Today we accidentally drove through a tree!

Trip Start May 07, 2011
Trip End Nov 09, 2011

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Where I stayed
Caspar Beach Campground
What I did
Saw elk at Elk Meadow
Camped in Caspar Bay
Fantastic coastal drive in late afternoon sun
Accidentally drove through a tree
Missed exit for highway 1 and had to go back
Stopped in Eureka to look at a logger's mansion
Sat on grass in the square and ate nice food from natural foods supermarket
Enjoyed the farmer's market and band in Arcata
Drove south to Arcata
Stepped on a spotted banana slug
Walked through a redwood forest
Kept awake by wild Turkeys' mating calls and sea lions

Flag of United States  , California
Saturday, May 21, 2011

After a freezing cold night in the motel, we drove just a little further north to see some redwood trees up close. We stopped at Elk Meadow and went for a walk through the forest. It was very green, apart from the tree trunks, which were very red(wood). Matthew didn't mean to, but he stepped on a spotted banana slug. We didn't see any more. There were giant clovers and lots of cob webs. We saw no other animals except for a very nice snail. Since they don't move fast, Matthew had time to take a few (read tens) photos. Back out of the forest we saw lots of elk in the aptly named Elk Meadow. None that we took photos of had antlers.

From here, we started our epic California highway 1 road trip. First stop was a town called Arcata. We drove through here last night looking for food and thought it was a dump. Turns out we went the wrong way in the dark and missed the centre entirely. We got lucky and arrived just in time for the weekly farmers' market. Never seen one like it! There was a bluegrass band called the Compost Mountain Boys playing in the centre of the square with locals dancing happily around them. There were people juggling and hoola hooping on the grass while others lazed about and enjoyed the sunshine. There were great stalls with all sorts of local farm produce and great smelling herbs, spices and cooked foods. A totally laid back town with a great atmosphere.

As we wandered around the square, we spotted a girl selling poems on demand. "Any subject, any price". We bought some lunch and ate it on the grass. The lunch came from the local supermarket that only sold local produce in eco-friendly packaging. I bought some seared tuna and a random selection of grilled vegetables and Alison had chicken with asparagus. Both were totally delicious. We ate them with my super duper titanium spork. Thanks old group! 

On the way to the supermarket, we passed a group of people who looked like tramps openly smoking pot. If we'd lingered, I'm sure they'd have made us join in. We also saw a student sat in a rocking chair outside a shop completely stoned. He had a half finished joint and lighter in his hand right out in the open. There were police wandering around not bothered at all. A very laid back place.

Next we drove to a town called Eureka and saw some ornate old houses. Other than this, there wasn't much to see so we carried on. On the way out, we passed an outdoor shop so we bought a 25 tent and two incredibly thin foam mats to sleep on. They provide insulation from the cold ground but at the same time allow you to feel every lump. We'll probably give the tent and mats away to a homeless person when we leave for Costa Rica.

Alison then fell asleep while navigating so Matthew missed the turning back to the pacific coast highway. In the midst of finding our way back, we accidentally drove through a tree. The tree involved is called the Chandelier tree and is a redwood that has been disfigured by having a hole tunneled through it! Somehow it is still alive though and looked otherwise healthy. We didn't plan on driving through it but took a wrong turn down a one-way road so thought we might as well. How often do you drive through a tree? After we got through, a woman said "you didn't stop for any pictures!" she was a little annoyed that we didn't do it right.

It was late afternoon by the time we got to the coast. The road on the way looked like a tiny straight line on our map but turned out to be 25 miles or so of the most incredibly twisty and fun to drive on mountain road through redwood trees. Very fun but would have been about ten times more fun in a manual. 

This bit of the coast was beautiful. The road is close enough to smell the sea breeze but at the same time there are meadow flowers everywhere and greenery and mountains on the left. The light was really soft. The coast is rugged and rocky and the pacific ocean crashes against it. We drove for miles along this quiet, twisty bit of road enjoying the sea air and the spectacular views. Well worth driving north from San Francisco for! 

We decided to leave the coast road to look for a sheltered campsite. We found one in the forest but quickly turned around and drove away because it was very scary. There were no tents, only cars on bricks and rusty old R.V.'s that had not moved in many years. The people that lived, not camped there were pretty scary looking. It would also have cost us $20.
As the sun was setting on the ocean, we stopped in a small bay called Caspar Bay where we used our new equipment and camped for the night. We barely got the unfamiliar tent assembled before the light went completely. It only took us ten minutes to get the tent up. Not bad for a first attempt in failing light! Unfortunately, we didn't think to bring matches or a lighter so we were left in the dark with only our head torches. Dinner was cheese and tomato on bread. Early to bed and the first night in our comfy down sleeping bags with silk liners. Surely not the worst accommodation we'll experience on our journey! Wild turkeys and sea lions kept us awake.    

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