Each summer I like to plan a road trip where we get out for an extended period of time and see as much as we can. I really like focusing our trip on National and State Parks, and visiting various stops along the way. I will come to a screeching halt for “The Biggest/Smallest__________”. They can either be horrifically bad or amazingly good. Yep, I am THAT girl!
The summer of 2012 Laddy and I did a 15 day road trip from Portland, down the Oregon Coast, through the Redwoods to Petaluma, CA and then back again. We spent the majority of the drive on Hwy 101, following the Oregon Coast. The trip was especially fun for me because I got to show the Lad a section of the Coast that I grew up frequenting with my family. He and I also got to explore some new places I haven’t spent much time. They turned out to be awesome!
Here is what our trip looked like and what we did!
Day 1 – Portland to Cape Perpetua, OR
Stopped at Mo’s (for chowder and a stomach ache – their food used to be so much better), Devils Punchbowl, Devils Churn, and the Cape Perpetua Visitor’s Center. The visitor’s center is fantastic and the hosts are really great. Saw some Grey whales and their calves heading north! Exciting!
Day 2 – Cape Perpetua to Sunset Bay State Park, OR
Stopped at Ocean Picnic Beach, Haceta Head to play at the beach, Sea Lion Caves (saw lots of Sea Lions as well as more Grey whales in pairs, and Orcas following them), stopped in Florence for lunch, and then finished the drive to Sunset Bay State Park. We did a stop at Shore Acres Botanical Garden as well. Your campground pass gets you in for free and it was really beautiful! Rain was pretty torrential all day, and through the night, so we hunkered in!
Day 3 – Sunset Bay State Park to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, CA
After torrents of rain, cold showers, burnt toast and cold coffee, my car broke down and I limped back to Coos Bay. It was determined I had a bad cylinder coil and there were no parts in the area. Called in a huge special favor from my mom, and she drove the part down to us (4-hours round trip…she is a saint!). We were only 238 miles into the trip, so this was a bit disheartening. After we got the part, gave some really big hugs, and stopped at Walmart to use the bathrooms (I am not sure who had worse bathrooms, to be honest…the mechanic or the store). Then we were off again! Stopped at various points on the road to stretch legs, but just kept driving until we made it to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Probably the longest day of the trip!
Day 4 – Prairie Creek State Park
Visited the Elk Meadow down the road (outside of the park) and Trees of Mystery in the morning, a hike around the campground and a visit to the visitors center in the afternoon. Just kept the day low key after the long haul and rough previous day. Had lots of visitors that night as well as some much needed kid time for the lad! That was fun!
Day 5 – Prairie Creek State Park to Humboldt Redwoods State Park, CA
Had a short walk to the ‘Big Tree’ near the campground. Then did most of the Cal Barrel Road scenic drive. No trailers or RVs, so make sure you unhook and drive it. It is amazing. I wanted to head to the coastal side, but the road was flooded more than I was comfortable driving through and passed it up. Drove to Humboldt Redwoods State Park. We were going to stay at Hidden Springs campground, but switched to Burlington (flatter for bikes with no brakes, had very few people and and even fewer mosquitoes!). Spent a bunch of time in their awesome visitors center and drove a bunch of the Avenue of the Giants. The Lad also spent a great deal of time playing in the Redwood stumps after crying for an hour that he wanted to stay somewhere with a playground. Those stumps are the coolest playground we could have found! He was busy!
Days 6 & 7 – Humboldt Redwoods State Park to Petaluma, CA
On the drive we stopped at the One-Log House and Confusion Hill. Loved both and each were worth the stop – lots of fun, especially Confusion Hill. You feel like you have gone back in time! The drive through Richardson Grove was amazing. Stayed the weekend with family in the Bay Area and my husband met us there for a couple of days.
Day 8 – Petaluma to Patrick’s Point State Park, CA
Drove all day to get there with stops in Myers Flat to check out the Shrine Drive-through tree (the 5′ wide Camp-Inn’s don’t fit, but I think the 4′ wide ones will!). After having lunch with several chapters of the Hell’s Angels at Lumberjacks in Willits, we made it to Patrick’s Point a bit late. We were a day early, but luckily our spot was available anyway. Tucked in, made a quick dinner, and called it a night.
Day 9 – Patricks Point, CA
Had a leisurely morning, taking our time with breakfast. Then hopped in the car to go see Trinidad. It is a pretty little town on a gorgeous bay. Headed back to camp for a small lunch and snuggled the lad in for a much needed nap. In the afternoon, we checked out the Sumeg village at the campground, which is a replica of a traditional Yurok tribal village. Laddy liked that more than I thought, and we hung out for a while while the inmate work crew continued clearing brush next to our camp site. After the village, we headed over to Wedding Rock and had a good look around. Laddy climbed to the top of it, and then down again, as we admired all sorts of beauty there. What a special place that is. Headed back to camp, made pizza in the Dutch oven, had a few marshmallows and took the most expensive, cold showers we have ever experienced. We didn’t have good luck with hot showers. Others said they had hot showers, so we must of come at the wrong time. Bundled up to warm ourselves, and snuggled in for the night.
