In November we decided to combine a trip to visit family in Oregon with a Pacific Coast Road Trip. This drive should be on every person’s bucket list – it blew us away! It really was the best road trip ever!
Our adventure started with a flight to Portland, Oregon. We were so happy our itinerary included three days to explore the city. Check out Ten Reasons to Visit Portland here.
From there it was an easy and enjoyable bus trip to visit family in Eugene before renting a car and embarking on an incredible 15 day journey down the coast.
Plan ahead then let it go
We mapped out an itinerary in advance using internet research, books from the library and an amazing little ap called Roadtripper. Each day began with a list of more ideas than we could accomplish. Picking and choosing from the list along the way worked out perfectly. The total trip for 15 days was 1008 miles, averaging 60-200 miles per day. When planning keep in mind this is not a freeway route so going 22 miles can sometimes take well over an hour, not counting extra time needed to explore and breathe in the beauty! So with that in mind, plan ahead, then let it go.
Prepare to Unplug
You will not have phone service for much of the trip – so we didn’t really use the Roadtripper ap as we went along. However it was invaluable in planning an outline of our trip and getting ideas for stops along the way. You won’t always be able to grab your phone and search for food, hikes or places to stay near you. We used the gps in our rental car which was really helpful to keep track of time and eta for our final destination each day.
Expect the Unexpected
It’s natural to image and plan for the “must sees” we’ve heard about, but remember to stay open to letting go of a schedule, expectations, and an itinerary so you can let the day happen. The best part of any trip really is the journey, so be sure to take time to enjoy it. Quite often, we choose to skip over the “must sees” in favor of checking out a little side road or something interesting we spot along the way. Often the simple, least expected moments are the most memorable – like this beautiful rainbow that appeared after our delicious lunch stop at 1285 Restorer in the cute little town of Florence, OR.
Land of the Giants
You always hear things are bigger in Texas, but they’ve got nothing on this coastal drive. From Oregon to California it feels you are entering the land of giants. We saw a Prehistoric Dinosaur Park in Port Orford, A 5 foot corn cob tribute in Pepperwood, tips for finding Sasquatch, Paul Bunyon, giant seaweed and driftwood washed ashore, and incredible tall trees.
Most Unique Town – Bodega, CA
There really isn’t anything there, but it is close to Bodega Bay and the amazing wildlife in Point Reyes so it was worth a quick stop. If you’re a Hitchcock fan you know this is the place where “The Birds” was filmed. It’s pretty tired looking these days, and a little creepy to see some of the buildings and the birds flying over, but fun all the same.
Favorite Town – Mendocino
There is no easy way to get to this small scenic town surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, but the windy roads are so worth the drive! You might have seen glimpses of it in the movie “Summer of 42” or the series “Murder She Wrote”. This artsy community a perfect place to settle in, relax, renew and restore while enjoying great food and beautiful walks. Loved it so much we are planning a return visit!
Whales, and seals, and elk – Oh My!
Days spent hiking and exploring led to some really cool wildlife encounters. Click here to see more wildlife photos.
Indescribable sunsets every day, yep every single day, wow!
There is no question, one of the best part of traveling is the people you meet. The fun, quirky, crazy, kind, loving people we met along the way could fill an entire blog. Here’s one of our favorites – Kelly – the InnKeeper at Headlands Inn B & B in Mendocino. She was sweet as could be and kept us in stitches with what we like to refer to as “Kellyisms”. She should be a stand up comedian!
Be prepared to stop – often! It sometimes felt we drove only a short distance from one scenic overlook to the next and were rewarded with one sensational view after another.
Don’t be afraid to get off the beaten path
Had we not taken an obscure side road toward the beach along Big Sur, we never would have witnessed this breathtaking moment.
A few more favorite moments too good not to share
Relax and enjoy the moments
Be sure to take time while traveling to stop, relax, take it all in. The more I travel, the more I realize how much my environment and the vibe of a place affects the way I feel. When staying in quiet, peaceful communities or spending time in nature, I’m more able to feel grounded and at peace. Places like Mendocino were perfect for hanging out and giving ourselves time to process what a wonderful trip this was.
On the other end of the spectrum, driving into San Francisco was like hitting a storm. After 10 days with no traffic, few people, the peace, calm and serenity of the Redwoods, beaches and hiking trails, there was immediate agitation from the sensory overload of busy people, sirens, cars and noise. Everything was moving too fast for me to catch up. For the first time in 10 days, I had to drive over 40 miles per hour! While it was cool to see the Golden Gate Bridge, we scooted right through and out of there. We do want to explore San Francisco at another time, but when we are mentally prepared for a different type of trip. No car to worry about, walking and enjoying the urban setting. When planning your trip, think about what you enjoy and gear your trip in that direction.
I could give you the day by day facts and route, but part of the fun is making it your own journey. Letting the unexpected come your way. To get started you can follow the link here for details of our actual route. Roadtrippers is a great starting point. You can also download the Roadtrippers iOS ap here to take our trip and make it your own – it’s an amazing tool!
There are so many unique cottages, B & B’s, and delicious food stops along the way they deserve a blog all their own. Check back next week for a new blog on great places to eat and sleep along the way.
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