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  • Writer's pictureRuth Mcbride

What does Led Zeppelin have to do with anything?

We left Bandon, Oregon bright and early this morning because we knew we would have a long day’s drive ahead of us, so we wanted to get an early start. Coastal Hwy 101 South is a nice scenic route, but it definitely is not for the ‘faint of heart’ as Richard likes to say, if you’re driving an RV!

We knew we needed to stop for diesel fuel before we reached California, just to top Newman up. Our friend Jim from Fernie, had told us that if we didn’t top up our diesel fuel in Oregon, before we cross into California, the price will be at least $1.00 per gallon more.

As we were driving down Hwy 101 South in Oregon, I saw this beautiful vista just south of the town of Port Orford, and I asked Richard to please pull over.

Humble Mountain State Park, Port Orford, Oregon.

Port Orford, Oregon is in the distance. What a beautiful, rugged coastline the state of Oregon enjoys. We’ve really enjoyed driving the West coast of Oregon. It’s definitely not something either one of us had ever imagined we would be doing, but we would highly recommend it!

Beautiful sea stacks that define the Oregon coast, near Port Orford, Oregon.

So what is a sea stack anyway? A sea stack is defined as a steep rock formation that is detached from the mainland by the ocean. In Oregon they have named the largest and most interesting sea stacks along the coast. Some of the stack names are ‘Gull Rock’, ‘Thunder Rock’, ‘Battle Rock’ and ‘Arch Rock’. Driving by as fast as we did down the coast, we really didn’t have time to stop and look at each of the 20 largest sea stacks that are ‘notable’, but when we did stop, we definitely did enjoy looking at these amazing sea stacks which enhance the coastline, like nothing we have ever seen before!

More sea stacks, Oregon.

Notice I decided today was a day for sandals! I’m fed up with wearing boots and coats, so since we were heading to California, it was sandals and my new West Coastees surfboard sweatshirt today!

We still have condensation on the windshield inside Newman when Richard took this photo. Condensation has been a real issue inside the windshield, since we have to keep the dehumidifier running in our bedroom to try and dry out the carpet.

As we pulled into the town of Brookings, Oregon, we knew that would be our last chance to find any diesel fuel in Oregon. As we drove through the town, we found that the gas stations that did sell diesel didn’t have a large enough footprint for us to get into them. We had almost gone through the entire town of Brookings when we finally found a Chevron station which sold diesel fuel. Richard put in 32 gallons of diesel at $4.19 a gallon and were we ever glad he did. As soon as we crossed into California about 5 miles down the road, the price of diesel had jumped to over $5.21 a gallon!

So by now I’m sure you’re really curious what does Led Zeppelin have to do with our drive today? Well let me tell you!

Last night Richard was Facetiming his brother Normand in Florida and told him we would be heading to California today. Almost at the same time the brothers started singing this Led Zeppelin tune!

So this morning before we left our RV Park in Bandon, Oregon, I played ’Going to California’ from YouTube for Richard. I kept singing the song the entire day because I couldn’t get it out of my mind!

After we crossed into California we started heading inland and away from the coast. Anytime we’ve headed inland on Hwy 101 South, we’ve ended up climbing up some severe elevations, and today was no different. We had a lot of up and down roads which Newman had to handle today, and we’re pleased to say he did ‘great!’ We had no issues on our drive.

At elevation we had a lot of fog and we were required to turn our headlights on. We have daytime running lights of course, but Richard turned on the roof and side vehicle lights as well during these sections of the drive.

What goes up, must come down. There were a lot of winding roads, with lots of warning signs that trucks will tip if they don’t follow the posted, low speed limit.

We were driving through Redwood National and State Parks today. There was some construction on this route too.

Don’t look down! The road was down to one lane as it was being rebuilt through the Redwood forest. The traffic was held at either side with a traffic light. This section of the road was quite ‘hairy’ for us as there were a lot of turns and downhill sections of the road, with no guard rail!

