It might be borderline offensive to reveal this to those of you who are reading this at work, or facing the prospect of work, or aren’t near a bed, but upon waking up in our private cabin in a forest outside Mendocino, Margo and I were served homemade breakfast, which, in addition to being very delicious indeed, was brought to us on trays perfectly suited to eating on our bed.  This was super, because we fell asleep the night before watching Rainman on DVD and now we could finish it without being hungry.  It was a tough life.

The previous two days were filled by an entirely acceptable ratio of wine tastings, curvy roads, and stunning California coastlines.  Up next we would behold some of of the most beautiful anythings anywhere: the incredible Redwoods of northern California.  Finally, we capped it all off with a blast up to the top of Crater Lake in Oregon.  Hang on, we’re about to cover a lot of great miles here.

puppyknuckles-california-10-4168 Here’s a picture of Margo sitting on a bench.  We stopped often along the Pacific Coast Highway heading north out of Mendocino.  Beautiful, uncrowded vistas felt completely serene except when other visitors would sneak up behind you and shout “BET YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE THE ONLY ONES OUT HERE!!  HAHA!!”  Haha, indeed!  Thanks, I pooped in my pants a little.

puppyknuckles-california-10-4318 I can’t image how awesome this guy’s view is from the mountain side overlooking State Route 1.  I would be happy if I just had a view of his house from my house.  Actually I would be happy if I owned any house.  Especially one like this.

puppyknuckles-california-10-4184 puppyknuckles-california-10-4247 We’re nearing the end of our journey along the coastline which makes us both a little sad.  Every mile from here on out gets us closer to New York City.  Margo wielded the Nikon and got this picture of me wistfully gazing at the ocean and wondering how to pose while not looking like I have to pee.

puppyknuckles-california-10-4346Margo behind the wheel.  We joined up with the 101 and started heading into the mountains.

puppyknuckles-california-10-4381 Margo didn’t even make me nervous with some spirited driving.  The sun was out, the car sounded great, and the trees kept getting taller, and taller… and taller…

puppyknuckles-california-10-4333 Take that, you dumb ass 2400-year-old tree.  Ha ha!  We just drove THROUGH you.  Doing this made me feel stupid because A. it’s obviously silly to do this to a majestic living creature and B. once we were suckered in and paid the five bucks at the gate, we realized we were stuck in a 20 minute line of cars who would all take their sweet ass time taking pictures in front of the tree, and then not even drive through it.  Ugh.

puppyknuckles-california-10-4343 We also got stuck in some traffic on the 101 outside of Garberville.  Weirdly, as we rolled into town we noticed the place was basically deserted.  That’s when I learned a law of nature: that the population of of a small northern Cali town will be handily decimated by the presence of a nearby outdoor reggae festival.  It pretty much shut down Garberville to all tourism.  Closed signs swung in the windows.  Rabid dogs roamed the streets.  Only one cafe was open, and the kids who worked there looked pretty pissed they weren’t at the reggae festival, too.  We ate a sub par meal and got out of there ASAP.

puppyknuckles-california-10-4418 We then rolled the Mustang down a street with one of the coolest names of all time: the Avenue of the Giants.  This is what you call the 101 once you start getting into the Humbolt Redwoods State Park.  Words can’t describe how epic this area is, and pictures really don’t do it justice either.  (At least mine don’t)  It’s one of those places you have to see to believe.

puppyknuckles-california-10-4421 We hiked into the Redwoods a tiny bit and I was struck by something.  These woods are very quiet.  I’m no Forest-ologist but I guess I’m accustomed to screechy, clicky, buzzy insect sounds in a forest, of which there are virtually none here.  We definitely didn’t spend enough time in this world.  I look forward to coming back someday.

puppyknuckles-california-10-4439 puppyknuckles-california-10--2 Our goal for the night is the extremely glamorous Best Western in Crescent City, California.  We aren’t really confident that there will be much to do in Crescent City, so we tried to maximize our daylight in the forests.  The presence of the fog rolling in with the sunset skies was just too much.  Awesome.

puppyknuckles-california-10-4517 Basically as you travel the California coastline south to north, you’ll go from hot, sunny, sandy beaches down near LA to epic bluffs near San Francisco to outright hostile, jagged moonscapes once you’re up in Crescent City.  There’s not much going on in Crescent City.  It’s kind of a culture-less redheaded stepchild California town.  It does have one claim to fame: it’s been hit by not one, but two tsunamis, most recently as a result of the earthquake in Japan in 2011.

puppyknuckles-california-10-4483 Stay classy, Crescent City.

puppyknuckles-california-10-4529 And on that note, we bid goodbye to California.  Now we just have to make our way to Bend, Oregon.  Margo made a last minute suggestion that we make a detour to Crater Lake on our way there, and it proved to be an excellent one.  I’d never even heard of Crater Lake before.  I had no idea what we would see after we drove all the way up its 6,000 feet of elevation.

puppyknuckles-california-10-4545 There were a lot of vehicles joining us on the road to Crater Lake carrying big rubber river boats.  It’s a world renowned destination for white water rafting, I learned.

puppyknuckles-california-10-4601 The Mustang is suffering a noticable drop in power as we make the final push up to the top of the mountain.  The elevation is extreme.  Finally, we see this incredible, huge, clear lake sitting perfectly inside the ancient mouth of a volcanic crater and I just have to wonder what the hell the first guy to ever climb up here was thinking when he first laid eyes on it.  I was already armed with the knowledge that there is a lake on top of this mountain and it still blew me away.

puppyknuckles-california-10-4580 The views of the lake were stunning, but so was the view in the other direction.

puppyknuckles-california-10-4582 puppyknuckles-california-10--3 puppyknuckles-california-10-4751 puppyknuckles-california-10-4756 As I was going bonkers with the camera gathering volcanic lake car porn, an ominous storm rolled in.  All the better.   We were so psyched to be there.  We waited until the last possible minute to start driving back down the other side and on to our overnight spot in Bend.

puppyknuckles-california-10-4790 The rain fell as the sun set, and made for a dramatic show.

puppyknuckles-california-10-4806 Hungry and thirsty, we pulled into Bend, Oregon.  This is a very nice town: clean, full of restaurants and nightlife, and we made a good call by paying a little more for a hotel within walking distance to everything.  On the walk to dinner, I spotted this wild modified Porsche 911.

puppyknuckles-california-10-4811 Deschutes Brewery is headquartered in Bend and we settled into their excellent restaurant for burgers and beers.  I did a tasting of just a few of the killer beers they had on tap.  After the less-than-stellar culinary experiences we had in Crescent City, California, a good brew pub was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Margo and I have one more day to go in Oregon, and then we’ll be in northern Idaho where she and I get to enjoy a little family time with my parents in Moscow.  Lots of beautiful scenery and amazing roads I never knew existed lay ahead.  Stay tuned.