On Monday, we spent the day in the LA area. We had to go to exchange Jean’s iPhone because the screen was acting funny. On the drive to LA on Sunday, Jean’s hat flew out of the car, lost forever. So another errand was to find a hat. Monday evening we had dinner with Rob Cutietta and his wife, Mary Beth. Rob is the dean of the USC Thornton School of Music and we’ve been friends for over seven years, having met at a Seven Springs Group (the nation’s 11 top music schools) annual meeting in January of 2003. One of Rob’s hobbies is playing with model trains. He has an elaborate setup in the attic of his home in Pasadena.
Fog and traffic were the themes for the day’s drive from Carmel to LA. We have not been able to escape the foggy California coastline since we entered the state. Hence, we missed Big Sur. We stopped at the café at Nepenthe to have a bite, hoping the fog would burn off before long but it didn’t. The fog was pretty thick in places even on the roadway so the drive was a little hairy negotiating the twists and turns.
Bird poop rock.
Alfa @ Big Sur
The day was saved by stopping at Piedras Blancas, where a bunch of bull elephant seals had gathered. They will stay at this beach for about a month to molt or shed a layer of epidermis as they bask in the sun. This beach is the only mainland beach they use as a rookery; others are on islands in southern California. The seals are not particularly social and do not travel together; it’s just something they must do and they instinctively know this beach is a good stopping over point to get the job done before heading north to Alaska to feed.
Two subadult males sparring.
Note to self: do not drive through California beach towns such as Santa Barbara and Malibu on a Sunday in the summertime. The traffic was horrendous!
One of our savvy traveler tricks is to bid on 4 and 5 star hotels through Priceline.com. We’ve been lucky enough to win bids at the Drake in Chicago, Le Meridien in Manhattan, and the InterContinental in Miami, among others. Tired and hungry, we arrived in West Hollywood around 8 pm.
At the Andaz Hotel, we were greeted by our personal concierge who offered us a glass of wine while she checked us in. Thank you Priceline!
After a family breakfast that included Jean’s brother, John; sister-in-law, Kerri; and Uncles Dick and Wally, we headed back to the coast to Carmel for the night.
We enjoyed our family visit in Roseville. Jean’s dad, John, got an early cherry pie (his favorite) for his birthday later in August.
Gram will be turning 96 in September. She reads voraciously and does her puzzles daily. Kristen also stopped by on her way to Tahoe on Friday, but we’ll be seeing more of her in Scottsdale at the end of this week.
Preparing for our journey down the 31-mile Avenue of the Giants.
Out of Eureka, we continued our journey through the Redwood forests of coastal northern California. These trees are truly massive. The denseness these groves achieve is at the same time beautiful and a bit eerie. The fern undergrowth is equally beautiful.
Of all the cheesy tourist traps we could have visited along the Avenue of the Giants (i.e. gift shops, seeing the largest treehouse, searching for Bigfoot, etc.), we had to get a picture of the car going through a redwood tree. It didn’t look like a vehicle much bigger than the Alfa could have fit through this one. This tree is an example, though, of how they survive even when hollowed out. Greenery grew out of the top branches.
The Pacific Coast Highway, CA Route 1, begins south of Leggett. This is a shot of one of the many small creeks and rivers that flow directly into the Pacific along the way. Unfortunately the day was gray and foggy so the pics are not spectacular.
South of Mendocino we started inland on Route 128. Too bad we couldn’t bottle the cool air of the coast and take it with us as we drove through the rolling hills and vineyards of the Sonoma and Napa valleys. Temps approached 100°.
We stopped off in the Sonoma region’s Alexander Valley at the Stonestreet Winery and sampled some very nice cabernets.
Our destination for the day was Roseville about a half hour from Sacramento at Jean’s dad’s home where we’ll be visiting him and Jean’s grandmother. That’s where we’ll be until Saturday. Tune in again after that as we begin our drive to southern California down the PCH. The sunset as we approached Roseville, CA.
Today we travelled from Grants Pass, Oregon , to Eureka, California through the majestic redwoods. Once we got to Hwy 101 in California, the road took us in and out of fog and sun.
The coastline looked pretty much like this all day.
Sun predominated though just a bit inland as we passed through the Redwood National Park. Sprouted from a speck the size of a tomato seed, the redwood can grow to nearly 400 ft! We learned that the trees have a shallow root system that connects with the roots of neighboring trees providing an anchor against the powerful coastal winds. Today worldwide, the redwood forest only exists on this narrow strip of California coastline from the Oregon border to Monterey Bay. These trees can live more than 20 human lifetimes.
We were treated to the sight of this herd of elk taking an afternoon nap (got it right this time, Roger ☺ ). The three young ones were particularly cute.
Our friend, Trina, recommended we stop at the Lady Bird Johnson Grove, a redwood grove in the park dedicated to the former first lady in 1969. The solitude of the forest was well worth the detour off the byway.
Over half hollowed by fire, this tree still survives.
Our lodging for the night was at this Victorian inn. Built in 1888 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places, proprietors Lily and Doug have remodeled and decorated the inn faithfully in the Victorian style. They were running a special for “seniors” over 50. This was the first time we ever got a senior discount. It was painful, but we took it anyway!
The road to the north entrance is Route 138 and for this stretch, you could see for over 13 miles.
Just before reaching the lake, we drove through this pumice desert where ash lies 50 ft. deep.
Hopefully these pictures capture some of the intensity of the lake’s stunning bluish appearance. We drove nearly the 33 miles around lake. In case you don’t know, Crater Lake was formed about 7,700 years ago after Mt. Mazama had a massive volcanic explosion, leaving a huge bowl-shaped caldera about 6 miles wide. Eventually, through more volcanic activity the bottom sealed, allowing snow and rain to collect to form the lake. Remarkably, it is considered a closed ecological system as no streams run in or out of the lake. Its water is among the purest in the world. It is also the deepest lake in the U.S. at 1,943 ft.
One of the features of the lake is Wizard Island, a cinder-cone volcano that erupted out of the lake about 7,300 years ago. Notice the emerald blue pools on the island. Yellow tree pollen mixing with the bluish appearance of the water gives the pools their emerald color.
Another feature of the lake is called Phantom Ship, a rock formation jutting out of the lake that resembles a small ship. Although it looks small from afar, it’s actually taller than a 16 story building at it’s highest point.
Nearby, these pinnacles or volcanic spires formed as volcanic gas rose up through hot ash deposits, cementing the ash into solid rock.
Pumice Castle is orange pumice rock that has eroded into the shape of a castle.
Well, OK, we’ll end with one car feature!