Day two of our trip was one of the most exciting. We left the rolling hills of Sonoma and entered Redwood country. The sky was a sparkling blue and our children thrilled at the sheer size of the mammoth trees. If you have never driven along the Avenue of the Giants, parallel to US 101, it is a magnificent stretch of road that is not to be missed. The two lane highway wanders in and out of the shadows of the ancient forest, twining around stands of old growth trees. Stops along the way allow you to get out and stretch your legs and explore (always an excellent idea when travelling with kids).
We would be amazed by what we were about to see…
Our cameras were ready. For the most part I shot pictures using the auto settings on my Sony Alpha Camera. I was grateful for the ability to take rapid succession shots of my kids as they nimbly climbed and scrambled over tree trunks that were 8 feet tall. Later in the day I was grateful for the information I gleaned from watching Me Ra Koh’s digital camera instruction videos, prior to the trip. It gave me the courage to expiriment and get a few great shots including one of my own little wood nymphs scampering through the forest.
We chose to turn off the video games and DVD players for this entire portion of the trip, and revelled in nature. Never ones to miss out on a kitschy photo op however, we were sure to pull off the road and wait in line to drive through a "drive through tree". I insisted that the Honda Odyssey minivan would not fit. My husband insisted that it would. I won but the right side rearview mirror of the van lost… It was at this point in the trip that we declared Shamu (our pet name for our black Oddysey), "broken in". Note to fellow travellers: Your Honda Odyssey will not fit though!
Our car was a little worse for wear but our spirits were not. We stopped for a late lunch at a roadside diner that provided even more entertainment and another "interesting bathroom" photo for our kids’ vacation memory books. Sophisticated travellers that they are…
The latter part of the day we sped past countless bikers and backpackers all caught up in the majesty of CA highway 101. We were a little jealous of their slow pace as there is so much to see along this route. Down toward the coastline we passed through Eureka where we made one last stop at the Bayshore Mall just off the 101. While we would not usually seek to stop at a mall on a road trip, this one was a perfect pitstop as it contained both an indoor playplace and a Borders bookstore. While the children let off a little more steam, I stocked up on travel reading – Wall E books for my four yr old, American Girl 5 minute Mysteries for my school aged daughters, and Twilight by Stephanie Meyer for myself and my husband.
It was still light when we left Eureka and we decided to push on to Crescent City where we hoped to find a motel to spend the night. Unfortunately when we got there, this was not to happen. The town was booked solid, it was coming up on ten pm, and there was at least 15 miles of nothing before we entered the next town. Our kids were exhausted and so were we. We faced our first travel dillemma. Where would we be able to stop for the night?!