Our twisted times demand a diversion – one that had me looking through the pictures of our path down the Pacific Coast Highway as we traveled between housesits this past winter. Our goal – to stay as close to the ocean as possible from the Olympic Peninsula to southern California.
We traveled the way my family traveled when I was a kid – stopping frequently to explore, hike, wander. No time restrictions. And very few mandates, other than to stay close to the ocean.
The Olympic Peninsula
Before we headed south, we had a five-week housesit in Port Ludlow on the Hood Canal. And when I say on the Hood Canal, I mean right on the canal! Our wards were a lovely English Springer named Riley and a dog-cat named Oscar – a huge, furry, demanding Norwegian Forest cat who would come running when you called his name.
With the homeowners, Riley claimed the bed at night. With us, Oscar took over and would wake me up each morning with a gentle, furry paw tap on my face. Norwegian Forest Cats are known for having tufts of fur between the pads on their feet. If I didn’t respond, the taps increased until he was totally annoyed and then just a tiny bit of claw would be included with the next tap. Tap, tap. Tap, tap. Tap, tap, zing!
While Oscar ruled the house at night, Riley got our daytime attention as we took him on road trips all over the Olympic Peninsula. We took him to the furthest point, Cape Flattery, on the northwest corner of the peninsula and to the amazing beaches along the southern end by Ocean Shores. He joined us on an excursion to Lake Crescent and Hurricane Ridge, where we threw snowballs for him to chase. Riley loved to play fetch, as long as you didn’t expect him to bring the item back. He was more likely to hide said item under a rock, in a culvert, or back in the brush.
While we didn’t cover the Pacific Coast Highway in its entirety on the Olympic Peninsula, we explored the points and the middle, wherever Highway 101 took us.
Time to Head South
From Port Ludlow, our quest changed a bit as we headed inland towards Portland to visit a sailing friend of mine and see her in-progress house remodel. We followed 101 south as it twisted around the nooks and crannies of the Hood Canal. It was also the start of the Chowder quest – our first taste was at the Hama Hama Oyster Saloon along the Hood Canal. And after our visit in Portland, we headed straight for the coast, hitting the Schooner Restaurant in Netarts, OR for another sample of chowder. While in the area, we wandered around looking for the house that Dan lived in when he was working for the Oregon Coast Sportsman. We didn’t find it, but it was fun to explore the area.
Twisted Roads in the Dark
We did have a bit of a timeline crunch after we left Portland – our housesit in Fort Bragg, CA. Not so much that we didn’t enjoy the trip but we’d be happy to do a repeat. The Avenue of the Giants along US-101 was wonderful. And as we approached Confusion Hill (north of Leggett, CA) the roads started twisting chaotically and only got better as we turned onto CA Highway 1. Up and down, back and forth, into a Tsunami zone, out of Tsunami zone.
When our GPS (aka Ms. Guided) told us we had 43 miles to go, we thought we’d arrive in time for dinner. Little did we know that our top speed would be under 30mph. With the sun setting we drove on in the dark over twisting switchbacks with top speeds below 15mph!
It would be inappropriate for me not to mention that it was Dan who was driving. And the darkness and my poor night vision probably kept me from ripping the handhold off the door – hard to see how steep the drops were in the dark!
We arrived in Fort Bragg and enjoyed a lovely dinner with the homeowner who had procured fresh crab claws from Princess Seafood, a women-owned fish market and restaurant. Captain Heather Sears takes her crew out aboard the Princess to catch the best fish available. Did I mention the Dungeness Crab season opened just when we arrived in Fort Bragg?
Our housesit was extremely easy with just one cat named Buster. He preferred to spend his days outside which meant I didn’t even have to clean the litter box! We were there for two weeks and he used the box twice! We introduced Buster to a laser pointer and he quickly became addicted. So much so that if I couldn’t tempt him to come inside in the evening, I would use the laser pointer to trick him into running inside. See Buster and the Laser in action, it’s quite funny!
We celebrated Christmas in Fort Bragg, complete with our tiny tree. We shared our stockings and gave Buster a brown paper bag to play with – all was good!
While in Fort Bragg, we explored the nearby towns including Mendocino and Willits, where we took the Skunk Train ride through the Redwood forest. We hiked down to the Glass Beach which was actually the old dump where the glass bottles were thrown into the sea. Over time, they have been pulverized into small pieces and when the sun hits it right, the entire beach sparkles!
Hoping for a Repeat
We enjoyed our time in Washington, Oregon, and Northern California immensely. And hope that someday we will get the opportunity to do a repeat visit – for the critters, the scenery, the lovely homeowners, and, of course, more twisted travels!
November 7, 2019 – January 5, 2020