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Oakland to Ashland

gliding on electrons for 1,300 miles

Salt Point

We left on our road trip to Ashland, but the horrific fires in California and Oregon forced us to change our route, but we did encounter its effects. See our original route.

As we all continue driving our cars and living our twenty first century lives we are mostly oblivious to what we are doing to the environment. The wildfires in the western USA are here to remind us that we must change our ways. The way we live now is not sustainable.

Stump Beach Cove

Our first stop on this wonderful trip was two nights camping at Salt Point campground and a day hiking the magnificent Sonoma Coast and pine forests. I was unaware of just how beautiful the Sonoma Coast is. But our stay at Salt Point educated me on this gorgeous place.

The campground is very pleasant and is filled with grass covered campsites that are well spaced from each other. This spacing is important as so many Americans now camp in giant fossil fuel guzzling campers packed with fossil fuel burning generators. Distance is all one can hope for given our culture’s addiction to fossil fuel and our need to enjoy the outdoors.

Sonoma Coast

We eventually left the wonderful coast behind and drove to Ukiah into 110 degrees of smoldering heat and smoky firestorms. We stayed only to eat lunch and fill our car full of electrons. This enabled us the drive on to Eureka, where the air was clear again, and the temperature fell to a pleasing 64 degrees.

Prairie Creek Redwoods

It’s a shame we couldn’t follow our initial plan and travel to Lassen Volcanic national park. But it would’ve been crazy to drive highway 5 north as Northern California burns. We’ll visit Lassen another time.

Our route now took us up north via highway 1 and 101. We encountered wildfires, but nothing like what’s going on in Redding now.

What a day today was. We left Eureka and drove to Prairie Creek Redwood forest. What a magical place this is. We spent two hours walking in the ancient redwoods and fell into a hypnotic trance.

Before we sank into the wonderland of the redwoods we hiked the rugged cliffs of Patrick Point and drowned in the beauty that is the Northern California Coast.

We ended our day at the historic Requa Inn in Klamath, where Julia saw two bears on the bank of the mighty river.

What a day.

‣ Salt Point

‣ Ukiah

‣ Eureka

‣ Patrick's Point State Park

‣ Prairie Creek Redwoods

‣ Requa

Oregon Caves

We stopped in Crescent City to fill Tess’s belly with electrons then drove on through the stupendous forests that engulf this most beautiful Highway 199, which is now my new favorite scenic road.

Alas, as we traveled east the air became thick with smoke, a blue-haze clung to the hills and distant tree-lines and we became aware once more of the wildfires burning throughout the western USA. And yet too many Americans refuse to admit that we have caused the climate to change from our addiction to fossil fuels.

We eventually turned off the scenic, but smoky Highway 199 and found ourselves at the incredible Oregon Caves National Monument. Deep within the bowels of the forest covered marble mountain we observed the slow processes of cave creation. Acidic water drips relentlessly over eons building up and melting down the sheer rock creating innumerable and unimaginable works of art.

After spending a night in infamous room 202 of the historic 1930’s Cave Lodge we left this incredible place to drive deeper into the belly of the fiery beast.

Ashland

Over four hundred years ago in a land far, far away a young poet decided to put quill to paper and today we have Ashland Oregon. Ashland may not owe its entire existence to the great Bard, but it sure would be a very different place if he did not write down his thoughts and observations so long ago.

The air was warm and thick with smoke from the numerous wildfires, but one cannot help but be impressed by the serenity of Ashland. A post-woman walks her route hand delivering mail to the seemingly happy resident’s homes.

All the while, this factory-Shakespeare town churns out play after play since its beginnings in the 1930s. The perpetual festival earns Ashland $34 million a year. Julia and I sat in the open, smoke-filled air and watched a performance of William’s Love’s Labour’s Lost.

What would the Bard think of all this?

Men perceive women in many ways and 400 years ago the Bard knew it. This mixed perception became the subject of William Shakespeare’s early comedic play. However, even masters are beginners at some point in their lives, and Love’s Labour’s Lost was such a work for the Bard. This play was a training ground that helped him become a genius.

