West Coast Road Trip – Day 11 
Thursday, March 25, 2010, 11:50 PM
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Now that we’ve arrived in Oregon, we’ll have to get used to being wet. We awoke in Coos Bay to 46-degree temperatures and steady rain. The forecast shows a respite on Saturday, but, otherwise, rain for the next week.

Feeling the need to prove to myself that I can handle inclement weather, I suggested a run. Our 30-minute jaunt was cold and wet, but also invigorating.

After a hot shower, we continued our trek north with a brief stop in Florence to check out the dunes.

Then, we turned east to spend the day in Eugene. In addition to being a funky, little college town, Eugene is known as Track Town USA.

It is where Steve Prefontaine made his mark in the world of running and then tragically died. We left a bib number from the Pirate’s Cove 20K at Pre’s Rock, the site of his car accident and, now, a shrine of sorts.

Eugene is also where Bill Bowerman made a name for himself as a track coach at Hayward Field and, later, co-founder of Nike.

We would have loved to check out some of Eugene’s great running trails, but decided that one rainy run was enough for the day.

There appear to be lots of fun restaurants in town, many with gluten-free options. We had a phenomenal lunch at the Pizza Research Institute. The name gave me pause…but I’m glad we took the risk. We started with a coconut curry yam soup – it was out of this world!

And, of course, we had to try their gluten-free pizza – a smoked tofu with roasted cauliflower, cheddar cheese and onions. It was a little heavy on the cheese for me, but was delicious. And the crust was the best gluten-free one we’ve had. Even better than Picazzo’s, if you can believe it!

Later in the day, we headed to Holy Donuts. All of their baked goods are vegan and some are also gluten-free. This doesn’t necessarily make them healthy, but it was a special treat for Paul to enjoy coffee and donuts the following morning.

With the poor weather, we called it a day early and were checked in and settled at our hotel, America’s Best Value Inn, by 5:30pm. I caught up with phone calls and emails while Paul did some job hunting and online applications.

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West Coast Road Trip – Day 10 
Wednesday, March 24, 2010, 10:23 AM
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We didn’t get a chance to explore Eureka, but I’ve had to make peace with the fact that we’re covering a lot of ground on this trip. We can’t see it all, but we can enjoy the heck out of all of the great things we do see.

Paul had really been looking forward to some good fishing and so we drove north to Gold Beach and he got all set up with info, a license and the equipment he needed. We ended up on the South Jetty where the Rogue River meets the ocean. But, after searching for a suitable location and then trying to get his fishing line set up in gale force winds, we decided that Mother Nature just wasn’t going to cooperate.

We bagged the fishing and headed to lunch at the Port Hole Café where the food was average, but the servers were extraordinarily friendly. And while we didn’t catch any fish, we at least got to eat some!

Our next stop was Cape Blanco, the westernmost tip of the mainland US. This spot is typically quite windy, but, with a storm rolling in, I think it was even more so today.

We spent quite a bit of time there playing in the crazy wind, hiking down to the beach and marveling at all of the life in the tide pools. We ran into a researcher collecting some sort of sea grass and she gave us a quick marine biology lesson.

I don't know if it truly comes across in the photos, but the surf was phenomenal! This stop was definitely one of the highlights of our trip thus far.

We moved on to the quaint town of Bandon, where Paul inquired once again about fishing while I browsed the shops. Things seemed fairly calm and we were excited for fishing…until we headed out to the jetty and, once again, found high winds. I was posing for a photo here when a big gust almost took me down.

With fishing out of the question, we decided to head up to Coos Bay for the night. We arrived in time to visit the memorial to Steve Prefontaine, a legendary runner who was born here. Unfortunately, it is part of a visitor center currently undergoing renovations and so we had to use the zoom lens from behind a fence. But, as our next stop is Eugene, where Pre attended college, I know we have more Pre memorabilia coming up.

