First, couple more pictures of our hotel and surrounding in Lincoln City:
We visited several natural phenomena such as Devil’s Chasm near Yachats which looked very powerful because of the stormy weather and high tides. We also took a bypass loop to look at the Otter Crest just south of the Depoe Bay. While it was too dark for good photography, the sight of powerful waves and dark dramatic sky were stunning.
Since we had very early breakfast, we got hungry earlier than normally and had late lunch at funky little place just over the bridge from Newport called South Beach Fish Market. Nothing fancy but they had the freshest fish and seafood around. Alex had Oysters and Chips and I had their Crab Burger and Chips. Both were great and very substantial. My crab burger had intense fresh crab taste that was not masked by additional ingredients. They cook their crab right there so it is always super fresh.
Our hotel in Florence was nothing to brag about. While highly rated, clean and friendly, it was pretty basic and had rather dated décor. Bedding was pretty cheap and basic. It felt more like a motel than a decent hotel. Not sure if I want to stay there again.
Our next day started with pretty strong rain. Thanks God, Alex was smart enough to park our car with its back facing our room. In spite of rain, we spend about an hour walking under umbrella through the Old Town area of Florence.
We had rain on and off throughout the rest of the day. Interestingly, it did not interfere a bit with our pleasure of driving through the Oregon Coast. It was just so unbelievably beautiful that it looked great at any weather. Every time we visit Oregon Coast, we are talking about moving there. And then we always come to a conclusion that it makes no sense for us to move away from our small but close-knit family – kids and grand-kids. I guess we will just keep on coming here as often as we can.
We visited Cape Arago just south of the Coos Bay. It is beautiful area with stunning ocean views and great formal garden - Shore Acres State Park:
It is well kept garden that is in bloom every time we visit it independent of time of the year. This time many varieties of rhododendrons were in bloom.
We also visited couple of very interesting galleries along Hwy 101.
Again, we got hungry early for us – around 3pm right before the Cape Arago Loop and decided to go to Mexican restaurant in North Bend (La Herradura) that we liked so much last year when we ate there with Gene and kids. Everything was still very good. And yes Gene, you were right; their cabbage salsa was different from my version. However, it was also different from their own version that we had last year. Seems that they do not follow any strict recipes; just make it to taste. The owners are from Guadalajara so I guess that is what they are serving. Very good quality food considering their cheesy location and prices.
More of Oregon Coast:
When we arrived to our hotel in Gold Beach, it was raining like crazy so I was not able to go to the beach as planned. Gold Beach Resort was modest but very clean hotel with large rooms and friendly service. It was located on a beach and the ocean was just short walk away from the hotel. When I got out to the balcony, there were two deer standing under the rain practically next to the hotel.
View from the balcony at night:
Deer under the rain:
View from the balcony in a morning:
Morning weather was cold and windy but dry so I spent an hour on a beach collecting interesting pieces of driftwood while Alex enjoyed computer all to himself. Our drive for this day was rather long – 270 miles which considering some pretty challenging roads took us around 6 hours of driving. Oregon and the beginning of California Coast parts of the road were easy and enjoyable and weather was not too bad – some overcast but with occasional sun and almost without showers.
As always, we stopped for Fish and Chips in Trinidad, small fishing community of about 350 people. The restaurant name was Seascape and it was located right next to the fishing pier. We always enjoyed eating there but unfortunately not this time. Their service was pretty bad. The restaurant was not busy at all and yet we had to wait a while to be seated. It was very windy outside and our table (including utensils) that was close to the entrance was covered with fine sand. I had to clean it with the napkin. We waited and waited for the service but no one showed up until I asked for it. No smile, no apology, no eye contact. The waitress (older lady) made us feel that they are doing us great favor by allowing us to eat there. Fish was as fresh as always but not as great as I remembered it from previous times; may be it was their lousy service that ruined our appetite. However, Alex felt that they just do not care and it shows in quality of everything - from service to food. He was pissed enough to tell me that he will not come here again.
Our next stop was Arcata, city of about 17000 people that is located next to Eureka and is home to Humboldt State University. We stopped there before long time ago but did not like it because of the junkies and abundance of stoned people. Well, the junkies and the druggies are still there hanging out around Arcata’s main square. However, we found great little gallery (artists’ co-op) which had a lot of interesting items. I ended up buying two bracelets and a ring with lapis for myself. Really fun place!
My zoom lens was having issues so instead of walking through Eureka’s beautiful Victorian downtown we spent time in a camera store. They could not fix my loose filter ring anyway but reattached it with a sticky tape that was good enough to keep me going through the end of our trip.
Soon after Eureka, the road sharply turned away from the ocean toward the continent. Unfortunately, when we reached the main redwood groves, overcast became worse and it started raining. We still took part of the Avenue of the Giants route (a 31-mile route going through the redwoods); however, because of the weather opportunities for photography were very limited. But still, one can never get used to these trees; they are so huge and strange – like dinosaurs. With the road winding between the enormous trunks of these hundred years old trees you feel constant ‘wow, this is unreal’.
