Ideally and according to plan our day would have played out something like this; a leisurely drive down the famous Pacific Coast Highway stopping to see the beauty, admiring the ocean views, viewing sea lions and whales, climbing the sand dunes, photographing lighthouses (9 of them!), and setting up camp in the giant awesomeness of the Redwood Forest.
INSTEAD, we drove almost 8 hours in the rain and fog which looked like this.
And we could not climb the sand dunes or admire many of the ocean views as it was too rainy and too wet and too foggy.
And our drive included one child with motion sickness who was physically sick for part of it. But then felt well enough when we stopped for dinner to order a chili cheese dog (that makes me want to be sick just the thought of it – let alone on a queasy tummy).
There was no way we thought camping in anywhere sounded fun in the wet cold fog with a sick kid. So we found a hotel room with a pool and Jacuzzi and laundry facilities (win).
And we did stop a few times to get good views (win).
And the kids thought we saw a whale though I think it was a rock (whatever, I’m chalking this up as a win).
And we were in California so yay on that too (I was warm and inside and no one was currently throwing up and all my laundry was clean and dry and I was relaxing in a comfy bed and not a wet tent so I’m calling it a win on everything). 🙂
The next morning, we woke up in our nice warm dry hotel and it was not raining anymore so we headed to the campground which was pretty phenomenal. Scott picked some fantastic places for us to camp. We stayed in the Redwood Forest at Jedediah Smith Park, who the big kids knew from the Night at the Museum movies (I am not sure that is altogether the greatest reason to know a historical figure but at least the name rang a bell –ha).
We picked up our Junior Ranger booklets and worked on those, set up camp, and ate some lunch before heading out for a hike.
We saw some enormous redwoods, we were all very impressed by the size. We even found one that was so big that all seven of us only fit around half of it!
The kids completed their booklets and we handed them in to earn their badges. Then, we attended two ranger programs. The first one was for junior rangers at which the kids learned how to build a campfire and then earned ANOTHER ranger patch for the state park. The second was around the campfire at which we learned about the local animal population including the BEARS and the MOUNTAIN LIONS and the ticks with LYME DISEASE alongside the super HUGE (and fairly disgusting to me but oh so interesting to my kiddos) banana slugs. So awesome! Made my desire to camp grow! LOL. I am happy to report that the only one we saw was the banana slug.
We finished the day with S’mores around the campfire and decided that the graham cracker part is optional. FYI a toasty marshmallow between chocolate outsides is delicious! I instructed the kids to erase any chance of me walking them to the bathroom in the middle of the night with bears and mountain lions around and we all fell asleep.
The next day started with an early morning rain while we were in the tent. Which was outside in the mud that we then needed to pack up in the rain and put in the topper of the van…all wet…and then we all needed to get into the van. All wet, then drive WAY too many hours. Which we did, to a hotel at which we proceeded to unpack the entire van and the entire topper to dry all the stuff so that it did not mold. FUN.
This day was one of those days that we’ll look back on fondly in 5 or 10 years but not so much any sooner. LOL. It did end quite nicely though. So blessed by that.
We did stop to see some of the roadside attractions along the way.
Babe the big blue OX. Bigfoot.
The drive-thru tree which the kids questioned as they are Junior Rangers now and ever so curious as to why we cannot destroy living things but we paid money to drive thru a tree that someone destroyed to make into a tourist attraction. Good question, yes?
The avenue of the giants with more humongous trees.
We did this all in the rain until we got to the ocean which was simply beautiful.
We ended that night at a hotel in Fort Bragg CA. I had seen something about a glass beach on Pinterest and thought it looked worthy of a stop. (With the day we had, I was for sure this would be an awful tourist gimmick but was very pleasantly surprised!). Apparently, the good folks in Fort Bragg used to dump their trash into the ocean which is not good. But the redeeming abilities of the earth took the trash and made treasures. The old glass bottles, apothecary jars, light fixtures (pretty much anything glass) had been rolled in the ocean in the waves for many years (as it is NOT a dump anymore) and the entire beach is now sea glass. It is pretty amazing.
We were happy to again be in a nice comfy dry warm bed and the next day we were headed to San Francisco.
- Ultimate Road Trip Post 10 – Washington to Oregon & Columbia River Gorge
- Ultimate Road Trip Post 11 – Oregon to the Redwoods
- Ultimate Road Trip Post 12 – Stop #16 San Francisco and Alcatraz