The story’s main premise is somewhat lost in the many tributaries that pervade this tale. It wants to be a comedy but ends in tragedy. It wants us to like it, but there is no character worthy of our affections.

The director and actors of this performance did a valiant job of making this subpar story fun and engaging. But in the end, love and all the labor where indeed lost.

The sun hangs low in the western sky and creates an orange hue unlike any I’ve ever seen before. Particulate matter as small as 2.5 microns (PM 2.5) fills the air blocking the sun, making it look feeble, and creating the spectacular sunset. But this PM 2.5 is small enough to evade your lung’s filtering systems allowing some to pass directly into your blood. Here it causes your immune system to react which creates an inflammatory response. This inflammation can lead to heart failure, stroke, and death. This is what all here in the burning west risk each day we breathe this smoky air.

Yet Julia and I took this risk to visit some of the many wineries surrounding Ashland today.

What choice did we have?

Darlingtonia

With the choking wildfire smoke behind us, Julia and I glided on a flow of electrons westward back to California, Crescent City, and the beginning of our return home.

In a bog of serpentine, sprouting up from the marsh, green and brown cylinders greeted us. They are the very rare Darlingtonia Pitcher Plant. Julia and I walk the small highway 199 roadside stop to commune with these odd flowers.

Crescent City

A short overnight stopover in the gray town of Crescent City and we’ll continue our journey home tomorrow.

Oh, to sleep, to rest, forever to dream.

Summer is an afternoon affair in Crescent City. If you’re lucky the summer sun will peek out from behind the thick cloud and mist that engulfs this small seaside village most of the time. When this happens, it is time to walk the seven miles of fine sand beach that is the crescent at Crescent City.

We did just this today and it turned our rather mundane stay into a much richer experience.

This lovely beach is framed by lush green forests, an impenetrable cliff at one end, and a seal encrusted breakwater at the other end. The fine-grained gray sands are layered with bits of crab that the many and varied seabirds have feasted on.

Redwood Creek

An amazing hike meanders beside the Redwood Creek in the Redwood National and State Parks in Humboldt county. We met a very lovely woman on this hike. We spent an hour talking to her about man-made climate change. She knew the hike very well and gave us much information, which we’ll put to good use on our return to this stupendous place.

The Lost Coast

At the very end of a remote and very winding road is the isolated and tiny hamlet of Shelter Cove. Once there you are at the end of the road, beyond this point is only the raging gray whitecaps of the Pacific Ocean.

There are no electric vehicle chargers in this place, but this is the last location for electricity on this rugged western coast. Thanks to the kindness of our innkeeper we were able to plug Tess of the drivervilles into 110 volts of the last electrons before you disappear into the cold gray ocean. It took 24 hours at this low rate, but we did once more fill her belly with electrons. This ensured our return from the lost coast, although even without this fortuitous charge Tess had more than enough power to get us to our next stop.

Black Sands Beach

The Lost Coast is truly very remote, and its black sand beach is truly lost. This gravelly gray-black sand beach is pristine and is almost entirely unspoiled by human pollution. After spending the day hiking six miles of it we found only one small bit of human plastic on this untouched expanse of beauty.

Sleeping by the ocean fills your ears with the constant roar of the waves. The only other sound that drifts through our dark window is the occasional bark from the many sea lions resting on the rocks outside.

Tomorrow we leave Shelter Cove, but we’ll never forget our time here.

Van Damme State Park

In my world I rarely meet people that support Trump and his regime. Alas, I met just such a person at our campsite in the Van Damme Campground. What do you say to someone who truly believes 45 is a worthy President? I wanted to say, you cannot seriously support this criminal and traitorous POTUS? What do you think he will do for you?

What I did say was nothing. Fearing I would offend if I spoke my mind I listened to his ravings and tried my best to hind my shame, in him and his President.

The Fern Canyon Trail at Van Damme leads you through second generation redwood forests to a Pygmy Forest of fir trees, madrone, rhododendrons, and azaleas. Such a lovely hike and great way to end our journey.


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