Friday, August 20, 2010

Towards the ancient Redwood forests of Northern California.

And so on Thursday 5th August, we travelled towards the ancient redwood forests of northern California, where some trees are two/three thousand years old, and sadly also where as much of 96% of these magnificent giants has been felled. Down 99w to Eugene then 5 to Grants pass, it was a long day's riding. At around 8pm we decided to stop at a Motel 6 for the night. The restaurant nearby had just closed, and the only other option within strolling distance was a fast food bar. Principles tucked firmly in our pockets, we dived into chicken burgers. Beggars can't be choosers!
Friday delivered us to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park down 199, where we set up camp, before heading off along Howland Hill Road and Stouts Memorial Grove to hug some trees.

Saturday and more tree hugging along the Simpson Reed Trail and Peterson Memorial Trail. It is hard to describe the quiet majesty of the ancient Redwoods. Standing amongst them there is an eerie sense of magic and mysticism. They manage to cushion extraneous noises, so that you feel you are being held in a vacuum of peace and tranquillity. Although many trees were felled they are now protected. And it is amazing to see how fallen trees become nurseries for new growth. Apparently the germination of a new Redwood is more successful on a decaying stump/trunk.
Sunday we broke camp then headed off to Bil and Barbs at Medford, back in Oregon via a rest stop where this cute police car was parked outside and a pass with magnificent views. Along the 199 we then turned off onto Dryden and Williams a forestry road, before joining the 238 up to Medford. We met Bil at the Redmond BMW bike rally and he had invited us to stay with him and his wife. where we spent the night sitting in the garden or yard as the American's call it, (but is it five acres so not one of our slated courtyards the size of a postage stamp!). It was a little piece of heaven as wind chimes gently tinkled, the pet cats and dogs frolicked on the grass, the only mosquito in the whole of California homed in on me and bounced about my skin in gleeful delight, and we were treated to a wonderful food fest. I know I always go on about food. Well I like food. I must given that I have gained two stones since meeting David 13 years ago (is it that long???). And it is difficult to get enthused when cooking stir fry's every night on one ring, so when we get invited to stay with people and it is always a taste bud tickler!
We had home grown yellow squash, potato salad (to die for-and Barb wrote out the recipe for me!!!) sweetcorn, garlic bread, cucumber, baby beets, fresh fruit! We ate like we would never see food again! We admired Barb's water-colours, and Bil showed us all his toys. American's and indeed Canadian's have lots of big toys, so we had a tour of his RV's x two, (recreational vehicles), fishing boat, motorcycles, farming machinery and their collection of raw and polished semi-precious stones from the Nevada Desert, where they prospect for opals amongst other things!
Sunday we were forced to have light fluffy, home-made blueberry pancakes for breakfast, with butter and maple syrup. We would of course rather have had our usual gruel but as guests we didn't want to disappoint our hosts!!
We tore ourselves away from third helpings (well I did, I have to watch my waistline-David is past the point of no return-he has no waist any more), and departed mid morning, but not before Bil and Barb presented us with a gift of an fire opal they had found on one of their prospecting trips. It is truly exquisite and a very, very generous token of our time together. Once again we have been delivered into the hands of kindness.

We made our way on the 234, 237 and 42 to Coos Bay, and followed the 101 over Astoria Bridge into Washington. I (Jill) wanted to go along the coast. Being a Piscean I needed a sea fix after so long inland. We followed the amazing Oregon Dunes with lots of people playing with their Sand Rails and ATV's. But it was really cold ,55ºF and we were back to wearing lots of layers. The Oregon coastline is really beautiful but reportedly mostly cold and grey-can you imagine! I always thought California and southern Oregon would be bathed in sunshine. Not so. Some folks actually like it cold and grey rather than the 90ºF heat 5-10 miles inland. Bonkers!!
We camped in a National Forest Park, somewhere near Florence (not in Italy), where during a gale a large tree had recently fallen across the hosts RV a few weeks before barely missing her and two friends. Pretty much all camp-grounds have a fire pit on each pitch and for around $5-8 you can buy a bundle of wood. So with a little help of some fuel (petrol) courtesy of the camp-ground host, we lit a fire and cooked supper. Probably vegetarian chilli out of a tin!
On Monday we departed along the coast, determined to see it through. Heavy fog/ mist cold persisted. It was hard to believe that just a few miles inland it would be around 90ºF. Not sure why we were subjecting ourselves to this.
Long days ride up 101 then 6 to Chehalis where we stopped at the Relax Inn which was a bit pricey at $80 plus tax but was very plush for us. Went next door for food. Meat menu apart from garden burger which David had. And I ordered pork. I envisaged a nicely broiled (grilled) fillet but was presented with a deep fried bread-crumbed pork escalope x 2!! I could only face one (sorry pig!). It took it's revenge: I had indigestion and constipation for a week!!
Tuesday: We had free internet access so did some email catching up and departed around 1200. Headed along the 12 to White Pass where we stopped for a picnic: crackers, cheese, tomato, crisps: a feast!
Headed along to Yakima, 24 and 243 to Wanapum State Park where we camped on the Columbia River

Beautiful night sky.
Wednesday headed along Interstate 90 then 283, the 28 to 17 to Coulee City having stopped at the Dry Falls which are amazing and if running today would dwarf Niagara Falls.
Met Steve and Tammy on their BMW, in the car park and who took a photo of us on the bike, and later emailed it to us, which was a really nice gesture as we don't get many photos of us together, let alone on the bike. We all agreed to meet up in Vancouver in a couple of weeks. Don't you just love these chance encounters!
Drove on 155, high desert,
alongside Baker Lake to Grand Coulee Dam. Stopped on the way for a picnic lunch: had a tiff about where to stop. Now this might seem a minor issue but in a land of magnificent scenery, David is apt to stop in car parks, behind 20 foot walls, in the cold shade, when just across the road is a view across a valley, the sea, a river or lake. Muttered and grumbled and headed towards the Dam
where we went on a tour which took us into the third set of generators-fascinating! For all those engineers amongst you here is the low-down

Afterwards, we headed up the 155 to Colville Indian Agency where we took a small road towards towards Inchelium and camped for free, at Twin Lakes on the Indian Reservation.
It was very quiet and as night fell, we were serenaded by Coyotes talking to one another across the valley. The night skies here are amazing and we have seen so many shooting stars.
Thurs 12th we rose bright and early (yes even me) and we dashed towards Horizons Unlimited Travellers Meeting at Nakusp, taking the ferry to Gifford which crosses Columbia River,
joined the 25 to Northport where we had decided to stock up on groceries in a small store before getting into Canada, because it was likely to be cheaper. Girding our loins we headed over the border where we were asked whether we were carry guns, drugs and apples!! Apparently there is an apple maggot that the Canadians are trying to avoid migrating across the border, as it destroys apple crops.

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