Thursday, August 26, 2010 – Another Long and Windy Drive Day

Got out by 8:30, after putting the 5-gallons of gas into the van, which was in the red and dinging at me, drove through the Redwood Forest, which, of course, is gorgeous, but it was a narrow road, and although it was paved, it was rough, like there was no foundation, which seems to be typical in the area for some reason. This area of California has the worst roads we’ve ever seen, and it’s not just a recent phenomenon, they show signs of long-term neglect. Things improved somewhat once we got onto 101, but even that was only freeway part of the way, some of it was windy, twisty back roads. Stopped for gas and a sub at the first place we could before pressing on. We arrived at our crossroads before noon, trying to decide whether to go to Jackson State Forest, 17 west, or Mendocino National Forest, which was east, then north, then west. A lot farther, but at least it would be at a higher elevation, so probably cooler. It didn’t make sense to stop that early, so we decided on the latter, also knowing it would be hotter in the valley. So off we went. Route 20 across the south end of the forest was a good road, and it didn’t take us long to get to I-5. Though Gracie was telling me to take a shortcut, I had already spoken to the woman at the ranger’s office, and she said that shortcut was twisty and gravel and hilly, so we took the longer way. We arrived at the ranger station just after they had closed, but had been told we could help ourselves to the hose outside the office, so we filled up the RV, the big horse tank, and everything else we could get our hands on, as there was no water at the campground, not even for the horses. Then things REALLY started getting interesting. The road into the forest was by far one of the scariest, twistiest, and more heartstopping we had ever been on. The first climb was very twisty and steep and narrow, but fortunately, not too long. The subsequent descent was not as steep, but still narrow and twisty, so we took our time. The next climb wasn’t quite as steep as the first, but it was LONG and twisty, very narrow, and had dropoffs that put the fear of God into us. You remember “the bus to Cartegena” that Joan Wilder climbed onto in the movie Romancing the Stone? When she looked out her window and it went straight down? It was like that, only without the comfort of a jungle to land on, only rock. Just when we didn’t think it could get any worse, the last mile or so had potholes big enough to swallow a VW bug, absolutely impossible to get around. So needless to say, it was slow, slow, slow going. Although it was only 12 miles from the ranger station to the campground, it took us over an hour to get there. A white-knuckle drive like this one wasn’t exactly what we had in mind for this late in the day, but we didn’t have any choice. In for a penny, in for a pound! The entrance to the campground was down about 20 yards, then a sharp switchback for another 20 before entering. None of the campsites were really big enough for us, (or anything in the form of a camper, really), except one site that was fortunately next to the corrals, which was really a two-sided group corral. We managed to fit in well enough to not block any traffic, got set up and tried to relax. What a couple of tough days!

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