My alarm went off at 330 am monday morning and we were off to the races, with only a minor set back of me forgetting my wallet for the first time in my life. I luckily noticed my error not too far out-of-town and was able to get it with minimal back tracking and ultimately only cost about an hour of drive time. The boys were set up pretty sweet in the back of the family wagon, and my dad was riding shotgun on the first leg of our summer travels. Our destination was Portland with a stop in the bay area to sleep the first night, a much different path than past summers.
With the wallet retrieved thanks to my amazing and heavy footed wife we were west bound with Joshua Tree NP as our first and only truly planned stop, it did not disappoint. Much like Saguaro National Park Joshua Tree reminds you that not all forests are full of pines and evergreens, but cholla and joshua trees create a massive desert forest. The giant mounds of massive boulders scattered across the park made everyone in the car stop and think about the kind of force it takes to move such large rocks. As with all parks we visit the older boys picked up Junior Ranger books at the south gate and worked on them as we work our way north through the park.
Joshua Tree fascinates me and we will be back but I want to camp and spend a few days exploring the vast desert that it has to offer.
The planned course of travel had been to avoid the Los Angeles area and take the smaller less traveled state highways through Barstow and up to Bakersfield. I will admit not the most scenic route but much less holiday weekend traffic and our first unplanned stop. The Pacific Crest Trail is held in regards in my house so there was a bit of excitement when we realized we would be crossing it and were able to get out and snap some pictures and be able to say I hiked some of the PCT, 20 feet of the PCT anyway.
Then came Bakersfield, we had planned to take the 99 up and stay off of interstate 5 again holiday weekend and the traffic that comes with it. Siri had other ideas for how we would get to our day 1 destination and as I missed an exit she rerouted us to the 5! All things considered it could have been much worst, the only delays were caused by rubber neckers for accidents on the south bound side of the highway and I only ended up costing us about an extra hour. We made our way into Livermore California about 2 and half hours later than planned but we made it and day one was in the books.
We took our time getting up and out of the house we were staying out and after a nice breakfast made by my uncle, we hit the road at about 8. What a difference a day makes, heading out of the bay area on a Tuesday was much nicer then heading into it at the end of a holiday weekend. The biggest thing I took away from this part of the trip was the fight for water, you can watch what ever you want on the news or read on the internet but until you drive through and see the signs and battle cries posted along the highway for hundreds of hundreds of miles you have no idea. So whats my opinion? Well, I saw 450 miles of non native almonds trees and rice patties with feed lots in between followed by how low lake Shasta is, i will leave it at that. Once north of Redding the whole landscape changes from rolling farm lands to mountains with thick evergreen forest. The road and weather remained clear through the rest of California and into southern Oregon, I took the opportunity to stop in Ashland at Rogue Valley Runners or some schwag. For those that don’t know why I would care about this what seems to be a random shoe store in the a small Oregon town, its owned by Hal Koerner super star ultra runner and author of Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultrarunning. What can I say, I’m a fan and now I have a hat, some stickers, and a patch…
The drive north across literally the entire state of Oregon was beautiful and more importantly uneventful, we pulled into my brothers driveway after two days and just over 1300 miles…