2 weeks in Washington, Oregon and California
As our days in the rafting place came to an end, we were thinking what to do in the two weeks that lasted on our trip. We had a car, so a road trip was the logical option. But where? Canada was getting too cold and wet, although there are heaps more beautiful places to discover here. One options was Vancouver Island, but the weather looked really bad. So we looked South, to Washington State, but it was cold and wet as-well. Sacramento, Northern California seemed to be warm and dry! We wanted some good weather before hitting half winter in Estonia and autumn in Belgium and then the early wet spring in New Zealand.
So South it was. First thing was to cross the border and customs, which went actually pretty easy. Just fill a form, sign a paper. We didn’t even need to show that we were gonna leave at some point, or where we would stay the first night.
From there on, it was drive, drive and drive. First nights we spent at rest areas. We took the costal road, which was quite scenic, passing by cliffs, big rocks, black sand and some rugged coastline. They also have massive bridges on the road, and they are pretty proud of it.
First town we passed was Astoria, there were heaps of sea-lions there on the docks, making loud noises. We didn’t stay very long, but did find out that this is the town where Free Willy was filmed! It was quite hard on the coast to find affordable campsites. Everything is 25$ or more. But the petrol is cheap, holy cow! About 60€ per 100 litres! But everything is in gallons, miles and inches there. So about 2,5$ for a gallon of fuel. Further down the road we saw more cliffs, some cool rocks, rugged shoreline and also whales. Christophe did a whaling cruise to see some close buy. They are grey whales, and don’t jump, but still quite cool.
After a couple of days the weather got worse, and we saw that 500 km south of us, in Northern California, there was a place on the rugged ‘lost coast’ which had 30 C for the weekend. So we just drove there in one day, over some really crappy road. Sealed, but so crappy. Edda thought the car was going to fall apart. So crappy, you can’t believe. But we got there. The camp was full for that night, but pretty empty after. We were next to the coast, hidden behind the dunes. So we did have quite a bit of wind. But the warm weather was nice. We didn’t do much else than reading there, and a short hike in the sand to a lost lighthouse which had a lot of sea-elephants near it (massive animals). The first morning we had a scare though, when a couple of young kids (18-20) just pulled out a gun, and went to pose with a shot deer that was in the back of their ute. Crazy yanks!
After three days, and the weather getting colder again, we moved past Ferndale (with a very nice Victorian style hotel) to Redding, where it was 40 C, and then to the Lassen Volcanic National Park. There is a road that goes through the park, which a couple of walks in the Volcanic area. We spent a full day there, slept close buy, and went to climb a cinder volcano (ash volcano) the next day, with its accompanying lava beds. From south Canada to North California there is a volcanic mountain range called the Cascade range, which is part of the Ring of Fire, which lays along the Pacific plate. It includes the volcanos on Hawaii, New Zealand, Indonesia, etc. Here on Mainland US, they actually had a couple of eruptions in the last century (Lassen just 100 y ago, St Helens 35 years ago).
From there we went North past Mccloud river with a few nice waterfalls, and then past Mt Shashta, another volcano with 2 craters. We slept that night at an altitude of 1700m, and luckily there was a small cabin with a fire stove in it, otherwise we might have frozen to death. By then we were again sleeping in the car after a week in the tent, because we stayed at place where putting a tent was a bit difficult, and it was also warmer in the car. That one morning, the front of the car was frosted, which was a bit of a sign to get the hell outta there, because they were also expecting snow that night. We even noticed that because more North, back in Oregon we went to crater Lake, which was covered by clouds and we even saw it snowing on the trees a couple hundred meters above us. So we also went the hell outta there, over the Cascade range, back to lower lands where it was a bit warmer. We didn’t do much more after that, mostly driving and now we are back in Vancouver, preparing for the flight home!
On the road in USA we had a couple bad experiences with drivers passing left and right, trucks speeding right past you and just horribly bad drivers. We also noticed they are a lot of lowlifes in the USA, and totally understand where the expression the 99% comes from. They really have those 99% in the USA, much more than in Europe. There seems to be no middle class (at least not out of the bigger towns). In one town in Oregon, we went to the library and it was just packed with lowlifes. It was pretty scary. You walk past somebody on the street and he smokes weed right in front of you. In the library someone was just staring ahead of him, which didn’t look healthy. We got a pretty bad impression of the USA, not the country of hope and glory, but quite the opposite. There are many places where you don’t want to live in the USA … And we saw advertisements for Trump about 90% of the time. Bernie 7% and Clinton 3% … The best thing about Oregon was no sales tax, which made everything pretty cheap .
We had one more scare coming back to Canada the border. As easy as the crossing into the USA was, so difficult was it to get into Canada. What are you doing here, who is with you in the car? It’s a Canadian car, what are you gonna do with that? Can I see your flight details? Can I see your New Zealand visa? Did you buy anything in the USA? … Pretty damn scary!