To see all of our trip photos, you can check out Paul's photo blog.
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West Coast Road Trip – Day 9 
Tuesday, March 23, 2010, 12:55 AM
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We hit the road first thing today, anxious to see the redwoods. A visitor center ranger assisted us in finding a suitable trail and we ended up driving to Prairie Creek State Park for the 10-mile (roundtrip) hike/run on the James Irvine Trail.

What a difference from the trails in Tucson! The air was moist, everything was so green, and the trees were, as expected, enormous.

The water was flowing at Fern Canyon (the end point of the trail), but, during the summer, you can hike along the stream bed to view more of the moss-covered canyon walls above.

Not having had quite enough, we continued north to Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park and strolled for a short while on the Boy Scout Tree Trail and in Stout Grove.

People and guidebooks talk about certain redwood areas or parks being more spectacular than others, but that was difficult for us to judge. Everything we saw was extraordinary.

We continued north and drove just over the state line where we spent the night at the Harbor Inn Motel in Brookings, Oregon.

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West Coast Road Trip – Day 8 
Monday, March 22, 2010, 12:45 AM
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And week #2 begins!

We awoke to a chilly morning – probably in the low 40’s – and ran down to the water for a short-lived run on the beach. Between the wind, the soft sand and the steep camber of the beach, it was not ideal for running. But, we enjoyed the views and appreciated the start of another day in a beautiful place...instead of in an office.

After packing up camp, we spent much of the day driving along the gorgeous coastal highway. It was slow-going in many areas as the road was winding and there were lots of great scenic view points at which to stop.

However, we did make it to the southern end of redwood country. The Avenue of the Giants, a 31-mile stretch of redwoods, was a disappointment. Sure, there were huge trees, but there was also a whole lot of kitsch – “tourist trap” type offerings.

We only made a few stops, knowing there were many more redwoods to come, and then continued on to Eureka for the night.

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West Coast Road Trip – Day 7 
Sunday, March 21, 2010, 12:24 AM
Posted by Administrator
It was a calm, beautiful morning for taking in the amazing coastal views at Bodega Head.

We had planned to kayak in the area, but found that we were a little early for the season. Someone referred us to Jenner, the next town up the coast, where we found an outfitter who set us up with a double kayak, dry bag and waterproof outerwear.

It was in the mid-50’s and, just as we were getting the kayak in the water, it began to rain. Although it wasn’t rain so much as the fog level had lowered and we were enveloped in its mist. I must say that, for a woman who hates the cold, I was feeling quite hardy for venturing out in a kayak in this weather.

We were at the mouth of the Russian River and we paddled upstream for about an hour, taking occasional rest breaks. Yesterday, I trashed my legs; today it would be my arms. But, just like on our tandem bike, Paul was patient with me and was always willing to pick up my slack.

We were thrilled to see some seals and a lone eagle, although were careful to keep our distance.

As we turned back, I looked forward to paddling with the current. However, the wind was now in our faces and, around this same time, I realized that the waterproof outwear was not quite waterproof. My arms, butt and the back of my legs were soaked through and I was beginning to get chilled.

It became not quite so fun anymore and so Paul dropped me off and went out for more on his own. I changed into dry clothes and had hot tea in a nice, warm café. Paul showed up an hour later looking wet, but happy.

We continued up the coast to Mendocino where we strolled around the quaint town and admired more coastal views.

For lunch, we enjoyed a delicious raw meal at the Living Light Café in Fort Bragg where they have a culinary school dedicated to raw cooking.

On the way out of town, we made a quick stop at Glass Beach, which used to be the town dump and, as a result, is now littered with beautiful sea glass. The rest of the trash was cleaned up years ago, but the glass was left and continues to wash up on the shore.

We tried our first KOA campground that night, in the town of Manchester. Our main motivation was getting laundry done as I was down to my last pair of underwear. There were many RV’s, as well as little cabins rented, but, as far as I could tell, we were the only tent campers around.

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