April 26, 2009

Pacific Coast Highway : the road trip part 2

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From this point, Highway 101 takes on a new nickname, the Redwood Highway. So named because it snakes the rest of way through northern California’s redwood empire and all the way up to Josephine County in Oregon. About 20 minutes west of the Redwood Highway is the Point Reyes Seashore where we hiked over the sand dunes and spread out some blankets for a light picnic lunch of cheeses, fruit, deli meats and bread from a quick stop at Trader Joe’s earlier.

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We watched lazily and contentedly from our little spot on this long stretch of beach as a couple on horseback rode past us along the water’s edge while a couple of kids dug up holes in the sand and took turns burying each other.We must have been there for a couple of hours at the very least and it was late afternoon by the time we reached Marshall, a town famed for it’s oysters.

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In fact, half the state’s shellfish growers source their supply from here. Colo, being a former SF resident and frequent customer at Tony’s Seafood Restaurant, proclaimed that they served the best oysters she’s ever had. Tony’s is a family-owned roadside seafood shack set on stilts above the waters of Tomales Bay, the very source of half their menu.

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For this die-hard fan of raw oysters, these super plump grilled oysters topped with homemade BBQ sauce and some garlic was indeed a revelation! After exploring the market downtown for a bit, we retired for the night with a pay-per-view move at an inn in Petaluma.

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It was now day 2 of our road trip and we had a long day ahead of us. Today’s final destination: Portland, Therese’s home and where she would be leaving the group to go back to work. The increasingly familiar voice of ‘Maggie’ directed us to 101 North and past hundreds of acres of ranch and farmland to our right dotted with grazing cattle and or corralled horses. We shared the road with tractors and milk trucks and the occasional flatbed. The left side of the road was lush with evergreens that perfumed the air around us. Overhead, the signs announced our approach to Healdsburg and informed us that we were another 17 miles from the next town of Cloverdale. Somewhere about here, I should have realized we were still on the scenic route but I was enjoying myself too much. Route 101's claim to highway fame is the spectacular scenery that is bestowed upon you at every turn.

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We are about 2 hours into our road trip and the yakking in the car hasn’t lost steam. As a matter of fact, we never seemed to run out of things to talk about. Truck stops, fast-food joints, motels and petrol stations are familiar sights that turn into welcome pit-stops for us when we desperately need to answer a call of nature or to stretch our legs. It goes without saying that one of the best things about driving is that you’re free to stop whenever you please. Not just for a tinkle or a bite, but for all those amusing roadside discoveries. Somewhere before the big sign in which Willits proudly proclaims itself as the Gateway to the Redwoods, I spot a stand up ahead selling cherries and what looked like peaches. Freshly-picked fruits I can’t resist so I yell for Colo to stop so I can grab myself some.

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It was in Leggett, CA, in the heart of the magnificent redwoods, that we came up-close and personal with these giant trees (some grow beyond 300 feet, making them the tallest – and oldest- living things on the planet!). We turned onto a dirt road and followed a trail lit by sunlight filtered through the trees. The forest floor on either side was covered in a wide variety of flora including three-foot tall sword fern bushes and horsetails. It was so beautiful we felt compelled to turn off the radio, and we were rewarded for doing so with the nature’s lovely music as performed by the songbirds above accompanied by the sounds from a nearby creek. This is why I don’t believe in wearing earphones when I travel. Ambient sounds and local music make up as much of the experience as do the sights and tastes. We emerged in a clearing where there in the middle was a 315 foot coast redwood with a 6 ft wide and 9 ft high hole carved out of it’s base. The Chandelier Tree is only one of four drive-thru redwoods in California that have become popular tourist destinations as evidenced by the souvenir shop, picnic tables and refreshment stands.

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Not sure our massive SUV rental would make it without a scratch, we turned the side-view mirrors in before Colo eased the vehicle expertly through. This was actually more fun than I thought, a big part of the thrill being the fear and anticipation of hearing the sound of metal tearing. Now if that isn’t enough to lure you, maybe the rest of this little piece of paradise is. Our attention was drawn to the meadow with the duck pond at the center and apple trees forming a natural boundary. Colo and Katrina raced towards the pond then ran all the way around it chasing the wild geese while Lizzy and Therese sat on a log watching them. I walked around taking pictures, enjoying this peaceful interlude in our journey.

to be continued...

In this series:
Pacific Coast Highway: the road trip part 1

7 comments:

oggi said...

I didn't know you're back blogging. I missed reading your adventures and looking at your beautiful photos.:)

christine said...

Hi Oggi!! Thank you for checking back here. Yes, I'm kinda back to blogging, but not as often as I would have liked. I have way too much backlog and the longer it takes me to post them, the bigger the backlog grows and it's overwhelming! How are you?

vacation deals said...

great blog!
and shot also..
thanks for sharing these pictures that really enchant me..

amy @ music distribution said...

you take such lovely photos!

keyword girl said...

your trip sounds like a lot of fun! great photos

kate said...

Its so damn beautiful. The road trip is just so right! I am so much excited for my ever first time travel. hopefully i will enjoy.

wolf shirt said...

Wow what an adventure and long trravel you have gone through..