Got up around 8AM, went out from hotel at 9AM. First stop is Northtown Coffee in Arcata. Arcata is a quiet town near Eureka. It’s not fancy, looks old and forgotten. The coffee is good thought 🙂 Monkeys had some donuts from grocery store too.
Hannah spills hot chocolate in the car. And the sliding door of our mini-van is soaked 🙂 We gave her some education and cleaned up the disaster. Parenting is exhaust if you are paranoid about have everything perfect. It’s a cure for perfectionism.
The scene starts to become green from Arcata. Trees, fog, seashore are awesome, cool down our soul. We crossed Big Lagoon, Stone Lagoon and freshwater lagoon. We stopped at Stone Lagoon Visitor Center for some pictures. It’s a lagoon, with forest on seashore, fogs floating at lower sky, it’s a mixture of different shades of blue and green. That’s the them of the redwood national park.
And then we stop at Freshwater Lagoon, the color here is beautiful. A little village is on another side of the lagoon. It’s like a furry lawn spears into a mountain of forest. The seashore is dark grey, and the waves are wild.
Then we arrives at Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center. That’s the first visitor center of Redwood National Park from south side. There’s a sand beach behind the visitor center and monkeys just start to enjoy playing sands here. The sand is grey, dry and warm. Feels pretty nice, like a desert near the sea. The landscape here is redwood forest winded into shore line. The contrast is high, and fog smudge the contrast of colors.
A lady in information center recommended some place for us to visit today, which is good for family with young kids. The main attractions is some loop trails in Prairie Creek state park, some of them are stroller friendly.
There’s no signal for Verizon wireless, not sure other cellular providers. So driving in this area requires paper maps (or a GPS works offline). The exist to Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway is easy to find, and you will find the Prarie Creak Visitor Center is right there. You can reach most of trails here. The parkway is shorter than we thought, so you don’t need to drive far away from the visitor center. Just park there (which is free) and start your trails. We choose the Prairie Creek Trail, which have view of some big redwood trees and also the creek. Kids love trees and creek. They climb dead tree trunks, collecting wild flowers. They chase and play along the trail. So the 1.2 miles walk feels nice, cool and fun. Because the Monkeys keeps stopping, so it take about 1.5 hours for the single trip. We went from north (road side parking #2) to south and reach the visitor center. I went back to drive our car. And I mentioned there’s no signal, so I made a silly mistake. I forgot the car key, my wife holds it. I also lost couple times, and when I start to think my strategy I found I forgot the key. That waste me about 20 minutes. I went back and picked the key from my wife at visitor center. And this time I took a way back from the road side. It’s much easier to follow. I also decide to facing the traffic when walk (take left side of road). So I can confirm the traffics see me. This time I took about 15 minutes walk back to the car, it’s actually not far from the road (not trail). And then 2 minutes later I arrives at visitor center, and picked up my family. Without phone service human are so inefficient 🙂
We take a stop at big tree loop, but we didn’t make it (although it’s just 0.3 miles). Kids falls asleep.
We hit the road again around 3PM, and we targeted Klamath River Overlook. This is a river mouth to the sea. It’s the best picture place of today. Make sure you take the Mouth of Klamath Rd, which has a much better view than the lookout at mountain top. I love the color and mixture of forest, fog and blue river/sea. The lookout at top is too foggy to sea anything, so we just stay there for some cool breaths. We do take lot of pictures at the river mouth, it’s a highlight of the day. From the map this area is called Requa, it’s used to be the place boats went to the water.
Then we went to Yurok Loop Trailhead. This park is a short walk to an amazing beach full of drift woods. You can see derbies of giant redwood here. The beach is grey, wood are white and grey, and lagoon is light brown, so the beach looks like black white film color. The forest and bridge at background has blue/green/pale yellow color. So it’s like a pasted picture mixing greyed out beach and a colorful forest at back. We can see dramatic different views at this trail. There’s iron island themed rocky islands. And a high saturated colored forest/cliff and restless sea (like point Lobos) to the south.
We feels really lucky today. Those 3 stops are just perfect for us.
Then we went to go east and stay at Medford tonight. So we take the last stop at Howland Hill Road, this is a famous bumpy forest road. And it just blows us away. Kids are so happy that Daddy pig (in Peppa pig theme) drives a bumpy vehicle under giant trees. We feels like tiny bugs in contrast. Because the trees are as thick as the width of our car. So suddenly we feels like driving toy cars here. It’s around 6:30PM, so the color become warmth here but there’s still enough light for us. Because we kids want to see their hotel ASAP so we didn’t take too much stops here. But we saw the famous Boy Scout Trail in middle of the Howland Hill Road, we should visit it “next time”.
After 6 miles of bumpy drive, I personally still want more of it. That’s super fun, and you can give monkeys surprise by steering to bumps 🙂
When we arrive highway 199, we want to drive faster. But the traffic is really bad here, there’s single track road because of constructer (suppose to finish 2018). So the drive feels hopeless and endless.
After about 1.5 hours drive we finally found a small grocery store (ray’s), kids visit bathroom and offload their stuff. And I found a hotel to stay. We stick with the last minute hotel booking rule for this road trip. And we are lucky that we found a hotel at Grants Pass, it’s a city I don’t even know exists. But it’s 30 minutes shorter than driving to Medford which is perfect because Medford is just easier to notice from map but has nothing we are looking for except a place to sleep.
Today’s July 4th, so most restaurant doesn’t open. Those open ones are mostly close at 9PM. Using both Foursquare and Yelp doesn’t help that much because they have no idea if a restaurant open today, 4 stars restaurant also doesn’t mean much in small town because they have very small rates from customer. But my wife found one by her eyes near the hotel, it’s called Taprock Northwest Grill. She took ribeye steak and I took some fried seafood. Beers selection is pretty good. I choose the Bonyard (which I sips some at Toronado this year, they are very good). First one is the Blood Orange Pale ale which is a lighter American Pale Ale with strong fruity aroma, but it’s a bit too sour (blood orange juice) as a pale ale. Then I took the Bonyard RPM IPA, it’s quite good. That’s a very smooth IPA, not too hoppy or too bitter, just right about of entertainment. The night ends awesome, we enjoy those foods outdoor. Kids are super happy with comfort foods and steaks. There’s also lots of fireworks, we have a rider side view with fireworks. How awesome a day can be?!
Oregon’s first couple of hours is nice. Food is good, beers are all local. Climate is nice, not cold or hot at summer night. And food, beers are cheap in California standards, tip well please!
I may comeback later. Quite tired after couple hours of drive and walks.