Day 10 – Patrick’s Point State Park, CA to Harris Beach State Park, OR
We decided on the drive down, that we would stop at Ocean World in Crescent City on the way back up North. After a quick stop in Prairie Creek for me to pick up a walking stick medallion (I collect them and realized I forgot to make the purchase), we stopped there. What a neat place. They have several rescue animals that they take care of. Last year they had 3 harbor seals (one of them is 35 years old, which is very elderly in seal life) and 1 3-year old sea lion. They put on a little show with the seals and sea lions. Then you get to go and pet starfish and anemones in their tide pools. After that they show you the tanks of sharks and rays and other sea life. At the end, you get to pet 2 different kinds of sharks. It was well worth the stop and we still have all of our fingers! We made the rest of the drive to Brookings and pulled into our campsite at Harris Beach State Park. We got set up, then ran to town for a few groceries for dinner. After eating we took a nice walk and then settled in for a little movie night (one of the first nights we had power the whole trip!).
Day 11-Harris Beach State Park
The next day was spent looking in the tide pools (sadly they were empty) and playing on the beach. We gave the showers a go, and they were lovely and warm and free and laddy couldn’t stop telling everyone how nice the showers were! We were so sleepy after that, we tucked in for the night. Harris Beach is a great state park though and is very family friendly with their big playground and nice roads for biking. Lots of families enjoy vacationing here, so there are always lots of kids!
Day 12 – Harris Beach State Park to Cape Perpetua, OR
We started north again. I wanted to stop at the Prehistoric Gardens, right near the Arizona River. Laddy wasn’t as impressed as I was. They have all of these life sized dinosaurs, set in an amazing rainforest. You feel like you have gone back to the Mesozoic era and are walking around with these guys. The lad ran it in record time (did the same thing with Trees of Mystery). Hopped back in the car and headed for Bandon, for lunch. Decided on DQ, since I wanted ice cream, and I have never had such excellent service at a fast food place! Seriously, they were so amazing! Laddy got his first soft serve ice cream and became an instant fan (we seldom eat at fast food, so this was a big treat). Along the way, we also made a stop at Cape Blanco, and was able to take the lad to the top of the lighthouse there. The tour was very interesting, despite the howling wind. After, we made our way to our campsite. We were supposed to stay at Carter Lake, but pulling in, there were several things that didn’t feel right to me, so I opted to get back in the car and move to a place I knew. We headed back up the coast to Cape Perpetua, and had a lovely night there, with dinner in Yachats (for folks coming through there, it is pronounced Yah-hots…they know you are from out of state if you say it in a way that rhymes with ‘hatchets’…just FYI).
Day 13 – Cape Perpetua to Cape Lookout State Park
We got up and I wanted to see if the visitor center had the walking stick medallions, so we headed back up the hill. They don’t sell them anymore, but the host offered to take the one off his stick for me (seriously nice people there). I declined, saying I would be back, and hoped to find them then (update: as of the 2015 season they have started stocking them!). We hung out for 1.5 hours while laddy played with the kids section, and I had a good chat with the folks. I learned about more of the plant life in the area and more about the volunteer programs. This couple has been doing it a while. I want to go back just to chat more with the fellow. If you are in the area, stop in! We got back in the car heading North. Stopped at Pig and Pancake for some brunch in Newport (it is just one of those places you always go when you are at the beach!). We rolled into Cape Lookout around 3:00, and got set up. I had to suffer an hour and a half of “when are they going to be here?” For the last 2 nights of our trip, a friend and her son were camping with us. This was the first full campground we came across, and had me pining for my other locations. We made dinner, had a visit and called it a night.
Day 14 – Cape Lookout
The next morning, we got up, had breakfast and loaded up the car to head to town. When in this area, a must stop is the Tillamook Cheese factory. The production lines were in full swing, and so were the ice cream lines! We got our fill of both before heading out. We popped into the Chambers office to ask if we cold go into the lighthouse at Cape Meares, but due to vandalism, it was closed to the public. We decided to head back to camp, have a rest, and then get in some beach time! While the campsite left little to be desired (in my opinion), the beach was amazing there.
Day 15 – Cape Lookout to Home
Laddy and I slept so hard that night, we didn’t even notice it was raining. I guess it rained really hard too! Thank goodness for my hard sides! We got packed up and we decided to head into town for breakfast before we headed home to celebrate my husband. We got home on his birthday!
A great trip and we can’t wait to go back to so many of these locations!