Friday, March 27, 2009

Epic Road Trip - San Francisco, CA to Eureka, CA

This shouldn't have been tough. All estimates pointed at a four hour drive from San Francisco to Eureka. Unfortunately, our self-doubt took us on a detour.

In order to understand how funny this really was, you may need to know that we made somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 U-turns on this trip. Between Dalby and I, we were continuously doubting our route. We'd give ourselves a point that if we passed, we would assume we had gone too far and turn around to look for where we were supposed to go. Invariably, we hadn't gone far enough the first time before turning around. By Sacramento, we had reduced our U-turn frequency, which still didn't save us from a great big U-turn late in day 5. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me start with the morning.

By the time we woke up Tuesday morning, Jake's family had left for their individual daily activities. We three were left in the house. I was really looking forward to what was supposed to be the day that I first tried surfing. It was on my life's list of things I wanted to do - along with going to Europe, publishing a book and counting the licks that it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. Jake had called the surf shop, who said that the waves were awful and the weather was cold, but if you were desperate then you could get away with going out. We decided that we qualified as desperate.

The one hiccup in our plan was that Jake had a dentist appointment at 1:30, so we'd have to wait until later to go out. We made plans to do lunch and walk around Japan Town until Jake was back. Japan Town was lovely. It helped that the weather was warm and the sun was bright. We started with Sushi and finished with some ice cream. Dalby had this nasty-looking concoction made with green tea ice cream, green slushie, red bean paste, whipped cream and a cherry. I was slightly less adventurous with a mint-chip cone.

We walked through Japan Town and took in the sights. There were a couple of Hawaiian stores and one really bizarre hardware place. I bought some great caching containers there. I almost got a kimono, but it just felt wrong to buy a kimono at a hardware store in San Francisco, no matter what the circumstances.

By 2:30, we were ready to head to the beach, but a quick check of the surf line told us that the waves were iffy at best. We talked amongst ourselves in an effort to decide whether we wanted to risk it or not. We had intended to leave San Fran by 5 pm, so by the time we got everything together and got ourselves to the beach, there would only be an hour to play in the waves. Hardly worth spending $20 on a wet suit rental for 60 minutes in the surf. We chose to go with plan B, a tour of Golden Gate Park.

Golden Gate Park was beautiful. We took a picnic snack and ate in front of the pond, watching the ducks and seagulls (actually, San Francisco's on the bay...wouldn't that make them Bay-Gulls?) fight for attention. We took our shirts off in an effort to dull the shine of our Oregon-Day-Glo (tm) skin. Still donning my undershirt, I rolled up my pants and took off my shoes and socks. The sun felt wonderful on my legs, even though the breeze would bring a mild chill every few seconds. After about 15 minutes of sun bathing and chips, the sun escaped behind a thick cloud-cover and the guys started to cover up. We decided to pack up our food and mosey-on so that we had time to see some of the landscape.

The flowers were in bloom, as were the trees and algae! We saw so much color and beauty that I barely had time to put my camera away. We walked through the bamboo garden where the stalks grew so high that they blocked out most of the daylight.

As we emerged on the other side, there was a squirrel standing on a branch, waiting for us. The squirrel was definitely looking at Jake, who was carrying a bag of Tostitos. Jake offered a chip to the little dude, who gladly snatched it and ran back to his perch. Dalby decided that he wanted to try, but Mr. Squirrel was hesitant to approach Mike. Though both eventually succeeded in feeding Mr. Squirrel, he definitely had a preference for Jake's technique.

Soon, the squirrel's friends joined him and we figured it was time to go or else we were going to end up being kidnapped and carried off to their tiny squirrel lair until we could produce some salsa. As we walked away, the squirrels followed making a little rodent train. At several points in the park, we found ourselves being watched by little eyes, but they were all scared away as we passed an old fat man sitting on a bench, resting his arms on his tummy. No one needed to see that.

In an effort to make our trip a worthy adventure, Jake (who was driving my car) decided to take us on some of the notable hills in the area. I have to admit, they gave me a little rush. I was sure glad that *I* didn't have to maneuver them. After that, we dropped Jake off at his place and it was time to head out to the Redwoods where we were going to camp for the night. Ooh, okay, here's where you need to recall that stuff that I said in the beginning. It's okay, go back and read it, I'll wait.

Done? Alright, so just as we were about to leave we were introduced to one of Jake's surfer buddies. After telling him that we were headed to the Redwoods, he commented on what a horrible drive 101 is. It would be about 6 hours, he claimed. He suggested that we should take I-5 and stay in Weed (there's about a dozen stupid jokes that I could make here, but I think I'll skip them in an effort to save myself some typing). Apparently, if we ended up in Weed we could experience the Eastern portion of the Redwoods. Thankful for the tip, we decided to take the well-lit, straight road (about a dozen more jokes I'm skipping here) and end up in Weed.

Tom Tom said that the best route to I-5 from where we were was to head back toward Sacramento and go up. Fifty miles later, we decided to have some dinner, find a Starbucks and head to the Five. It was nearly 9:00 pm before we actually looked at the map and realized that there were NO REDWOOD FORESTS IN WEED.

We stared at each other in disbelief for a second. At that moment, we had to assess how important it was to camp in the redwoods that night. Turns out, it was very important to both of us. That's when we made the MOST EPIC 50 MILE U-TURN. We drove back down to San Francisco and headed up 101 nearly 275 miles and 5 hours in the middle of the night. Along the way, we saw several tsunami warnings and signs advertising a tsunami test that was going to take place at 10:45 the next morning. How exciting.

We finally had a place to set up our tent at about 3:30 am. By then I was tired and ready for bed, but it was our last chance to do S'mores and hot dogs, and we weren't going to miss it! We had one log (which we had snagged from a gravel road in Fields, OR) but it was really wet. We went through a few paper plates and all of our old geocaching papers (including the one with the coordinates for the cache that we had placed at the hot springs) trying to get that sucker burning. Eventually we settled for a small, contained flame for roasting the marshmallows. At 5 am we finished our S'mores and beer and turned in for the night.

The next morning came and went without any sign of a tsunami test. No sirens sounded, no emergency personnel showed up, no one came up to our tent and threw buckets of water on us. It was sort of anti-climactic.

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