Beach Bumming in California

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Ever since I was a little girl I’ve been going to Southern California for vacation. It was far enough away from Utah to feel like a real get away, but close enough that we could make the drive in one day. We’d stay with my great aunt and uncle and spend our days at the beach (mainly because they’re free).

 

Because of all these cherished childhood memories I’ve always had a bit of a bias for California beaches. My husband, who grew up in the Pacific Northwest, couldn’t understand why I was so eager to go to a beach in CA when we had spent the last month hanging out in Astoria. But he supported me.

Our first weekend in L.A we packed up everything we’d need for a day at the beach, and loaded the kids in the truck. After the usual stress of navigating our giant vehicle through L.A. traffic, searching for a parking space, parking way farther than we’d like, and walking to the beach, we finally settled in to relax and play.

We had fun at the beach. We did. It was a blast. But, if I’m honest, I have to admit that Jake was right. There was nothing special about the beach in California. It’s warmer than the frigid Oregon coast, true, but the lack of sun burns up north are made up for in other ways. Here the beach was crowded, the sand was course and litter ridden. I couldn’t help but long for the days in Astoria when we would drive right onto the beach and find a cozy stretch of sand without anyone else in either direction. I guess it just goes to show, you don’t know what you have till it’s gone.

But, like I said, we had fun. A day at the beach is a day at the beach. I can’t complain about that!

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What are your thoughts. Anyone out there prefer California beaches to the Oregon coast? Or vice versa?

Our Stay in L.A.

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At the end of our beautiful drive down the 101 we came to the great city of Los Angeles. And by great I mean large, not, you know, great.

I know, I know, some of you love the city of angels, but for a couple small town folk who love nothing more than a quiet countryside, it can be a bit overwhelming. The heat, the traffic, the noise, the heat. Did I mention the heat?

All right, that last one was partially our fault. The only time Jake could get an audition rotation here was the middle of summer, and one of our AC units went out right when we got here. Since it took most of the time we were in California to get it fixed, heat was a big problem.

But we still found ways to have a good time and took every chance we could to beat the heat.

 

In the day we spent our time huddled under our single A.C. unit, but when evening came we emerged for walks around the R.V. park.

 

We also kept our freezer well stocked.

 

Unfortunately, our park didn’t have a playground or swimming pool (something that became much more important to me after this experience), but it did have a great climbing tree right next to our spot.

 

Big cities may not be our thing, but learning to deal with a new place was an experience and, as always, an adventure.

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Giant Trees and Giant Statues

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On day 2 of our whirlwind Redwoods trip, we decided to hit the tourist spots. We only had a couple of hours to explore before checkout, but there were a couple of things we needed to see.

When I came to the Redwoods as a kid I was fascinated by the iconic giant statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe in front of the main gift shop. I was a nerdy, book loving kid, so finding a huge representation of characters I’d read about made me geek out a little (a lot). I knew I had to share this memorable experience with my own kids before we left.

 

They were a little young to appreciate the reference to classic American literature, but they still enjoyed seeing giant statues.

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And sitting on a giant shoe.

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They found this bear statue interesting/terrifying.

Next stop was the drive thru tree. It looked like our huge dually pick up truck would fit, but it was close enough we just snapped the picture and backed it out.

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Then it was back to the campsite to hitch up and move on. I would have loved to spend more time here, but it just wasn’t in the cards. At least the Redwoods provided some stunning views on our way out!

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Hiking in the Redwoods – Fern Canyon

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When we decided we were going to make the Redwoods happen, we knew we wouldn’t have a lot of time there. Jake had just finished a rotation in Astoria, Oregon, and we had less than a week to drive to L.A. for his next rotation.

When you want to see the world, but are crunched for time, you have to prioritize. We could easily have spent a week exploring all the Redwoods have to offer, but we had less than 24 hours. Jake had never been to the Redwoods, and hadn’t been there since I was 12, so we sought outside help.

 

We called Jake’s aunt, who we knew had been a couple of times, and she recommended we hike Fern Canyon in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. I’m so glad she did! This hiking trail wasn’t even on our radar when we looked at the maps, but it turned out to be absolutely incredible.

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The canyon itself was narrow, with steep cliffs on either side. I’ve been through similar canyons before, but the gorgeous greenery here was a huge contrast to the sandstone Narrows and Slot Canyons in Southern Utah.

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There was a shallow creek running through the center, with makeshift bridges that the kids loved crossing.

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There were also huge fallen trees here and there that involved some maneuvering.

We didn’t do the whole hike, since it was getting late, but hiking back out with the sunset filtering through the trees was the perfect end to a great day.

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Redwood National Park

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When I was a kid my family took a trip to the Redwoods, and it was pure magic. I remember being in awe of the giant forest, as if I had stumbled into another world. It was the type of place that made you feel like anything was possible.

So, when we decided we could squeeze in a visit on our way down to California, I was beyond thrilled.

We reserved our camping site last minute, but that didn’t keep it from being gorgeous.

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We only had one night there, so as soon as we parked we did a basic set up and headed out to explore.

Our first stop was the tallest tree in the park. It was pretty big around, too.

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Then there was hiking…

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hiding…

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and climbing!

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The trees were amazing.

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Even the roots were awe-inspiring.

It was every bit as magical as I remember.

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If you ever get a chance to visit this beautiful, ancient forest, take it.

Driving Down the 101

 

Driving down the Oregon coast on the winding 101 towing a 40′ trailer may not be the fastest way to travel, but you’ll hear no complaints from me.

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We only stopped once to snap pictures, but the whole drive was this gorgeous. All of it.

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And we got to stop and visit Jake’s Grandma along the way!

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Ahh, the joys of life on road. We will definitely miss beautiful Oregon.

 

Cape Disappointment State Park

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As our last hurrah in Oregon we…went to Washington! It was a cloudy day, but we wanted to get out of the trailer, so we went for a drive. We ended up crossing the Astoria bridge and going for a drive on the Washington side of the bay.

We ended up at Cape Disappointment State Park, and, excuse the pun, it was not a disappointment! We found a nice lookout point with a view of a gorgeous beach and a lighthouse on the rocks.

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