Hey, blog fam! (Look at me talking all hip like my students do!)
This might be a slightly longer post as I’m going to talk about the past two days. I spent most of yesterday and the day before traveling along the coast, jaw unhinged. It was an adventure and, to be honest, when I stopped I passed out due to exhaustion. Therefore, that’s why the blog has been spotty at best. Now that I’m in Redding, CA I’ll be able to update regularly.
Let’s do a quick time warp back to Monday, August 6th after I got off my flight to San Francisco. When we landed, I felt exhilarated. Reality hit me like a crashing wave, sprinkling me in bits of awe and excitement. I mean… I was here. I was actually here. The adventure was to begin.
I needed my rental car. Despite having made an online reservation with Fox Rent-A-Car, I still had to stand in a long line to do all the fun processing and necessary paperwork. My 1:00 PM pickup date quickly got pushed closer to 2:00 PM by the time it was all said and done. I was notably frustrated, bored in line. As such, I began to read reviews of this place (something I should’ve done in the first place!) and discovered that the majority of people have a bad experience with this agency. I’ll admit that I was pleasantly surprised, receiving a white 2018 Kia model–which I don’t know the make off the top of my head. It looks sporty, fresh, and like a worthy travel buddy. To date, my experience hasn’t been bad yet! The bonding with this vehicle led me to the second adventure:
The drive out of San Francisco.
Admittedly, this was one of my more nerve wracking moments. I didn’t want to be overwhelmed by busy traffic and new sights. What if something went wrong? What if I got into an accident? What if my GPS failed me? However, despite my concerns, the drive wasn’t bad. It took me over the Golden Gate
Bridge which, to put plainly, is mystical in and of itself. Driving on the bridge, looking up at the huge steel arches and cables made me feel so small. A dense fog wrapped around the higher reaches of the bridge so that it truly felt like I was driving a roadway into another dimension.
And honestly? Since I’ve been here, it does feel like I’ve been dropped into a foreign world, another reality. Every wind and twist of the road unveiled new surprises that made sure my jaw didn’t close. Ever.
I stopped at the Muir Outlook, which gave a stunning view of the ocean and rocky cliffsides. Funny thing, though, was that the temperature was much cooler there. I’m talking law 60s with a gentle breeze. A cool fog hovered in the area, creating a magical element that contrasted with the heavenly view. I took so many pictures and then retreated to my vehicle.
I had in mind to travel Highway 101 up to Eureka where I’d stay the night and head to Redding the next day. I allowed myself the freedom to stop as I desired. I put Eureka into my GPS and it told me to turn off CA 1, the coastal road, so I could hop on Highway 101. But this would mean sacrificing the views during my drive.
Not today, Satan!
There’s nothing like the lush green mountains hugging the shore, rocks jutting out of the sides of these colossal beasts as if they yearned to take a summer dip in the waves. The ocean water stayed to my left, glittering like an expensive jewel in the light of the sun. The roads twisted and turned so sharply, I felt like I would careen off the edge at a certain point and become one with the fishes. You ever have those dreams where you’re driving on a road that suddenly propels you into open waters? I felt like that as I drove. Not willing to sacrifice the views, I ignored my GPS and paid a timely cost. You see Eureka should’ve been reached within 3 hours. My journey was to become a seven-hour one because I wanted to stay on the twistiness of CA 1. Along the way, I would stop and take pictures of the ocean. One time I climbed down to the black, gritty shore and planted my feet in the crashing waves. I clambered up a rock in the midst of the waves, letting droplets of salt water christen my skin, thrown up from the crashing waves below.
It was amazing. I drove and I drove and I drove. I could not get enough of the beauty and I didn’t mind the lengthening drive time–especially when I’m pretty sure I saw a seal swimming in a bay.
I drove through quaint little towns, the locals grabbing ice cream and smiling. I drove through construction work, an added challenge on my drive, and I drove under trees that couldn’t possibly be real. Little did I know what awaited me next.
Around nine, with three hours left until I got to Eureka, I decided that adventure had exhausted itself. I pulled into a Super 8 motel, figuring it best to rest and continue my journey tomorrow. I was surprised that it was in the low 50s when I got out of my car. I could hear the distant waves as I checked into my motel, confused at the temperature. After grabbing some dinner and watching the season finale of Euphoria, I crashed, blown away by all I’d seen.
