Friday, June 20, 2014

A Great Driving Day Until....

On Monday morning we broke camp. The tents came down, the sleeping mats and bags were folded, the clothes were packed, and the food returned to its bins.  By mid morning we were ready to part ways. Robert, Gosha and the kids headed home while we turned our car south. 

We were counting on two days to drive from Crescent City on the northern coast to Yosemite National Park, east of San Francisco.  Google maps predicted ten hours on the road, so we decided to find a motel sometime after we reached Interstate 5.  It seemed like a reasonable plan.  So we started at a leisurely pace, stopping occasionally at what California calls "Vista" points. 
The Northern California Coast is amazingly beautiful and we stopped a couple times, eventually finding a perfect picnic table sheltered from the wind on a pristine beach. 
We drove through more Redwood groves, but decided that stopping was a luxury.  At one point we came to a field with a sign warning that we were near wild Elk.  As we looked we realized that there was a good sized herd of elk grazing in plain view.  Since there seemed to be a nearby parking lot, we turned and headed for the elk.  We were rewarded with a great view.  We watched as a small herd of male elk ate their lunch of leafy greens.  They ate standing with their heads down until they had enough.  The they lowered themselves into the bushes to chew their cuds, leaving their antlers waving gently in the sun as they chewed.

After a long time watching the elk, we turned east, crossing the coastal mountains to reach the Central Valley and I-5.  We got off to a slow start by taking a narrow country road which led us past picturesque farms and beautiful barns.  But we finally rejoined the main road.  It was mountainous, and difficult driving.  We followed a pick up truck for a while with a beautiful Husky in the back.  The dog loved to stand on the edge when the truck took a turn.  

We passed many beautiful streams, and Peter decided to stop to fish for a bit.  It was a lovely spot, and the afternoon sun cast shadows as he cast.  As I was sitting watching him, I heard a sharp cry.  I looked down to see an American Goldfinch about 3 feet from my feet.  I think he was as surprised as I was, and he flew away.  Peter caught three rainbow trout, and decided that he'd had enough for the day.  He slipped the fish back into the stream, and we began to pack up to leave.  

We still had about 60 miles to go before the Interstate.  That's when things began to go wrong.  

I had been holding on to the key, but I put it down next to Peter's bag in the trunk as he was packing up his rod.  I went to the bathroom, thinking he had seen the key.  He had not.  We got in the car, and he asked for the key.  That was when we found out that it was in the trunk. We also found out that the inside trunk latch was broken, and that the latch to lower the back seats was also in the trunk.  That was a bad moment.  Fortunately there was another car in the rest stop where we were parked.  The man was from Redding and he offered to drive me to get help since we were in a dead zone for cellular coverage.  We were actually pretty far from everything.  However there was a little store and RV Park within a mile.  Gail, the owner, was kind and generous, and gave me her phone to call AAA.  About an hour later a big yellow truck arrived from Weaverville.  The driver was stumped too when he realized the problem.  But he had some different tools, and managed to reach the lever in the trunk that unlatched the rear seat.  We were able to pull out a suitcase, and Kate crawled back to reach the key.  Success at last.
We were all in agreement that we couldn't make it much farther that night.  Gail had recommended he Victorian Inn, which had a very nice room.  Although the next day would be longer than we wanted, we felt blessed that all had turned out well.

We spent Tuesday on the road, and left the camera in its case.  We arrived at the White Chief Lodge at about 7:30 pm, tired and hungry. They had a little restaurant with some decent food.  The waitresses gave us some helpful advice about Yosemite, the most important od which was to start early.  We got to bed and set our clocks for 6 am.

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