Trees Please!

There were some specific things I wanted to do this trip. Getting to see the beautiful trees of the Redwood forest has been a bucket list item for me for as long as I can remember. The forest and evergreen trees in particular draw me in like a magnet. Much the like ocean, being in a forest is a holy experience.

I woke up this morning in Grants Pass, Oregon. I was joined in my shower by an arachnid. (A decidedly NOT holy experience!) I screamed, finished up and promptly exited the bathroom. (Seriously?!!! How do they find me!?)

Throughout Grants Pass, the town has bears all over dressed/decorated in all sorts of outfits and/or paint. Kitschy, but charming, I snapped some pics as my mother loves all things “road-side oddity”.

Dutch Bros!

After gassing up, (and quickly reminded that we don’t do self serve gas in Oregon – whoops!) I had to see what all the fuss was about with Dutch Brothers Coffee. I have to say, I’m a fan – it was delicious and not hotel coffee.

Caffeine loaded, dogs walked and fed, we were on our way! Hwy 101 – aka The Redwood Highway all the way to the magic of the forest!

I had to stop a bazillion times. I couldn’t resist taking in these amazing views and savoring every second. (And yes, the dogs like to pee at every stop.) What I had in my mind was taking the dogs for a trail walk, hoping for some that would allow dogs. When I turned off to the Avenue of the Giants, I kept seeing no dogs allowed signs. Finally I broke down and looked it up and sure enough – none of the trails in the Avenue allow dogs, leashed or not. Sigh. We’d just have to figure something else out. In the mean time, I took a TON of pics from the car, from outside the car, from the side of the road…you get the idea.

After crossing the state line, the fog was thick. I came around a curve and there to my right was a lookout that sucked me right off the road. SAND! REAL SAND! Not a barnacle in sight! Waves! Crashing water over the rocks made a perfect welcome back to California.

Sea air inhaled and sandy beach tromped through, we headed off to our first destination: the Paul Bunyan and Babe statues at the Trees of Mystery. (Yes, I too, am a sucker for random things – I get it from my mother who tortured me with these kinds of stops! 🤪)

There’s a dude that voices/interacts with the crowd! Hilarious! I want that job!

Since the Avenue of the Giants did not allow dogs, I drove back up to the 101 to see if there would be a campground or other pullout to be able to walk. (See? I’m already gettin’ my Californian on with “the 5, the 405, etc. 🤣) At the Huckleberry Campground, we pulled in and I asked what the fee was for a day use pass so I could walk the dogs. The attendant said I could go ahead and park and take my walk free of charge! Perfect! One thing that kept jumping out at me was how quiet it was in the forest whenever I stepped out of the car. Despite traffic and lots of people, the trees insulate sound remarkably well. It would be easy to get lost in this otherworldly place.

The temps were much cooler and more comfortable as we drove to the next destination: The Drive Thru Tree! To be fair, there are a few of these trees in the Redwood forest, but the one I wanted to drive through was the one I’ve seen in black and white pictures. The tree with a square cut out of it!

It was pretty anticlimactic. Everyone lines up, drives through slowly, and out the other side….right into the gift shop. As you can plainly see, the dogs were tremendously excited.

Down the road 2 hours later, we pull into our hotel stop in Sonoma. Sonoma is beautiful, and after all the lush foresty goodness, it was lovely to see a giant palm tree! The cookie, of course was delicious and the dogs definitely approve of tonight’s accommodations. (And after my shower with an 8 legged friend this morning – this is just what the doctor ordered!)


Twilight Zone

There was no way I could NOT write about this daily prompt:

Ever have an experience that felt surreal, as though you’d been suddenly transported into the twilight zone, where time seemed to warp, perhaps slowing down or speeding up? Tell us all about it. 

Nearly a decade ago, we moved from Washington State to Pensacola, Florida. My husband went ahead to look for a house and receive our household goods, and I was to close up the house in Washington and follow him a few weeks later.

My mom and I get the genius idea to do it right by road trip! It was a fun vacation, complete with stops at all random roadside oddities for picture opportunities, the Grand Canyon (to which I realized the full extent of my fear of heights), and getting my mom her first pedicure. (She is now an addict and gets her fix on the regular.) Whenever we chat about our cross country adventures, what we laugh hysterically about to this day, was our stay in Nashville.

Once we got into our hotel room, we discovered there was a tour that would take us around the town, explaining all local history, showing us the touristy sites, and then concluding with a drop off at music row in the evening. They would then pick us up at midnight and bring us back to the hotel! (If you have never experienced a new city this way, I would highly recommend it!)

Stepping into that first bar on music row, our tour guide hands us 2 free adult beverage tickets, which we promptly put to good use. As fans of country music, it was surreal to be in Nashville watching singers pursuing their dreams. As dancers, we were thrilled to walk into the Wildhorse Saloon and see live and in living color dancers we used to watch on TV. We had a drink (or two) in nearly every bar, perhaps  three, though the details are a bit fuzzy. We listened to incredible music, and we danced as only intoxicated women can.  We contemplated staying past midnight and just getting a cab, but it was becoming clear that if we didn’t go back to the hotel NOW, one or both of us would not be well.

Back at the hotel, I made the executive decision that since we were in the south, I must try grits.

In the middle of the night.

At the Waffle House.

My mom was in our room chatting on the phone to a friend and was not able to get herself into a vertical position. Off I went. The grits were not that good. (I have no doubt I was highly entertaining.)

Back to the hotel to crash.

The Next Morning

Opening one eye to peer over at the other bed my mom was in, she opened one eye slowly, then the other, looking over at me. We both laughed, then groaned as our heads felt awful, we had the usual hangover dry/cotton/gross mouth. She flipped on the television to an old episode of The Twilight Zone. We used to watch it when I was a kid. We both thought it was weird and kooky, but loved it.

Somehow after watching one episode, we got ourselves upright and into the hotel pool. To this day, I have no idea how we accomplished this. We got in and just stood waist deep in the cool water and stared at each other realizing we looked as awful as we felt. There was no way we were going to be able to drive to Pensacola that day as planned. Back to bed we went. The Twilight Zone marathon played on. We would doze, look at each other, laugh, doze off, watch Rod Serling’s creepy tales, laugh again, and sleep some more. We even went back to the pool for another dip. This continued in a weird loop for most of the day, feeling like both an eternity and 5 minute increments. By dinner time, we both felt like we could stomach solid foods.

Passing by the glorious Waffle House this time, we upgraded to The Cracker Barrel. I cannot accurately describe how delicious this meal was. Butter-soaked green beans, mashed potatoes and other assorted comfort foods were all ordered to go as we were not able to sit at a table for more than a few minutes before needing to be horizontal once again.

Watching The Twilight Zone marathon, hungover, sleeping, swimming, and laughing in a continual loop was the closest thing I’ve ever experienced to a groundhog day. It never seemed to end, time did not exist. The only thing that existed was the need for our heads to stop pounding by whatever means necessary.

While the thought of being that intoxicated again makes me shudder, it was fun to have had the adventure, and to be able to laugh about it to this day. I will never think of Nashville and not remember our Twilight Zone hangover!

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