Escape from the commies

Thursday 6 July 2006, 1:57 am

Wednesday, July 5

Today we drove from Coos Bay, Oregon only as far as Fort Bragg, along the northern California coast. We are still about four hours from home. Seven years ago we spent our honeymoon here in Mendocino, and we haven't been back since. We hope to spend a few hours there tomorrow afternoon. Mary still isn't feeling too well, but hopefully she'll feel better tomorrow and she'll be able to enjoy a few hours of a second honeymoon. We hope to get home tomorrow evening.

We dipped our toes in the Pacific Ocean at a "wayside" in Ophir, Oregon. (In case you missed it, we dipped our toes in the Atlantic Ocean at Fort Popham State Historic Park in Maine, on index.php?d=2006-trip/20060620c.src June 20.)

Wildlife Jam - One highlight today was seeing several groups of elk right along the highway between Crescent City and Eureka. There is a national park and state park where they keep "Roosevelt elk." I don't know the difference between one variety of elk and another. We did see three different groups. I slowed down for the first, right along highway 101, because I noticed lots of cars by the side of the road. The first thing I said was "wildlife jam" - this is the term they use in Yellowstone park when traffic stops right in the middle of the road to view wildlife. There was a group of about nine males together in a little field. I thought it was strange that the males should hang out together. But rutting season isn't until the fall, so maybe right now they're all getting along together just fine. On a side road, we found another group, about a dozen females, with what appeared to be one adult male and one young male. Even farther down the highway, Mary spotted another large group as I whizzed by unaware. Mary caught several good photos of the first group of males, and I tried to get a few close-ups through the binoculars; we'll see if those turn out. It really wasn't necessary because the animals were practically close enough to reach out and touch; but I aimed to get some close-ups of their facial features and antlers.

Farther south, we drove along the "Avenue of the Giants," a side road through dense redwood groves, until we came to a drive-through tree at Myers Flat. Mary insists this was the "real one" that used to be right along the highway in our childhood days. But farther on down the road we spotted another in Leggett, and this is where I remember the "real" tree being in times past. Unfortunately, this second tree was in a park that had already closed for the day, so we could not confirm anything. It was still a lot of fun. We never did find a postcard. My big truck just barely made it through the one tree that was open ... we had to fold in the mirrors.

Highway 101 between Myers Flat and Leggett is treacherous, and at one point a semi truck was following so close behind me that I had to pull off the road at high speed to avoid being flattened by him. I pulled off at a bad spot right into a pothole; we may have to inspect the truck for damage later. Highway 1 between Leggett and Fort Bragg is way too windy for me. But the views were awesome, even as it got dark. One mama deer and two tiny fawns did cross the road in front of us, and that was a real treat. We both think these were about the smallest fawns we had ever seen.

We drove through the north side of Oregon on one tank of gas that we bought in Walla Walla, Washington, and we drove through the ocean side of Oregon on one tank of gas that we bought in Vancouver, Washington. I really hate buying gas in the commie state of Oregon. They insist on pumping it for you, they refuse to let you pump it yourself, and they take their sweet time getting it all done. It really irks me. But after we got into California, I really wish I had got one last fill-up while still in Oregon. Their gas was running around $2.75 even in the small towns along the coast, while the lowest we've seen so far in California is $3.25. That costs me $13 extra when I fill my 26-gallon tank. Yikes! We hadn't seen prices this high since we were in Canada, and not this high in the US our whole trip, since we left California three months ago. Hopefully prices will be lower than that when we get home to the bay area.