The Avenue of the Giants

Trip Start Jun 08, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, October 4, 2007

After spending a really great day at Alcatraz, Grant and I hired a car and headed out of town.  For some unknown reason I thought that Grant had slightly more experience regarding driving on the right, but dodging pigs in Samoa and horses and carts in Cuba didn't really constitute too much experience in my own mind.  However, within 10 minutes of being in the car (without any map) we were on the Golden Gate Bridge and onward bound to Sanoma (wine country).  Grant was asking me to take photo's out of the car window - I was telling him to keep right and watch were he was going...... you get the picture.  We haven't had close shaves at all, but it was the beginnings of what I will call the sweaty feet syndrome (I have discovered that my feet sweat when I get nervous or scared!).

Ok, so onward bound Sanoma proved beautiful - a fantastic valley of vineyards as far as the eye can see with bautiful rocky rivers and steep hills/mountains in the background.  Ideally it would have been good to check out some of the vineyards, but that's not so much fun when someone has to drive so we've settled for drinking in the evenings.  Drinking in the evenings has been a very good thing to relax our minds!  On approach to our camp site (in a national park) on night one I realised that I hadn't ever been so scared about camping in my entire life!  Grant was worried about crazy Vietnam war veterans (clearly he has watched too much TV) and I was scared of bears.  Things weren't helped on the silent drive to the camp site when Grant mentioned that 1 guy at the info center had told him to watch out for diamond head snakes!  In my mind I was convinced that I was going to die....  as it turns out though the crazy Vietnam vet (camp neighbour) turned out to be a pretty German looking girl (Grant was happy), the bears turned out to be deer and their fawn (I was happy) and the grass was cut short so we need not worry about snakes!

After night one of happy camping we headed onward to Lake Tahoe (a very long drive!).  The drive was a tad crazy - my feet were sweating profusely at times (and in bad patches hands as well!!!) and not because of Grant's driving but because of the shear cliffs on either side of the road with no barriers.  The scenery was once again outstanding - barren cliffs, huge trees (pines and redwoods) and beautiful rivers.  It reminded me of the scenery that you see in the Lassie type movies, or alternatively the kind of scenery that you expect to see a big bear loping in the rivers.  Ok, so we also climbed to seemingly great altitudes - over 7000m.  The altitude made our drink bottles shrink and our ears pop a bit.  The lake was beautiful, with its own sandy beach and I thought that was pretty cool!  Never before had I seen a sandy beach on a lake.

The camp site was ok, but there was a sign at this one saying that we were staying in a bear habitat and to keep our food in the car.  My fear of bears now abated having spent one night in the open and I wanted to hang our food outside the neighbours RV, but Grant didn't think that would be funny.....  needless to say that the food scraps remained in the car.

Yesterday we had our biggest journey yet, Lake Tahoe back to the coast of California - what a mission!  Once again the scenery was nothing short of outstanding - more beautiful rivers and tree's followed by more desert like scenery and mountains.  My feet got very very sweaty on this journey!  Grant really didn't want to end up driving in the dark (understandable) and so we were going at what I thought felt like rally speed across America.  Once again there were times when the roads weren't so great (no white line and steep cliffs) but we made it to the Avenue of the Giants before night fall (phewww).  Big ups to Grant - 7 hours of driving on 'the wrong side of the road'.

We camped in the Avenue of the Giants (tallest trees in the world) - it was really amazing.  The coolest part about the Avenue of the Giants was that in driving into the trees at dusk everything turned from being light to entirely dark.  The trees (all redwoods) are dense and extemely tall (upto approx 100m and 2000 years old), there is very little under growth and it's really beautiful.  Today we drove all the way through the Avenue (approx 30 miles) - the ribbon of road through the middle is just crazy.

Tonight we are in a little place called Mendocino - a great little sea side village that's not unlike Raglan (in NZ).  The guy here has just said that he wants to close up so I guess that's all for me today.  More later......
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