Day 5 - Gold Beach to Mendocino

Trip Start Aug 30, 2012
Trip End Sep 15, 2012

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Flag of United States  , California
Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Miles today = 282 miles
Total miles = 1005 miles

For the first time in the trip we managed to leave somewhere before 09:00. This was partly due to breakfast at hotel which essentially was just a cake in a bag. It was advertised as 'continental breakfast' but we weren't sure which continent it came from because as Neil said 'it wasn't Europe'. There was definite mist rolling in over the coast this morning. A couple of scenic photostops early on - a cove with three 'natural bridges' formed by rock formations and some early morning beach views with the mist just beginning to gather.

But today we left Oregon State and drove over the border to California State which is where the remainder of our trip is going to be centred around. I managed to snap a pic of the border sign as we drove by.

All through the trip we'd seen signs on the edge of the road warning about 'elk Crossing' but hadn't caught sight of them yet. Today was the day that our guide book said we might see them. We were driving through the first of the California State Parks and saw a roadsign for 'elk Radio 1610AM'. Not music for moose but information for locals on where the elk were located. So we tuned in the car radio to 1610AM and sure enough, there was elk information. Pre-recorded but it told us where the best place would be to spot them. And we were in at the right place at the right time and managed to catch them in their usual meadow pasture. Weren't allowed to go too close (see sign!) but I edited one of my photos so you can see them better. But we could certainly smell them from where we were parked. These are Roosevelt Elk.

We stopped for lunch in a small town called Arcena. Banana pancakes for lunch. Town was definitely an indication we were in California. All a bit alternative - shops filled with products made with hemp - dresses, bags, notebooks and even organic beds. And a lot of people who arrived in 1967 and probably couldn't find their way out.

After this we were drove through many of California's best Giant Redwood State Parks. All of these still on Highway 101 so we didn't have to leave the road. We passed an attraction called The Trees of Mystery. At the entrance a giant wooden sculpture of the Californian Pioneer - Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox (photo below). Paul Bunyan was a legendary lumberjack type superhero. And the Blue Ox his travelling companion. He appears in a lot of North American folklore and is said to have brought the first settlers into California in 1806 across the mountains.

We drove through the Avenue of the Giants - giant redwood trees lining the road on either side for about 30 miles. We stopped for a few pictures but it's hard to get the scale of just how huge these trees are and many of them not that old. But we were saving ourselves up for the 'Chandelier Tree' - this is the tree in a place called Leggett that you can drive a car through. Even though it has a huge hole in it's belly it is still growing. This tree is, according to sign, 2400 years old and 315' high (almost the same height as the the dome of St Paul's Cathedral 365' high). I drove the car. Neil took the pictures. It was a pretty tight fit to get the car through, perhaps when they carved the hole in the 1930s cars were of course a lot smaller.

Then we left US101 highway to take the coast road highway 1 - which we think was the original 101. This did mean we had to cross a mountain to get there - very twisty, hairpin bends, steep gradients. We saw loaded logging trucks also on the same route. I'm glad we weren't going up behind one.

Then the coast again which by now was very misty. Apparently if there was no mist the Redwoods wouldn't do as well. They need it to thrive. So we didn't see as much of the coast as we could have done, but the fog is very common in this area. Eventually arrived at our destination The Brewery Gulch Inn. This is about a mile from the town of Mendocino (pronounced MendoSino). But locals call the town 'Spendocino' - as it's a rather expensive tourist spot. We have 2 nights here and some respite from driving tomorrow.
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