Road trip camping and sight-seeing with 3 growing boys
7/13/16 - 7/17/16
Off we go!! Left at 4:30AM to get started on our camping trip. We had just started driving normal speed on the grapevine when I drove over some metal stuff, one of which ended up on the bottom of my car. No time for that. We have a drive to do!
Our first campsite destination was Samuel P. Taylor State Park in Lagunitas, CA (about an hour past the Golden Gate Bridge). We stopped in Pismo Beach at the Dinosaur Caves Park so the kiddos could stretch their legs. Next stop was at Hearst San Simeon State Park where one of my kiddos was hesitant to walk on the pier at first. He ended up loving it, and we saw a dolphin too! Still a long drive to go but we were blessed to see clouds cover the entire ocean as we were driving along the mountainside. It was as if we were driving on clouds. Joshua said "I wish I could jump off the mountain and grab a cloud!" It was such a beautiful view!
While the scenery was definitely beautiful, I couldn't help but think that the road had the same in's and out's from the mountain....Curve inward, curve outward, drive straight a bit, watch for falling rock and bicyclists, then repeat. :/ We found a pretty trail called the Garrapata Trail which had a small waterfall....oh....and a snake that crossed our trail path. We all, including the snake, had a stare down. <shivers>.
Further along, we stopped and BBQ'd our dinner at Pomponio State Beach where the boys played in a fort someone else had made on the beach while I was being stalked by my favorite bird...a Seagull. The bird actually made contact with the bag my hamburger buns came in by trying to eat through the bag. I shewed him away in time but that bun went to the trash just in case.
About 5 hours after my "calculated" time for us to have already have arrived there, we made it to San Francisco. I did not take into better account the potty breaks and leg stretches.
A funny story that evening was that my gas light had come on and my kiddo was asking me about it. .....
Isaiah: "Mom, how long do you have after the light comes on to get gas?"
Me: "Oh, about 20-25 miles or so"
Isaiah: "Well, how many miles have you driven?"
Me: "Oh sweetie. Are you scared? Don't worry. We'll be fine. I'm almost to the gas station. Just a lot of traffic."
Isaiah: "Yeah, but doesn't it waste gas still?"
Me: <laughing> "Don't be scared. We're fine. And if we do run out of gas, you'll just have to push the car."
Isaiah: "That's EXACTLY what I don't want to happen!"
Me: <cracking up laughing>
We made our way to drive down Lombard street and marveled at how odd it would be to live on that street. The kids enjoyed seeing Alcatraz in the distance. Driving over the Golden Gate Bridge was nerve-racking at first for one of my kiddos but he "screamed" his way through it.
We finally made it to our campsite...at 9:30PM! Campsite sweet campsite. Let's sleep!
Up and on the road early to get to our next campsite at Humboldt Redwood State Park. Our scheduled stop at Fort Ross State Historic Park was awesome! It was the first fort we have been to(I think). Left that fort and drove onward until we stopped at a trail head area that led to a beach. I jumped into the frigid cold waters while the boys built "Fort Doll" with the logs stranded on the beach.
I realized on this drive that while it is a very scenic drive, it is quite daunting when the sun is straight in your face as you drive along a two lane winding and narrow highway where bicyclists take to the road too, and of course, are hoping you don't hit them!
We arrived at the Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree at Drive Thru Tree Park in Leggett, CA (http://www.drivethrutree.com/home.html|). Redwoods are beautiful and breathtaking! Continued our journey to the campsite and we came across the World Famous Tree House(not that big of deal in my opinion), Confusion Hill, Southern entrance of Avenue of the Giants, and checked out The Living Chimney Tree(that one was cool!).
Arrived at our campground with a little light left to set up and cook dinner.
Up and out early again to make our way to our next campsite in Coos Bay, Oregon. Thanks to a billboard sign, we took a neat detour to the Ferndale Victorian Village in California. That was a place I didn't know existed. I was kind of hoping to see people dressed up in the attire of that day and age. THAT would have been cool...for me!
