Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Trip to the Redwoods

What makes a great trip? Adventure? Beauty? Interesting people? Learning new things? Low cost? Why not have them all? Well, on Monday and Tuesday I took a trip up to the Redwoods and had a great trip.

Let the story begin. On Monday morning at 5:00 I woke up and checked the weather report. Manabu and I wanted to go up to Redwoods National Park to camp, but the weather report said rain, and the temperature was expected to be 36 degrees. I checked out the motel prices, entered locations into my GPS and at 6:00 we set off to meet Manabu's friends Tomomi and Atsuko (whom I had never met). We introduced ourselves, loaded up on Starbucks and gas and began the ~300 mile drive to the Redwoods. About halfway there, when we were on some mountain road, it began to snow. I was a little surprised that it was so cold.
Allow me to make a quick digression. Last week I bought a GPS unit that I can hook up to my computer. This trip was the maiden voyage of my computerized navigator. The computer sat on the lap of the passenger and told me where to go through the car speakers, which I had hooked up through the microphone jack. The setup was fantastic, as it also allowed us to listen to mp3s from the computer. The only downside was that I was worried someone would break into my car and steal my computer. Back to the story. When we reached Weaverville, a small town of 2000 people in the middle of nowhere, I stopped at Longs Drugs so that Manabu could pee. I turned off the computer, hid the computer, hid the GPS, unplugged everything, locked the door and shut the door. I then realized that my keys were still in the car. I spent the next 2 hours in the freezing rain in a T-shirt trying to break in to my car with a coat hanger substitute.
No luck. Manabu, Tomomi and Atsuko (from left to right), spent the majority of those 2 hours in Longs Drugs doing quite a bit of shopping. I felt really bad about delaying the trip with my stupidity, but they were very kind and understanding.
After 2 hours I finally got a hold of a towing company and a pro came to break into my car. At that point, shivering violently, I went into Longs and left it to the professional. After an hour, he was finally able to break into my car. Needless to say, I am no longer worried about anyone stealing anything out of my car.
The trip resumed, and we traveled through one of the most beautiful valleys that I have ever seen.
After a good long time, we reached the ocean. When the girls saw the ocean, they freaked out they were so excited. It made me very happy when Tomomi told me, after all the driving, the early start and my stupidity with the keys, told me that the entire trip had been worth it just to see the ocean. I was touched.
But not nearly as touched as I was when we actually entered the forest. Words cannot describe the power of the place. I am rarely emotionally effected by manmade buildings. Churches, museums, ball parks, none of these things have any emotional effect on me. That forest did.
The first thing we saw was one of the world's largest trees.
Look, Ewoks.
Churches and temples hardly compare.
One of the world's largest trees. I could only fit a quarter of it in the camera.
After that, we drove along the coast on a rarely used dirt road. We stopped at a place that was supposed to have beach access. However, on the trail down to the beach we encountered a deserted looking camp that just had a weird "psycho killer lives here" feeling. So we went back to the car...
And watched what would have been a sunset if there had not been clouds. Oh well, pretty anyway.
I should probably mention that we spoke Japanese for the entire trip. It was good practice for me. Here is our group eating dinner: crackers, yogurt, apple sauce and bananas. We didn't eat much else on the trip, by the way. Our total food bill was probably only $40 for all of us for 2 days. Not bad, but I bet I can do better.
The next day we all woke up, thank god. Next, we left, and Manabu began to drink another of his gallons of water. Sure enough, within half an hour of leaving, he had to pee again. We left the freeway and parked so that he could pee. He went into this Port-a-Potty. I then drove up to the Port-a-Potty, parked the car against the door, put the car in neutral, honked the horn and revved the engine. I think I made him miss.
We took 101 to 1, and then drove around the coast.
Almost no cars, so we played in the street.
Then we got sandwiches, and had a picnic on a cliff.
Here is the GPS making a big mistake. We were parked on the very edge of a 500 foot cliff and the GPS told us to turn right. I decided to ignore its instructions.
Our next stop was Fort Ross, which we got to 3 minutes after it closed, thanks to Manabu and his addiction to water.
Oh well, we saw the outside, which was nice too.
At around 5:00 we arrived at Russian Gulch, a fantastic beach. We had to cross a little creek to to get there though. I took off my shoes and crossed the river right away. It was, indeed cold, but wading through only took a few seconds. Once I had crossed I started flying the kite that I bought at the Dollar Tree. While I was enjoying myself on the beach, the other three were trying to build a bridge so they could cross without getting cold. After 15 minutes with no luck, they finally took my advice and just crossed. Screaming ensued. It was quite cold. Snow melt.
But it was worth it. The beach was amazing.
After half an hour on the beach, I decided to do something stupid. I have wanted to try swimming in California for a while. The ocean at this particular beach was too rough, but the place where the river in the ocean was pretty safe looking. I gazed at it for two minutes, thinking. Then, on a whim, I stripped naked and jumped in. Suprisingly, it wasn't cold for the first few seconds. After three seconds though, I came to realize that the water temperature was probably only 10 degrees above freezing. I got out, got dressed and felt great. Here is me right afterwards. Sorry, no nudity on this blog.
Here I am, still feeling fantastic 5 minutes later. Shortly after this photo we decided to leave, but not before I went in two more times, the second time with Manabu. The girls, well, they looked the other way.
Here we are putting our shoes back on, feet still cold.
Here is the sunset from the cliffs above the beach. If I decide to sell my car, this is the shot I will use to advertise it.
More beautiful scenery.
Our last stop on our journey was Krispy Kreme in Pinole. A great end to the trip.

I am now prepared for my next trip: Driving the rest of the California cost with Sung Eun, Lindsey, Sohyung, and Keiko. It is my goal to make that trip even better than this one was. That will be difficult.

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