Posted by: vlibrizzi | April 23, 2010

NoCal/Oregon Road Trip: A Drive through the Avenue of the Giants

After a lovely breakfast with Cindy at The Joshua Grindle Inn in Mendocino on Wednesday, we hopped back in our Ford Explorer rental car to visit the Mendocino beach and then to drive up to Northern California to see the Redwoods.

We broke up the four hour drive we had scheduled for that day by driving through the famous Avenue of the Giants and taking frequent stops to see the local attractions and the beautiful trees.

Our first stop was to the “Drive-through Tree.” Yes, we stopped there. Woudn’t you?

And, honestly, it was well worth the $5, if solely for the comedic effect it produced. Also, it afforded us the opportunity to see all of the other people who would visit such an attraction. And, let me tell you, there were people at that tourist attraction from all walks of life and from all over the world. We were shocked!

Although our SUV did not actually fit through the drive-through tree, we’re so glad we stopped there.

Next, the less “tourist-y” stop for us was along the 30 mile Avenue of the Giants. We stopped multiple times to walk through the Redwood forests and marvel at these 2,000 year old monstrous trees. They are absolutely beautiful and breathtaking. I always heard how big the trees were but until I saw them in person, I really had no idea how majestic they really are. Check out some more of our photos below:

This tree was so wide that it took two of us to hold it from end to end!

Here’s C. and me sitting inside a fallen tree trunk. Pretty cool, eh?

I couldn’t believe how tall these trees are!

Here’s C. sitting on a fallen tree after using it as a balance beam while “communing with nature.”

Later on in our drive, without having seen a place for lunch for hours (there is not much in the “towns” along the Avenue of the Giants), we were eager to eat…anything!

So, the first restarant we came across, we had to stop in. Even if they were to serve us slop, it was better than dealing with our grumbly, rumbling stomachs.

But, once we pulled into Café 101 in Rio del Scotia (right outside of the Avenue of the Giants), we were in for a great treat! The Mexican duo (wife behind the counter, husband as waiter) made some of the best burritos and tacos any of us have ever had! We could have eaten about five burritos each…they were that good!!!

So, with our tummies pleasantly filled and our moods brightened after seeing such amazing scenery, we continued our drive up north.

At one point, in the middle of a heated debate about the state of American Education, we all looked to the right and saw…giant Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox statues! C. immediately stopped the car (in the middle of the highway…yikes!), turned around, and pulled into the parking lot.

Honestly, it was the cheesiest, corniest tourist trap I’ve ever seen. But, heck, it pulled us in. And, yes, we definitely took photos of us with Paul and Babe. We were tourists, after all, and were enjoying every minute of it!

That evening we pulled into our hotel, The Lighthouse Inn in Crescent City, CA, not expecting much from the place. Honestly, we chose this city to stop in because it is, literally, one of the largest cities along the road (and that’s not saying much since it’s a town littered with chain restaurants and boarded up shops). The town used to be a prosperous salmon fishing and logging village, but now that the salmon counts are down in local rivers, and the logging business has mostly dried up, there’s not much for people to do in Crescent City. Our hotel owner told us that the town thought about trying to build up it’s tourist industry (the town does have a nice fishing pier), but hasn’t been very successful yet.

So now, the hotel (although packed with tourists) is mostly filled with people passing by (like us). But, it was a nice place to stay (with VERY big rooms!) and we enjoyed our evening of staying in, eating Pizza Hut pizza with wine from one of our vineyard stops, playing cards, and catching up on LOST. It was a perfect way to end our long day of driving and pleasant surprises, but the best thing of all was that we got to experience it together…as a four-person roadtripping team!


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