Day 8: 3581 miles driven: leaving California to Bend

12:30 PM PST I just went flower picking and walking through an old grove, ancient Redwood stand called the Stout Memorial Grove. I am driving to Bend, OR as we speak. And I just saw Montana license plate. These roads are very windy, curvy and steep. They are doing construction on them, all of them.  I don’t care, this is the most beautiful drive. Last night I spent the night in Florence Keller Regional County Park. It cost $15. I had to drive into town in order to get change so I could pay for it.  I went to bed around 1130 last night, a little later than I had anticipated but car trouble and getting lost a few times make that happen I guess. So I went to Jedediah Smith state park last night. The campground was full. I had not anticipated this.  Frightened that I might have to stay in a hotel (yikes!), I walked around searching for someone to talk to. I heard a man’s voice speaking emphatically about the Redwood forest. It was right behind the ranger station in an amphitheater where Brad was standing. Brad was one of the most handsome people of ever seen. He was giving a presentation about how much he loves the Redwoods State Park and he was a Ranger. He was probably only about 27.  Giving a presentation to a bunch of youngsters and their parents, it was about 8:45 at night when I arrived mid-presentation.  I sat through the presentation and was really intrigued by the amount of information that he was spouting out. I was also enamored because he was so handsome! You know when you get tongue-tied because you can’t think of anything but how handsome somebody is? That’s how I felt. So after the presentation, I knew a lot more about the Redwoods than I did when I arrived, which was very very cool and useful information. After his presentation I waited to talk to him so I could ask him where I can camp. I wanted to ask if I could camp at his house… but I refrained. (HAHA) He was very nice and gentlemanly of course, he pulled out a map and showed me two campgrounds that I could try out. After that I picked my drool up off the ground and got out of there soon. …When I say as soon as possible I mean I waited like a creeper and watched him leave. No I did not follow him! I wanted to…

So first I went onto the campsite that was closest to the park entrance. That place was super creepy. There was a trashcan that had been turned over and strewn about by a bear and no lights. It was super dark. You have to put $15 in cash into an envelope and then stick it in the iron box, but I didn’t have $15. I was super bummed and I wanted to spend the night anyway because I didn’t want to do anymore driving, but I did not feel comfortable staying without paying. I also didn’t feel comfortable because the place was crazy creepy too. So I opted to try out the other location Brad suggested. The other location was also a county park, so it cost of the same amount of money. So I went to the gas station, retrieved $40 out of my account, got change and then proceeded to Florence Keller Park. I was all ooked out.  It was dark, it was late, and honestly I was exhausted from driving and scared of the solitude (bears mostly). But I swallowed my fear and found a campsite. I set up my tent with my highbeams on, and the whole time I heard an owl that I’ve never heard before. There was also this other sound, and that sort of sounded like when Dorothy was walking through the enchanted Forest and the monkeys came out of the trees, I was even more anxious then. But I went with it…. So I had to go back into my car and drive up to the bathroom where the iron box deposit location was. At this point my nerves were shot, I was extremely tired, but I was reeling on adrenaline. So while I was filling out my campsite information and putting the money in the envelope something amazing happened. If any of you know me, you know that I’m a big cat person.  I used to have a cat named Babydoll, she was a black cat and she was my best pal for almost 16 years. So back to the story, a huge, sweet black cat came up to my ankles and started purring. This cat calmed my heart. I dubbed it Camp Kitty. I looked around and right behind me was the campground host (I had somehow missed this when driving around), and right cross the road from the host was an empty campsite. I wanted to camp near this cat. We were getting along swimmingly, and I wasn’t ready to go back to my witch of the West dark, scary campsite. So I did something ridiculous, but I’m glad I did it.  I drove back over to the scary campsite, partially took down my tent, put it on the hood of my car and drove it to the empty campsite. Looking back at that makes me laugh a whole lot but I’m so glad I made that decision. I went to bed with peace of mind after having a 15 minute petting session with this amazing huge black cat.
There is also some really good rock ‘n’ roll playing in the bathroom quietly, I couldn’t hear it from my tent. So I slept like a champ. I set my alarm for seven, but I didn’t wake up until 830. I got up, called for the black cat and it came to me. I rearranged and organized the mass of stuff in my car, brushed my teeth, and then drove to the Jedediah back entrance. I walked amongst the Redwoods, I hiked up in between them. I FaceTime’d with my grandmother and grandfather so they could see those enormous, majestic trees. For some reason perhaps existence of the age of the trees, I felt an immense calm in those groves. I was also hyper excited about it too, I’d been waiting for this for a long long time, and still had no idea what to expect. Now that I’m commencing on the rest of my journey,  I still don’t know what to expect. That’s the lesson I am sure.