Tuesday, August 7, 2019
The next day I got up early and did the same exact thing.
I continued on CA 1 and stopped at a beautiful beachfront. I had to hold myself back a little bit for if I stopped at every little thing I saw, I’d never reach it to Redding, CA around 7 PM. That’s what time I gave my Airbnb hostess so I wanted to honor that. While the views were still beautiful, CA 1 became a fluid serpent, forcing me to whip around crazy corners in the middle of dark, vibrant forests. I know… dark and vibrant are contradictory adjectives, but that’s the truth. The vegetation and trees and plants were lush in green, but the atmosphere was dark due to the towering trees shielding the road from the sun. I’d be alone on this road for miles and miles. Due to the nature of the road, I began to get severe motion sickness. I took some dramamine, but it wasn’t helping too much. I decided to let my GPS take me to Highway 101 as I wanted to go to the Humboldt Redwoods State Park.
I saw signs for the World-Famous Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree Park. Feeling both impulsive and carsick, I veered that direction. This drive took me to a 350 ft tall tree that I literally drove through. It was amazing. I can’t even put it into proper words. How is this planet Earth? Seriously. Again… little did I know what awaited.
I finally drove Highway 101, following signs for the Avenue of the Giants, a Redwood forest you weave throughout. Trees, hundreds of feet tall, kissed the sky. They created a dark canopy above the ground, casting the forest floor in green-hued shadows at points. I wish I could capture every detail of that drive, but I can’t. It’s a magical experience best, well, experienced. One cannot truly understand such a view unless they witness it with their own eyes.
After stopping for some coffee and lunch in Eureka, CA, I ventured north to the Redwood National Park to see some elk. It was elk mating season. Enough said. I definitely saw elk–they weren’t mating, thank Jesus– and I even named one George as he stood in some pour soul’s driveway, sizing up the mans’ vehicle. The thing was about as tall as the man’s truck. I’m pretty sure George looked at me and spit out his tongue. But… let’s not get too silly, eh?
I explored some of the Redforest trails, but due to my agonizing blister and the uncanny feeling of being watched, I fled. I mean if you’re alone in the forest, it’s deathly silent. Too silent. Like the calm before the storm. Maybe if you listened hard enough you could hear the trees whispering to each other in their ancient language. But I doubt you’d have that honor due to the thick blanket of silence that embraced the area like a sacred vow. Deciding I didn’t long to become a snack in such silence, I made my way to Redding, CA.
The closer I got, the higher the temperature became. It went from 58 degrees to 99 degrees within an hour. I drove through more mountainous roads, telling myself not to think what one wrong flick of the steering wheel would mean as I careened around steep cliffside roads.
Redding, CA was a welcome sight by the time I arrived. It has personality. I can’t quite describe it yet as I’m still learning who Redding is. I have gathered how conservative its people are. I may need to be mindful of wearing my Black Lives Matter and Pete Buttigieg 2020 shirts.
The drive to my Airbnb solidified the start of a new chapter in this adventure. My hostess is very kind and helpful. After meeting her and unwinding a little bit, I rewarded myself with pizza, a local beer, and some dessert. I planned to blog last night, but upon my return I crashed–hard.
Which was a good thing because I had a date at 7AM to hop into a little Cessna plane and fly over the valley. That is an adventure I cannot wait to share with you, but you’ll need to look for episode 4 (tonight) to hear about that. It’s amazing.
So, that’s been my journey so far! It’s been scary, crazy, and exciting all at once. I’m awed. I’m inspired. I’m giddy. This place radiates so much beauty and wonder.
I’m excited to spend the next week here. More stories are to be told. More people to meet.
And maybe, just maybe, I will survive to tell the tale 🙂
Next time on Caliventures:
- Journey in a Cessna plane as we get up close and personal with the mystical Mt. Shasta, the geographic entity that drew me here.
- Coffee shop adventures
- Hiking 101
- And who knows what else?
P.S. I will probably create an album with more pictures. I’m currently having technical difficulties.