Monday, August 16, 2010

Lander to Mendo to Astoria and Home

When someone asks, "How was your vacation?" the answer is usually a no-brainer, but this vacation I'll call Survivor: Oregon Coast. Practically speaking, I knew that the weather on the west coast would be cool, cloudy and damp. But emotionally I was not prepared. I was born in Arizona, raised in Texas and Colorado and call Wyoming Home. I need sunshine, every day and lots of it.

Starting in Lander, the goal of our trip was to drive across Utah and Nevada to Mendocino, California to meet up with some good friends then make our way to the redwoods and then up the entire Oregon coast to the Washington state line. Then skeedaddle back to Wyoming.

First of all, driving across Nevada is not fun. The only fun we had was getting out on the side of the road on I-80 and running around on the salt flats. Oh wait, that was still Utah. Nevada sucks.

Once we made it through Nevada, we pitched camped just over the California border near Truckee. The campground, wedged between the Truckee River and the highway that leads to Lake Tahoe, looked like a Red Cross disaster shelter. I had to remind myself that we just came from the least populated state in the country, our beloved Wyoming, to the most populated state of California. It was jarring for us on several levels 1) We're not used to staying in designated campgrounds and 2) We are not used to camping with more people than live our town. But with a dose of Ambien and a set of earplugs, I slept pretty darn well. Those two items would be key, by the way, for surviving the rest of the trip.

Oh - the other weird thing that we never did get over during the course of our trip was that people left all their food and cooking items out overnight right there on their picnic table. Where we camp in Wyoming it's grizzly bear country and leaving food, cooking items, dog dishes, etc., might turn you into bear bait. Plus, it's just not proper camp etiquette. Really, why do the California highway signs have a grizzly bear on them anyway?

After meeting friends in Mendocino for a few days (and enjoying a lovely cottage there that featured banana slugs that hung out by the hot tub) we visited the Redwood National and State Parks and then camped our way up the Oregon coast. We loved the southern Oregon coast in particular. It was wild and unpopulated and it almost felt like Wyoming by the Sea, except for the clouds and fog. We took many hikes and walks that often lead to a beach that we had all to ourselves. It really was beautiful.

Except for a few random notes, I won't go into our trip blow by blow because you can watch the slide show. I should mention a big plus on our trip - the Oregon State Parks campgrounds were very nice. I have only stayed in a campground once before that had showers, and that was in Greece. If you are from the West, be forewarned that the campgrounds in Oregon are not like here. They are developed, which would normally be a detractor but turned out to be a bonus on this trip. (It was NICE having a bathroom that had toilet paper on the roll!) The roads are paved, there are newspapers kiosks and firewood for sale, and at one campground someone was driving a little cart around the campsite loops selling hot cocoa and coffee. There are showers with HOT water. Oh, and the gentleman selling firewood from a golf cart at another campground was making balloon critters for kids. Once you get used to the experience and except it, it all works out swimmingly.

Top 10 List:
Laura's smile when she jumped off of a rock into a river somewhere in N. California.
Walking in a redwood forest.
Laura making me climb a giant redwood that made a skywalk onto another giant redwood.
Scott rescuing a banana slug off a trail and getting his fingers sticky.
Ben and Laura laughing at "Crap and Hurl" in the backseat of the car, ad nauseum.
Ben and Laura playing on the beaches, not caring how cold, windy and damp it was.
Having a fire on the beach on our last night.
Ben seeing his first palm tree and giving us a heart attack, "Did you see that tree?!"
Tide pools.
Ben not wanting to see the tide pools because of the "enemies" (anemones).
Oregon wine.
Playing Battleship by the fire and eating popcorn cooked on the cook stove.
Laura wanting to camp on our very last night on the coast instead of staying in a hotel.
Realizing there is "no place like home" - do I really ever need to leave the Wind Rivers again?
Seeing a snowy plover.
Forgetting to charge the ipod on our last day and listening to one of our only two cd's: Johnny Cash - all the way across Idaho.

NOTE: CLICK on the black space below the photo to start the slide show. The BIG arrow takes you to