CALIFORNIA TRIP REPORT

 

Nancy and I decided we wanted to see the Northern California Redwood trees at least once in our life time.  So on Sunday August 15th, 2010 we flew Southwest Airlines to the San Jose California.  We picked up an Dodge Avenger from Enterprise Rental Car and drove to a Travelodge in Monterey California.  Since we were in California we wanted to experience the Monterey Aquarium, which is one of the premier aquariums in America.

After checking into the Travelodge, we went to a local place for dinner called Grandma's Kitchen.  It was a cute restaurant with lots of character.  There were owl collection items everywhere – everything from plates on the walls, to knick-knacks, to macramé hangings.  Our dinner was good, but not fantastic.  The waitress was very good and had a great sense of humor.

Monday, August 16th

After a continental breakfast at the Travelodge, we drove to downtown Monterey to visit the Aquarium.  It took us several times around the block to find out how to get into this one parking lot, but finally succeeded.  J 

We had purchased our tickets at the hotel, so were able to go right into the Aquarium with no waiting in line.  The Aquarium was just awesome.  David took gobs of pictures and several short videos.  One particular video was taken in front of the deep blue tank.  There was a huge school of sardines that were fascinating to watch with their swirling patterns that seemed like underwater acrobatics.

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Jelly fish video Penguin video video of Sardines video 2 of Sardines

We left the Aquarium around 1pm and walked around Cannery Row going into one shop after another and picked up a couple of souvenirs.  We were getting pretty hungry, so we stopped at Bullwackers Restaurant for lunch.  Very yummy!!  The table across from us had 3 people visiting from London.  We joked and laughed with them.  Our waitress was also terrific with a great sense of humor.  We had a great time. 

After lunch we walked a bit more, then decided we were getting tired, so hopped onto the free Monterey trolley bus.  Didn’t realize we got one going the wrong way, so took a trip around all of Monterey before getting back near our car.  Too funny! 

Got to our car around 3pm and started back to the hotel.  There was a lot of traffic!  We were going north on Lighthouse road in stop and go traffic.  We changed lanes, to the right lane, and had to come to a stop due to traffic.  Well, this large pickup truck behind us did not stop and rear-ended us.  Man…..that’s all we needed.  We called for the police.  The whole thing took about ½ hour.  David and I also called Enterprise and our insurance to make them aware.  We knew we’d need to get another car, because the trunk would not close any more.  It was very nasty.  We are ok, but our necks are not right, due to the impact.  The officer made a note of this.

Once we got back to our room, we called Enterprise and made arrangements to go the nearest office and exchange the car.  We went to the Monterey airport’s location and Aaron helped us get a different car.  He was extremely nice and helpful!!  Our new rental car is a Toyota Corolla.

Here are some pictures of the aftermath damage from an inattentive driver.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010 

This will be a better day.  We ate breakfast at the hotel and then set off for the Golden Gate Bridge.

We travelled along Highway 1, hugging the coast from Monterey to the Golden Gate Bridge.  We thought it would take only an hour and a half, instead it took 3 hours.  So, after crossing the bridge, and taking some pictures of the bridge, the bay, and the city we hopped onto the 101 to travel North.

We stopped in San Rafael for lunch at a Subway.  They allowed us to charge up our laptop. (It has our GPS software on it)  We decided to go straight up Highway 101 and stop in Willits.  This is halfway to the Redwood Forest.  The drive up 101 was beautiful.  We enjoyed the landscape and farms, saw many vineyards.  We had called ahead, from the Subway, and reserved a room at a Super 8.  We checked into the room, relaxed for a bit, and then went to a local restaurant called Gribaldo’s for dinner.  Dinner was excellent…..way too much food, but very good.  David had a steak and I had salmon.  Yum.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010 

After a continental breakfast at the motel, we headed North toward Leggett.  There is a drive-thru tree we wanted to see.  The scenery was lovely and became even more beautiful the closer we got to Leggett.  We took the exit for Drive Thru Tree Road and drove through the redwoods to see the Chandelier Tree.  Wow!  (Click here for the website)  We did not drive the car through….it’s pretty narrow and we were chicken.  But, we took pictures of each other standing in the entrance, then we went through the gift shop and purchased several souvenirs.

drive thru tree video

The next point of interest we were looking for was the “World Famous Tree House”.  We found it about a half hour later, but it was closed.  So, we continued on to the One Log House and the Grandfather Tree.  The One Log House was ok, but nothing exciting.  However, the Grandfather Tree was unbelievable!  It is 1800 years old and 24 feet in diameter.  Wow!

