Our 2017 epic road trip in America saw us driving 2000 miles from California to Oregon and back. The lead up to our epic adventure was anything but glamorous. Hectic work schedules, ridiculous deadlines and many late nights. And not forgetting tradition we were still packing at 1am the day of our flight.
The airport was buzzing with loads of frequent flyers and us, the not so frequent flyers. As a matter of fact it was the kids first ever time on a plane so you can imagine their energy levels. FUN.
Touch down at San Francisco airport
The moment we touched down in the States it began….. Ev – “I want to go home”. What the heck? That’s not supposed to happen! She’s supposed to be in awe and wonder of experiencing new things. But yes I can see how dull and boring it can be for a 4 year old to be surrounded by strangers and strange things. Nothing of which was familiar, apart of us and her trusty plush unicorn.
Getting to our hotel and settling in to the San Fransisco vibe seamed easy and kind of strangely familiar. The weather had closed in. Intense fog eerily swept over the city resembling something from a horror movie. (No jokes).
Our first experience with the locals was amazing. Striking up a conversation in a shopping mall with a woman by the name of Tifany. She was wealth of knowledge about her lovable city and curiosity about our homeland and ever so playful with Jordan and Evalyn. After a good hour conversation she certainly left an amazing impression.City folk are very welcoming and up for a good chat. Walking through Westfield I turned to Anthony with a puzzled look on my face. There are dogs in this shopping mall. Big dogs, small dogs, DOGS! With their owners, on a lead, just casually walking through minding their own business. Really? Apparently yes, this is a normal day.
That evening Ubering to uncle Angelos home for dinner as the sun was setting. Arriving to his workshop/home, we weren’t sure what to expect. Surround by pieces of wrought iron and blacksmithing tools (which covered the walls from floor to ceiling) we saw a man wearing thick black rimmed glasses, behind his laptop working away. We were greeted with a soft welcoming face and a warm embrace. After the formalities we were treated to the most amazing (made with an abundance of love) dinner. Oh boy what a feast! Home made prosciutto, hand made pasta, eggplant parmigiana, homemade wine, walnut nocino. Rustic and from the heart. All the way.
At breakfast Anth learnt rather quickly to stop drinking his murky coffee so quickly as one bottomless cup of coffee turned into 5. Wowsers! Hello toilet runs!
Motorhome is go!
This is where the fun began! Let’s get this RV on the road already. After waiting 5hrs to get behind the wheel of our beast we were on the road, fully stocked fridge and pantry with super sized everything, the open road was ours to command.
A quick pit stop after driving for 4hrs in the quaint little town of Mendocino to watch the sunset on glass beach. We were hanging to get to our campground and tuck into to some dinner. Looking up at the stars were were treated with a meteor shower. Quick get the camera out lets go on an adventure. Walking down the eerily quiet roads of our campground and down towards the sound of waves crashing we could hear rustling in the bushes… Heart starts speeding up. Have we hit bear country yet? Mind starts racing. If this thing was a bear there was nothing between us and this bear apart from my tripod and camera. Gulp. We saw a pair of glowing eyes. Anth quick get the torch! Phew it was just a deer. Grab the kids and lets get the fuck out of here!
The Majestic Redwoods
Another long drive saw us arriving the beginning of the majestic Redwood forest. Elk Prairie campground had such a mystical atmosphere. Tall trees covered with lychen and draped in moss, that fresh smell of pine, shrubs and vines twisting up trucks to reach the forest canopy for the ultimate prize of sunshine. The quiet. I loved the stillness. Nothing but the gurgling creek behind our RV. Ahh total and utter bliss. I could get used to this.
Another early start to the day had us back tracking to Trinidad – Patrick’s Point State Park along the coast. Freezing! Rugged coastline. Fog! Wow! Was this summer? We were not prepared for the chilly days. On the road again finds up north of crescent city back in the redwoods.
Hello Jedediah Smith state park. I thought the trees in elk prairie were amazing. We were in amongst the giants. I won’t lie to you I’m not the most vertically astute person there is but if there was a moment where I felt dwarfed by anything it would be right here. I mean wow. Pristine waters of the smith river and the smooth array of river stones that lined the bank. This was nature at its best. How can one resist the urge to skip stones? This was our evening. Stone by stone, giggle by giggle this slow pace was just what we needed. Walking through the avenue of giants mixed with uprooted fallen redwoods this was the ultimate kids playground and the making of a great playful imaginative adventure.
