Highway 101 & 1 California/Camping Journey

May 20th, 2014 by Larry

It has been a 3-week adventure traveling down California Highway 101 and 1 along the coast from the Oregon border. We reached our southernmost camp at Morro Strand State Park, making it our eight and final encampment. These words are written at campsite A. The view is perfect of the beach. The sun has come out drenching unique Morro Rock—home of the peregrine falcon—with morning light, as foreground to fog and clouds at Montana de Oro in the background.
Our campsite is unique and campground host Jeanie says it’s the best site tho’ overlooked by most because of the proximity to the restrooms and the walking trail to the beach. Our tent is on a small dune, abuts to the snowy plover protection zone for breeding and nesting purposes. Literally our tent is against the cable, directly facing the Pacific…indeed, a room with a view and surprising privacy, too. It is amazingly quiet here during the week. Surfers come for the weekend and things amp up.
Daily we walk the beach for exercise and refreshment…and photography. The coastline is quieter here, much less rugged than what we’ve seen driving down. The strands of waves that come in are lace-like, as they break on the gentle, ample beach. There is a constant conversation between the surf and shoreline. Our friend Kevin at Big Lagoon camp (where we stayed on the first leg of the journey) mentioned that when he got a motel in Eureka one night to stay, he couldn’t sleep because he couldn’t hear the surf. Shore birds are abundant.
Our eight campground stays: Big Lagoon (3 nights; our only encampment off Highway 101; the remainder were off Highway 1), Westport, Gualala, Sunset State Park (near Monterrey), Limekiln (Big Sur), Kirk (Big Sur), San Simeon State Park (near Hearst Castle) and Morro Strand. We’ve stayed mainly in state parks with the exception of one county park (Big Lagoon) and a private campground south of Gualala. Five nights were spent sleeping in the back of Lynette’s pickup and the remaining nights in my 5-star tent. Each encampment has had its’ own uniqueness, beauty and pleasure.
Highway 1 is one of the most picturesque highways in America. The coastline is spectacular with a combination of rugged (mainly) and gentle scenery. Spring is a great time for travel because of the abundance of wildflowers, greenness and mild weather…and less traffic during the summer months.
We intentionally started with no itinerary, as this is my favorite travel mode, to go with the whims of the wind, if you will…to stay where you wish, as long as you wish. Only once did we find a campground full whereas we had to go elsewhere.
Our notion was to explore back roads as much as possible…and so we did. Literally, the first day—after departing Talent, Oregon—we departed the main road to the coast, traveling a dirt road through Stout Redwood Grove, ending up south of Crescent City. Yahoo!
The Big Lagoon camp was the perfect start. Our view was idyllic. The following day we explored the charming hamlet of Trinidad with its’ lighthouse, new dock, art shops, eateries (we had clam chowder) and the wonderful Moonstone Crossing (www.moonstonecrossing.com) Wine Shop with their whimsical wine label names such as Wish Upon a Star, Temptation of Angels and Midnight Caress.
The day of our departure we joined Kevin at the Arcata Saturday Farmer’s Market. Try out their famous waffle and potato/gravy concoction (which they’re famous for). We purchased some artisan bread (a couple of days later, a skunk made a raid in our food box, absconding with a $7 loaf!), greens and fruit for the road.
Driving south, we went through the Avenue of the Giants…the land of redwoods that will leave you awestruck. At Leggett, we departed Highway 101 for the start of Highway 1, winding our way to the coast, north of Westport, where we had a campsite not to die for…because if you did, you would miss the glorious sunset which we experienced. We had cocktails on the bluff overlooking this magnificent coastline.
Quaint, quiet and under-spoken Westport (which I had a history with 30 years ago) was our first stop the following day as we wandered the streets, getting in our morning walk. Passing through Fort Bragg, we made our way to Point Arena Lighthouse (a must stop), the town of Point Arena (a town that I could live in) and the old, funky, charming Point Arena dock where we ate fish and chips, a great Manhattan chowder and drank a couple of Old Rasputin beers. Heaven! Then we made our way past Gualala and found a private campsite for the night.
Bodega Bay, Tomales, Tomales Bay, Point Reyes, Stinson Beach, San Francisco and Santa Cruz we traveled through the following day, en route to our Sunset Camp. We walked to the beach that evening and had it all to ourselves. This campground is a nice find and it is unique being right next to farm fields.  I fell in love with Tomales and Tomales Bay with fresh oysters and lamb sandwiches to be had. The countryside pulsated with spring green.
Departing Sunset, we made our way to Big Sur, stopping by Caramel-by-the-Sea briefly. Forty years ago, it was charming. I couldn’t wait to leave this time tho’ because of tourists like me. I have no desire to go back. I remember back then photographing the Bing Crosby Open (I met Pat Summerall and Katherine Crosby) and pissing off Johnny Miller because my shutter went off prematurely when he was putting! Yahoo!
The Big Sur coastline is as I had remembered it from years ago. Rugged, stellar, achingly beautiful…but with much more traffic than way by then. Our Limekiln and Kirk Creek encampments were blessed, as was our hike to a nearby waterfall and rocky beach explorations. This is a place (especially Kirk) to take a deep breath and exhale slowly a landscape that is utterly profound to the eyes and heart. Get one of poet Robinson Jeffers books and read about this area.
I’ve never been to Disneyland and I have no desire to. Hearst Castle the same…but we did stop at the Hearst Ranch Winery after departing Big Sur and it was most enjoyable. I did photograph the castle in the background and we stayed at nearby San Simeon State Park which was pleasant.  The following day we arrived at Morro Bay.
The Morro Bay stay has been memorable with day trips to beautiful downtown San Luis Obispo (Lynette got her first degree at Cal Poly), Morro Bay Harbor, Montana de Oro, Los Osos, Avila Beach, San Luis Bay and downtown Morro Bay.
The pics will tell the rest of the story.