Off we went again, toward our target of the “Trees of Mystery” in Klamath, CA.  (click here for the website)  We continued north on highway 101 driving though forests, redwoods, small towns, and breath-taking scenery.  (video of trees while driving) A lot of the time, we were the only car for miles.  Very pleasant drive.  Lots of winding roads and up and down in elevation.  We stopped for lunch in Eureka, CA at an Applebee’s and called ahead to the Motel Trees (across the street from the Trees of Mystery) and confirmed a reservation for tonight.

We arrived in Klamath about an hour and a half later, checked into the hotel, and then went across the street to the Trees of Mystery.  Had to talk David into walking up the 1/3 of a mile trail to the Tram (chuckle).  But, he admitted it was worth it.  The trees were amazing….so much to see.  The tram ride to the top was short, but fun.  There was a beautiful view of the mountains and forests up hill, and the forests down to the ocean, the down hill.  There were lots of chipmunks at the top – all playing and running around, entertaining us.  We rode the tram back down and hiked the rest of the way to the gift shop.  Along the last part of the trail, there were a series of chainsaw carved sculptures telling about the life of Paul Bunyan.

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tram 1 video tram 2 video tram 3 video video of water wheel video of squirrels

The squirrels and this Stellar Jay were playing at the observation point at the top of the tram ride.     

We ate dinner at the Forest Café, next to the Motel Trees.  Nice dinner.  Very cute restaurant.  Part of the dining room had an underwater painting, the ceiling painted like the top of the water with duck feet paddling through.  Very clever.  We watched a little TV (the satellite dish had a problem so the free TV and Internet was not working very well) and crashed for the night.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

We didn’t hear the alarm clock, so got up later than usual – 7:30am.  Had breakfast at the Forest Café and then hit the road.  We took a short detour into the Jebediah Smith Redwood State Park, but didn’t stay long.  Continued back to 101 and went north into Oregon to the Ocean Suites in Brookings.  Here are some assorted pictures of the Redwood's.

Checked in, partially unpacked, and then called Sally & Jim Hannon to let them know we were here. We headed over to their house and sat and chatted for hours.  Then went to dinner near the coast.  Had a great dinner at the Sebastian’s Restaurant.  Then Sally & Jim took us on a short tour of the town and beach areas.  We stopped and took pictures of the sunset at Harris Beach (the nicest beach in Brookings).  It was an unusual sunset, as you can tell from the picture. 

We got back to our room around 8:30 pm or so and just relaxed.  There is a full day of driving tomorrow going back toward San Jose.  We hope to make it to Santa Rosa.

Here are some assorted pictures from the Northern California and Oregon Coast.

 

Friday, August 20, 2010 

We left Brookings Oregon at 8 am.  It was very foggy and we wish we would have taken some pictures of the fog drifting through the Redwood trees on highway 101.  But we did not.  (darn it!)  The first couple of hours it was quite stressful driving through the beautiful Redwood forest when you could only see a few hundred yards in front of you.  But slow and easy won out!  South of Eureka, Nancy drove giving David a break.  We drove all day and arrived at a Travelodge in Santa Rosa around 3:30 pm with only stops for gas, coffee and potty breaks.

Saturday, August 21, 2010 

With only a 1 or 2 hour drive from Santa Rosa to the Santa Jose International Airport we took our time leaving in the morning.  We had a long breakfast at Denny's and then drove to the airport.  Our route took us over the Richmond Bridge and through Oakland.  We wanted to avoid downtown San Francisco.  But actually, since it was all freeway, it was an easy drive.  Except for the number of drivers who can't read the speed limit signs, cut you off or change multiple lanes without notice.  We actually got honked at and given some "sign language" because we completely stopped at a stop sign.  Damn tourist!

Turning in the rental car had it's small problems, but everything (we hope) got straightened out.  We checked in with Southwest and caught our flight home with no problems.  We took a Super Shuttle home.  The driver of the Super Shuttle van (Chuck) was from our home town area.  It was a great conversation.  Everything at the house was great and our animals let us know, again, they did not like us leaving them home alone.  Oh well!.