We got up fairly early this morning, knowing that we had a bit of a trek ahead of us. Knowing full well that the next few days were going to be hard driving days, we decided that we were going to try and make it at least into California by the end of the day.
We had originally planned on seeing Clear Lake and/or Crater Lake while we in Oregon, but we opted to bypass them. Especially since we had discovered these wonderful, beautiful creeks and rivers along the way so far.
Before we got on the road, we made a quick pit stop to gas up and get caffeinated. We kept forgetting stuff each time we would go in and out of the place multiple times. Jim, the cashier at the Plaid Pantry, finally got curious and asked us what we were doing. Tod told him about our trip and told him to come here and check it out. Hey Jim!
We hopped on the road finally and the crew told us that they had a bit of a surprise for us. We were to head down the highway and take exit 55, as we got closer we had to make another gas and bathroom break. We pulled over to this isolated old time gas station to fill up. I asked the attendant , who was pumping our gas for us because Oregon pumps your gas for you, where the bathrooms were. He said around back, and I walked around the corner to find two Port-O-Lets. Classy. Now, I have used porta-poties before but the new experience for me in this one was the splash back. There is nothing quite as nausea inducing as that. (For kindness’ sake, I will not go into further detail)
We got to exit 55 and began to head southwest, Tod and I figured out where they were going to be taking us; to the coastal Redwood Forest in Jedediah Smith State Park. We drove the windy roads into California, watching the trees get taller and taller. Now Tod and I have been to the redwoods before, when we were younger, but there is still that sense of wonder and awe when you are in the presence of these mighty trees. What stories they could tell if they were like the Ents from the Lord of the Rings books.
We found this one Redwood that had been gutted out by fire, not sure if by natural or manmade causes. If there was a storm that had suddenly come up, we could have taken refuge inside of it, all of us. One way or another nature always helps us.
We drove down a bit further to see if there were any trails that we could hike around on, but there weren’t any readily available, and it was starting to get dark. The crew decided to camp out there and get some footage before we lost these trees and forest of the northern part of America, while Tod and I would trek on a bit and find a hotel for the night. Camping is great, but again setting up a tent in the dark is not something Tod or I like doing n a regular basis.
So we hopped on the 101 and headed south towards Eureka, CA, hoping to find a quick way back to the 5, which would be faster and safer to travel on. As the trees started to thin out and we were exiting a section of the Park, we saw the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean. It was so beautiful to be up as high as we were. In the distance, we saw clouds, but it look like mountains on the horizon. The crew had given us a Hero Cam to chronicle anything we might see along the way. We decided to film the sunset and some night driving as we hunted down a place stay.
As the night overtook us and we found our selves on the somewhat small, winding through the forest, road, we were extremely thankful to have the GPS with us. We found a cut through from the 101 to the 5 near McKinleyville, CA, taking us back through Jed Smith State Park towards Redding CA.
One of the really neat things as we were taking this small highway through the woods, was these little towns that would pop up, seemingly out of nowhere. We actually had to make a pee stop, and we were stretching our legs, a guy stopped to make sure we were all right. When we told him why we had stopped, he told us that there was a town right around the bend. Sure enough, there was.
Tod and I started singing old TV theme songs to keep us occupied, and then I fished out his iPod adapter and played some real music for a change. You see, we can’t play mainstream music while they’re recording because we don’t have permission to use it in the film. One of the songs that came on was Rainbow Connection, from the Muppets. We ended p listening to it twice, before letting random take over again. There is something about this song that really speaks to me. The line, “Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers, and me,” gets me all choked up. Not sure why, but my first thought on it is that I am searching for something in my life, and when I find it, I will be a better man. We’re all searching for something in life, I guess.
We came out of the woods around Weaverville, CA and started hunting for a hotel. We couldn’t find any near where we were so we decided to keep on heading towards Redding, where we would be able to find a real hotel to stay in. Plus, it was only 40 more miles down the road and was right on I-5.
We ended up driving about 550 miles today and were on the road for about 13 hours including small stops in Redwood. We got to Redding and stopped at the first hotel we could find, and crashed out hard.