U.S. 101 is marked with the old signs through California. I wonder if all highways in California are. Current markers are white shields on a black rectangular sign with black lettering. These 101 markers are shield-shaped with text as well as the number.
South of Crescent City I passed a long stretch of road facing the ocean with a shallow parking lot running its length. It was completely filled with dozens and dozens of RVs.
I drove through another stretch of redwoods. It isn't doing this travel diary any good to go places I can't describe in words. Luckily a giant Paul Bunyan showed up and I was at Trees of Mystery.
Note the people standing at the bottom of the picture.
This Paul Bunyan talks to people in the parking lot as they arrive and depart. He describes the clothes they are wearing so they know he really is talking to them.
His hand waves, his head turns, and one of his eyes wink, at least when it is operating. As I was leaving I waved goodbye and asked that he do the say. He said his blood pressure was too low.
I didn't see the price listed anywhere, but I didn't look very hard. Admission to Trees of Mystery is charged on the way out, as one is entering the gift shop.
This attraction, in operation for at least 35 years, shows no sign of decay (although there is a stringy moss growing over a lot of the redwood carvings). Tourism at its best, Trees of Mystery combines a natural wonder with the cheese I love.
Trees are given cute names, like "Elephant Tree" or "Upside Down Tree" or "Cathedral Tree", just ask formations in caves are named. Signs throughout explain the names, give interesting facts about the trees, or describe other plants in the area.
All this happens as one walks along a winding path through absolutely breathtaking scenery.
Several weddings take place in front of the Cathedral Tree. Little clusters of signs apparently name all the couples who have tied the knot here.
After enough scenic beauty for anyone, the trail leads into the Trail of Tall Tales, Stories of Paul Bunyan and his Friends, Sculpture with a Logger's Chain Saw.
This is surprising good folk art. Most are scenes carved into rectangles, but some are freestanding sculptures. Almost all have moss growing on all horizontal surfaces.
The first pressed penny machine was broken, but I found another. They also have the first pressed dime machine I've ever seen.
A million redwood trinkets are the mainstays of the shop, although I was tempted by the Bigfoot room.
South of Trees of Mystery I saw a big sign for Tour Thru Tree, the northernmost of the drive-through trees along this highway.
I had trouble getting the AR2 to trigger while I was in the tree. It did go off after I was through, so I'm afraid I didn't get the picture I wanted. I think it's more important that I have actually driven through a tree. I've had that experience. I have lived part of the American Dream.
The bridge across the Klamath River has a pair of bears guarding each end.
I took a scenic route off 101, which actually was 101 until a bypass was constructed. This was another stunning drive through the giants, and I believe this justifies having the convertible. Even though it was overcast and chilly, I was able to see the trees towering above me as well as the giant trunks at ground level.
There was an elk ranch at the end of the scenic route. People were stopped to photograph elk that were very far away. I am, at least temporarily, immune to the appeal of photographic elk at a distance.
I continued south where several attractions awaited: Hobbit Town USA, the Tree House, the Chandelier Tree, and more drive-through trees. As I drove along, I started thinking more and more about the return trip. There was really no alternative route to take back north. I would end up driving a couple of hours south, spend a couple of hours driving around, then drive back three hours to get back to where the day had started.
As scenic as all this was, I began to dread the return trip. So I decided to turn around right then and head north. I loved the redwoods, but I had done the redwoods, and I had driven through a tree. I was done.
I passed all those RVs along the ocean again. Later, talking to a waitress in a restaurant, I discovered that it was a common game with children in the area to try to count them.
I had a late lunch at the Grotto in Crescent City, overlooking the harbor. The view of the ocean is pretty, but big ugly commercial ships got in the way.
To either side of the restaurant were big RV parks with probably over a hundred RVs in them. These didn't look as if they had stopped for one night; some of these looked planted for a long stay.
I asked my waiter about them. He said they always show up for the summer and leave when the weather turns cold. Some are here to fish, while some are just here to enjoy ocean living.
I didn't ask the average age of this migrant tourist, but I would guess that most are retired. Instead of having costly homes in two or more locations and moving with the weather, they have the one home and take it with them.
In Oregon I passed a sign that said "World's Largest Monterey Cypress", so I took the turn and saw the tree.
I stopped at the Oregon welcome center and was given several things, most of which I haven't yet looked at. The one I did find useful was a typewritten list of attractions up the coast with the matching mile marker noted. This is how I knew to stop at the Natural Bridge Viewpoint.
First I want to say that the Oregon Coast is stunning, with sand and rocks along the shore and big giant rocks (or tall small islands) sticking up out of the water. It was like this for most of my drive.
I didn't expect much from the Natural Bridge Viewpoint. I parked the car and walked a few yards along a wooden walkway.
Without warning I was staring deep into a small inlet, watching the water flow through two large natural bridges. This was a postcard view, just a few yards from the highway.
I had to stop at the Arch Viewpoint next. This was a longer walk, and, while not as impressive a feature as the natural bridge (it was like a natural bridge without the ends connected to anything), the little park gave a commanding view of the ocean.
I stopped in Gold Beach for the night at Ireland's Rustic Cabins. I didn't get a room with a fireplace (or a phone), but it was huge and had a little kitchenette. Technically I didn't have an ocean view, but I was on the second floor, and the ocean was visible out the window. I was able to watch the sun set from my room.
I went to dinner at a restaurant nearby. The Oregon Lottery has an game called Keno that runs continuously. They pick twenty numbers out of eighty. Players can bet on as many numbers to match as they want. The more you choose, the higher the potential winnings. You can also win smaller prizes by matching just some of your numbers.
A new game is started every five minutes! People sit around in bars and stand around in convenience stores watching the screen to see if they've won. It reminds me of some cheap science fiction movie where someone is taking over the world through mind control television.
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