Pacific North Wonderland :: Idaho > Oregon > California
When we last wrote to you from the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho we were gazing out upon hazy mountains, thick with smoke from the wildfires. We could hear the sounds of helicopters overhead carrying water to the blaze. As we drove through the winding mountain roads, seeing no one for miles and miles - we were feeling these eerie and spooky vibes. We didn’t have much of a frame of reference for Idaho, but we were blown away as we explored hot springs set against the glowing orb that is a sunset in a wild fire.
We learned that hot springs are an insane natural phenomenon where the heat of the earth boils the ground water into steam and then pushes up through the thin crust where it flows to the surface. Insane. Literally amazing. Nature is so cool.
After Idaho we were giddy with excitement to see all the wonderful things in Oregon that we’d heard SO much about. We trekked through the desert of Western Oregon, and stopped in Bend where we loved it’s laid-back, super-crunchy, mountain-town vibe. Still on the brink of wildfires, we saw ash falling from the sky, but on our third day in Bend, the haze cleared and luckily we haven’t seen much smoke since.
From Bend, we drove north to Mt. Hood and onto the Columbia River Gorge. The sites were so beautiful, it felt like Oregon was showing off a little bit. A super-crazy-awesome peak and then a massive river with waterfalls and epic rock faces on both sides…I mean COME ON! It was beautiful but Cass got super cranky after not showering for a couple days too long. We found some suitable showers in a state park, and then headed off to Portland where we were likely the cleanest in the city. We found an impromptu street fair, great Thai food, and even went to a soccer game. Portland delivered in so many ways that we knew it would from all the rumors we heard - funky shops, groovy people, rose gardens galore…what’s not to love!
Oregon was already a stunner and we hadn’t even arrived at what would soon become one of our highlights thus far.
The Oregon Coast - where the rainforest falls into the ocean. Have you seen Fern Gully or The Goonies? (If you haven’t, you need to drop everything and immediately watch one of these timeless classics… but I you have, you know what we’re talking about… It felt like we were on set). We drove down the 101 taking in the foggy rocky coastline, whale watching, gazing into crazy cool tide pools, and then as we continued south, the rocky coast was exchanged for huge sand dunes that gave the perfect setting to fly our kite. Oregon just kept on giving and we were happy to receive.
Up next was Northern California, a place that Cass had been dreaming about seeing and experiencing for years. We spent our five-year anniversary in the Redwood Forest - standing amongst giants that made us feel so tiny. We learned all about some of the oldest and tallest creatures on this planet. Sadly, only 4% of this forest remains - a gut wrenching reminder that even though we are tiny compared to Redwoods, our impact is greater than we know.
After hugging all the Redwood trees (fun fact: the two of us hugged a tree the night we met, and climbed one on our first date) we went into Mendicino, a foggy small coastal town, rich with hippy history. We spent a couple nights on the coastal cliffs, and got ready to head on to Outpost Trade back in the Redwoods. We hung out, made new personal and professional connections and got back the feeling of community we’d been missing.
On our way out to our next stop, Lake Tahoe, we camped at the top of a mountain that was at the edge of the recent Mendicino Complex Fire. As we gazed out on the mountain view, we saw rolling hills covered in black - the scars from just a few weeks prior. Coming from the east coast we couldn’t really imagine what a wildfire would be like and although we’ve been fortune not to run into any, we’ve gotten a glimpse at these conditions are like.
We are writing to you now, just ending a week in Tahoe. The lake here has the clearest and bluest water we’ve ever seen. It felt really nice to be back by the water’s edge, listening to the waves crash and feeling the cool breeze of a crisp fall on the horizon.
We’ve seen so much in the last month. At times, the miles have taken their toll. We are meeting this with the willingness to slow down. We’ve got a few weeks before another checkpoint in Southern California so we’re taking it easy on our way. Looking forward to a slower pace so we can fully appreciate as much of Eastern California as possible.
Next up, the top item on Brent’s bucket list…Yosemite.