The First Day

Trip Start Sep 02, 2007
Trip End Sep 13, 2007

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Flag of United States  , California
Monday, September 3, 2007

Today we picked up our rental car which will carry us throughout our northwestern adventure. A compact car bearing the unforgettable hue of burnt sienna, no call it what it really is - metallic orange! Already this trusty little vehicle with the most unfortunate coloring has carried us on the six-hour trek from Portland, Oregon to Klamath, California. Through the dry grasslands speckled with buttes, over the various mountain ranges leading to the coast and carefully along the winding stretches of Hwy 101 hugging the rugged coastline along the Pacific.
Six hours (if we hadn't stopped) from Portland to Klamath, CA. Actual time more like 10 hours with all our stops.
Interesting things seen on the drive:
St. Louis Street - a road over the highway we traveled. Hundreds of sheep, numerous cows and a few dozen horses. Stands containing every berry you could imagine - blueberries, blackberries, marian berries... Mexican band traveling in a very old bus with a Mexican license plate - you don't see that in the Show Me state! A vintage yellow- school bus fitted as a traveling motor home - very hippie. Dozens of vintage and older cars - VW buses, 40's roadsters, you name it, we saw it. The people of Oregon are apparently quite committed to never letting an automobile die.  

Having just traded central time for Pacific, we were left with stomach craving lunch at 10:30 a.m. We tried our best to hold out and finally stopped in the small town of Cottage Grove. Not wanting to succumb to fast food, we cruised the town's historic main street for suitable dinning establishments. No luck. Then we remembered a sign for a winery as we exited the highway. Hoping that this might be gourmet sandwiches, too, we set off in search of Saginaw Vineyard. The signs led us through quite a maze and eventually to a lengthy gravel road. To borrow a scenario from the movie "Rat Race", I swear at one point, a women would jump out offering to sell us a squirrel. Eventually the gravel road led us past a mobile home, another older farm house and to a small parking lot next to a barn. Ready to turn around, we found it was too late. The women owning and running the vineyard had seen us. Waving she invited us into the barn/tasting room. I mouthed an apology to Bill for suggesting what was clearly going to be an awkward and perhaps scarring experience.
We were in for a surprise. Though gourmet sandwiches didn't materialize, we did find some delightful Oregon wines to take home or enjoy during a picnic on the beach. Even Bill enjoyed the blackberry wine! We also received a suggestion for a spot in town to grab lunch.
Towards the end of our journey we saw the most spectacular views of the day - The Redwoods and the Pacific Ocean.
As we drove along today, we wondered what it would be like to see the Redwoods. Would the trees gradually get bigger? Would they just suddenly be taller and wider than any tree we have ever seen? Turns out it was a bit of both. As we traveled south on I-5 and then hwy 199, the trees did get larger. However, all of sudden we hit the Redwood National and State Parks system and the trees became looming beasts with trunks the size of starter homes. 
The amazing mammoth Redwood trees -- we will be forever spoiled by the site of these trees. Show us another supposed tree and if it isn't as wide as the length of a Hummer and as tall as a national monument, we will merely laugh and call it a stick. Even at night they loom in the darkness, the massive trunks lining the highway.
Over the next week, we will see a lot of the Pacific Ocean. However, the first glimpse of the ocean on a trip is always a moment I remember. As we draw near, I began to believe that the trees ahead are ending and that the blue is the ocean. After a few false hopes BANG there it is! The air smells of salt and sea, rolling down the car windows we could hear the triumphant beating of the waves on the rocky shoreline. The coast in Northern CA is a wonderful mix of Redwood lined mountains dropping directly into the sea in a startling rock-strewn mix of land and water.
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