2019 - West Coast USA - Day 6


Breakfast today was advertised as ‘Continental’ style which I correctly took to mean no hot food. In fact it actually meant it was poor all round. There was only flavoured namby pamby tea for a start. Who wants passionfruit and daffodil tea at any time of day alone breakfast? Don’t get me started on the porridge options either. Cinnamon is evil, whether you hide it in porridge or not. I ended up taking some boiling water back to our room to make proper tea and some milk to make my own cinnamon free porridge in the microwave.

Today was just a 70 mile jaunt to our next Hotel, but we had all of the Redwood National Park to explore en route. We went to the Jededdiah Smith Park first of all where a very helpful Park Ranger in the visitor centre spent some time explaining where we should visit and in what order. The sights he suggested we would never have found or tried as many down unmade roads.

The drive to the first place on the itinerary set the tone for the rest of the day. It was a lovely sweeping drive through some of the biggest and oldest trees in the world. They were truly majestic. The sky was a deep blue and the sun high in the sky giving an amazing dappled effect down through the trees. We both felt truly blessed to be here and it reinforced our love of the American National Parks.

This love was tested though by our first stop. We followed the Rangers instructions going off road to Stout Grove. We stopped at what we thought was Stout Grove, but it turned out to be a River Trail to get to the Grove. It was rough terrain and very steep. Karen who is not the most nimble on her feet found it tough going. It was only about ¼ mile but seemed longer as we scrambled along. We got to Stout Grove where there was a level smooth path leading down from where we should have parked. How we laughed at our mistake (well I did, Karen was not best pleased).

The trees were magnificent and so tall that it was difficult to appreciate the size of them. We decided to walk back to the car along the unmade road. We came across a large Banana Slug which look as they name would suggest. They apparently eat most anything in their way. The walk back was a lot further than we expected and Karen was spooked that we were never going to find the car again, but we did.

There was then another 6.8 miles to drive on the unmade road to get back to the Highway. At times the route squeezed tightly between the trees and twisted tightly up and down in all directions. To our amazement the unmade road came out directly next to the Hotel in which we had been staying. We took this as a sign that Karen should have the Starbucks she was now craving as we knew there was one less than a mile from the Hotel. On the way to getting that we stopped at a Subway to buy some lunch. We then hit the road for a few miles and stopped at a vista point overlooking the bay of Crescent City to eat our lunch in the sunshine.

Our next drive took us down a scenic byway. I do not have the literary ability to describe how beautiful the drive was through the enormous trees. It did seem like Jurassic World and we have expected to see Dinosaurs crashing through the trees crossing the road ahead. The next stop was at a place called Big Tree. Unsurprisingly after a short walk we came to the Big Tree. The signage was unambiguous and perfect. It caused a lot of laughter from everyone who came to see it. We walked around the short trail to see even more big trees. It was great.

We then followed the Rangers instructions to the Klamath River Crossing which was marked by Golden Bears at either end. The off road track here took us to the coast with some lovely views. I’m not sure I would have been happy driving the tracks in anything other than a SUV.

One of Karen’s aims was to see some Elk which apparently freely roam the Forest so we headed down to Elk Meadows where they like to hang out. We were immediately rewarded by coming across two stags sitting quietly by the side of the road. Then we came across a whole herd of them including many fawns still suckling. The adult animals were all very big and you wouldn’t want one of them jumping out in front of a car and doing some damage.

From here I wanted to walk around Lady Bird Johnson Grove. My navigator with the map next to me said that we had missed the turning for it on the right, but I ignored her and kept going until I reached the turning on the left for the Grove. I can never understand why Karen keeps twisting and turning maps in all different directions and today was a good example of why that does’t work.

Anyhow the grove was marvellous. It was named after Lady Bird for all her work in getting the Redwoods protected and we went to the dell where Nixon and Governor Reagan held the naming dedication ceremony. Her name intrigued me and it turns out this was a nickname given to her when she was a small child, her real name being Claudia. I wondered if anyone ever called her Bishy?

It was then time to get to the Hotel. We pulled up and immediately Karen was not happy as it was a Motel type arrangement despite it being a Best Western. She says she feels securer in Hotels with indoor corridors.

The main issue though was that check in took some 25 minutes. The poor girl on reception was having to cover the jobs of 4 other people who had called in sick. She did not have a list of cleaned rooms and had to keep running quite a distance each time to check them herself. The trouble was the number of people wanting to check in was getting bigger all the time. She seemed to be the only non cleaning staff working (and we noted at 7.30pm they were still cleaning rooms).

Karen sat in the car getting irate whilst I found myself sympathising with the poor girl and imploring her to try and catch her breathe in between check ins. Eventually we got in the room. This was another one with a peculiar design. It was large and had a Jacuzzi bath next to the bed as well as a complete separate bathroom. It was clean, safe and had decent WiFi so it was good for me. Karen said that the very corners of the room had not been vacuumed properly and pouted about this for a while.

We drove to another BrewHouse called Six Rivers for some food. This place was heaving as well but they found us a table. Karen had a Pizza whilst I had my first burger and first chips of the trip. Mine was just OK whilst Karen really enjoyed her Pizza. They then started a Quiz Night. We were not sure about it so declined to enter. It was a different type of quiz. They only asked one question at a time and then you had to submit your answer along with how many points you were prepared to gamble on the answer. Of the first 12 rounds there were only 1 question that I did not know the answer to - ‘Which author was the 1975 film -The Man who would be King - about? It was Rudyard Kipling, and only one team got it correct. We left at that point as it was not clear how many rounds the quiz would last.

Today also marked our move to California, yet another Trump State. It is interesting that despite all the allegations made against him that in all probabilities that he will be reelected in 2020. The Democrats in opposition seem in as much disarray as our own opposition party with much in fighting. There are something like 20+ people standing for the Democratic nomination. Whatever you may think of Trump as an individual, he stood on a mandate of ‘Making America great again’ and the policies he said he would undertake to achieve that he has largely followed through. The press and rhetoric seek to undermine much of that, and we in the rest of the world may not like or agree with all of that but he has done what he said he would. In doing so he has antagonised much of the establishment but is that such a bad thing either?

I think it interesting that at one point he aligned himself as a Democrat and probably only aligned with the Republicans in order to get the nomination. Is he another indicator that traditional two party politics needs to be rethought. The same applies in the UK with Parliament split nominally Tory/Labour, yet there is a different Venn diagram you could draw of Parliament and the country between Leave/Remain which cuts across party lines.

Politics has interested me more as I have got older. Although my natural leanings would be one way, I could never join a party as such because I could not align myself with all of their policies and argue for them. I have had to promote things I didn’t believe in when I worked for HP and hated having to do so. Blimey all this in a travel blog just from crossing a state border, it is strange what I find myself thinking and writing. It is time for a different type of Politics and for it to work differently, I’m just not clever enough to know what it is.

After all these thoughts it was then time for bed.


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