Arcata, 25 September 2014, 5pm
We’ve just arrived at our a little bit more upmarket (Days Inn) motel in Arcata and it’s time to update the blog. I didn’t get to write last night; mostly because the internet reception at Motel 6 wasn’t that great and, quite frankly, the driving had tired me out and I fancied an evening of doing nothing.
Today I felt far more refreshed for it and now I’m gonna try to recall all the amazing things that have happened since yesterday morning. But, hold on, another delay! We’re off to explore Arcata first (which we chose in favour of the bigger Eureka down the road because Greg talked highly of it). So, let’s see if it lives up to the praise…
…aaaand we’re back. Turns out Arcata is not easily found in the dark, so we postponed our visit to tomorrow morning. Instead, the graving for fresh fish took us to Trinidad about ten miles up the 101 which, we were assured by the motel lady, serves the best seafood. And was she right and the trip well worth it! The Seascape restaurant looks slightly run down but is picturesquely situated among the cliffs and the food was yummy!!! They also played nice music. I was particularly enjoying ‘Hotel California’ – just seemed to fit my mood. Afterwards we caught our first Californian sunset on the beach – just another little gem on our amazing trip!
So, let’s go back to yesterday morning in Rockaway Beach. It seems years ago! We had arrived there the evening before in the poring rain. The whole day had been more or less a wash-out and we’d been happy to cuddle up in the little beach hut and let the rain run its course. And, boy, did it do just that! The next morning we went for a long walk on the misty beach, puzzled by the frothy, yellow foam the waves were carrying. A few dead birds gave us the idea that the foam was a result of an environmental fuck-up, but a couple of locals explained that the storm the night before had mixed up some minerals in the water and it was nothing out of the ordinary. Storm?! Yes, and we had slept though it! Walking back to the cottage, the clouds went darker and the mist moved in closer. We left during another rain shower…
The rain came and went throughout the day but the further South we drove, the more we encountered blue sky. And perfect views of the Pacific Ocean! Having grown up in the woods myself, the green forest that surrounds most of the Highway 101 doesn’t really excite me that much. Yes, it is majestic and beautiful and some of the trees are massive, but what does not cease to amaze me is the sea on the right side of the road. It pops up all the time and for the second part of our trip it came in massive waves, perfectly suiting the wind and rain.
We stopped at Newport, a little, historic coast town, where the sun popped its nose out for the first time. We didn’t linger that long, just gazed at the beach and took a stroll down the main road, before we drove on. Next stop: the Sea Lion Caves, where unfortunately we were told that the sea lions were out feeding and no one home. Although we were tempted to see the caves anyway, 15 dollars each were just too steep, and we were more curious to see the Dunes down the road.
We’d been told by most of our Seattle friends to visit the Oregon Dunes, a sandhill system that stretches for miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiles down the Pacific coast, nearly resembling a desert. I had looked up where best to stop for a short-ish walk and Google had spat out Carter Lake Campground. We found it easily and completely deserted. Many signs told us to pay 5 dollars for our visit but the office was closed and no other payment option available, so we just parked Wecousa and struggled up a massive dune to overlook many others. Some fresh deer footprints got us excited and, lucky us, two deer appeared in front of us before they ran into the forest on one side of the dunes. Walking on we found fresh prints of what appeared to be a fairly big cat, which kept us on freak mode for the rest of the visit. It didn’t help that the cat had followed the path we’d chosen, so after walking for about ten minutes and climbing a particularly big dune with the view over many, many others, we turned around. Might I just add, the Dunes were probably the thing that tired me out the most yesterday. At least it wasn’t hot. How people trek through a sandy desert for longer than half an hour is a mystery to me. Definitely not on the bucket list.
Anyway, we drove on to our final destination for the day, Coos Bay, where we checked into Motel 6 (your box-standard motel chain, though our room came with a flea that Nando caught with one slap) and had a MAAAAASSIVE burger and pineapple/blackberry milkshake at Oldfashioned Burgers & Shakes. We gave the beach a miss and chilled in the motel for the evening, sans flea.
Which brings us to today. It started off much sunnier from the first moment we opened the curtains. By the way, we are still completely gobsmacked by the petrol prices in the USA! ‘Fill it up, please’ costs you 30 dollars. That’s about 20 quid, no kidding! So, that sealed the decision to go on many more American road trips! And it makes for happy tank filler men (you know, the guys who fill up the car for you) because with prices like these a big tip is inevitable!
Today’s first stop was Bandon, which we were told had a historic district. Well, not that much more impressive than the other small coast towns we had seen but we finally got our Highway 101 sign photo and a decent breakfast bagel. On we were to the most scenic strip of the 101 so far. As much as the upper part of the road is beautiful, you haven’t seen anything yet until you passed Coos Bay. Suddenly the forest and the ocean really come together! The sunshine definitely helped as well. I could have stopped and taken a photo every couple of miles! So many rocky beach strips! So many picturesque views!!! So far definitely the highlight of this trip. Absolutely beautiful!
So now we’re back in the motel. It’s got a pool but I really can’t be bothered to get out of bed anymore. Maybe tomorrow morning. Yeah, that sounds great. For now, gimme some ‘Naked and afraid’ on telly and Nando cuddles. 🙂
PS: I remembered that Depeche Mode’s 101 album was inspired by this highway. Might have been further down south but this road definitely deserves many, many songs written about it.