3 Days: 1,000 Miles


Now that Keenan and I have been introduced to the world of only having “x” amount of vacation days, we try our best to take advantage of the long holiday weekends. This year for Memorial Day weekend we planned a three-day adventure throughout southern Oregon and northern California totaling to 1,000 miles. It all began in Beaverton, OR, Mile 0.

Mile 266: Medford KOA – Medford, OR
Around 7 p.m. we arrived at the Medford KOA with plenty of daylight left to set up shop. Keenan set up the tent while I put together our new table grill and started grilling up some chicken apple sausages (mmm..my favorite). Soon after we got everything set up, we were introduced to very talkative seven year old boy from Germany who was on vacation with his family. We sat around the campfire while he told us all about the Oregon caves, the Redwoods, (both on our next day’s agenda) and what our relatives last name’s mean. My Grandma Ardith’s maiden name is Pulvermacher which he told us means “powder maker” in German. It was fascinating to hear his stories and learn about our destinations for the next day through the eyes of a child. We kicked off the night with some s’mores before heading to bed.

Mile 297: Oregon Caves National Monument
In the morning we made breakfast, packed, and followed an extremely windy road through Mount Siskiyou to the Oregon Caves entrance. We opted to take a 90 minute guided tour through the depths of the expansive caves, at times being over 200 feet below the ground. The sun was shining outside but we brought our rain coats because the tour website said it can get pretty chilly inside. I’m so glad we followed the website’s advice because we have had a really wet spring and most of the time it felt like it was raining inside the caves. The tour was both interesting and a little eerie at times.

Mile 369: Crescent City, CA
After our tour we headed south towards the California border in search of a beachfront restaurant for lunch. Our search came up short in Crescent City but we discovered a small, red-roofed lighthouse seated upon an island and surrounded plush green grass. As we drove further south, the trees seemed to get bigger and bigger.

Mile 390: The Trees of Mystery – Klamath, CA
With a name like “Trees of Mystery” who could resist pulling off the highway? If the name doesn’t get you then the huge statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox will. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to do the tour but I did get to climb on top of Paul Bunyan’s boot for a picture, as a booming voice from inside the huge structure said “climb on up there darling!”

Mile 414: Gold Bluff’s Beach and Fern Canyon
I generally don’t take any trips without doing a little research so when I found out that there was a place in the Redwoods where Jurassic Park 2 was filmed I made it a priority to find it. Approximately four miles south of Klamath, we turned on the “scenic route” and followed it to Davison road…stopping along the way to take pictures with a few of the huge Redwoods. We drove on a windy, bumpy road for about six miles until we reached a toll booth and paid a small fee to enter Gold Bluffs Beach.

A few more miles through bumpy roads and a several small streams (it was a little nerve-wracking to drive through a stream in the Honda, but it made it!), we finally arrived at the parking lot. On the short hike to the canyon we passed by three large elk laying in a field less than 20 feet away from us. After entering the beautiful canyon covered in lush green ferns and small trickling waterfalls, we quickly learned that we should have brought sport sandals as most of the hike was through a small stream. We moved forward anyway, jumping from rock to rock and shore to shore, balancing on, and climbing over fallen logs. Our socks and tennis shoes were soaked by the time we were done but we didn’t care…this unbelievable place was well worth the bumpy roads and wet feet.

Mile 465: Eureka, CA
That night we stayed at the KOA outside Eureka. We made bbq chicken and sausage skewers with pineapple and green peppers, played cards in the light of the campfire, and ended our night again with some delicious s’mores. In the morning we woke up to a flat tire so Keenan installed his full size spare and we drove into Eureka to search for a tire shop. Our tire shop search was unsuccessful as everything was closed but we did manage to find a great little place called Oberon Grill for breakfast.

After enjoying a delicious sausage omelet filled with tomatoes, portobello and crimini mushrooms, we walked through the streets of Old Town Eureka to the boardwalk. We found a large crowd surrounding a live band playing Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man.” From the end of the boardwalk, I could see our next destination: Carson Mansion. We walked several blocks through Old Town’s antique shops, art galleries, restaurants, and vintage homes until we arrived at the huge Victorian mansion at the end of M Street. This fairy-tale home, built in 1855, is said to be one of the most photographed structures in the world. Adjacent to the Carson Mansion stands another Victorian mansion known as the Pink Lady. This huge pink and white mansion, complete with pink mail box, would be the dream home of any seven year old girl and although it’s smaller than it’s neighbor…it would still be my dream!

With so much life, arts, and history, Eureka quickly became one of my favorite stops. In addition to the lively streets of Old Town, you can find a number of beautiful murals painted on the side of many buildings including the Center for Performing Arts building.

Mile 613: Redding, CA
We continued on a scenic drive through the Trinity National Forest to Redding, CA where we finally found a tire shop to repair our flat. Our time was cut short in Redding as we had to get to our next campsite before dark but we did manage to find enough time to grab In & Out burgers on our way out-of-town.

Mile 675: Mount Shasta KOA – Mount Shasta, CA
By the time we arrived at the Mount Shasta KOA we couldn’t bear the thought of setting up the tent for the third night in a row so we paid a little extra to snag the last available cabin. We walked a few blocks into town to check out the local vet’s club as recommended by the camp managers who just happened to be fellow Montanans. From the outside, Roxy’s looks like any run down vet’s club but the inside was filled with music, friendly faces, warm walls, and dark, beautiful bar shelves. We had a nice conversation with the bartender and an old man while we enjoyed a few cocktails. Then it was back to the campground to start a fire and hit the hay.

Mile 855: Wildlife Safari Winston, OR
Keenan heard about a “drive through zoo” from a co-worker and it just so happened that it was on our way home! We took a slight detour off I-5 to get to the 600 acre zoo which is home to hundreds of animals including camels, giraffes, elephants, cheetahs, and Siberian tigers. While the lions, tigers, and bears are caged or behind electric fences, there are a number of animals that roam free. The first thing we saw was a huge giraffe walking less than ten feet away from our…it was truly amazing! The cost to get in was a little expensive (about $18 each) but it was worth it to catch a glimpse of these animals in a natural habitat. I would recommend it for kids and adults alike…I loved it!

Mile 1037: Home – Beaverton, OR
Ahhh…home sweet home!

Posted by: Denise Angvick on Denise’s Dish