For the Holidays, I embarked on a 3-week road trip north to see family and friends in the Pacific Northwest.
The sailing season in San Francisco is always a bit slower in winter than in summer, so I had plenty of time on my hands. Therefore, I chose to take the slow and scenic route: I drove along the coast both directions, covering about 1,700-miles in total.
On the trip north, I drove at a normal pace, enjoying the curvy roads and ocean views but not making a lot of stops for sightseeing and hiking.
I stopped in Crescent City the first night, avoiding Eureka where I’d been assaulted and robbed on a similar trip in 2016. The second night I arrived in Florence where I stayed with my Uncle and Aunt, and enjoyed fresh crab for dinner.
I then made my way to McMinnville to spend a few days, including Christmas, with my parents and little brother’s family. We busied ourselves with a big dinner, lots of presents, and the usual family games and puzzles.
From McMinnville, I headed into Portland for the weekend and New Year’s Eve. I caught up with friends and enjoyed city living, especially the craft beers and boutique coffee shops, both great solutions for rainy days.
On New Year’s Day, I headed over to the beach and stayed at my family’s beach house. I enjoyed a few beach walks in between rain storms, but mostly I enjoyed the absolute downtime the beach offers. My parents joined me for the last night. We tried (unsuccessfully) to conquer a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle in one night! But we made a good effort.
By January 5, it was time for me to head back to San Francisco, but I was going to average only 100 miles per day and take a week to get there! I wanted to do plenty of hiking, but I also wanted to visit as many of the Oregon coast lighthouses as possible. I figured that one day I would be sailing down the coast of Oregon, and maybe I should pay homage to these lighthouses that have provided navigational aid to vessels for over 150 years!
As it turned out, the weather didn’t cooperate much for hiking. Or, better said, I didn’t have the right gear. I had my waterproof jacket and boots, and my ‘water resistant’ pants, and even my trekking poles. But I’d forgotten my hardcore waterproof pants. I still ventured out on some of the less-rainy days, but it was just too wet most days for any kind of extended multi-hour hike.
I did manage to visit nearly all of the lighthouses on the Oregon Coast! A couple were closed or inaccessible to the public, and one was north, not south, of my starting point, but here are the ones I did visit: Cape Meares, Yaquina Bay, Heceta Head, Umpqua River, Coquille River, and Cape Blanco. I also stopped by the lighthouse at Point Arena in California.
The “lighthouse tour” was a great way to add purpose to my road trip, rather than just sort of randomly poke along (although that is fun too). Admittedly, I did do my fair share of random roadside stops for pictures, hikes, and whale-watching. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any whales. The fog, rain, and wind didn’t help viewing. It’s certainly possibly that some of the frothy spray from whitecaps was actually a whale spout.
Apart from the lighthouses and coastal views, the other highlight was driving through the Redwood forests featured in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and Humboldt Redwoods State Park. In particular, I took the scenic detour along Avenue of the Giants — a fantastic 31-mile drive with plenty of stops for short hikes.
Only on the last day of the road trip, coming down through Stinson beach, did the sun finally come out. It was a glorious approach into San Francisco, emerging from the Robin Williams Tunnel and seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, the city skyline, and of course the bay itself, where I’ll spend so much time this year teaching sailing.
After three weeks, 1,700 miles, and a lot of different beds, I thought “Wow, it’s great to be home!” But then I realized I wasn’t really going home: I needed to find a hotel for the night…