Pacifica (autumnwinds) wrote,

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California, rest in peace

I'm back from my California collecting trip, after a 10-hour marathon drive from Sacramento this morning. Well, actually, my Dad did all the driving. I sat in back and alternated between quilting, reading Seabiscuit (most excellent), passing Dad more Diet Cokes, and making my Mom crazy.*

I now have lots of leaf samples to keep me busy. ::cries::

We left on Monday, driving south on I-5. We turned off I-5 at midday to pass through Salem, and took a back highway to Corvallis, OR and sampled between Dallas and Corvallis (rhyme). We had dinner at the same fabulous Indian place that Tyler and I had visited four days before, then drove down and spent the night in Eugene.

On Tuesday, we drove down I-5 and took a brief detour east to sample along a reservoir. Then we went down to Roseburg, OR, and then turned west toward the coast, sampling all along the Camas Valley nearly until Coos Bay. This was a hard day...very hot, very dry, and very slow becuse the red alder was hard to find in this habitat, and I discovered lots of red alder lookalikes that don't grow up here. I have also grown to strongly dislike white alder, which looks exactly like red until you have it in your hand (it's fuzzy, and the leaf margins aren't inrolled). That was responsible for a lot of wasted stops on a busy, narrow, and curvaceous logging highway (shivers). We spend the evening driving down the southern Oregon coast and spent the night in Crescent City, CA.

Driving south from Crescent City on Wednesday morning put us in the redwoods very quickly. We turned off state highway 101 to meander down the Nelson Drury scenic route, which I personally think was 10 times better than the famous "Avenue of the Giants" we drove down the next day (thanks, helpful Denny's waitress). I actually sampled in the redwoods, to my great pleasure. We got a hotel in Eureka that afternoon (short day) and wandered through the town. Mom and I found a bead store, which counts for a lot.

On Thursday, we left Eureka and drove through a few more redwood patches (still awesome) towards Fort Bragg. The road on this part of the California coast was very windy and whoever wasn't driving was carsick. We sampled in Fort Bragg, which was also a very nice town, but difficult to sample in (high traffic). We wandered around town while stuff was still open (thank you, tiny gelato shop) and sampled when things cooled down.

Fort Bragg was originally going to be the southern extent of my trip, but one of my committee members wanted me to go further, so we went on to Jenner on Friday. Unfortunately, red alders were incredibly sparse that far south, so my collection there wasn't really a large sample group. We spent the rest of the day heading inland to I-5, which meant more winding roads and an extremely long traffic jam through Napa (2 hours). We also hadn't realized how bad the national heat wave was until we left the was 112 in Napa when we were there. I try to avoid air conditioning when I can, but this was one instance when I was grateful to have it. We bypassed Sacremento ever so slightly and spent the night at Willows.

And this morning, we got up and drove straight home. I-5, all day long. It was neat to watch the scenery change. Plus, we got some absolutely incredible views of Mt. Shasta. I didn't know it was so pretty (I'm still loyal to Rainier, though). I had originally wanted to stop and see Crater Lake on the way home, or take Mom to Powell's, but we were trying to get home in one long run today (I was sure we could do it), and just driving straight up got us in at 7:30 at night, so we'll save that for another time. Plus, Dad's brakes started to get noticably bad at the end of the trip, and we wanted to minimize our stops.

Trip highlights include:
*The best covered bridge interpretive center I'd ever been to (although I was distracted by the fish)
*A small coffee drink so decadent as to be completely undrinkable, even by two people (the Dairy Queen Mocha Moolatte).
*Hugging a big blue fiberglass testicle.
*The redwoods (everything about them was great).
*The shrinking old ladies (see previous post).
*Eureka's invisible grocery stores.
*Peach cobbler jam.
*The world's biggest ice cream sundae in a flat styrofoam to-go box.
*Legends of Bigfoot.
*Sniffing Umbellularia leaves.
*Identifying places I remembered from a trailer trip when I was three.
*Excellent Chinese food, twice, and thanking the waitress in Mandarin.
*Watching a mom teach her tiny adopted daughter how to swim.
*Crows eating barbecued ribs.

I would also like to note this list of the 32 worst song lyrics of all time, noting that 5 songs are songs I like and are played often. Ouch. My music tastes are wide and varied, and at least one of my favored genres is bad music...this I know.

*Using any of about 20 of my Mom's favorite catchphrases right before she did, getting the hiccups and prolonging them on purpose, whining about wanting to go to the House of Mystery (with vortex), and, any time she announced how hot it was outside, rolling down my window and sticking my arm out so I could "feel the heat." All of this was mostly for my Dad's entertainment. Worked great.

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