Whistler, BC

April 8th, 2014 by Larry

Just released my latest story on www.highonadventure.com. It’s about my recent trip to Whistler, BC, Canada…skiing, bobsledding (with famous Jamaican bobsled coach Pat Brown from the movie Cool Runnings) ziplining and exploring the Olympic Village. Enjoy and read and the photos of this world class destination.

Four-man bobsled

March 14th, 2014 by Larry

At 365 yards, we reached 80 MPH in the four-man bobsled and G forces of 4plus. It was the most exhilarating ride that I’ve ever taken…likened to astronauts being blasted into space. My respect for bobsledders reached a new level with the experience at the Whistler (Canada) Sliding Center, the site of the luge, bobsledding and skeleton events during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. And of all things, the driver of our sled was Pat Brown who once coached the Jamaican Bobsled Team, made famous in the movie Cool Runnings. View the general public offering at www.whistlerslidingcentre.com. I was rider #2, in the yellow jacket, right behind Pat. My friend John Paulsen was rider #4 in the sled. Out of seven teams we had the top time Last Saturday evening which was also the top time of the week and our top speed was equal to that of the Sochi Games (where Pat just returned from as a bobsled women’s judge) winners. The Whistler track is the fastest in the world.

Whistler Blackcomb

March 9th, 2014 by Larry

Whistler Blackcomb is one of the world’s greatest snowsports resorts and the host to the 2010 Winter Olympics. Vancouver, BC is one of the world’s greatest cities. These images represent some photo snippets from the last few days with my friend John Paulson. Enjoy, hey!

Death Valley National Park

February 13th, 2014 by Larry

Death Valley National Park is one of my favorite places on this old and beautiful earth…especially during the winter months when one can warm up like a lizard within the comfortable embrace of this unique zone which encompasses the lowest place in the USA (-284 feet below sea level) and is near the highest elevation in the Lower 48 States: Mount Whitney. My favorite camping area is Panamint Springs, space 27. However I like Stovepipe Wells Campground, too…and the access to the swimming pool…which we had all to ourselves for a week recently. Death Valley is perfect for hiking and exploring, just bring plenty of water, some energy food…and watch out for the sidewinders, especially in and around the sand dunes!  With offroad travel in the park, bring an extra tire or gunk for filling up flats. We had one flat. The only repair station is the Chevron in Furnace Creek. Enjoy the laid back ambience of Panamint Springs. 180 beers are available, including several nice tap selections. They even had one of my alltime favorites: Deschutes Brewery’s Abyss! January and February day temps get into the 70s. Nice! Nights can be cool, though, so prepare yourself appropriately.

British Columbia, Canada

December 17th, 2013 by Larry

My latest story at www.highonadventure.com is about skiing and exploring Red Mountain and Rossland, British Columbia, Canada…the hometown and mountain of my friend Nancy Green who was named Canada’s Female Athlete of the Century a few years ago. Enjoy the read and photos!

