Driving the Long and Winding Pacific Coast Highway - page 2
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Driving the Long and Winding Pacific Coast Highway - page 2
Text by Meeta Gajjar Parker
Photography by Francis and Meeta Parker

Encountering a large colony of wild elephant seals, free of charge for our viewing pleasure, is quite joyous. They are amazing to watch and photograph from behind the long fence that separates us from them. On a beach below, with a stretch of the coastline all to themselves, they are granted the freedom to live as they will. We cannot get direct access, probably for our own safety as well as theirs.

Ferndale is a small California town made famous by Jim Carrey’s movie “The Majestic.”  This is another movie we watched to fuel the excitement in preparation for our trip and to get an idea of what we might see in that area.  As we arrive here, we look for the landmarks we saw in the movie and picture scenes in our mind.  Everything is here except the movie theatre that the film is centered around.  We stop at the “Sweetness and Light” candy shop where we buy delicious, handmade chocolate truffles and meet Matt the owner.  He enlightens us about the day they filmed on his street, meeting Jim Carrey and how the movie theater was just a set created purely for the film.  The real movie theatre in town is much simpler but fun to discover.

Passing through the Redwood Forest, we remember singing the Woody Guthrie song “This Land Is Your Land,” when we were growing up. We are driving through the 33-mile Avenue of the Giants and feel their mighty presence. Some of these groves of trees are up to 2,500 years old and wider than our car. Frank stands against one of the largest, oldest trees so we can really see the grand magnitude of the massiveness we are witnessing. Frank’s six-foot frame is swallowed up by the enormous size of the tree trunk.

The Redwood National Park is also a State Park and is a huge mix of redwoods, deciduous trees, ferns, vines, flowers and wildlife. Under a canopy, some ground areas are getting virtually no sunlight and other areas encompass natural meadows. Before leaving, we discovered that this could be the home of Sasquatch, also known as “Big Foot”. There is a store completely dedicated to the semi-mythological creature out here. We even come across a sign saying “Big Foot Crossing” as we drive along.

Oregon’s beauty and rainfall both captivate and drench us as we continue up the coastline to visit Gold’s Beach and then take a detour inland. We stop at the unique West Coast Game Park Petting Zoo. This is simply irresistible as we had just watched Animal Planet’s show about a bear family. This was a documentary following a mother bear and the birth of her cubs. Archie, one of the cubs, was the size of a stick of butter when he was born and we had fallen in love with him. The West Coast Game Park Petting Zoo features one special baby animal a month. This month it is a baby bear and petting him is thrilling. His fur feels coarser than it looks. It is so exciting to actually be able to touch a bear cub. He is a lot bigger than a stick of butter, but a small cub and totally adorable.

The Oregon coastline is beautiful, with giant rocks systematically placed by the powerful forces of Mother Nature, decorating the beach. Driving through the enchanting Cascade Mountains, we cruise over to Belknap Hot Spring for a hot soak in the rain. It is a unique experience to soak our bodies in the hot mineral water and feel the cool rain on our heads. Nevertheless, it feels exhilarating.

Next: To Seattle - Driving the Long and Winding Pacific Coast Highway, page 3

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