the need to backtrack like I did at Yosemite – it’d be a long way along a very boring road! 

One small fun bit along that road – I can totally see why people think there are UFOs.  The road leading to Bend is dead straight and slightly uphill. With only occasional traffic, cars coming the other direction (and those ahead of you, too) look like their lights are floating in the air and not moving!  VERY weird thing to see. 

Thurs 25th Redwoods!

Today’s been a great day!  I left Eureka late morning – I’m really struggling to get up and about at a reasonable time.  Hopefully camping tonight (more on that later) will help tomorrow morning.

It was only about an hour’s drive from the hotel (or should that be Inn?) to the first visitor’s centre for the redwood state forests.It’s odd – the visitor centre is at the beach!  But that’s because the whole ecosystem runs from the ocean high up into the hills – the trees depend on the moisture coming in from the coast.  They absorb a lot of what they need direct from the air, they only suck a proportion up through their roots (which is a good thing, given how high up they have to pump it from ground level!

I got my bearings, and a map, and was off on a couple of scenic routes (getting me off route 101, which though very pretty, is busy and there’s almost nowhere to pull over and admire the view and/or take photos).  First stop was Elk meadow – where I saw one male who promptly sat down – so all I could then see is his antlers moving amongst the ferns(?).  I waited around for about 10 mins, but he was apparently very comfortable and didn’t move.

Second stop was more successful:

So successful in fact that he got so close I couldn’t fit him in my frame anymore! I’m glad I was in the car – it’s breeding season and apparently they can get aggressive (although there wasn’t another bull around so that probably helped).  After he’d crossed the road in front of me and disappeared into the forest, I went for a wander.  Those trees really are gorgeous:

 That last one was a lookout from where you could see the whole ecosystem – ocean to forests.  Unfortunately I didn’t get a good shot of the whole thing.

And look where I slept!  A cabin in amongst the trees. 

Fantastic.  And complete with campfire:

I toasted marshmallows, too – or rather, I went local and made ‘smores: toasted marshmallows, partly melted chocolate, on sweet crackers.  Yummy!

Weds 24 – Eureka and chores

Not much to report today – I did some laundry, tried to get my camera (or lens?) fixed, replaced, or something – but the local camera store doesn’t do Olympus.  And frankly, they don’t look like they’ll be in business much longer.  They recommended I try a store in Grant’s Pass – that’s a couple of days up the road, most likely, given the rate I’m traveling.  Eureka has a cute touristy downtown area that looks like it’s doing OK although it was quiet today:

But the rest of it is still very economically depressed.  The older part of town has every second shopfront up for rent, and the newer shopping mall at the end of town has likewise got more empty shops than occupied ones.  And noticeably few customers anywhere.

Economic wise it does seem better overall now than in 2010, except for the drought effects.  Towns seem overall better, and there’s a huge amount of roadwork going on everywhere.  One of the things I noticed that last trip was that the roads were well designed and built initially, but had been really neglected recently.  But now there’s repairs happening everywhere.  Sometimes frustrating (like when San Francisco shuts down one of its major intersections for 12 months) but badly needed.

Tomorrow I head for the Redwood national park just up the coast – the taller skinnier relatives of the Sequoia trees in Yosemite.  Yay!  I’m feeling much better now that I’ve rested and I’m out of the big city.  I don’t know where it comes from, but despite being born in Amsterdam and living in Sydney, I’m apparently a country girl at heart!