Jaxon Keys Winery and Distillery (Hopland, CA)

Our first Harvest Host stay was an absolute joy! Of course it took us longer to get there than anticipated because Highway 101 has some scary narrow windy sections (and we just blindly trust Google Maps estimates way too much). I could tell where we were supposed to park based on the Host’s website pics and reviews so we turned around and pulled right up next to the fence at the bottom of the drive. img_2638I hopped out and changed into some running clothes and ran right into the tasting room to announce our arrival and ask if we could run around the property. Of course we could – just stay off the section they rent out for hunters – duly noted! It was beautiful and the smell, oh the smell!

the deck view from the hilltop guest house they rent out
the deck view from the hilltop guest house they rent out

img_264645 minutes later I was ready for wine. We chatted with the proprietor and tasted the offerings then bought a bottle of my favorite to sit on the veranda and enjoy dusk looking out over the fields of multi-colored vines. img_2651The only drawback is they are literally right on highway 101 so the traffic noise made it less idyllic. But I got to fill Tom in on the employment drama that was happening in the background of my healing story we’d listened to on the Blue Skies podcast in the car. I forgot I had even mentioned it in the recording and hope it didn’t come off badly. I should mention that we are hooked on podcasts for the driving days. I’ll have to make a post reviewing what we are listening to 🙂

It was a perfect evening of [a faux propane] campfire and star gazing, homemade turkey burgers and waxing poetic over the wonderful wine. And we only filled up 19% of our gray tank hooray! Breaking camp is much easier when you’re dry camping. I took the opportunity of the big gravel parking lot to practice backing up the trailer – even if I’m still too scared to pull her on the open road. Baby steps…

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morning coffee views

Emerald Forest (Trinidad/Humboldt county)

Emerald Forest really had our hopes up for our first super scenic woodsy campground. What better launching point for exploring the Redwood Forest right? Well it was a nerve-wracking drive down highway 101 for starters, and these trips always take longer than Google Maps suggests, which is to be expected pulling a 27’ trailer, but then add in narrow windy “highways” and construction that takes away one of the two lanes, and well, you get the idea. a 93 mile trip ends up taking almost 4 hours. Cue crankiness and frustration. So then to arrive at this highly anticipated lush “resort” and discover your [thankfully pull-thru] end spot backs right up to that highway and you’re spitting distance to 2 gigantic fifth wheels, and your enthusiasm vanishes pretty quickly.

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the highway is just thru those trees…

We had massive amounts of laundry to do despite having done 4 loads in Bend (seriously, how does it pile up so quickly??) so Tom was quick to scout out the facilities and was pleased despite the exorbitant cost ($2/load). But first we needed to work out so we drove down the road to Arcata where I’d picked out a cool community forest for some fun trail running. Now, we had two options for the 15 mile drive to Arcata. And since Tom missed the on-ramp for highway 101, we ended up on the “scenic” drive along the coast. Holy Mother of God, I’ve never been so afraid of tumbling over a cliff in my life. This “road” (and I use that term loosely) was actually signed as a bike route and I’d almost suggested Tom just ride it into town since his workout was an easy ride. The “road” however quickly deteriorated into a one lane pot hole filled dirt/gravel highway to your death. Several times we had to stop and navigate the one lane-ness with oncoming traffic, when literally one foot in the wrong direction meant pure devastation from plummeting to our death a thousand feet below on the rocky shoreline. There are some times when a 3/4 ton diesel quad cab is NOT the vehicle you want to be in and this pretty much tops that list. img_2732 img_2731I was trying to take in the stunning views between flashes of our rocky watery death and marveled at the homes perched precariously on the rocks overlooking the magnificent coastline. About 15 minutes later we escaped back to highway 101 and carried on our merry way. Big exhale.

Arcata is the home to Humboldt State University and I can only imagine the major draw is for students of forestry and environmentalism. There isn’t a whole lot going on in the greater Humboldt County coastal region but the Redwoods sure are impressive. We parked at the community forest right next to campus and Tom took off via bicycle while I trekked into the woods for a stop and go breathtaking uphill battle with gobs of photo ops: img_0096 img_0095 img_0094 img_009350 minutes later we reunited at the car, both completely spent from our supposed to be easy workouts. Keeping with our current theme of post workout brewery visits, we drove straight to McKinleyville and stopped in Six Rivers Brewery for happy hours brews and bites. There was Monday Night Football Seahawks vs. Bills on the TV but we were more interested in getting back to the “resort” for a campfire and dinner. img_0097I’ve been begging for a campfire for over a month and finally I got it. Life is good.

Tuesday morning we headed back into Arcata (all highway all the way thank you very much) and hit up the community pool for a lovely swim workout followed by a creepy fitness center experience then sped down the highway to Pepperwood for our much anticipated Avenue of the Giants bike ride.img_0099 It was another Jay’s essential rides ride and it was nice, but we felt a bit let down. I’m not sure exactly what we were expecting, I mean the trees are huge and the forest is spectacular with the ferns and the pine needles and the towering giants, and the road is very low traffic since it parallels the highway, but I don’t know, it left me wanting. There were stretches of just regular forest and some river views and some creepy dumpy campgrounds and the cheesy tourist stops (pressed pennies anyone?). I almost got run off the road over a very steep cliff by a FedEx truck. So really how did this differ from any other bike ride?? Le Sigh.

