browse (browse) wrote in vw_campers,

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Recent roadtrip, CA, OR

I just got back from a nice road trip up the California and Oregon coastlines, and back south through the interior. It's nice to have slow and leisurely roadtrips, with no deadlines, no timeframes, and plenty of space to revisit favorite paths and to explore backroads.

The route north started in the SF bay area and followed Highway 1 along the coast line. The first night, I camped at Navarro State Beach, on Highway 1, near the exit for Highway 128. This is a tiny little site, tucked against the cliffs and right on the beach. There are only ten campsites, with no more amenities than porta-potties. But, it's quiet, and right on the beach, so that works fine for me. :-)

We got there late in the afternoon, just in time to watch the surfers come in from the waves, and the sea lions huddled together on the beach soaking up the last of the sunlight. The only downer was the jerk in the monster motor home two campsites away, who ran his generator well into the night.

Surfer walking along Navarro Beach

The next day, the Highway 1 finally blended back into Highway 101, cruised through towering redwoods, and finally came meandered back to the coast around Eureka. I stopped in Arcata (home of the fabulous Arcata Police Log to enjoy a soak at the Café Mokka Finnish Country Sauna (at 5th and J Streets), and then camped at the Patrick's Point State Park near Trinidad, CA. The midnight rains were a little more intense, but the sky cleared early the next day and we followed some back roads around Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, along the older roads that used to make up 101, dodging pothole-craters all the way.

The California coastline

Crossing into Oregon, we found the Bullards Beach State Park, next to the town of Bandon. Not a bad campsite, but the evening rains got a little more intense, So, the next day we continues up Highway 1 to Lincoln City, where we took Highway 18 to Portland to visit with friends for a few days.

Once we finally got back on the road, we headed southeast on Highway 26 passing the glorious Mount Hood, into the Oregon "High Desert" country. In the middle of summer, I think this area would be too hot for comfort, but it was a welcome change from the gray skies of Portland. We continued on Highway 97 through Bend, down past Crater Lake and Klamath Lake, before cutting west to I-5 to camp at the valley of the Rouge State Park. I love the Rogue River, but this is a campsite I could have skipped. It was groomed ruthlessly, so that from any campsite you would have an unobstructed view into every other campsite in the place. Okay, I exaggerate, but only a little. It was right on the river, but it was also right beside I-5 and all the accompanying traffic noise. Next time, I'll explore 234 and 62 and see if there's better camping along less populated parts of the Rogue River.

Mount Hood

The next morning, we drove down I-5 as far as Yreka before diverting onto Route 3 through the Trinity National Forest and alongside Trinity Lake. This was a fabulous area to explore, and one I'll definitely be returning to. We saw a lot of small state campgrounds that were still closed for the winter, despite the fabulous weather we were experiencing. Eventually, we hit Highway 299 and followed it west to Highway 101. We headed south from there, camping at one of the campgrounds in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park. This was a nice park, but the perpetual dusk caused by the impenetrable canopy of the redwoods was a little overwhelming. Still, I'd like to come up there and stay a couple of nights in a row, when it's warm enough to swim in the adjacent Eel River.

From here, it was a straight shot down Highway 101 back home. A great trip, even if it always feels like it was too short once I'm back home.
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