Not too soon we reached the tiny community of Leggett where we turned onto Hwy 1 toward the ocean. We take this route every year when we travel through this area and yet I manage to forget how winding this road is. For over 20 miles you are going through very sharp turns; some of them 180 degree. And then finally you see the ocean. There are still few more challenging turns left but the worst is over, you are on the shore.
Interestingly, in spite of more southern location, the California Coast is significantly less populated that the Oregon Coast. There are just a couple of small towns between the beginning of Hwy 1 and San Francisco. One of them is Fort Bragg - our last destination before going home. Fort Bragg has a population of just over 7000 people. It was established in 1857 as a military post to maintain order on the nearby Mendocino Indian Reservation. Currently with the decline of the lumber industry, it is surviving mainly on tourist industry and services and also on some commercial fishing.
In Fort Bragg we were staying in Beach House Inn Motel. This was our second stay in this hotel and we were happy with it again. We stayed in their smaller room without balcony or view and yet it was pretty good size, very clean and conveniently designed. It was much better that costlier B&B options we used in a past.
Unfortunately, our first evening there marked the end of our internet access. Alex caught virus/malware that completely blocked our laptop. It came as an email from FedEx. It looked very legit since we were expecting delivery.
Thanks to our computer genius son, we were able to fix it after we came home. But in general, just remember – FedEx does not send emails. Anything pretending to come from them is potentially dangerous fake.
We started our next day with a breakfast in our room. Hotel breakfast had mostly sweet baked goods so we just got their coffee and added our bread, cheese and sardines. Then we went to Fort Bragg’s famous Glass Beach that was located very close to our hotel.
Strangely, I did not know about it until this year. It is not big but is all covered with various color glass tumbled to smooth and frosty state by the ocean waves. Recently it became part of MacKerricher State Park and the glass is no longer allowed to be taken from the beach. However, in reality it seems that people still collect the sea glass there and no one seems to care as long as it is done in moderation.
After short time on a beach we walked through the downtown’s various shops and galleries. On a way to Mendocino we also visited Sea Glass Museum. It is small, free but quite interesting:
This time we did not go to our usual Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens but went directly to Mendocino. However, we visited very interesting The Glass Fire Gallery which is next to the gardens and checked their great glass:
Interestingly, their daughter went to the same school as Kathy!
Mendocino is cute little town with population below 900. The town was founded in 1850 as a logging community. Many of the town's early settlers were New Englanders and Portuguese fishermen from the Azores. Despite its small size, the town's scenic location on a headland surrounded by the Pacific Ocean has made it extremely popular as an artist colony and with vacationers. It has many B&Bs, small shops and galleries and many nice restaurants. It also has several old houses and picturesque water towers.
We spent couple of hours walking around the town and then drove along the Heeser Drive that goes through the Mendocino Headlands State Park along its coastal line. There are multiple parking areas with easy access to the beautiful vistas.
Eventually we got hungry and went to one of local restaurants for dinner. We chose the Moosse Café and were very pleased with our selection. It's a quaint restaurant, with hardwood floors and large windows that overlook their beautiful garden. Their menu was small but all selections were excellent.
We had Chicken Liver Pate with Pickled Apple and Onion for appetizer – possibly the best pate I ever tasted. I asked our waitress a couple of questions about the recipe and was recommended to write them (which I did and received a very detailed recipe for both the pate and the pickles!) For entrees Alex had Cioppino and I had Seared Tuna with Wild Rice and Grilled Corn. My tuna was prepared rare – just to my liking. Alex’s Ciopino came with unusual but very tasty tomato-fennel-saffron broth. We also had a bottle of nice local dry Riesling – very light and fruity.
We loved our experience so much that we wanted to have breakfast there next day. Unfortunately, they did not offer breakfast. However, our great waitress recommended us another nice place for breakfast – Little River Inn – just few minutes south of Mendocino.
And this is how we started our last vacation day – with breakfast at the Little River Inn:
We absolutely loved it there. Their dining room had large windows and was surrounded by their beautiful garden giving an impression of being out in the garden. Alex had Huevos Rancheros and I had Crab Cake Benedict. Portions were so substantial that we did not get hungry until late in a day when we got home.
Our last trip from the cost toward the continent along Hwy 128 was rather challenging for me. Weather got much sunnier and while the redwoods along this route were smaller than in some more famous redwood groves, they were still pretty tall. The combination of winding road and constant light flickering through the trees was pretty nauseating and we had to stop several times before we reached relatively straight road.
As we got through the mountains, we reached the most famous region of California viniculture – Napa and adjacent valleys.
We stopped in Calistoga and S. Helena and also visited CIA (The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone). At CIA I bought a cookbook on cooking with heirloom beans that will be my next project.
Eventually after 21 days and 4600 miles we arrived back home.