We drive south from the Oregon Caves National Monument, our first stop was for fudge and a giant blue ox. At the amazing tourist stop in Klamath, California, we sampled several different types of fudge (can I just say that I don't get fudge? Like at all.), touched the testicles of a big blue ox, and stood in my first ever phone booth. This is one of my favorite road side attractioms I've ever encountered and every time I'm in the area I take my picture with Babe. I do think they could up the realism and pump artificial syrup and pancake smells into the air; it should seriously be made into an air freshener with a hint of pine. Never once when stopping here have I taken a tour of the "Trees of Mystery", but as it sounds like something ridiculous and cheesy I would probably immensely enjoy it.
Driving through the Redwoods National Park, I feel transported to a primordial forest enveloped in green and mist. It reminds me of that fucking terrifying movie Fern Gully, which is not nearly as good of an animated environmental film as Pom Poko, but far far more terrifying. Ferns carpet the ground and through the trees the slate gray ocean peaks through. The northern California coast is beautiful, isolated and wild. These seemingly endless forests open to the Humboldt Bay, a place in my mind that sticks out as depressing and marshy. It is capped by the college town of Arcata in the north and barracaded in the south by the dreary forgettable town of Eureka.
Eureka is made more forgettable because it should be memorable. I have been to Eureka numerous times and I don't ever remember doing anything here. I recall a memory of being bitchy to my friends in a motel here and I remember dirty gray buildings with tweakers shambling by. I know there's supposed to be a good brewery there, but the one thing we did on this trip was eat sandwiches on the hood of my car in a parking lot overwhelmed by the scent of rotting seaweed.
We kept driving. Further south on 101 is a turn off for California 254. Alex and I were trying our damndest to keep the ocean in our sight. We wanted to take the road less traveled, even though I'm not a huge fucking Robert Frost fan. We were going towards Honeydew, a little place with a post office and a school bus stop. There might even be a zipcode. We drove up steep hills on dirt roads and I sat in the passenger window and watched the trees flash by in a slow blur. An area known for its hidden pot and opium farms, this probably wasn't the smartest or safest idea, not that I ever expected a guy to be at the end of the road shotgun casually at his side.
The coast continues rocky, rugged, and foggy. Mendocino and Fort Bragg are small, ridiculously quaint towns on the coast. We stop for clam chowder in Fort Bragg and watch the fog roll in. Grudgingly we progress inward towards Ukiah, the county seat of Mendocino and what I thought at the time was a real true shit hole of a town. Smoky and disgustingly hot, Ukiah did not leave a great impression on me. To further exacerbate my hatred of it, Alex beat me at Scrabble by getting a triple word and triple letter score on the word zine. I'm not sure if that's a word. I don't even think people were using zine in 2008 anymore. Later, I returned to Ukiah and realized there is a great brewery in the downtown area and it's a much better place if it's not 90 degrees and has the air quality of a smoker's lung.
We drove the highways through Sonoma wine country out to the coast and along Tomales Bay, past Drake's Bay and across the Golden Gate Bridge to the Richmond District where we ate delicious Chinese food. Highway 1 south, hugging the cliffs past the Montara lighthouse, the waves of Mavericks in Half Moon Bay, and finally home to Santa Cruz.