Just a thought… No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow. [Lin Yutang]
I’ll be honest with you: despite the great adventures and some lovely sights, this coastal drive was not what we had expected. Our trip down the coast from San Francisco through Santa Barbara and almost to San Diego six years ago provided more scenic views; this one up through California, into Oregon and eventually Washington State was more shrouded in fog that we would have liked.
So there’s my travel tip for you: if you plan to do this, fly in to San Francisco and make your way south from there.
I’m not complaining – please don’t think that – just pointing out that our expectations were perhaps unrealistic. There were surprises: we were thrilled to see orcas in California and then even more wildlife roadside. I mean, how often do you see signs warning or advising of animals and you never, ever see them? Not this time!
Not 500 metres past this billboard, we actually had to stop along the highway for about five minutes while a herd crossed. (Rob shot this after we’d shut off the engine and sat waiting.)
The last one was definitely worth the wait – what a handsome young fellow!
Oregon surprised us, in that there were amazing views of sand dunes. Who knew that some of the best beaches we’ve seen (or almost seen, thanks to fog!) would be in Oregon? That’s a state to which we would definitely return.
Despite the fog and mist, we were just grateful not to be affected – as so many thousands are both in the US and Canada – by the virulent wildfires burning again this year. One town in California was just one new house build after another; it was then that I Googled last year’s devastating fires and, sure enough, we were driving through one of the aftermaths. And now to hear that a man set the latest in Holy Jim Canyon; it’s beyond imagination how someone could be that twisted.
Our only hardship was one that millions of GTA commuters endure daily: a 90-minute traffic jam in Portland, Oregon. As we watched our GPS tick down to how long we had to get to our ferry in Port Angeles, Washington that night, our stomachs got tighter and tighter.
We moved about 20 kilometres in that time and not knowing the cause or when it would end was the most frustrating part of all. I searched online – nothing – and traffic reports are rarely helpful when you’re in a city you don’t know: they tell you when things get better (or where) and you don’t know if that’s 40 minutes or 40 kilometres away!
As we sat barely moving, with four hours until we could get to our reserved ferry spot at 8:30, my island pal Nancy texted me that I should call the Coho ferry and ask if they’d hold, even if we got there later than the recommended one hour before sailing. I did so and they couldn’t have been more helpful. We felt as if we’d bought a half hour’s breathing space.
As our deadline approached, the drive up through Washington State was one of the loveliest legs of our trip. Top down next to the ocean, we enjoyed sights like these.
With an immense amount of relief, we made the ferry dock by 8:40, grabbed some takeout from a nearby restaurant and less than an hour later, enjoyed our Korean food on the 90-minute ride back to Victoria.
Home in bed by midnight, it was so good to surprise Molly (already asleep on a bed recently made up by our friends and house sitters Susan and Steve) and we’ve been making up for missed cuddles ever since.
So there you go – our California/Oregon/Washington road trip adventures are done. The MINI logged over 3,000 kilometres and didn’t give us a moment’s worry. Still, $1.43 a litre gas and all, it’s good to be home. Suitcases are unpacked, laundry’s done, American money is put away and we’ll just sit tight…until next time! Talk to you here tomorrow.