Moving on..., pulled into the city of Eureka to get gas... :/ ...yeah, well, maybe we hit it at a weird time....it was a weird experience.
Continuing on, we stopped at the Thomas Kuchel Visitor Center where we saw a video of how and why the Redwood National Park was created. Next was Elk Prairie Creek Visitor Center. Almost left because we did not find any parking but the kid inside me really, really, really wanted to cross the bridge on the trail I saw. It just looked fun! My kids laughed at me... and I am okay with that. Ended up finding a parking spot and we hiked a bit. Next viewing stop was Crescent City, CA where the winds were very strong. FINALLY crossed into Oregon, then found our way to the Whales Head Beach Park for what we thought would be a BBQ lunch but ended up being a 'grill fast, catch the food before the wind takes it, and get in the car to eat' kind of experience! A few more stops and stretches, we passed our exit for the campground because I had no phone reception! Thankfully I pulled off to look for a store that sold a small loaf of bread so we could welcome in the Shabbat that night. With phone reception granted and a small turn back, we made our way to Sunset Bay State Park campground where we arrived early enough to set up, have our Erev Shabbat meal, play, and praise dance on the beach and at the campground!
Continuing the scenic drive, we headed to our next campsite at Fort Stevens State Park! Saw some unfortunate accidents due to the rainy weather, and the cargo carrier got too wet which caused our sleeping bags to get wet too. After some small stops, we made it to the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, OR. It is free admission, though a donation is appreciated. It was very much worth our while to check out. I had such a laugh here because there was a computer game the kids could play where they were a walleye pollock which had to assess the risks and try to survive. Sammy was first to try it and when I asked how he did...:
Me: How's it going?
Sammy: <irritated tone> I died! I got eaten by my own kind.
Isaiah was second to try and while he died too, we erupted in laughter when the computer responds to his walleye pollock's death saying, "Oh no. You're dead!"
Okay, maybe you had to be there but we, well I, was laughing it up!!
The kids most favorite stop of the day however, was the Tillamook Cheese Factory Visitor's Center (in Tillamook, OR of course). It's a self-guided tour that you take, some free cheese samples you can get, and of course....buy some ice cream! And finally....ahhhhh....arrived at our Fort Stevens State Park campsite in Warrenton, OR where I successfully made a fire FINALLY on this last night of camping along the coast, lol! The kids had so much fun running around and playing at the playground.
July 17th(last day along the coast):
Stayed until checkout time enjoying it all. We had a discovery day planned before heading to Washington to stay with family. We adventured through the rest of Fort Stevens starting with the wreck of the Peter Iredale. That was fascinating to see. The beach where the wreck was located was pleasant and peaceful. We played with the GPS and got pretty close to the tip of Fort Stevens which hugs the Oregon/Washington border that lies along the Columbia River. We really enjoyed this state park. After leaving Fort Stevens, we headed to the Lewis and Clark National Historic Park/ Fort Clatsop National Memorial in nearby Astoria, OR. The fort is a replica of the winter encampment where Lewis and Clark lived during their stay in Oregon. They had costumed workers teaching on the fort and the history of the time spent there.
Our last stop in Oregon was the Astoria Column which forced us to exert a lot of energy as we climbed the tight spiral staircase with 164 steps to the top! Passing people on the stairs was not fun but it was a stunning view once we got to the top! We ended our Oregon adventure by crossing the Astoria-Megler Bridge into Washington state. That bridge was kinda fun!! Goodbye Oregon, Hello Washington!
Final thoughts on Hwy 1/101 scenic drive:
Watch out for bicyclists!
It is very much worth the scenery to make this drive. Breathtakingly beautiful. Waves crashing against the cliffs, miles of gorgeous ocean and sand. It all just makes for a VERY much longer drive but I'm glad we did it. My regret was the 1-night campsite stays since we were rushed to head out on time to get to the next planned tourist stops and the next campsite for the night with enough time to set up and relax. We had to make our way into Washington by a certain date. Still...it was quite an experience. I am also now darn adamant that I prefer flush toilets at my campgrounds and rest stops. Didn't care one way or the other before, but oh!...those smells.