I was so impatient to get on the road today, that I could barely sit still. We were supposed to meet the trucker delivering our boats at exit 33 in Medford between 11 to 12 AM, and Mo didn’t really want to get there too early and have to sit around waiting. The weather was perfect, in the high 40’s, no frost, and clear sunny skies. Our pass to Medford over Highway 140 had some remnants of snow at the summit, but the pavement was bare and dry with hardly any traffic.
The driver was tremendously accommodating and agreed to meet us in Medford by changing his route to I-5 instead of Highway 97 through Klamath Falls. It was perfect timing for us. We arrived in Medford to find him waiting patiently at the Pilot station, having arrived at 6AM!. He delivers high end boats all over the country, and his rig was loaded up with 60 foot racing rowers and some kayaks made in China and Peru. Our kayaks were bundled up in bubble wrap and plastic, and after many thank you’s and hand shaking, we transferred them to the baby car top rack, tied them down, and headed west.
The biggest reason for buying new boats had to do with weight. I couldn’t believe it when the driver and I hoisted that boat to the top of the rack. I could have done it one handed! Our older boats weighed about 49 pounds and the new ones top out at a featherweight 34 pounds of Kevlar-Fusion. It is amazing what a difference 15 pounds can make!
We continued our route north on I-5, grateful that we didn’t have to stay on that busy highway, and turned west at Grants Pass. One thing about living in this part of Oregon is that there are just a few ways to the coast, and none of them really is a direct route. Highway 199, west and south of Grants Pass meanders though the beautiful Illinois Valley, through Cave Junction and then along the magnificent Smith River to the coast. Mo had a condo in Brookings for several years and we were used to driving this road, but I forgot how beautiful it can be. The fall colors were magnificent with brilliant yellow and gold big leaf maples lighting up the dark green forest. Here and there are some red trees, but most of the native trees are shades of brilliant yellow. It isn’t east coast, of course, but it is still breathtaking. We took turns driving so we each could enjoy the views. Once we reached the Smith River the road narrows and follows the high gorge of the river. “Road Narrows” is a big joke to us. It’s a repeated refrain along this part of the coast. On a very narrow winding road, that is already quite narrow, appear signs that say “Road Narrows”. We are never quite sure how a paved major highway with two lanes can get more narrow!
The distance from home to our first park was a measly 146 miles. After our usual 300 mile plus days last trip, it felt as though we arrived almost too quickly. We are staying at the Hiouchi RV Resort in Hiouchi, California, about 10 miles east of Crescent City on Highway 199. Just down the road is the magnificent Jedediah Smith State Park and the Stout Grove of giant redwoods. The resort allows Camp Club USA discounts only in the months of October, November, April, and May, for seven nights maximum. It is a really lovely park, especially here on the north end along the creek where it doesn’t feel anything at all like a typical park. We have space and privacy, with our own little bubbling creek outside the door, a clean cement pad with a nice picnic table, big trees for shade, ferns and ivy for landscaping. We have excellent WiFi, full TV cable service, water, electric and sewer for just fifteen bucks. No taxes, no other fees. I guess there is a bit of traffic noise from Highway 199 on the eastern edge of the park, but it’s not really obtrusive.
We arrived before 2 in the afternoon, and settled in to our site, made some snacks and opened a bottle of wine before taking the kayaks down and unwrapping them. It was an exciting moment, marred just a little bit by a couple of flaws in my boat that I didn’t expect. I immediately emailed the owner of Swift Kayak in Gravenhurst. I have no idea what the result will be. Hopefully the rim that is cracked slightly can be replaced, and he will let me know how to go about it.
Once the boats were again loaded up on top of the Tracker, we headed in to Crescent City to find an old restaurant on the Citizen Dock where Mo had dinner with her brother and his wife. She remembered it being at the end of a pier with lots of barking sea lions to accompany a decent fish supper. We drove all around the harbor, but the restaurant never appeared. It turned out to be a good thing, though, because the place where we had dinner was fabulous. The Northwest Inn is next to a motel and is a place we would have never stopped if we hadn’t read a little blurb in the RV Park map about the fabulous fish served there.
The restaurant isn’t pretentious at all, with a rustic, but comfortable decor and casual staff. The fish, however, was fabulous. Mo had fresh sole done up in butter and I had fresh snapper stuffed with crab and shrimp served over an amazingly well sauced pasta. It was rich without being heavy at all, and the fish was fresh and sweet.
The drive back to camp went quickly, in spite of the curves. The road between Hiouchi and Crescent City curves through the thickly forested state park, with huge trees right next to the pavement. It’s a beautiful road, and each time we pass through we are enthralled.