Sunday, June 17, 2012

Cloverdale, CA-Astoria, OR (June14-17, 2012)

June 14, 2012

We began the first leg of our excursion northward to Astoria, Oregon on CA US 101 early on Thursday morning. The weather was, of course, beautiful and the traffic light so the drive was very pleasant. Just outside of Cloverdale, US 101 went from 4 lanes to two lanes, but the drive was still good. Later on it went back to four lanes then back to two and so on throughout the day.

The countryside was gorgeous. We followed the Russian River to Redwood Valley, California where the highway left the valley and began an ascent over the 1,935 foot Ridgewood Summit and then back down five hundred feet into Willits, California..  Thank goodness the highway was four lanes at this point.  The 1,200 foot ascent from the valley floor was gradual and we made the climb without breaking a sweat.

The gradual ascent to Ridgewood Summit.

Leaving Willits, US 101 went back to two lanes for a short while then back to four and again back to two.  This entire stretch followed a narrow creek valley with towering mountains on each side. Stunning.

Passing Laytonville, California the highway again began an ascent this time over Rattlesnake Summit. It wasn't as steep of an incline as Ridgewood so we just glided right on up. Once over the top it was down hill the rest of the way to Fortuna, California.

Before we returned to the coast at Fortuna we passed through Humboldt Redwood State Park. This stretch of  US 101 was two lane and very narrow, but what an awesome place. Giant redwoods inches from the roadside. It seemed we were in a fairyland of sorts.

A few miles past Fortuna and we, again, met up with the ocean. Humboldt Bay was our first glimpse and it was no time at all before we were in Eureka, California, our destination for the evening.

June 15, 2012

The early morning started out with the coastal fog enveloping our RV park, but by the time we were ready to move on it had dissipated making driving pleasurable. This segment of US 101 pretty much stays on the coastline all the way to the tip of Oregon. Like the previous day, though, there was a mix of four lane and two lane stretches. Once north of Crescent City, CA, however, it reverts to two lanes for the remainder of its length.

Unlike the previous day's journey, this segment has more twists and turns and small ups and downs making things a whole lot slower. That was OK for the scenery was breathtaking. We just meandered along stopping here and there for some gawking time. The views were changing so much it was like a new experience every time we went around a bend.

By late afternoon we began to approach our nesting place for the evening in Coos Bay, OR. I had searched the area for RV parks the night before and found this to be, not only reasonably inexpensive, but very convenient to the highway.  It was The Mill Casino and RV Park. We found that many casinos offered RV parks at very reasonable rates to attract customers. We, also, found that the casinos, usually, had several restaurants serving great food at very low prices, again to attract customers.  This was a win-win situation for us.

The park was an addition to their parking lot and it was all of a two minute stroll to the casino. Once we got the boys fed, walked and played a bit, we popped over to the casino for some beers and a fantastic burger. After dropping a few coins in the one-arm bandits we headed back, relaxed in the warm evening sea breeze and hit the hay ready to tackle tomorrow's surprises.

We will have one more stop before we reach Camp Rilea near Astori, OR and like today's journey, the road will be slow going.

June 16, 2012

Our next leg was relatively short for we were tiring from being in the truck for so long. It was only 124 miles to the next RV park, but we want to stop and smell the roses and take pictures and we did just that. What would have taken us three hours took us five.

The drive today was just as beautiful as the previous days and just as different. As each morning before we encountered fog in many places, but not so thick as to hinder driving. As the morning wore on the fog bank receded, but it was always hanging off the coast at a distance.

Fog and Elk? Not a good mix.

Not sure I would have parked here without some chocks or something.

A whittler's paradise.
Few towns have dedicated parking for RVs. Bravo Lincoln City, OR.

View form our site at the Lincoln City KOA. Relaxing.

We arrived in Lincoln City late in the afternoon (we slept in this morning and started late). We found our way to the Lincoln City KOA and settled in. This is a beach resort town so it was quite crowded at this time of the year. We made dinner and sat in the cool shade of the trees and hills before we retired for the evening. Tomorrow will be the last segment of this journey and we were eager to relax for a few days.

June 17, 2012

It will be the shortest part of our trip (99 miles) up the coast from the Sonoma Valley, in NorCal to Camp Rilea, Oregon. It started out quite foggy and as we headed northward it did not seem to want to retreat as it had done on previous days.

This entire section of US 101 is two lane and it alternates between the coast and inland through the mountains. It was, by far, the most twisty part of the road we had encountered as of yet. Travel was slow.

We lost the fog quickly as we turned inland and began to ascend into the mountains coming back just as quick as we returned to sea level and the coast, but only for a short while for it was back into the mountains again. It wasn't all that bad, though, for the highway followed a river valley before returning to the coast.

There were many quaint towns along the way, both in the mountain valleys and along the coast. One, in particular, was Tillamook, Oregon.  As we approached the name seemed vaguely familiar, however, we could not place it at the time. The entire valley was dotted with dairy farms and it was obvious this was the mainstay of the local population.

At the edge of town large billboards made it clear why the name rung a bell.  Tillamook, Oregon is the home Tillamook Cheese.  We had bought this cheese many times before and found it was extremely tasty. Back on the east coast its rival would be the Cabot cheeses from Vermont. Quite often you will see them side-by-side in the dairy section or gourmet section.

Before we got to the Tillamook factory we came upon another local cheese producer that seemed more interesting.  We had not heard of Blue Heron Cheese before and thought we would give it a shot.  They specialize in French style cheeses that can be paired with wines and other foods.

We pulled into their large parking lot (ample enough for our RV) and went into their retail store. It was a rustic setting and the aromas from the cheeses and deli were out of this world.  We left the store with a half dozen awesome tasting cheeses, several types of local, fresh-made deli meats and sausages and some fresh made cheese treats for the boys.  We should be able to put together a nice, light meal with these items paired with some of our Sonoma wines.  Looking forward to dinner.

The remainder of the day continued to be overcast and quite cool with the temperature in the high 50s (F). We traveled along the coast with parts of the highway close to beautiful beaches and other parts at the edge of mountains ending at the sea. It made for some astonishing sights. Going through the small beach town of Rockaway Beach Oregon we encountered an historic steam engine pulling sightseers a restored coastal railroad line. Looked like fun.

Another hour's travel and we were at our destination, Camp Rilea, Oregon. It is a small, beautiful park, but most of all, it was stunningly quite. The only sounds we could hear was an occasional airliner and the pounding surf on the other side of the dunes. There are only 10 RV sites here and besides us there was only one other RV in the park.  Looking so forward to this.

The entire journey from Cloverdale, California to here at Camp Rilea in Warrington, Oregon was 630 miles and took four days. It was a magnificent trip and the sights and places we have seen will, forever, be in our memories.

Once we set up and settled in we went for a short walk, ate a delightful gourmet dinner with sliced deli meats, cheese, some fruit and a bit of wine. Time for bed now. Tomorrow will be slow.

Sleep tight all.


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