(C)  2002-2014 J. Watson       All rights reserved  
Travel Letters
 RV Travel notes from
       the traveling gran'ma and gran'pa
Vol 15  No 5                                                                                                                                                    August/September 2005
WACO, NE;  9/5/2005

A couple of weeks and as you can see we’ve
moved a bit.  From Crescent City to Coos Bay,
Oregon and then east, now in Nebraska.  We were
heading north to Calgary when the hurricane
devastation in New Orleans became apparent so
revised the plan.  By the time you receive this, our
change of plans will either seem wise or impulsive.
With the hurricane damage of refineries we felt it
would be prudent to head east in the event of a
deep shortage of gasoline.  

From Crescent City we headed up along the coast
to another favorite: Coos Bay, Oregon.  It’s a
pleasant wide spot of the scenic coastal road.     
We’ve enjoyed the small town atmosphere before
and as you may recall we always must go the few
miles to the ocean to see the hundreds of sea lions
and seals out at Simpson Reef (below).  

We encountered one problem – the micro-brewery  
we’d enjoyed in the past closed its doors just a
week before we arrived.  You may recall that the
Coos Bay port is noted for shipping wood chips to
Japan.  This is coming to an end this month but do
not know the reason – is it possible that the
Wilmington, NC port is more competitive?  After all,
it is a major export from our State Port.

We left Coos Bay to go inland to keep an
appointment for an oil change.  Along the way we
passed the large sand dunes that extend for about
Dear Gals… Your guys …
Our grandchildren… our sisters

These are not the swimming beaches we have in
North Carolina – it’s far too cold.  Kids wading in
water up to their knees enjoy the ocean, and at
some areas people get abalone.  Northern
California is a wealth of nature.  There are vast
forests, redwood groves, mountains, the ocean –
you get the idea.  Warnings are posted to be on
the alert for bears, mountain lions, etc.  Viewpoints
are posted for elk (photo) at several locations.

We spent a day just touring redwood forests in the
Crescent City area and another day visiting the
Oregon Caves National Monument.  To give you an
idea of the size of the redwood trunks, just glance
at the photo (below) of Ida examining the fallen
trunk – it must be ten to twelve feet in diameter.  
These forests are unique in that the canopy of the
redwoods actually develops an ecosystem with
plants and trees supported by the tops of the
trees.  Some birds and rodents populate the upper
layer three hundred feet up and never get down to
the ground.  That’s the height of a thirty-story

Redwoods are virtually immune to disease, fire,
and other natural hazards.  When a branch breaks
it is likely that dirt will accumulate and then maybe
a new redwood will take root on the debris of the
damaged tree.  In the photo, above, you can see
that the decaying trunk is serving as a nurse tree
for other trees taking root on it.  By the time the
trunk decays the established roots of the new trees
will reach the ground and leave a cylindrical hollow
(bow legged!) where the trunk was straddled.  
CRESCENT CITY, CA; 8/20/2005

You may recall that we have visited Crescent City
several times – it’s the place that had the tsunami
back in 1964.  They were somewhat jittery a few
months ago as there was an evacuation right after
an offshore earthquake.  We chose a different RV
park – right on the shoreline so we can view the
flashing light of the lighthouse to the right as we
look out and the commercial fishing piers and
Coast Guard station are to the left.  Ahead is
ocean.  Seals bark (photo) near the fishing fleet.  
People drop crab nets from the docks.  It’s a lazy
community that is on the main highway of coastal
northern California and has little to attract new
residents: a faltering fishing industry and a
diminishing lumbering industry.  The marine layer
has persisted so to see sunshine we’ve gone
inland a couple of miles to see the sun.  

Parts of northern California appear to still be
victims of the ‘60s and there are numerous
marginal businesses that appear to be hangovers
from that time.  A number of people are said to
espouse the causes that were popular then.  This
creates a problem to an economy based on timber
and fishing when conservationists find an owl or
question the fishing quotas.  Enough said – we’ve
been on the go.

From the Carmel-Monterey area we skirted east
around the Bay and north of San Francisco we
headed over to the coast.  We took route 1 along
the coastline.  This is a twisty hilly route that barely
clings to the coastal cliffs.  Landslides are frequent
and the road is scarred from repairs.  Drivers of
motorhomes and trailers are generally advised to
avoid this section.  Our motorhome is small so we
have no problem, though Ida saw more views than
I did.  But I managed to see enough to enjoy it.  
The RV parks are close to the water so we walked
along the beach and enjoyed the coastal views.  
These ranged from the grassy fields (below) to
beaches strewn with redwood logs – some as
much as three feet in diameter (top of next
fifty miles along the coast – some reach 300 feet in
height.  Awesome.  You may recall we enjoyed
driving an ATV on them several years ago.  Then,
farther on are the elk in Reedsport – always a
“must see”.  From there it was over the twisty
mountainous road of the Coastal Range to
Eugene, OR.  This is a scenic route that follows a
river part of the way, passes lakes and many
scenic vistas that the driver can only enjoy for
fleeting moments – it’s one turn after another with
sheer drop-offs and no barriers.   

After the oil change we headed west over the
Cascade Range.  This is another mountainous
route.  Two years ago we wanted to take this route
but forest fires forced road closure.  The trees are
now like big black tooth picks (photo, below).  
Nature heals.
By the time we were pretty far into Montana the
mountains were becoming hills and there were
farms and extensive grazing areas (photo, above).  
There are plenty of wheat and cornfields.  By now
we were getting acclimated to the temperatures in
the eighties – on the coast the temperature never
exceeded 70º.  Then south into Wyoming with
similar crops.  

Along the way we stopped at Fort Laramie National
Historic Site (photo, below).  This fort was
established in the early 1800s and served until
1890.  It was here to maintain the peace with the
Indians.  Several cross-country trails converged
here all of which were heavily traveled by gold
miners and the covered wagons of western
settlers.  Later, the railroad came here and
replaced the prairie schooners.  Fort Laramie then
was protecting it.  The fort was laid out on a plan
that resembled Fort Davis that we visited in Texas.  
Sounds sort of like today – budget cuts caused the
closure of the fort in 1890.  
Continuing east is pretty much a matter of putting
away miles.  But we have enjoyed the scenery.  
Going north past Redmond, OR the route was often
through forests as well as arid land with distant
mountains.  This took us to the grand Columbia
River Gorge.  This is scenic – it ranges from  a few
scattered green irrigated orchards on the
Washington side of the river to the parched fields
and small villages.  Mountains are in the distance,
and looking back we saw Mount Hood.  

Then north through Spokane, WA and east through
mountain passes in Idaho.  A highlight is the
emerald green lake at Coeur d’Alene, ID.  We were
well over 6,000 feet and the mountains soared
above us.  A river was below us and small mining
towns were alongside.  Once in a while we saw
small mines.  Sorry, no photos as there are few
turnoffs at scenic spots.  It extends for miles.  The
mountains seem endless and extend well into
WILMINGTON, NC; 9/19/2005

We arrived home last week and have experienced
our first hurricane since living in North Carolina.  
We had been
on the road for the three others that
have hit the area since '91.  It was a lot of wind and
rain, minimal damage in Wilmington, and with no
electricity for a few hours we were alerted to the
need to stock emergency supplies.
On the other hand maybe we were a bit too
reactionary in our concern of gasoline availability
that led to our early return.  

Looking back at the pictures it appears a bit
overloaded with seals and elks – but after all that is
what we happened to enjoy.  

Keep in touch y’all…