Tuesday, May 26, 2015
The Redwoods, Day One: The City by the Bay
When we first started thinking about a family vacation, the Redwoods was my first, and lets face it, only destination idea. Ross wanted to do something closer and easier than driving all the way to Northern California, but I was pretty persistent, and pouty, and made a pretty good argument, that went something like this:
The redwoods are always going to be very far away and there is never going to be an easy or fast way to get there. We might as well do it now when they are a captive audience and not angsty teens.
Good argument, right?
After mulling it over a bit longer, it was decided. We would travel clear in the heck almost to Oregon to see the biggest trees in the world. And oh my! Was it ever worth the drive.
First, we had to get there. We rented a beach house on Samoa Island, just outside of Eureka, California. It was perfect and beachy and post modern and cozy and everything I wanted it to be. There were raccoons and opossums (just a dead one in the road, but it counts) and fishing cranes, pelicans flying in formation and so many mosquito's. We had our own private beach. The boys could be loud. Everyone had their own bedroom and we fixed our own breakfast each morning.
But, I'm getting ahead of myself.
We had to get there first.
Getting there is always half the battle.
After hours of delays in Utah (crew, plane, mechanical problems) we finally were in the air and landed in San Jose, California. The next morning we were up bright and early, the boys being on Utah time, and got ourselves ready for a long day filled with adventure. Things did get off to a bit of a rough start, for me anyway. In an attempt to save space, an spare ourselves lugging around too many suitcases, I had the brilliant idea to consolidate, and just throw all my stuff into the spare corners of every other bag we took. Bad idea! Not only could I not find anything, I forgot quite a few things, like deodorant, and hair brushes, and my blood sugar test strips. We were going to spend a good part of the day in San Francisco along the pier,before starting our five hour drive up the coast to Eureka so we thought, "Hey, lets just stop at a Walgreen's and Annie can get her stuff". Well, we did stop at a Walgreen's and lets just say Annie got her cultural and ethnic experience of the trip. Let's also say it wasn't the safest area or drug store because 1) everything was locked up behind glass, including the deodorant and 2) the kid in line in front of me at the pharmacy was only there to buy needles. It was an experience!
The boys loved what they saw of San Francisco There is so much to do in the city, we kept it really simple. A drive down Lombard Street, a harbor cruise through the bay and under the Golden Gate Bridge, some sourdough bread, sea lions, and a delicious lunch at a Diners Drive-In's and Dives recommended Deli (New York Style mind you)right in the heart of the city.
Elliott was fascinated with the bridges and Alcatraz. It's so fun that he is old enough to listen to stories about history, the narrator on the harbor cruise, and ask questions. We had some great talks walking around. Wyatt just loved getting out of the car, being outside and riding on a big boat. He, for the most part is an easy going kid. Quinn, from the moment he saw the bay, wanted to see sea lions, and was not satisfied until we found them. And when we did, at the end of Pier 39, he laughed and giggled and pointed. It was a spectacle that I don't think his little brain was prepared for.
As soon as we got plenty to eat, it was time to hit the road. As we planned and prepared for our trip, Google insisted that the drive to Eureka would take us at least 5 hours. I insisted that Google was wrong and that there was no way, driving on interstate, traveling just over 200 miles, we would be on the road for such a long time. Well, google was right. We encountered a lot of traffic traveling outside of San Francisco, until we hit a town called Willits and once the traffic broke, we pretty much hit the mountains and it was some of the windiest roads ever. If you ever plan on taking the same trip, you really drive about 55 the whole way up. It's pretty crazy to drive so slow in a world that usually travels so fast. But, the drive was beautiful.
Once we got out of San Francisco, we entered Sonora county and wine country. The hillsides were covered with vineyards and the skies were full of hawks. I've never seen so many hawks, flying so low, in all my life. I really think we saw hundreds of hawks. Then, as we got more into the mountains, the hawks gave way to turkey vultures and dirty hippie hitch hikers. I also didn't realize that hitch hiking was a thing anymore, but apparently, in Northern California if you are either in your mid twenties, or late fifties, haven't bathed for a while and have an equally dirty dog, it is perfectly acceptable for you to stick out your thumb and look for a ride. Only once in all of our driving did we see any hitchers get picked up, but we sure did see a lot trying for a ride.
We arrived in Eureka around 8:45, found a 24 hour grocery store for a bathroom and some supplies and headed out to our beach house. Quinn and Wyatt fell asleep on the 10 minute drive from store to house which actually made unpacking and setting up shop quick and quiet. Elliott was a great help with suit cases and groceries and when it was time for him, and Ross and me to hit the sack, all three of us were out like lights. The only things left up in the night were the critters, primarily the raccoons. One of which, Ross made the acquaintance with when he went back outside in his skivvies to grab the stroller, which we'd left outside and forgotten was full of sourdough bread in the bottom basket.