Up the California Coast


Time to Head North! 

Our two months of house sitting in Northern California had come to an end, and it was time to head up to Oregon for a while. Since we had two days to get to Portland, we decided the coast route would be splendid and set off from Mill Valley in the afternoon. The first two photos you see are from Jenner, California. We didn’t find much of a town, but the green hills were incredible, and we had to stop for a bit to take it all in.

Here’s a short video I made, it gives a better sense of the area.

Fisk Mill Cove at Salt Point State Park was our next stop. We found this gorgeous view just a few hundred feet from the highway!

This stretch of the highway was a wide-open rocky shoreline with few homes close to the sea.

We stopped briefly in Mendocino and looked around and then headed farther north to Fort Bragg. I had a short write up from a travel magazine about Mackerricher State Park which sounded interesting, so we drove there to check it out. Well, you can’t believe everything you read, right! It was an awful place, scummy, crowded, and dirty. Though it was late and we would have to go back south of Mendocino for a campsite, that’s what we did.

Our campground was Van Damme State Park up in the hills off the highway. Most people there were in campers as the weather was still chilly and wet. We were among only a few people pitching tents. Our site was on a hill with lots of open skies overhead. We enjoyed seeing the moon rise that night and lots of stars.  

The next morning, we got on the road early and then stopped right away at Russian Gulch State Park. Wow, it was beautiful. Right off the highway to the parking lot and a walk out to the views.

Since it was early morning, we were the only ones there and had a short walk around the cliffs.

We wanted to go all the way up the coast on Highway 1. Sorry, no can do. We found out the road was closed North of Mendocino so we would have to take a side road east to Highway 101 before we could continue north.

However, I wanted to see the glass beach at Fort Bragg which meant going past the detour and backtracking: oh, well, we didn’t have much else to do. 

Eventually, we found a place to park on the beach and started walking not knowing whether the beach was there or worth our time since the signs didn’t say anything about Glass Beach. As you can tell from the photo below, we found it! The photo isn’t great, but it was a nice stop. Who knows why all the broken glass in the Pacific Ocean ends up on that stretch of beach? But it does. Fascinating. Colorful. And a little alarming.

Back on the highway east to Willits and then north once again. Richardson Grove State Park was the next stop, a lovely park, with many redwoods to gawk at as we walked through the woods.


Apparently, the building below used to be a restaurant/hotel, but now it’s just a ruin.


Further north we came to Founders Grove – wow, everyone needs to visit this place! We’ve been lucky enough to visit lots of redwood parks. This is along the Avenue of the Giants and is by far our favorite so far. 

“The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always… they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time.” John Steinbeck 


Strangely, the many fallen trees somehow make it easier to grasp the size of these giants. The forest floor is a mish-mash of tree trunks resembling an enormous game of pick-up-sticks. We’ll let a few pictures tell the story here. 





After millions of hands rubbing this piece of wood, it is sanded smooth as silk and exquisitely beautiful. 

Further up north on the coast, we finally got to see an elk herd! It happened without any effort as we saw them from the road and pulled up close to get a good look. We had been through this area many times but never saw a single elk. Then this! 

You can’t tell from the photo, but this is essentially in the backyard of a row of cottages. The elk have their way with things. After this stop, we continued our journey, camped for the night and arrived in Portland the next morning.

Pet Sitting in Portland

This was a four-day house sit with two extra-large dogs and one cat in Portland. The dogs were both so massive but gentle at the same time. The owners said not to take them on walks, so we just played in the yard. When these creatures hit their dog door, oh my, there’s no mistaking what’s happening. We quickly got used to their antics and took the banging door as the signal to go out and play in the yard with them. 

Whenever we arrive for a new house sit, or pack-up to leave, we make numerous trips to the car. We always found these two waiting at the door for us on our way in, even though we just came in two minutes ago.

It was always a big deal to them. They would bark and moan, jump around and bump up against us every time. On the tail-end that was fine, but on the front end, they tended to take up most of the hallway and staircase which can be interesting when you’re carrying bags like a pack-horse and can’t see where you’re going. But their friendly welcome was always a treat.

Here is the (feline) lady of the house.  She was a real sweet girl who somehow learned to make her way through the house even with all the big dogs running around.  Lucky for her, she had sole access to the hosts’ bedroom and could often be seen headed that way when the rowdy dogs got to be too much for her.

There was also a first for us: the hosts had prepared and bagged food for each meal for each creature throughout our stay. Clear labels made it easy to follow along with their special food needs: read ’em and feed ’em and everybody is happy. It was soon time to head south and up into the Cascade Mountains.

What’s Nextup into the mountains

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