This Land is Your Land

Trip Start Jun 20, 2012
Trip End Jul 16, 2012

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Flag of United States  , California
Friday, July 6, 2012

We left Petaluma today at 10:00, but had to stop at Pep Boys to replace the battery for the camper…puttin' a lot of miles on this thing! So we really didn’t get rolling on the road until 11:00. Lola (our GPS) tells us to drive 317 miles on route 101 to Crescent City. Our campground is literally on 101, so it’s a straight shot up the coast today!

Not too far up the road we did make a stop in Sonoma Valley at a winery. It happened to be Francis Ford Coppola’s winery. How awesome is that? It was BEAUTIFUL. I have never been to a winery before, but I think this one set the bar pretty high. His intention was to build a family friendly winery. They have a pool open for public use. (They think they’re the only winery with a public pool.) Many people were sitting at the pool with their wine. They had a bar, snack bar, and full service restaurant. The top floor was filled with memorabilia from his films, complete with the desk and chair used in The Godfather.

Unfortunately, the wine tasting was lost on me…not being a wine drinker. But we did taste three different wines, none of which I enjoyed. (Oh well!) Troy, Dan, and Lana did like one of them.

We jumped back on 101 North and kept driving. As we keep going north we’re seeing fewer and fewer vineyards, bigger and bigger trees. Sooner than we anticipated we saw signs for the Drive Thru Tree. We pulled off the exit and drove toward Drive Thru Tree Road. (That was really the name of it.) When we got to the place to turn onto the drive Troy stopped. (Cooleys were behind us.) The lane was looking pretty small. We just weren’t sure if we would be able to get around with the campers in tow. (This is one downfall of towing an RV.) We decided to turn around and head back to a little market we saw and ask for some information.

We found out that we would not be able to take the trucks through the tree (with or without the campers in tow.) The opening is only big enough for a small car. We did not want to miss seeing this tree! Lana and I are very fortunate to have guys that are flexible. We made the decision to unhook one of the trucks. We would all pile in and head back to see the Drive Thru Tree. Dan unhooked his Megacab…and we were off. (The market gave us permission to let the campers sit.)

It was totally worth the effort. As we were there we saw a Toyota FJ Cruiser BARELY make it through the tree. We were there to help guide him through. His roof rack scraped a little getting through and he had just enough room on either side (with mirrors pulled in) to make it. SO, anything larger than an FJ Cruiser will not fit through the Drive Thru Tree.

As we get farther north we are now approaching the Avenue of the Giants. Lana and I are realizing the campground we booked is a little too far north. We didn’t realize just HOW BIG the Redwood Forest was. We thought we’d be visiting these things tomorrow…but we’re still 150 miles from Crescent City. We are not going to drive back down here tomorrow. Of course, we jump on the Avenue of the Giants, which is totally awesome. It parallels 101, it’s just a twistier, slower, more scenic drive.

We pull over at one point to take some pictures. There’s a huge redwood that has fallen so you can see the root system. You can tell it’s been down for a long time. It didn’t take long for Chase, Troy and Dan to climb on top of this thing. It was a pretty good climb to get to the top. All the girls are walking around the bottom of it. I’m thinking, forget this…I’m climbing too! How awesome! You are truly humbled when you stand amongst redwoods. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s one thing to see pictures, it’s quite another to feel their enormity as you stand at their feet. I now know what it feels like to be an ant!

It was difficult to keep Chase in check. He was literally climbing and jumping everywhere. It was difficult getting pictures with him because he was having such a hard time standing in one place. This is a young boy’s wonderland! I was having some anxiety watching him climb…these trees are REALLY TALL!

We had to keep ourselves moving. It was getting late, we still had over 100 miles to go, and we hadn’t eaten yet! Our plan was to have porcupine balls when we got to Crescent City. It was obvious, we were not going to get to our destination before 9:00. One sacred rule of travel…do not let the troops get too hungry. (They get mean and unruly!...which makes Mama grouchy, and no one wants Mama to be grouchy.)

We decided to have a picnic supper at the Visitor’s Center of the Redwood Forest! It was 7:00, so the center was closed for the day. The parking lot gave us some level ground so we could pop out our slide to have plenty of room too cook. The porcupine balls were already made…just needed to be heated up. (See Todd and Brad – that pre-planning pays off!)

There was a campground right beside the Visitor’s Center, so there were a few people milling about and kids riding their bikes. Out here you see many of those 1-800-Rent an RV units. There were 3 Chinese gentlemen walking around. They were very intrigued with our camper and had questions for Troy. "OOOHHHH, that a big one, isn’t it?" “How many people you fit in there?” I told Troy he should have let them look in. After that their kids and wives would walk slowly past the door to get a look inside. It was pretty funny. (As I’m sure you can guess, they don’t have campers in China!)

I’m sure we were a sight walking our pots and pans to the picnic table. We had a buffet set up on one of the tables and we ate on another. As we’re just getting ready to eat a ranger pulls in. I’m thinking, great…he’s going to make us move. He didn’t. Just wanted to be sure we weren’t planning on camping there for the night.

Now our bellies are full, everyone’s happy, and we’re ready to journey forward. From that point, it took another two and a half hours before we reached Crescent City at 11:00 PM. I must say, the drive was incredible! I just couldn’t stop looking at the trees. They keep going and going into the sky. I almost forgot to mention…With a little coaxing, everyone at dinner indulged me with a song! Seriously, we’re sitting in the middle of the Redwood Forest eating dinner. How can you not sing “This Land is Your Land”? (I so wish I had it on video. It was one of my favorite moments of all time!)

The last 50 miles of the drive were quite interesting. You’re in the Redwood Forest, surrounded by ginormous trees and it’s PITCH BLACK outside. Other than the Cooleys in front of us, and a random car here and there, no one is on the road! It’s just us, and the trees, in the DARK! Truth be told it started getting a little mesmerizing. I stopped reading and starting talking to Troy to make sure he was okay. I could tell he was ready to be off the road. We were happy to pull into Crescent City. Tomorrow will be a rest day. I can’t wait to sleep in!
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