Rainie Falls Hike, Rogue River, Oregon

November 26th, 2013 by Larry

Rainie Falls Trail is a relatively easy four-mile trek into the Wild and Scenic Rogue River, Oregon. The Trail is accessed 25 miles from Interstate 5, taking the Merlin exit to Grave Creek Bridge which is along the Merlin-Galice Road. The Trail is on the left side of the river. It is steep in places but well worth one’s time as you trek through some very picturesque country beside this famous river. Salmon and steelhead can be seen jumping the falls as they migrate upstream to their spawning grounds. My friend Rick Ponte and I recently took this trek. November is a great time to do the hike though it can be hiked any time of the year if one is properly prepared.

Blossom Bar, Marial Lodge, Wild and Scenic Rogue River, Oregon

November 5th, 2013 by Larry

In the deep wilderness, some days sing in tones and resonances that you’ll never experience again. Such was a recent day in the heart of the Rogue River Wild and Scenic section, between Merlin and the Oregon Coast…Blossom Bar, Marial, Rogue River Ranch. My friend Rick Ponte and I drove several hours to Marial, then we hiked three miles to Blossom Bar…a class IV series of rapids, the most deadly in the State of Oregon for rafting fatalities, including two this year.  We were the only people on the road  and we were the only people on the trail. It was a day beyond magnificence. There was a sombernance and a reverence to this day, too, as I remembered my dear friend George and Jean’s son–Sarah’s brother and Renee’s husband– whose ashes were released at Blossom Bar. Jason: I knew you but I hardly knew you…but I was blessed by your life and your photography and your love for wild places. I felt your presence on this trek, deeply. Thank you for your contribution to humanity.
Jean is a direct descendant of the Billings family which established human presence in this area. John and Adeline were her great great grandparents and Jean’s mom was born in the Big Meadow here. The book Illahe is about her family and the area.
We saw bear, kingfishers, migrating warblers, mergansers. Only two rafts passed, in the late light. The harmony of the river was absolute…as beautiful as it will ever get, viewed by humans. In the modern era we often look at things and relate to things through the ‘eyes of Hollywood’ such as the film Rooster Cogburn with John Wayne and Katherine Hepburn that was filmed here, in and around the Rogue Country. And that is fine…but to be in a place like this is beyond anything that Hollywood could ever provide.
Our journey into the heart and soul of the Rogue was a blessing, a gift, an opportunity. It was poetry defined by landscape and our willingness to go into it.
And a river. Oh, such a river! The stirrings and the gifts of the day will forever pluck strings, hidden in my heart, defined by the willingness to make one’s self vulnerable to something that is unknown.
Marial, the Rogue River Ranch and the trailhead to Blossom is 37 miles from Grave Creek. It is not recommended for travel in late autumn, winter and early spring. Make sure that you check road and weather conditions before attempting this route. Info can be found by calling one of these three 541 area code numbers: 479-3735, 618-2200, 247-3600.

Westside Road near Glacier National Park

October 11th, 2013 by Larry

This is an autumn road worth taking on the western edge of Glacier National Park. The road is accessed via Columbia Falls, heading north along the North Fork of Flathead River. It is paved and dirt, ending up on the Canadian border (no crossing here, though). Stop at the Polebridge Mercantile for lunch and one of their delicious pastries/breads. Fly fish the Flathead. Revel in the beauty of autumn meeting winter. I drove it last week. Any of these photographs are available for signed print purchase; inquire message to skiturn789@yahoo.com.

Glacier National Park, Montana

October 3rd, 2013 by Larry

I drove to Portland, Oregon, then took the Amtrak Empire Builder train to Whitefish, Montana. Immediately after the 8am arrival, I borrowed my son’s vehicle and drove to one of my favorite places on earth: Glacier Nat. Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Highway because I knew that the following day the highway would close to through traffic for the season. It was a sunny day with broken clouds so I’m happy that I went because the following day the weather pattern changed and the snows came…in addition to the fact that the government shutdown has also closed down all of our national parks. Shame on our government for allowing this to be because these parks belong to all of us!
If you ever get a chance, travel this highway. It’s like traveling to heaven. The views are spectacular and the chances of seeing wildlife abundant, as this is the land of bear, rocky mountain goats, wolves and other wild critters. Pay attention to the road though because it is narrow and steep.
The road is open from the West Glacier side to Logan Pass Visitor Center this year…but that is dependant on the feds opening our national parks back up.
These photos will give you a small glimpse of what you might see. Enjoy!
And remember, my images are purchasable by emailing me at skiturn789@yahoo.com.