We started our day off groggy again, but much better rested than the last time we pulled an overnighter. This time we slept in an actual official rest area as opposed to a truckers pull over. We were very eager to get going despite the fact that it was just after 6:00 AM. You see, we had another date with the Pacific Coast and more importantly we were going to finally get to see the redwoods. We’ve wanted to see the redwoods for countless years, but never had the occasion. Now we had all day to cover just 428 miles so we could take our time and see the giants in person. We cranked up our Seattle inspired grunge playlist to get our blood going and sped on our merry way.
We set our sights on a town called Crescent City, CA. It was the gateway city to California and the redwoods. While heading out to the coast, I began pestering Lauren to stop for a cup of coffee. If she doesn’t monitor my consumption, I’ll drink our life savings away, one bold roast at a time. We kept passing all these little irresistible drive through coffee huts that are so prevalent in the north west . After about 20 different ones (felt like 100), Lauren finally relents. Of course by this time we are back to the middle of no where . Suddenly, there is a grocery store and the coolest looking, island themed, coffee shop I’ve even seen. We pull into the drive through and the guy opens the window and offers Lauren a free coffee. Lauren, who didn’t want to stop in the first place, gets the free frickin’ coffee! I was outraged! She smugly takes her free, iced mocha macadamia something, and I order a turbo coffee (that’s American coffee mixed with espresso).
As the coffee is being made, the guy gives us some cookies for the dogs, and then proceeds to tell us about this little road that cuts you through the redwood forest. Apparently, there is a grove of redwoods that you can drive through (on another dirt road of course) and actually get out and hike through the trees. We thanked him profusely for the advice, and drove off. I, self-righteously of course, spent the next 5 minutes telling Lauren how wonderful it was that we stopped for coffee. I mention this story because things like that happen constantly to us in life. There are signs everywhere if you listen to your intuition and seek out the journey.
We spent the next 30 minutes driving with our eyes peeled for a little sign labeled Stouts Grove. As we got closer to Crescent City I kept swearing that we must have missed it, then about 10 miles before the city, I see a little turn off to our left. We pulled in and within a mile we were surrounded by the most beautiful and majestic forest I have ever seen. We repeatedly got out of the car and ended up spending an hour covering 6 miles.
I thought I was overwhelmed the previous day with a sense of “smallness” when staring at the ocean, but these trees made me feel downright miniature! I imagine the way I felt looking up to the top of a redwood is the equivalent of how a 3-year old feels looking up a 40ft tree for the first time. It was also hilarious to see the dogs reaction as they ran around sniffing everything in sight as if they were hunting for some prized giant redwood squirrel.
Once we left the grove we rambled down the coastal highway and stopped for another beach picnic right outside of Redwood National Park . We relaxed in front of the ocean for a while and soaked it all in. We got back in the car and ended up driving through several other redwood areas, including an auto tour, throughout the day. I must say they all paled in comparison to our first experience. They were loud, cramped, and crowded with tourists. It was nothing like the serenity that we experienced at Stouts Grove that morning.
Eventually the redwood highway came in off the coast and this took us though Sonoma Wine Country. We resisted the urge to stop, considering the wineries aren’t exactly pet friendly. We did however, vow to return one day, doggy free, and spend some time there.
Once we arrived in the Bay Area, we skirted around San Francisco and went to our hotel in Oakland. Being tuckered out by the early start, we decided to order some pizza and wings (We rationalized this as acceptable diet behavior by saying we’d work it off tomorrow walking the city ) and caught a movie on TV. The only reason this is worth mentioning is because we ended up watching The Big Year.
It’s a dark comedy about 3 different guys that spend a year bird watching in order to claim a prize for the most birds seen. There’s the good guy, bad guy, and the neutral guy. Their paths all cross during this “epic bird hunt” (sounds thrilling, doesn’t it) and you see how they all sacrifice their loved ones for birding glory. By the end of the movie the bad guy ends up alone. The neutral guy, stays pretty, well neutral. The good guy however, ends up getting the girl and learning how important family is. It’s a rather odd parable about cherishing family, however, it seemed pointed squarely at me. You see, I had spent the last few years pursuing “career glory” while missing out on all the life going on around me. It was yet another sign that our journey was on the right path.
If you enjoyed Day 14 of our Road Trip Diary from Oregon to California you will also enjoy:
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Here’s a gallery with all our pics rom that day. We would also love to hear you comments!