We hit Oregon – Crater Lake
Heading up highway 101, Oregon was in our sights. Past the cascades and the warm humid air was teasing us through our open windows. Ah the heat was wonderful. After so many days laden with thick fog and no heat, I was beginning to think that we were not going to see a summer at all. Driving higher and higher up in to the hills we were engulfed by smoke. We’re talkin full blown thick bushfire smoke. Errrrr were we headed into a bushfire? Assuringly there were other cars driving in both directions which suggested we were safe. Crater Lake. Something that I really brought home from this holiday is that we are such minute creatures on this ginormous planet of ours. We are a part of something huge. The big picture.
The 7 hour long wait to get into The Eclipse Festival was well, hectic. Thank goodness for the RV that we were able to get up and snack as we saw fit. Braided Ev’s hair even painted the kids faces to pass the time. Pulling up to our next home away from home in family camp we knew we could relax. We were going to be here for 6 days. Ahhhh bliss….. But then the dust, oh my the dust was everywhere. There was no escaping.
The vast layout of the festival was quite overwhelming. It was definitely the biggest playground I’ve ever been to for young and old. Art installations that were climbing structures by day and a visual feast by night. The market stalls selling their unique crafty wares locally made or from abroad. Most of which I’d never seen before. The 11 epically designed stages that catered for the most diverse music connoisseurs. Double storey art gallery full to the brim of psychedelic art that moved your inner core. Art cars making an appearance when you least expect it. Roving performers catching your eye in the distance. There was seriously something for everyone!
All the kids in family camp formed a pose, and before we knew it our RV was engulfed with them. It was quite hilarious to hear their conversation at times. Jordan quite casually ripping out “I can understand you, so you must be speaking Australian.” I really had to contain myself. I can only imagine the many comments I missed while they were out playing on their own.
Solar Eclipse – ground zero
The day came. What we all have been waiting for. The pinnacle, the reason why we gathered to this prairie in the Ochoco Forest. The march of tens of thousands almost seemed like a pilgrimage to the other side of the lake. Away from from the music and commotion of the festival. We were headed to the Sun Temple. Elders from many cultures gathered performing a ritual, as we waited for totality. The energy was tense. I’m sure everybody’s heart was beating just as fast as mine. As the moon inched closer and closer to cover the sun, my limbs were tingling with anticipation. Then BOOM.
A loud cathartic eruption from the crowd as everyone removed their glasses to view the magic of totality. The howls and cheers of utter joy. I didn’t even realise that I had tears streaming down my face. Humanity, joined as one under the sun, moon and stars. It was a powerful experience to behold. I get butterflies just thinking about it. There is hope for us all to dance to the beat of the same drum and live in harmony. I believe that now.
More volcanoes – Lassen Volcanic National Park
After such a huge day it was time for us to hit the road again. We had a long drive. Lassen Volcanic National Park. The weather was mild and after a short 4km hike around the serene Manzanita Lake we found ourselves stalking all the wildlife around.
Cheeky chipmunks watching our every move in case we dropped any morsels of biscuity goodness, and the noisy woodpeckers going about their pecking business in the pine trees above.
Our next driving stint was to be our longest. Nearly 6 hours behind the wheel. The destination; Yosemite National Park. The hairy drive up through the hills to get to the valley was enough to bring your last meal up, but our reward was waiting for us around the last bend. The mammoth granite cliffs, some as high as 900m tall, were going to be our refuge for the next 3 days. Stopping beneath El Capitan to honour its grand beauty, we knew we had found our happy place. The energy of this place was warm, inviting and comforting. The cliff faces on either side of us, were like 2 massive arms giving us an almighty hug. Early mornings had us taking hikes to see what treasures Yosemite had in store for us. Deer casually strolling by within arms reach. The light tickling the granite faces morning and night morphing and changing their colour.
Jordan relished his time in the outdoors. The hunter gatherer instinct was definitely strong in the boy. Making it his mission to find enough kindling to light the fire and then ensuring the fire was stoked the ENTIRE TIME. Our campfire ritual every night was coming to an end though. This place was our last stop before hitting SF again and flying home.
Many people asked us if we were heading to Disney Land while we were visiting the states and I almost felt like we should have gone seeing as we were so close. But our trip to natures theme parks was just as great if not better.
It certainly left a lasting impression on us and just as I was worried that Ev wouldn’t remember anything from our holiday she drew a picture the other day. It was us standing under the eclipse in Oregon, and as disinterested as she was on the day she was moved by something. Maybe it was the energy? Whatever it was, it left a lasting impression on her.
Rookie mistake; leaving our campground and heading down the highway while still connected to our RV hook up site. Whoops! I’m sure Americans have seen it many times. RVs hurdling down the highway with cables and hoses hanging off their vehicle. I’m sure we made someone giggle on their morning commute to work.
If you made it this far, you’re awesome, let’s catch up for a hot drink sometime and talk about your travels. Seriously I mean it, hit me up! :)