PNW

June 3-9

Leaving Crescent City and the Redwoods was sad; it’s a special place. You can find big mountains in a lot of places, but the redwoods of Northern California are a unique sight to behold.

We set our bearings toward Bend, Oregon, as we climbed further into the Pacific Northwest. Crater Lake National Park was nearly on the way, adding only an hour to our trip. So we made a stop around lunchtime at the impossibly blue lake. We’d visited it once before, on our last northbound trip to Seattle a couple years ago. It’s very cool to see, but in our opinion, unless you’re camping or backpacking there, it’s not worth the hefty detour you’ll likely have to take to get there. It’s rather isolated in Oregon.

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Mountains, oceans & trees

May 29. Waking up after an excellent night’s sleep, it was time to move on. We slept til 7, prepared oatmeal, loaded with peanut butter, mixed berries, granola and honey, 2 mugs of coffee.

“Where should we go?”

“Head toward the coast and up?”

“Sure”

Be skated westbound from Yosemite and the Stanislaus Forest. Route 1, riding the coast northward, would be our initial destination. I figured we could pop the roof tent on any of the number of pulloffs along the highway overlooking the Pacific. Two slowly realized issues to this thought: 1- it’s not legal, and 2- its very very windy in those spots, anyway.

We began to (slightly) regret our decision to take Route 1, instead of the inland US 101- very beautiful in its own rite. Every mile we continued along the coast got us farther from any possibility to get back to 101. Every campground sign along the coastal byway: FULL. Every inn along the coastal byway: NO VACANCY. Memorial Day weekend, probably the worst time to be improvising a road trip with no reservations for lodging or campsites.

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If I ain’t got you, I ain’t got nothing at all

We awoke early Friday morning and prepared to start our camping journey (for real, this time). With the wind at our backs, we loaded up Archie with our duffels and dog, set our heading toward the Alabama Hills, and were off. But not without a stop at Four Paws coffee shop in Palm Springs, the same spot we stopped at on our way out of town two years prior. 

The whole wind thing? Turns out we were not nearly finished with it. Pulling out of Palm Springs towards San Bernardino, the gusts blasted us, bucking the roof top tent and forcing me to keep the needle no higher than 60mph. The wind turbines were thrilled, spinning gleefully as their lifeblood whipped through the valley floor. Wind advisories flashed on the highway all along I-10 and up US-395 a we began the trip northward along the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada.

As we approached Lone Pine we could make out the  Alabama Hills, a massive outcropping of bizarre granite and volcanic rock. From there we took in the distant storm looming over the Eastern Sierra. Seemingly only miles away in the craggy horizon, it was dumping snow in an aggressive fashion. Though to us, near the floor of Owens Valley, it was a slow motion procession.

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Tahoe

January 11 – 15

The day had come to leave our lovely little abode. It’s always sad to leave when our contracts are up, but I found Santa Barbara to be especially difficult to leave.

“Why the hell are we leaving?!” Jamie and I would ask each other. The hospital had offered to extend our contracts a while back, but we declined, as we were already set on heading to Arizona. It was a special time in SB, but eventually it had to end. 

We packed up our car in typical Tetris fashion, sure to leave ample space for Queen Charley’s throne in the back seat, complete with a bed and only the softest and comfiest blankets.

So Monday morning, when all the preparations were set, we punched Lake Tahoe (specifically, Stateline, NV) into the GPS and left Santa Barbara in our rearview.

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Yosemite Pt. 2

October 1-2

We woke up on Thursday morning, still exhausted and groggy from our hike the day before, covered in dirt and sticky sweat. We were hoping that there was somewhere to take a shower in the valley, only to learn that the showers were closed for the 2020 season. Whats another 4 days without showering? At that point it was no big deal.

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“They call me the breeze…”

September 24-26, 2020

Thursday morning arrived rather frigidly, as the thermometer refused to bump over 40F. With stiff, cold fingers, we started the campsite cleanup. We’d decided it was time to move on from Colorado, despite having an excellent time. Nothing gold can stay.

Becoming increasingly efficient at loading up the car, we methodically put everything in its place and set our bearings towards Page, Arizona and Lake Powell. A stop-off at Mesa Verde National Park, just east of Cortez, CO, was a consideration as we set out.

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Colorado Extension

September 21 – 23

At this point in our “planned” road trip, we would be in California enjoying Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, and the Mammoth Lakes area of the Sierras. Due to the wildfires and smoke hazards, we opted to alter our original plan and stall in Southwest Colorado for a bit longer. We can’t complain even the tiniest bit. It is so beautiful here, and we are grateful to have extra time to relax and explore the area.

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“To hell you ride”

We really enjoyed our time at the Dutch Charlie area of Ridgway State Park, where we had camped for four nights. When we looked to stay longer, though, it was booked up. So Thursday morning, we packed up our gear, rearranged the car like a terrible game of tetris, enjoyed breakfast at the camp, and departed the park around 10 AM. Thursday would be Operation: Find a Place to Sleep.

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Canyon Drops, Alpine Passes

Our next few days activities, unfortunately, weren’t dog appropriate. So on Monday morning, we dropped off Charley at Ouray Dog Company for her own little R & R and Bijan and I took off for Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in central Colorado.

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Onward and Upward

We pushed through the high plains of eastern Colorado and into Denver around 5pm and found our lodging for the night shortly thereafter. One of our friends we met through travel nursing offered us to crash at her place, as she’d be out of town for a wedding for the weekend. I can’t say enough about the friends we have.

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