This Post Picks Up
right after our escape from Mendocino National Forest, our most harrowing experience together. Somehow we kept it together, arrived on time at our next house sit in Sacramento and started off with a smile if still a little shaken.
House Number One
There was a herd of cats to care for: two actual ‘pet’ cats and at least two of the neighborhood feral cats, maybe more. Our apologies – we forgot to get photos at this house – maybe we were still in shock.
Two of the cats came around like clockwork ready for breakfast or dinner. One stray was always ready and waiting for food but not for any touching, certainly not strange new humans!
Oh, there was a little hole in the back wood fence. The neighbor to the rear also cared for the feral cats, so the hole allowed for easy travel back and forth which they used.
The house was in a quiet neighborhood near the local University. The owner had lived there a long time, long enough to plant a tree, now some 30 feet high. The backyard was quite large, with lots of garden plots: it felt secluded, shaded and peaceful.
The trees were busy dropping their colorful leaves. All day. Sweep off the porch and sidewalk in the morning, and they were ready for another round in the afternoon! There were huge piles of leaves in front of houses up and down the street. You could hide compact cars in those piles.
Then, before we knew it, three days passed and it was time to go. We welcomed our host back home and departed.
We didn’t travel far though – just across town to stay the night with Jim’s oldest son. We arrived to find them cooking and carving pumpkins for Halloween, so we joined in the fun. Lots of football on the TV, also.
It’s Raining; it’s Pouring
Early the next morning we set off towards Portland for a one-month house sit. Yeah, spending quality time in winter up in the Pacific Northwest! There’s a reason Oregon is so green in the spring and summer; it rains all through the fall and winter!
We started out with our old friend Interstate 5. The plan was to cut west on Highway 299, through Weaverville, and eventually to the coast to bypass the higher mountains.
If a strong storm hit, we would have trouble going straight north without snow tires or chains! We traded the sure thing of rain to avoid the might be of snow.
Along the way, we visited a couple of BLM and National Forest campgrounds just to know if they would be possibilities for another time – no way! Lovely areas, but out of the way for us.
A couple of them felt strange or even sinister. We imagined these as the Pacific Northwest equivalent of Kentucky Hollows, a little rough for us still mostly city types.
Driving in the Rain
We found out that Highway 299 is a serious mountain road, twists, turns, ups, and downs. All in heavy rain. Many sections of road had washed away down the hillside into rivers. Some of the sections still in place were covered by rocks and dirt washed down from hillsides above.
Construction crews guided travelers over metal plates, replacing asphalt in damaged areas. Steam shovels perched improbably on ledges, pilings holding things in place. It’s as if civilization hadn’t completely established itself in the area, and yet a road that would stay put.
It was cloudy and rainy the entire way through the Coast Mountain Range, hence the photos: not a glimpse of sunlight the whole way.
On a recommendation from Jim’s son, we stopped in Trinidad a tiny coastal town to see the sights along the shore. We found more rain and colder temperatures and didn’t pursue it any further than this photo, another time perhaps!
This was one rainy mother of a day, and we wondered how camping in a tent would go. The weather is often a significant factor for us on travel days.
Sometimes heavy rain makes us drive right by national or state parks and other attractive destinations. But no amount of rain would keep us away from the Redwoods.
Highway 101 intersects with Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park which is inside Redwood National Park outside Orick, Ca. There was only one thing for us to do, get literature at the Visitor Center and take the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway through the Redwoods. It runs parallel to Hwy 101 for about ten miles.
What a magnificent drive! There are elk herds here as well as exquisite trees. We couldn’t get good photos of the elk, which means we’ll be back!
If you told us this was a rain forest, it wouldn’t be news. It was sopping wet everywhere. Still, who isn’t going to take the opportunity to stroll among the redwoods? We took a few walks before sloshing our way back to the car.
There were trailheads every hundred feet along the road, each with another stand of those huge trees. We have to return some day – maybe in the sunshine? You could spend a week just in this section of the park! This drive is not to be missed, put it on your list, seriously!
Now, What Do We Do?
Once back on Highway 101, we continued our northbound journey and arrived in Crescent City a few hours later hungry and tired.
Right then we were high and dry in a restaurant, on Halloween! Our hostess, Dorothy, seated us. Li’l Orphan Annie took our order, and Frankenstein cooked it up, and we paid up with Wonder Woman.
In between all that we had plenty of time to look out the big front windows and see things as they were: this weather wasn’t going to change anytime soon.
We took the hint and decided to head for Oregon. Maybe we could make it to Portland and stay the night with Jim’s son? A long drive, but we would end up dry. It doesn’t happen very often that you decide to leave California because it’s too wet and head for Oregon to get dry. Strange!
Sometimes you take a hint and get encouragement for doing so, eh? As soon as we crossed into Oregon, a hundred miles up the road, the rain stopped, the skies cleared, and we had a giant rainbow in front of us. In fact, we drove right through the colorful arch.
However, we ran out of steam, stopped in Roseburg and got a hotel for the night.
The next morning, no tent to pack up, just a hotel room! Not so quick, most of the contents of the car had been brought into the room for safe-keeping and had to be hauled back out there.
Since we didn’t need to arrive until the afternoon, and it only takes a few hours to get to Portland, we dilly-dallied a bit in Roseburg. The river sounds like fun – right there flowing through the city park. They make rivers in that area quite large with so much water to get to the ocean. Very impressive watching all that water head west, or north.
A Local Favorite
After a lazy, rainy drive to Portland, it was still too early, so we went to the Forest Park. Locals would recognize this road. A few minutes’ drive from downtown, a few more hiking up a trail into the woods, and you would never know anyone lived nearby, and yet a city full of people.
The area is deliciously wet, wild and slippery. Colorful too, with moss on all the trees. It is a gorgeous area for hiking. Finally, the sun started heading towards the western horizon, and it was time to report for duty.
House Number Two
Over a couple of hills we went, got inside and said hello to these two cuties. They remembered us, and we were all best pals in a few minutes.
As we mentioned, this was to be a month-long house sit, so we settled in and relaxed a bit. That was extra nice as we’d been on the road a lot lately. Of course, we did unload the car: goodness who put all that stuff in there?
Later we took the dogs for a nice long walk – not even a drop of rain, at least not on that afternoon in November. Sunny in Portland. Strange.
We had done quite a few stints at this house and knew the dogs quite well. Any chance it’s dinner time? How do they know?
Sadly, our hosts didn’t find such a welcome on their trip. In fact, they ran into trouble and had to return early, so our time at this home was cut short by three weeks!
Things don’t always turn out how any of us might wish, especially when travel plans take one far from home. Most trips our hosts make have gone well: this one didn’t. More of a nightmare.
It’s not our place to share the details. We know our hosts had no choice but to return home, and as quickly as possible. Even back at home, their challenges didn’t end.
Our plans changed as a result, and we had to go to Plan B, a place where we seem to spend quite a lot of time. But we had the easier end of things, by a mile.
So what does Plan B look like this time? Sometimes that’s where all the good stuff is found. Stay tuned.
What’s Next – Where to go next
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