Friday, 3 July 2015

Road Trip Diary: Crescent City & Miranda - Redwood Country

Day 42
Florence to Crescent City
Sunday 14th June 2015

This drive along the last stretch of Oregon coast was beautiful, full of scenic stop off points to allow us to gawp at the beaches and rocks jutting up out of the sea.
Crescent City signified our return to California and the second chapter of our trip. From here on in, we're staying in California. We're making our way down to San Diego and then up to Los Angeles where we'll fly home from on July 22nd.

We booked our Airbnb in Crescent City purely for the incredible reviews but the promise of a complimentary homemade sourdough pizza might also have had something to do with it. Patree's home at the end of a small street was painted all of the colours of the rainbow and came with three beautiful cats including Uncle Steve, the matriarch (yes, female) of the trio.

Patree turned out to be one of the sweetest, most knowledgeable people we've met so far on this trip. Twelve years ago she'd left her home in Ohio and moved to Crescent City because she wanted to be nearer the Redwoods. As simple and as pure as that, the Redwoods were calling her and she answered. Since then she's become an expert on the gigantic trees, their history and significance in local Native American lore and was kind enough to share with us the best places and trails to see the finest examples.

As promised, after dumping our bags and settling in, Patree cooked us the most amazing feta, spinach and sun-dried tomato pizza, we drank some beers and chatted about our trip and the life she'd made for herself in Crescent City. A lovely evening, full of cheer and another reason Airbnb works so well when they have hosts like Patree.

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Day 43
Crescent City
Monday 15th June 2015

Under cold grey skies we left early for the trees. We'd noted some of Patree's tips about the area and headed for Jebediah Smith State park via Howland Hill Road, a deserted dirt track with the best access from Crescent City to the biggest Redwoods. We came across more cars along the route and stopped of for some photos next to some of the biggest fallen trunks we'd ever seen.

We parked in Stout Grove and wandered amongst the giants, hugging numerous ones for the full 'woah' effect. It's incredible to think they are some of the largest trees on earth, just touching them feels very magical.

We made the short drive to the Trees of Mystery, a roadside attraction on Highway 101 signposted by a two huge talking statues of Paul Bunyan and his ox Babe, a Californian legendary figure who features in lots of local tall tales. For the $15 admission fee you get a trail through a huge array of Redwoods and Redwood carvings, a ride on the brilliant cable car up to the top of the ridge and back again and entrance to the End of the Trail museum, a brilliant collection of artefacts and information about the local Native American tribes. It was a great deal and we spent a couple of hours there, then ate our leftover pizza for lunch.

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Day 44
Crescent City to Miranda
Tuesday 16th June 2015

We bid farewell to Patree after another her glorious breakfasts of homemade breads (some of which she packed up for our lunch) and coffee and got back on the road. We stopped in Eureka to get some lunch and we'd tasted a beer at Patree's that was brewed here so we called in at the Lost Coast Brewery to pick up a six pack of the delicious Tangerine wheat ale. I also managed to find an amazing vintage shop, Little Shop of Hers on the main street. It was exactly the type of vintage shop I wished existed in the UK, a massive selection sorted into styles, excellent quality, priced very reasonably (see: cheap!) and best of all, a big range of sizes. If you happen to find yourself in Eureka, make sure you add it to your list.

We were desperate for some sun as for the past few days, it had been cloudy and chilly but as we drove through the Avenue of the Giants en route to Miranda, we could already feel it warming up.
The Avenue is essentially a really long road lined with Redwoods forests and is full of places to pull over to get a better view.

We were staying at Miranda Gardens, an old-school resort on the Avenue with the cutest individual cabins, a great pool and a camp fire each night, all surrounded by the epic trees. The sun was out in full force when we arrived so we dropped our bags, put our swimwear on and got down to the pool quick sharp. We had it all to ourselves, something we've found at a lot of the motels we've been to weirdly, and soaked up every last inch of sun before it sunk behind the forest.

Calling Miranda a town might be a bit of a stretch, it was more like a couple of shops and a restaurant covering a short length of road, so that meant we had limited options for dinner. The only eatery was the inventively named Avenue Cafe. We've eaten in some pretty sketchy places on this trip and I thought this might turn out to be another one but they served us some very good calzone, pizzas and beers for a decent price.

We sat outside our cabin as it got dark, drinking our tangerine beers, playing cards and swatting away the mosquitos.

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Day 45
Miranda
Wendesday 17th June 2015

And repeat. No, really. We basically did the same thing today. We ate the excellent complimentary breakfast, changed into our swimwear and sat by the pool until lunch time when we crossed the road to get lunch from the food mart. We've taken to eating like I used to when I went to France on family holidays- a baguette, cheese and fresh tomatoes. It's cheap and not necessarily nutritious but it is easy (when you don't have a kitchen or the associated utensils) and it's delicious. I've had real difficulty adjusting to the food here, buying things in supermarkets is fine but when you have limited options, I've found getting fresh, healthy food is really hard. We really are spoilt in the UK. I don't think people necessarily notice it when they're on a two week holiday and have the budget to eat out for lunch and dinner, but because we're having to be savvy it's more of a challenge.

We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing at the pool and then headed back over to the cafe for dinner and more pizza! The motel was so relaxing and I'd recommend it to anyone in a heartbeat. We watched the campfire burning, played some more cards and chilled out so hard, I wasn't sure how we'd get back into the swing of things over the next few days, but I'm sure some wine tasting in Napa might help...
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