This past weekend Danny and I (& Steve) flew back to LA, loaded up my father-in-law's '89 Dodge Starcraft with the remainder of our belongings, and started our scenic route back up to Portland. The last two drives up were quick and to the point, all up the dreaded I-5. So, this time we wanted to take it slower up the 101, make stops, visit quiet towns, and take in the gorgeous west coast-line. And the best part: we were Van Camping, aka VanLife.
We began our journey just a few short hours after I touched down in Los Angeles. There was no time to waste! We figured we would start the drive up the redundant portion of California at night, being that it is a route we have already seen more times than we would prefer. This stretch includes the infamous cow-death-camp, which can be smelled for miles on end at night. The idea was to drive as long as we could, then stop for some sleep, and then cut over to the 101 at day-break. We spent our first night at a rest stop in Huron, and I was surprised how clean and quiet it was. The three of us cozily snuggled into the van's built-in bed, surround by all of our house plants and Danny's instruments. At that moment I thought: I could get used to this.
We started our crossover near San Francisco, traveling through Berkeley, and over the Richmond–San Rafael Bridge to the 101. It's pretty amazing how quickly the scenery turns greener once entering Northern California. And of course, what road trip on the west coast would be complete without some In-N-Out, amirite?
From there, we began passing through the towering redwoods of Humbolt County via the Avenue of the Giants. The air was so fresh and damp through this area that we could've hiked and explored for hours. There is something so majestic about California's Redwoods.
Our last stop before calling it a night was in Eureka, CA. We had dinner at Nooner Cafe, a small Mediterranean restaurant tucked in an alley up against a speakeasy. I recommend their falafel with their honey tahini - it was really good. Full & tired, we passed over the Oregon state line and stopped at another rest stop nestled in the trees across from the oceanfront. I couldn't wait until morning - it would be the first time I got to experience the Oregon Coast.
Waking up excited, I finally got to see in person what I had been drooling over for years via other's Instagrams. And man oh man, was it better in person. Cameras cannot capture the aqua tone of the ocean on this coast. There really isn't anything like it.
Left in awe from the scenic seascapes, we headed into Gold Beach for some caffeine before continuing on. We found a place called Rachel's Coffee Shop inside a pretty rad bookstore that also served some of the best homemade sticky buns we have ever had. Per recommendation of the regulars, go for the one with the nuts. I also have a hunch these bad-boys sell out fast, so get there early.
At this point, due to time, we headed back over to the I-5 to complete our weekend adventure, unwind, and get ourselves ready for the week. Although I am sad we didn't make it to Tillamook and other seaside destinations this time, it only makes me more excited to come back to visit and explore more soon. Now, we just need a permanent weekender van.