Coast redwoods or California redwoods in the Redwood National and State Parks. These enormous trees are nature’s skyscrapers! They primarily exist in Northern California , Oregon and Washington states, and they do not live more than 50 miles inland and are usually found in long belts, rather than small groves. Redwoods are the tallest trees in the world (Pacific Douglas fir in Vancouver Island are the 2nd tallest trees in the world) and they can reach heights of 350 feet! Redwoods can achieve a diameter of 24 feet and they can live to be 2,000 years old and have graced the planet for more than 240 million years. Redwoods in contrast to their size, have extremely small cones - only one inch long. They have very large root systems extending 100 feet and intertwining with the roots of other redwoods. Baby redwoods often sprout at their parent’s base, latching onto their roots for nutrients. For this reason they often grow in circular clusters sometimes called fairy rings. Coast redwoods lumber has been highly valued historically as it is durable and resistant to rot and termites, non warping and relatively soft. The changing climate presents problems for redwoods. A warmer climate may result in less rain, and perhaps more concerning, less fog, which has historically been the tree’s defence against dry spells. Fog in Northern California and Oregon is on the decline because of climate change.

We were hoping we could make it to Eureka, California for lunch today, but with the crazy coastal and mountainous drive, we weren’t making the time we had hoped. As soon as we came out of the forest I saw a nice vista and said to Richard ”pull over please”. It was 1:20pm, we were both hungry and we had found a nice spot to have lunch.

Overlooking Dry Lagoon Beach, in Northern California.

This guy was going fishing at Dry Lagoon Beach. We found it amazing that no one was at most of the beaches today. Not even for hikes, on the beach. It is Saturday after all and with the temperature at +9C, it was pleasant enough for a beach walk.

Getting some air at Dry Lagoon Beach. Don’t you love the Birkenstocks and socks look?

Newman your profile looks marvellous!

What a great spot to stop for lunch today! There was no one else stopped at our little pullover spot by the Ocean and we had some great leftovers heated up for lunch. The great thing about having an RV is being able to turn the generator on and then use the oven or microwave, to heat up a nice hot lunch of leftovers, instead of having to get fast food or eat sandwiches!

Our view as we had lunch. Bacon Mac & cheese, broccoli, cheddar quiche and homemade quinoa salad. A great lunch!

We finally arrived at Stafford RV Park just 3 miles south of the town of Scotia, California around 3;15pm. We were amazed to see that Scotia has a huge lumber mill which has operated since 1863! Pacific Lumber Company or ‘PALCO‘ made every effort to make Scotia a comfortable place to live and raise a family and provided affordable employee housing, stores, a school, a hospital, a skating ring and a theatre. They also had an employee pension plan and free life insurance. By the 1980’s the company had no debt, but had relatively low annual profits. In 1985 though the company was subject to a hostile takeover. Between a desire to turn a higher profit and the need to start paying off the debt incurred from acquiring PALCO, the new owners replaced the sustainable growth policy of the previous owners and started clearcutting. Many activists protested against the company’s new clearcutting practises. To retailiate against the activists, a bomb was planted in the car of one activist in 1990. The bomber was never identified. In 1998 another activist had a tree felled on him which killed him instantly. The PALCO spokesperson said they didn’t see the protestor who they killed. The Pacific Lumber Company (PALCO) declared bankruptcy in 2007, claiming that the environmental restrictions imposed by the state of California made it impossible to log enough to make a profit. The timing of the bankruptcy is interesting as this is just before the 2008, 2009 financial crisis and their high costs of capital would have made it very difficult for the company to pay rising interest rates on their debt. The new lumber company operating in Scotia is known as ‘Humboldt Redwood Company’ and now practises sustainable forestry - a complete turnaround from the previous owners.

Who knew there was so much history in a very small town such as Scotia? The RV park we are staying in is a bit ‘hokey’, but it will do for the night and at the price of $37, its a steal!

We are in spot 1 for the night. We had the ’pleasure’ of listening to a soccer game outside of Newman in the empty lots beside us for the first hour we were here. We knew the game would end once it got dark.

It is a good thing we don’t have any of these dogs onboard with us or we wouldn’t have been allowed to stay here!

To block out the sound of the soccer game right outside Newman we put on our boom box JBL speaker with beautiful Christmas instrumental jazz music, to calm us down after the long drive today. Led Zeppelin just wasn’t appropriate for chilling before dinner!

And tomorrow we head to Napa, California for 2 nights! We are looking forward to exploring Napa as best we can without a tow car! Something I need to research next!

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