California Redwoods and San Francisco

The coast was calling our name as we left Portland and we arrived after about an hour of driving then headed south. The drive was pretty uneventful but we really enjoyed the sleepy coastal towns, the fog coming and going, and the rolling waves from the highway. Watching the landscape change was interesting to see as we progressed down the coast. The rain forests were behind us and the sand dunes of southern Oregon were in front of us. After a long day’s drive, we crossed into California.

For our first night in California, we planned on camping near the redwoods in northern California, just east of Crescent City, which would give us an early start on tackling some sightseeing. We crossed the California border just before dark and began meandering up into the mountains. I was gripping the steering wheel hard when we began to see the massive trees just inches from the white line on the highway! We found our camp spot and settled in for the night.

Early the next morning we took a quick sponge bath and walk down to the river to wash our feet. It had been about 5 days since our last shower so it felt great! I was starting to smell myself while driving and at night but Laughlin just smelled like roses as always!

Heading south, we arrived at a redwood research area (AKA tourist trap) that had a ski lift to take visitors to the top. We were ready to pay the $16 each to take a ride above the redwoods but the lift was down for maintenance. The lady working at the office said we could still walk through for a reduced rate of $9 per person. We decided to take our time walking through the trails and right when we arrived at the lift, the maintenance was done and we hopped on. Score! We headed down Highway 101 and turned off on the Avenue of the Giants and couldn’t get over how big these trees are.

 

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Redbox has quickly become our nighttime entertainment as we are trying to preserve our downloaded movies for the months ahead of us, so we discovered that Fort Brag would be the place to find our next fix. The curvy road of Highway 1 began to get on our nerves as it is very slow, curvy, and much less traveled than Highway 101. We were probably averaging 30 MPH in the dark before we arrived. We got our movie and headed further south before staying at a casino parking lot for the night. Since they allowed us to park for free, we had a beer and some fries to say thanks!

Our goal for the next day was to see San Francisco and position ourselves in a decent spot to make the drive to Fresno the following day. To do so, we took off in the rain and headed down our favorite highway once more. After a couple hours of driving, we finally reconnected with Highway 101 knew we would be in San Francisco soon.

Laughlin began researching the tolls as we quickly approached San Francisco and then “Boom!” we were on the Golden Gate Bridge. We were getting hungry and stopped in the Golden Gate Park and took a walk to get some exercise. Our next stop was Fisherman’s Wharf where we got to see the city, the bay, and a distant view of the Golden Gate Bridge. We had just enough time to stop and see the Golden Gate Bridge up close. It was an amazing site!

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Driving around San Francisco in a truck that’s better suited on a ranch than a city along with our odd looking camper sure drew some looks. We had one guy give us a big thumbs up as we approached the Golden Gate Bridge! Laughlin and I decided that we wouldn’t have it any other way!

Once again, we got the opportunity to participate in rush hour in another city. Our fuel began to run low and finding a station in San Francisco that sold diesel and could accommodate a vehicle our size was a challenge. After a small panic and a couple trips up and down the steep streets in the suburbs, we found diesel after 452 miles without filling up. Exhausted by another day, we found our camp spot once again and crashed with Fresno and Yosemite National Park being our next destinations.

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