24 June, 2008

Anniversary Trip Day Three: Crossing the State

We start out in smoky Reno. We won't need to stay here again any time soon, especially since my sister lives in Lake Tahoe, but it was fun, and cheesy and cheap and the room was clean and the food at Trader Dick's was actually pretty good.

We get on the road and head west.
Reno-->Eagle Lake total miles driven today 114 miles

Eagle Lake is very pretty with no real place to eat, and apparently we are sort of hungry. The campground at Eagle Lake looks promising for a family trip possibly with Descartes' parents and their RV. Fairly easy road in, lots of flat area to park, and not crowded, always a plus for our family. It was a little sad for me in Yosemite to really look at the tent cabins in Curry Village and realize that we will probably not be able to do that with Jake. It would just be too crowded and too close to other people. Heck, it might be too much for Descartes too. Again it brings up the problem I am constantly churning..how to ensure that we give Lucy access to all of the things we love and believe in, like the great outdoors, and camping and hiking and sea kayaking and bicycling, and public transportation and fine dining and funky locals dining and travel to foreign countries where you don't even speak the language. How do we do all that with a kid that does better with routine and our Not-so-mini-Van. It will mean splitting our family up in the future, so Daddy can take Lucy hiking in the back country, or Mommy can take Lucy to Paris and Barcelona. We did a lot of scouting on this trip, and did find a few places that looked safe for Jake and fun for both kids.
Eagle Lake-->Chester total miles driven today 170 miles
We are hungry so we stop in Chester. The catalogs which advertise houses for sale leave me chuckling. I guess there are a lot of Country Club type places around Lake Almanor and has gained a bit of prestige. Still looks like a small lake town to me.
Chester-->Bumpass hill total miles driven today 211 miles We hike at altitude 8000-8300' for nearly four miles to see California's version of Yellowstone.It is a great hike, and we laugh that we sure do exercise a lot more without our kids around. I vow to figure out how to take Jake on a hike. I have friends who would go with me/help me. It is now a summer goal. Descartes and I take mental notes of the people we pass wearing inappropriate footwear, given that there are sheer cliffs, talus slopes, snow, geothermic, bubbling gooey pots

and fumaroles. Jeesh people at lest wear some tennis shoes. It takes us a bit longer than the two hours..more like three because there are people wearing Tevas and no socks trying to avoid puddles, and there is a lot more snow than we expected. I think they had just opened the trail. Quite often high-country trails don't open until July. We wind our way through the rest of the park. We've both been here before, so while we are impressed by the beauty, we decide not to hike anything else.
We are headed to Shingletown and possibly Manton, where there is a small winery and an inn.

Bumpass--> Shingletown total miles driven today 247 We enter Shingletown and spot 5 fire trucks in front of the local pizza parlor, none of them local. Fresno, Clovis, central valley types. After purchasing a local paper we discover there is a fire named after the town. Can't stay here so we head towards the other small town.. only to find that the road is actually closed because the road runs right through the fire. We go back to 299 and continue west.

Shingletown-->Redding total miles driven today 276 miles. We simply can't stay here. It's too smoky and ugly. I tell Descartes that we can't stay in Reno and Redding on the same trip...but there are good burgers at a roadside stand and a Starbucks at the right turn to continue on 299 west

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Redding-->Whiskeytown/Weaverville total miles driven today: 321 can't stay here there's another fire.

Whiskeytown-->ARCATA BAY total miles driven today: 417 on nearly all windy roads
There is fire nearly the entire length of 299. Beautiful at night. We pull over to the side of the road near the seven rivers area and listen to the crackles and pop of flame and watch an entire river valley go up in a frightening blaze. There is no wind, so it is quiet except for the roar of the fire. Beautiful and tragic.

Arcata-->Eureka total miles driven today: 425
We land in Eureka and expect to find a hotel room at 11:30 pm because it is Eureka in the middle of the week and there are a ton of little Travel Lodge Best Western type places because Humboldt State is not far from here. We go from hotel to motel to dive and find everything is booked except for one room which is so disgusting the owner of the motel offers to show it to us first because she says it is "really no nice at all." It was so bad. It was bad like meth head bad. Like Trainspotting toilet scene bad (at least from what I remember because I can never watch that again

Eureka-->Ferndale total miles driven today 444.
We head to Ferndale, hoping for a small in with a door bell and a grumpy but hospitable inn keeper. It is 12:43am and it looks like Ferndale is asleep for the night, which I think is pretty reasonable for a Victorian Village and then guess what happens as we are calmly and quietly going 5 miles an hour down this quaint low-lying coastal town? The tsunami warning siren goes off.
As it turns out our Not-s-mini-Van can flip a u-turn and drive 68 mph through a very small town and over a one lane bridge very very quickly when Descartes is driving. Faster than I could google "tsunami warning" or "major earthquake". Descartes makes an executive decision that we are going inland even if the siren was a mistake. I love my husband. There is no way in hell we would have slept if we were in a hotel near the water. We would both be waiting for the water.

Ferndale-->Grizzly Creek Redwood State Park total miles driven for the day 472
We head back towards the center of the state on highway 36. It is 1am. We are on plan "Q" seeing as plans A-P have fallen apart slowly over the course of the day. We head to the nearest campground, clean out the back of the van (stuffing everything in the front seats, crack open a bottle of expensive wine and toast our good luck. We are alive, and dry and not on fire and although Descartes is 6'5" and has size 16 feet, he can still fit on our Japanese Not-so-mini-Van. I praise his foresight in having brought a lantern, two headlamps, two pillows, a blanket, a tarp and a wine bottle opener. We wake in the morning to find ourselves, not so entirely sore or cold, and in the midst of a great, uncrowded campground. We smell like a campfire from having driven through 600 of them, but overall, we are no worse for the wear, and it makes for a much better story.

There is no one in the world with whom I'd rather take a road trip. Days like those.. they make me know Descartes and I make a great team and work really well together. Now I understand how we made it through those 50 days when Jake didn't sleep...
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