West Coast Road Trip: California to Washington

Jojo and the Pacific Ocean

Summer vacation is not just for kids, though I still consider myself a kid at heart.  I usually satisfy my wanderlust with weekend adventures near Los Angeles, but when my Aunt Jojo mentioned a road trip to a family farm in Snohomish, WA, I suddenly felt the need to explore far away places.

Right now was a perfect time for us to make this journey together.  Aunt Jojo’s boyfriend Donnie passed away almost a year ago, and I’m still looking for love.  Though we have a lot in common, our differences compliment each other very well.  I like to plan everything from start to finish, and Jojo likes to go with the flow.  Jojo is a morning person, and I am an evening person.  Jojo grew up in the ’70’s, and I have a passion for seventies music.  We joked about meeting a father/son pair on the road, but we were just as happy with the two of us.

We shared a vision of driving up the California coast in a Volkswagen bus with wildflowers in our hair, Neil Young on the radio and an endless stretch of road before us.  This vision did not cover what would happen when our forty year old bus broke down over 1,000 miles away from home.   Luckily, I discovered Happier Camper, a company that offers vintage ultra light trailer rentals in Los Angeles.  Derek, the owner, allowed us to take his favorite trailer on our adventure, a 1970’s “Trillium” painted with brown palm trees.

Home Away From Home (Trinidad, CA)

On the first Sunday of July, Aunt Jojo and I packed up the trailer and set off on a two-week round-trip journey from Los Angeles to Snohomish, WA.  Olivia, Jojo’s pup, made a perfect co-pilot, sleeping between the two of us in the front seat.  (Warning: This post contains lots of cute dog pics.)

Aunt Jojo and Olivia behind the wheel (Big Sur, CA)
Private ocean view (Big Sur, CA)

On our first night at a campground in Big Sur, CA, we were so fearful of “backing-in” our trailer that we unhitched it and dragged it into our campsite.  That evening, Aunt Jojo prepared chicken stir-fry, while I built the first of many campfires.

I love old barns. (Big Sur, CA)

On Day 2, we stopped for gas in Petaluma and got “flower bombed” by a couple of hitchhikers.  They complimented our trailer and presented Aunt Jojo with a bouquet of fresh cut blossoms.  She offered them a few bucks for the road, but they simply told us to share the good vibes.  We ended up passing them on the highway.  Those good vibes paid off with a ride to their next destination.  We wished them well on their journey with frantic waves and smiles.

Old Redwood Highway
Highway 1 (Manchester Beach, CA)

From Petaluma, we drove up the Redwood Highway under the dense cover of giant trees and emerged back onto the coastal cliffs of Highway 1.  My stomach dropped a little each time the road turned close to the edge of a cliff.  We arrived at our campground at Manchester Beach just as a thick fog rolled in.

On Day 3, we woke up to discover a broken safety chain between the trailer and the hitch.  We continued our journey to Fort Bragg to repair the chain and enjoyed a picnic lunch at Glass Beach.  A century ago, Fort Bragg residents threw their garbage over the cliffs onto what is now called Glass Beach.  Eventually, the trash was removed, and the ocean wore the remaining glass and pottery into smooth, colorful pieces that cover the beach.  Due to tourism and the erosion of the sea, the abundance of glass is slowly diminishing.  We didn’t stay long before hitting the road again.  (Source: Wikipedia)

Glass Beach (Fort Bragg, CA)

We had planned to stay the night at a highly recommended campground, but from the looks of it, the campground was just a self-serve parking lot.  We pulled into a gas station and asked the locals where to stay, which led us to Trinidad, CA, near Patrick’s Point State Park.  Around 7PM, we lucked out with the last available spot at Azalea Glen RV Park, one of our favorite places to stay on the trip.

On Day 4, we walked across the street for a morning hike in Patrick’s Point State Park.  We cut through the redwoods to a cliff overlooking the sea.  The trail to the tide pools was marked by a strange looking tree draped in green moss, and the path was crowded with wild ferns and fiery orange flowers.  I was alone at the tide pools, except for a spear fisherman in the distance.  I stood on the black rocks in the thick morning fog, examining the sea creatures in the pools.  Soon I heard Jojo’s voice calling me, and I hurried back up the trail.  I will be back here again someday.

Morning Walk to Patrick’s Point (Trinidad, CA)
This way to the tide pools. (Patrick’s Point State Park, CA)
Stairway to Heaven (Patrick’s Point State Park, CA)
Misty Morning (Patrick’s Point State Park, CA)

From Trinidad, we drove to Florence, OR, also known as “Dune Country.”  We successfully backed our trailer into our campsite for the first time.  That night, we celebrated with a gourmet dinner of campfire veggies with a side of filet mignon.

Rest Stop Gourmet (Somewhere in Oregon)
Olivia’s favorite activity (Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park, OR)

On Day 5, we took a morning walk to climb the sand dunes.  Many people brought their own ATV’s, but we just settled for working out our legs, which felt a little stiff from all the driving.  The dunes rolled into a pretty lake.  We could have rested here all day, but we had to continue the journey.

Top o’ the Dunes (Florence, OR)
Dune nap (Florence, OR)

From the dunes, we decided to drive all the way to Snohomish, WA, after making a little stop at the antique mall in Florence, OR.  Eleven hours later, we turned onto a long, dark road and arrived at the farm just before midnight.  I could hardly wait to wake up in the country.

To be continued… Click here to read on!

Antique Mall (Florence, OR)
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