We are finally headed to see the California Redwoods (something we have both wanted to do since we moved to Kennewick, WA). We have a couple of options for driving routes and decide to go by way of Portland, OR so we can stop at our favorite outdoor retailer, REI. Mr. Schoonie and I both have discovered our osprey packs are too small to use for 6+ days at a time. We also have to purchase bear canisters. Almost all the places we like to visit require hikers/backpackers/campers to use bear canisters. What’s a bear canister you ask?

These are bear canisters:

And in fact these are the very models we ended up purchasing. I got the black one (because it is a tad smaller and therefore lighter) and Mr. Schoonie got the yellow one after trading his in at the Seattle REI store (read about that later). I am the first to admit that these types of gear are very foreign to me BUT I am not about to test the limits on any animal’s hunger level by not using one of these devices. Trust me – if a bear wants your food bad enough (or any item for that matter) THEY WILL GET IT! Although they are called bear canisters they are very effective at keeping rodents, squirrels and raccoons from getting to your food supply or any item that smells good.

Knowing how I feel abut bears, we also bought some bear spray and a holster for the container. I am still of the thought that if I am close enough to any animal to use bear spray that is too damn close! In all seriousness we love to be outdoors and always take the proper precautions but things happen and you MUST ALWAYS BE PREPARED.

I must share with you a recent “Jen-ism” that Mr. Schoonie is never going to let me live down. While we were shopping for bigger backpacks (we both got new Osprey packs: he got the Aether 70 and I got the Aura AG 65), we also looked at some ultralight tents.

We currently have the model on the left and are looking to purchase the one on the right in the next few months.

The yellow one is 3 pounds lighter and surprisingly has tons more room than I thought it would. There is this one small downfall though (get ready here comes the “Jen-ism”). Before I was able to actually see the tent set up we were discussing purchasing it and in my infinite wisdom I said I didn’t want it. Mr. Schoonie, looking perplexed, asked me why I didn’t want it. And I said I didn’t like that it was all open. Mr. Schoonie (God love that man and his patience with me) then asked what I meant by “it was all open”. I quickly pointed out that “if the bear can’t see me he can’t eat me”. You have never in your life heard laughter so loud and lickety split Mr. Schoonie was posting on facebook. All the while, I am standing there dumbfounded as to what was so funny? It makes perfect sense to me!?!

I loveingly referred to this as a “bear piñata”. Yep I surely have lost my mind. Well someone has!

If you think I am going to dangle in the air, over a bears head, you are nutso. Like Barney Fife with his one bullet I will always have a can of bear spray. Do they make bear spray bazookas?

We finished at REI and headed on down the road towards the Oregon coast. We have a goal to do as much adventuring as possible while we are out here and that includes traveling 101/Pacific Coast Highway.

Moving right along…………………..We finally made it down to the coast (no thanks to me having to stop and look at every single flipping thing there was to look at) and stopped in Lincoln City for the night. Of course I was excited and woke up at zero dark thirty to hit the road. Thank goodness for Starbucks!

It is an absolutely fabulous picture perfect coastal day and we are enjoying every single moment of it. We make our way down the coast to Newport, OR where we decide to get our hair cut and have some lunch. What a beautiful place. Some parts are touristy but there is something about being on the coast and smelling the salt air that helps to melt your troubles away. And it doesn’t hurt to go see the sea lions and the big boats in the marina either.

Mr. Schoonie’s hair was finished before mine so he ventured across the street to a kite shop. Now this wasn’t any ordinary kite shop. This shop had every kind of kite, flag, whirly gig, or yard decoration you could ever want. Mr. Schoonie got himself a large kite and as of this writing we plan on flying it on the coast this upcoming weekend. I had never seen so many different types of kites in one place. Gone are the days of Walmart $10 kites for sure.

As I mentioned before, this store also has flags, glass statues, whirly gigs, windmills, etc. so I did some shopping for the grandkids. After perusing the store for over an hour we decided to head down to the marina to see the sea lions that frequent the Newport, OR marina.

I am fascinated by the marine life and I am sure the locals are thinking what a pain in the tushy. The sea lions are like big dogs in their actions and twice as loud as any kennel I have ever heard.

We had dinner at one of the restaurants in the marina and I tried fish tacos and Mr. Schoonie had baked oysters. We ended up sharing Mr. Schoonies oysters because neither of us were a fan of the fish tacos. As we finished eating we decided we had better head on down the road or we would never make it to the California Redwoods which is our whole purpose for taking this trip. After reviewing our day I hesitate to admit that we only drove 22 miles in 8 hours. Holy cow I need to speed this up!

Have I mentioned how beautiful the coast is? All I can say is wow. Eventually it became dark and we found a hotel that was out on Coquille Point in Bandon, OR. The name of the hotel was the Bandon Beach Motel and we highly recommend this if you are ever in the area.

