Up early, tent packed away, and headed south on the Redwood Highway, we ran into a bunch of wildlife: first a herd of elks poised right at the edge of the road ready to cross in front of us, and a few minutes later a black bear did lope right across the road in front of us
. Past the Victorian town of Eureka and on to Leggett to a drive-through redwood. After lining up with the other tourists, we paid our obligatory five dollars and snaked down the road, only to see the smallest possible opening arched through a medium-sized redwood. I could not believe I was even going to attempt to drive our brand new minivan through , but darn it, I had paid my five bucks and I wanted a picture of us driving through a redwood, so we turned in our sideview mirrors and I went for it. Very, very slowly. Miraculously I made it—phew!! After this, we veered off 101 and turned onto the legendary California Route 1—the coastal road that skirts the coast. Boy, I thought the Beartooth Highway was something! Highway 1 is more twists and turns and ups and downs than I would think could be crammed into one road. We had planned to leave the redwood parks and drive inland to Lassen Volcano National Park, but changed our plans at the last minute to give the kids one more ocean day and one less volcano day. Gee, it all seemed so simple in the planning stage. So we had booked a tent site in Mendocino, right on the Pacific. Our next stop on the way there was Glass Beach in Fort Bragg. The town dump had been here in the past and we had heard the beach was made of sparkling colored bits of well-worn beach glass. Well, we did find the beach and there was a little beach glass, and some tidepools, but it was beautiful anyway because finally the sun had come out and the Pacific was a beautiful blue after all that gray in Oregon. We realized as we headed south again that our campground was actually a bit further south than we realized, further down the windiest, craziest, scariest, twistiest road possible. We hugged the coast and it was beautiful, but death defying at the same time.
Drove and hiked through one of the scenic redwood drives and hiked and picnicked at Lady Bird Johnson Grove. The redwoods are pretty awesome but actually smaller than I had pictured. Many of the larger specimens are located in mixed forests that contain a variety of trees, and others are scattered throughout this whole Northern California area. It is easy to identify their distinct outline once you know how to identify it and pick it out amongst the other trees. These trees grow tall very quickly, 2-6 feet per year until they reach the canopy and then they grow thicker and wider for the rest of their life. We viewed some that were 1500 years old. It is rather awesome to drive down the road and suddenly be in a forest of these giants surrounding your car and shading you from the midday sun.