The Immortal Tree - supposedly 1000 years old, currently 250ft tall after lightning took off the top 50 ft a few years ago
The Immortal Tree – supposedly 1000 years old, currently 250ft tall after lightning took off the top 50 ft a few years ago

We turned around a little early in part because of sunset, but also because we had arrived at the section of road that Jay warned was some of the worst he’d ever come across, and indeed it was pretty nasty. Plus, we never ate lunch. I assumed we’d come across some cute little places to stop either on the drive to the ride or on the actual ride but we never did. And I didn’t really want gels which was all I had with me. So I was cranky and frustrated. We did break down and buy some nuts and candy bars at a little tourist trap store because I was just about to pass out from hunger pains, but I wanted something funner. Boo.

At least I got to take these silly photos inside a gigantic burned out hollow tree at the finish.img_0101 To try and rectify the culinary disappointment we stopped at Lost Coast Brew pub back in Eureka and binged on fried food as we watched the election results rolling in on the bar TVs. It was past 5 on the west coast so all the east coast polls were closing and the ensuing Facebook panic posts and stunned speechless media were just getting going on their long baffled night of shock and excuse-making. We did have cable at the campground but spent most of the evening sitting by the campfire enjoying the stars and ignoring the reality of the culmination of the last 18 months of ground-breaking bad behavior and political rants. We did know the official results before tucking into bed and said a sleepy prayer for the 50% of the population that would wake up to their very worst nightmare.

That’s about it for the Northern California coast, we were happy to head south to our first Harvest Host in the morning and made sure to dump the black tank and fill up the potable water tank for some dry camping among the grapevines.

Ireland’s RV Park (Gold Beach, OR)

I had really wanted to spend some time on the Oregon coast, but the northern part – the beaches and rock formations you see in all the movies and pictures. I’d spent time researching RV parks and state campgrounds even back when I was still working. But it’s a rather long drive from Seattle for a weekend and plus the sites were still super booked up in October and a lot close by November. Then when we decided to do Hood River and Bend it was the completely wrong direction logistically and would have added a ton of driving and the weather was turning… so it got nixed. But I needed SOME Oregon coastline before we left the state for a while.

roadside scenic viewpoint
roadside scenic viewpoint

There was a century ride on Jay’s website that formed a figure 8 with Gold Beach as it’s center so that’s how we ended up at Ireland’s in Gold Beach on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

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The rain just kept getting worse and worse but we had to walk a few blocks to the Inn to check-in so I put on my thermal running tights, “waterproof” boots, and raincoat and trudged up the street. Then Tom figured we were already pretty wet so why not wander around and see if there was anything interesting nearby? There was not. We walked a big loop through a shabby mobile home park trying to find a cut through to the beach as puddles formed in our shoes. img_2480I did at least walk out to the beach and up the tiny lighthouse but it was a stay in kind of night.

Sunday was an improvement so we went for a long walk on the beach, getting chased down by the incoming tide and mounds of fluffy sea foam blowing in the wind. img_2495 img_2485Then we jumped on our bikes and headed north for the easier half of the century ride since the weather didn’t give us much hope that the sweeping views from the hard hilly half would even be possible. I can break it down into thirds – the chip seal section, the hillbilly img_2488section, and the windy section. The hillbilly section was actually quite beautiful and had nice road surfaces so it made for good riding. Back on the waterfront was fairly miserable though and the views were mostly of sheep. Crossing the bridge back into Gold Beach wasn’t as scary as I anticipated and we were done. The campground was still pretty quiet but a big fifth wheel had been replaced by a little pop-up and we eyed the couple curiously as they secured multiple tarps over the mesh sides and washed their dishes next to the spigot. That is pretty hardcore, by comparison we merely pretend to camp while we enjoy the luxuriousness of our modern Airstream.

I got in a “quick” challenging beach run Monday morning before we hit the road for a beautiful drive down Highway 101 where we averaged about 35mph for the rest of the day…

Deerwood RV Park (Eugene, OR)

Deerwood is a little south of Eugene but we were making super last minute plans and only staying the one night. It had a little tricky entrance/exit but otherwise was fine – good wifi and all the hookups. We did have to ask a lady blocking the road to come out and move her car when we pulled out in the morning proving some folks are just clueless.

I had big plans to run on all the cool trails in Eugene so we made it an overnight to break up the drive from Bend to the beach. However, Bend had completely worn me out and I took a giant nap as soon as we set up camp. Tom went to the store for dinner supplies and cough medicine bc I was still fighting that nasty flew monster. I had even picked out a cool bar to go out after we ate and maybe find some live music. But it turned into a movie night and the rainy morning meant no wake up run either. Apparently I was just totally spent and still kinda sick and needed to rest. So we saw nothing and did nothing. I am bummed but we have been really busy and it was time to respect my body needing some down time (Tom was quick to agree). And that’s that.