12:55 PM I am almost to Oregon. I just saw a giant logging truck. I wish they wouldn’t cut these trees down. There’s only 5% left of old-growth forest in this country. I learned from Brad’s talk yesterday that the entire northern hemisphere was covered in giant redwood trees millions of years ago during the Pleistocene. Steven Spielberg filmed Jurassic Park 2 in the Jedediah Smith Park. The groves here, they are so dense. He also told us that you can tell the difference between an old growth forest and a new growth forest that’s been logged before by the fact that old-growth forest don’t have a huge undergrowth. It’s mostly ferns and short shrubberies. There were lots of just-about-to-bloom Trillium all over the place. I am so glad that I did not skip this part just because I was behind on account of my tires. I was considering not camping and just doing a day visit, I have Peter to thank for the encouragement to spend the night. He reminded me that I did drive all the way across the country and that was one of my goals.  To wake up in the redwood forest. It happened!

1:10 PM PST I have entered Oregon it is 54° I have 100 miles left on this gas tank.

2:05 PM you know soon as you get in Oregon it turns into a circus. There’s a wildcat gallery, people looking all crazy. Tons of hobnob corn on the cob businesses. I’m about to go see the Oregon caves information. Also you don’t have to pump your own gas in Oregon.

I am on the Rogue River highway and just passed by a road called Peckerwood Lane. It made me laugh out loud. I need a shower, so I’m going to stop at the state park, shower and put on clean underwear. Looking very much forward to that.

5:10 PM entering the Rogue River Siskiyou national Forest, 33 miles from Crater Lake on East 62.  I have just decided to go to Crater Lake.  It’s one of the deepest lakes in the world! Ancient and Magical!

5:30 PM Driving on 62 W. there’s snow on the ground it’s 37° and I am entering Crater Lake national Park.  Unbelievable, I can’t believe it’s 37° and there was a sign back there that said you need snow tires or chains… I think that my four-wheel-drive should be sufficient. We’ll see!

Nope.. turns out the roads that I wanted to take closed due to snow.  Looks like my four-wheel-drive would not have been sufficient. Anyway I’m back on 62 now and I am going down to another road, Highway 97 toward Bend.  I stopped at the guest center/restaurant/gift shop at Crater Lake and went in just flabbergasted at the weather conditions.  As soon as I started talking, all the people there started laughing and asking where I’m from.  They love my Southern accent and all the euphemisms I carry along with me (thanks Paw Paw).  I bought a Crater Lake Book in lieu of the weather denying me the vision.

6:30 PM I just saw a giant, enormous rainbow and it was literally right next to me! There is such a huge smile on this face.

Just saw my first Aspen Circle.

The aspens are all over now, they’re beautiful.

Now I’m on 97 N. headed towards Bend, about two hours away. I’m going to stop in Bend and get some warmer clothes. I only brought this one fleece… it’s COLD!

There are of these beautiful little purple flowers on the side of the road I’m on.  Lupine, they smell so nice!!

Entering Wimena State Park!
Newberry national volcanic monument and the local caves…
I’m about 10 miles from Bend, so excited to see  my dear friend Stephen and chill out for a few days.  In Bend I will explore a marijuana dispensary and Stephen’s going to show me around the town.  I’ve left the planning up to him, so I’m unaware of what I’ll see or where we’ll go!

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