Giants – Crowns – Wedding Bells

close up of a giant redwood tree at the base with gnarls all about

Look at the size of it!

You’ll See the Title Fits –

Our second day traveling down the Pacific Coast from Oregon to Southern California began with packing up our camping gear and heading out for Jim’s coffee since we couldn’t cook at the campground. 

The campground was lush, and we’re sure there was a lot to see, but we didn’t have the luxury of checking it out or taking a hike since we had to be in Sonoma by 4:00 pm.

Our second drive in that lush, intense Redwood forest went through Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park to Crescent City and then south on Highway 101. The next few hours were spectacular! Redwoods everywhere, all along the coastline and then even more down the road.

Redwood trees along a tiny road

Like I said, Redwoods everywhere!

The Giants 

We drove along the 32 miles of the Redwood Highway, aka Avenue of the Giants, through the largest old growth contiguous redwood forest in the world. Wow, everyone should see this at least once!  

Redwood trees along a tiny road

Look at them

We can all thank John D., Rockefeller that is, for the redwood forests along the 101 in Humboldt County. The story is he came, he saw, he liked, and he wrote some big checks to the park fund. Whatever the story, the forest stands, much of it never logged. And does it ever stand!

Redwood Trees in a forest

We loved this place!

The Giants stand like nothing else. “You’re welcome to watch, but please stand aside. We have work to do.” It’s as if they do the breathing for the earth itself. We may share the ground with them, but they reach where none but birds are allowed. Watch we did, as we made a quick stop for breakfast. We were in too much of a hurry to do the area justice and made a promise to come back another time.

Five foot wide redwood stump

A great table, don’t you think?

Our Camping Food

Neither of us loves breakfast, and we don’t cook in the mornings when we’re camping. After a couple of hours, we stopped by the side of the road for yogurt and granola: Paleonola for me, grain free and yummy.  

packages of grain free granola

It’s the best ever!

I put a lot of planning into our trips regarding food so we can bring all the food we need. Lunch is usually plain and simple: sandwiches and some carrot and pepper sticks. We work very hard at sticking with healthy food and after our first trip, we realized we needed a better way to cook fresh vegetables.

One trip we prepared ‘pickled’ beets and stored them in a small mason jar. A couple of times we roasted various vegetables or new potatoes in foil on campfire coals. And there’s always corn on the cob roasted on the grill. For protein, we usually have Tempeh, cheese, or baked tofu.

For this trip, the park rules were ‘No flames, No fires’, due to all the forest fires. So all the food we made could be eaten cold. It worked, but we didn’t like it. You lose the ambiance of cooking at the campsite, yuck! And who feels like pulling out the harmonica and playing a mournful tune without a roaring campfire?  

ducks near a pond in a park

One of the central park areas in Sonoma

Sonoma and Where to Sleep

We made it to Sonoma on time and had a wonderful visit – a great conversation with the owners, a tour of the home and a walk-through of the daily tasks. We would be caring for two indoor cats. One super friendly, and one a bit reserved. The home is just outside Sonoma proper, but very close to town. We are looking forward to being here, once in October and another short stay in December.

By the time we left, it was late, but we decided to drive as long as we could. We found out something about Sonoma – there is no easy or short way out and back to Interstate 5. It takes over two hours, ugh! We just kept driving thinking we could make it to the first place we camped – Basalt Campground. We didn’t want to have to get a hotel room in some godforsaken hotel in Modesto!

a campground with a tent and trees

Same campground as above but different spot

Back at Basalt Campground

We arrived after dark, but it didn’t matter as we knew the surroundings and where to go. There were a few spots open, and it was fine to set up with just our headlights. Here we were three months later and about 50 feet from where we camped before. So much had happened since then. Our significant life changes seemed to amplify the experiences, in a positive way. 

We called a friend in Los Angeles to check if we indeed would be able to spend the next night at his place – yes, all set! Next morning, we packed up our tent site and drove the five hours south to Los Angeles.

the inside of a storage unit less than half full

Our stuff

We Visit PS 109  

Our first stop was our storage unit. We were hoping that after not seeing our belongings for a few months we could easily liberate a ton of stuff. We did a quick sweep through the whole lot and made two trips to Goodwill. Sometimes absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder!

While we were in the storage unit, Jim took the car across the street to our mechanic. We knew we needed two new tires and a brake check. Not so, we needed four new tires! They also needed to remove the brakes to clean out all the mud stuck up there. Our poor Camry, no wonder the brakes squeaked! 

Jim asked all the guys at the station if they wanted some free furniture and we got a taker for the recliners and the dresser! We were happy to get rid of so much. Now the only big thing left in there was our mattress. What are we going to do with that! We had a month to figure it out.

Humptulips River sign

Good thing we weren’t in Humptulips!

Now We Get to the Crowns

We continued our journey heading south to our one-night stay in Los Angeles. It was hot; the traffic was slow, and we were bored. Perfect moment for some stale gum that had been with us on all our travels. Chomp, chomp, chomp.

Jim suddenly started cursing, which is not that unusual, but then he pulled something out of his mouth. A crown! Oh, crap. That is never good news. Panic ensued, luckily, no pain, so, no emergency.

Entering Cosmopolis sign

Are there any dentists in Cosmopolis?

We quickly realized the blessing in disguise. If you have to lose a crown, what’s the best time and place to do it? When you’re in your hometown. We hadn’t been in Los Angeles for three months and weren’t going to return for around another year. Jim’s dentist, the wonderful Doctor Ron, practiced just down the street. A quick call and we were set with an appointment first thing the next morning. How cool is that!

Sign saying 'fond farewell

Happy Trails!

See You in a Few Days

Next morning we went to a van rental shop so Jim could pick up a van. He was going to play shuttle driver for a couple of days at his daughter’s wedding. 

I took our car and continued south to my mother’s. While there I tried to do something about getting health insurance. Since our official residence address is there, I thought it was a sensible idea. I went to four different places, no help at all. “We don’t do that anymore, go there” – over and over. 

Here’s one thing we learned: health insurance plans do not fit full-time house sitters. We are seldom in one place very long and go from state-to-state. The ACA exchanges focus on specific areas whereas we specifically don’t. Even with some serious experts helping us – nope. You guys don’t fit! That seemed about right.

a rainbow above some trees

A good omen

The Wedding Bells

Of life’s great occasions Jim had two this year. First, the birth of his first grandchild, then, shortly after, his own daughter’s wedding. There aren’t many things better than greeting a new baby girl on her third day on earth: it’s a full blast of goodness. All are well, and he’s had the chance to babysit some, keeping a grandfatherly eye on the progress. She’s an incredibly contented girl, happy to be here.

Jim remembers his children like that, if not all the time. One who was that way – his daughter. At three months he started nearly four years of Mr. Mom with her and her brothers. Lucky fellow indeed to be able to do that.

The wedding was on the Pacific coast, in Dana Point. Friends and family came from around the globe. Furthest trip? His niece and nephew came from Australia, with their toddler no less. So many friends of the bride and groom around.

palm trees near sunset

Southern California beach sunset

Jim had the chance to shuttle them all around the area to the many events. That’s when you get to see who your kiddo really is, with their friends. The family part you’ve known for years. It’s the friend part that’s telling and, here, it told a great story.  

Oh, and what they say about walking your daughter down the aisle: It’s true, every bit of it! Nothing like it. Okay, maybe twin girls with a double wedding. Short of that – it’s tops. He’s still cruising on the memory. Lucky fellow indeed.  

What’s Next – We’re off to Las Vegas

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