California dreamin

Trip Start May 27, 2009
Trip End Nov 14, 2009

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Flag of United States  , California
Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Well folks it has been less than a week since I last let you all have an update but it seems like longer as i have constantly been on the move, never staying in one place for more than a day. This was mainly because I was not sure how long it would take to get from Seattle to San Francisco and wanted to get as far south as possible to make the last stage less frantic.

When we last 'spoke' I was in Seattle where I had an overnight stop in the Sixth Avenue Inn which I booked through Hotwire, a website I was told about by Colleen in the SHU office - thanks Colleen it has been great. I was due to pick up my hire car in the afternoon of the 17 June so spent the morning ambling about Seattle. I travelled on the monorail to the Seattle centre and spent a couple of hours in the EMP, for the uninitiated the Experience Music Project which is linked to the Science Fiction Museum. Both were really good fun and had some great exhibits - did you know Jimi Hendrix came from Seattle? Loads of his stuff including guitars and handwritten lyrics. the best exhibition was the Fascinating World of Jim Henson - what an imagination he had. I am not sure of this exhibition will be travelling but if it does you must give it a look.

I rattled south through Washington State  and next day visited the Observatory centre at Johnson Ridge which monitors Mount St Helens - this is the volcano which erupted in May 1980 in spectacular and deadly fashion. The power of nature is unbelievable and everything in the path of the lava flow for miles was obliterated. I think about 150 people died and the area is now a National monument site. Parts are a bit eerie as still nothing has grown back almost 30 years later.

I than headed west to the coast of Oregon  where I felt I had to visit the imaginatively named seaside resort of Seaside - wonder how long the city council took to come up with that. My first real sight of the Pacific Ocean but it was not turquoise blue as the weather was dull and foggy. My Lonely Planet guide was really helpful for Oregon and described the various towns along route 101 with great accuracy, Cannon Beach was a bit more upmarket than Seaside but it was soulless. For my overnight stop I picked the small town of Manzanita - it was a good choice. The accommodation at the Bunkhouse was great and the local pub the San Dune had a live band who were excellent - The Harmed Brothers  - a trio from North Carolina who would be brilliant for the Celtic Connections festival.

Next morning it was really raining - the first time since I arrived and it made the drive along a twisty coast road even more treacherous, particularly for me as many of you will know that I wrote off my car in similar conditions a few weeks ago! luckily I was going slow as I had to stop for Mrs Deer - Mr was huge but luckiliy he chose not to run in front of me.The scenery along the Oregon coast is fabulous and the state authorities have helpfully set aside loads of viewing spots so you can pull over and take photos without holding up through traffic. I visited  a couple of lighthouses but then the novelty wore off as they seem to be round every corner.

Ate al fresco at Toby's Crabshack in Bandon - the weather had improved but I still had to wear my anorak and I thought I wouldn't need it till New Zealand. Saturday morning and it felt like aBandon - where was everyone - all in the Minute Cafe having breakfast so I thought I would join them. Service was bustling and everyone was eating apart from an old couple who sat along from me who were "Waiting for Edith" but unlike Godot she showed up - why were they waiting - well to do what people of the generation often do - to bring bad news about someone's health.

Northern California - land of the Giant redwoods and they are indeed giant and route 101 sometimes goes right through these redwood forests. One of the stops has a feature where you can actually drive through the tree. The roads here are pretty scary and it is not as easy to admire the views - too busy keeping my eyes and the car on the road.
The weather is back to being sunny and warm and the Pacific looks more
like you would expect and I have actually dipped a few toes in the water but had to walk about a mile over sand dunes to do so

Hoping to get to visit some of the California wine country tomorrow and maybe even get a wee taste? So far have tried Canadian wine from the Okanagan valley, Oregon wine from the Willamette valley so now for Californian from any valley.

Glad you are still with me and thanks for all the comments.

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