We had a beautiful room that overlooked the ocean but it was dark so we didn’t see anything but could hear the waves crashing and could also hear the lighthouse fog horn off in the distance.

After a wonderful nights rest we left Bandon, Oregon and headed south before first light. No playing around today! The California Redwoods are waiting for us. In the interest of this story I will fast forward a bit as we travel down the Pacific Coast Highway all the way down to Crescent City, CA. Along the way we witnessed spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and the seastacks that are indigenous to this area.

We stopped briefly in Crescent City, CA at the Redwoods park office to get a map and then just down the road to the marina to have a peek. When we pulled up and parked at the marina I immediately heard the barking and knew that there were lots of sea lions just around the corner. Sure enough there they were. All sprawled out on the rocks and enjoying the sun as if it was mid-July. Actually it is very warm today and we had to find a store to buy short sleeved shirts.

Mr. Schoonie and I both wanted to camp in the redwoods and ALSO to be on or near the ocean. We weren’t lucky enough to find a campground that provided us with both, but we did find a beautiful spot at the Burlington Campground in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

It wasn’t dark yet when we finally picked our campsite, but due to the HUGE trees it got dark very quickly. Luckily our tent is very easy to set up so it didn’t take long before Mr. Schoonie was heating water to make his famous campfire tuna casserole (velveeta mac n cheese and tuna fish). We finished with dinner and decided to call it a night. We thought this campground was very busy for this time of year and was certainly more populated than what we prefer but it was our temporary paradise and we enjoyed it.

When we woke up the next morning, the sun was up and we could marvel at the redwood trees we were lucky enough to be camping next to. It still baffels our minds how something so large and so magnificent and so old is right here in front of us to enjoy. The pictures don’t do these giants justice and we highly encourage you to go see them for yourself if you ever have the opportunity.

We now interrupt our regularly scheduled broadcast for this public health announcement……… Mr. Schoonie is not feeling well and says he is cold and hasn’t been able to warm up. You may be wondering why this is important information and worth sharing but trust me, it is vital! Luckily Mr. Schoonie is rarely sick and honestly it has been almost 2 years since he has felt this bad. Now I am becoming concerned. He is pale and looks like he feels horrible. We are in California and only 3 days into our 6 day trip. What now? He feels bad enough that we decide to turn the car back north and start heading back home to Washington.

First stop is the nearest Walgreens I see to buy NyQuil, Imodium, a big blankie and Gatorade. I am serious folks – he is ill! He takes his medicine and reclines the seat and nestles under the blankie and I won’t see him again until 5 hours down the road. As we come into Eugene, Oregon I find a hotel just before dark and am able to get Mr. Schoonie settled relatively quickly. He didn’t ask questions but went straight from the car to the bed and went right to sleep. It is early enough that I watch a movie and then lay down for a good nights rest and will head out at first light tomorrow.

Good Morning are the first words I hear from Mr. Schoonie. HE’S ALIVE. He is alive and up and ready to roll. He can’t explain it but feels 1000% better and decides we won’t waste our trip and we head to Crater Lake.

We arrive at Crater Lake visitors center and we are both shocked because there is snow everywhere and the wind is blowing hard. At the bottom of the mountain was 55 degrees and sunny and there is no snow and no wind but up here is a whole other world. We bundle up and begin to venture on foot to view the lake. Nix on that!! No way am I walking out on the ice, in the wind, on the rim of a volcanic caldura even if it is to see a National Landmark. I stop 40 feet or so from the edge and Mr. Schoonie ventures ahead. In approximately 10.3 seconds he is headed back and telling me about the ice crystals that were pelting him. Unanimously we decide to have lunch at the visitors center and enjoy the view from the inside. I am disappointed to report that although Crater Lake is beautiful it was uneventful and rather boring. Unfortunately, the same can be said about Mt. St. Helens which is where we headed after we left Crater Lake. The scenery is spectacular but most areas of the park are closed for the winter season even though there is no snow and the sun is shining brightly.

What now? Neither of us are ready for this adventure to end. So what now? Seattle of course. We are only a couple of hours from Seattle so we decide to go to REI Seattle to see if they have some of the things we need that REI Portland didn’t have.

We are in luck and they have the Sierra Designs tent we are interested in and we even get to set it up and test it out (which the REI staff didn’t even know they had in stock until Mr. Schoonie showed it to them). The tensegrity by Sierra Designs is roomy and will be perfect for us in a few months when the weather has changed and it is warmer. They also have the bear canister that Mr. Schoonie wanted so he traded in the one he bought in Portland for the yellow one that was pictured earlier. We found a few other items we wanted and decided to call it a day and head home.

As usual the traffic in Seattle was atrocious but before we knew it we were in North Bend, WA and stopped at our favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner. At this point the back seat of the car looks like an REI store exploded there but amazingly we got everything unloaded and into the apartment lickety split. Home sweet home and already we are talking about our next adventure!

Jen and Dwight have a delightful website with all their travels – The Traveling Schoonies!