Ferndale to Willit - Precipitous Drive #2
Having slept the innocent sleep, we started the day with an equally innocent look around Ferndale.
Our day began in the 'Mind's Eye Manufactory & Coffee Lounge' so MPJ could do some of her work. I loved it, everyone was asking to pet me, and I got loads of nice back scratches.
Jani was most entertained that this was a coffee shop cum kayak building workshop. Perhaps the only one in the world!
Then we had a wander round to admire all this exquisitely maintained Victoriana...
Talk about getting a bad case of white-picket fatigue!
This place is truly remarkable, how wonderful to find so many well preserved Victorian houses in a town of spacious wide streets and a real flavour of how it must have been to live here when it was a thriving frontier town.
Luckily the wrong turn meant we found this lovely little trail up the hills above Ferndale, and, as MPJ figured we'd be in the car for a few hours, we decided to go chase squirrels, uhhmm, I mean go for a mini-hike.
Should have known what was in store by the gist of this hike. Check out that little map and note that we ended up walking up on one ridge and down another, sheer drops either side. I was on lead most of the way, MPJ totally concerned I would chase a rustle in the undergrowth and plunge down the mountainside.
Talk about setting the tone for the day...
Welcome to - Pecipitious Drive # 2
dangerously high or steep.
"the precipitous cliffs of the North Atlantic coast"
synonyms:steep, sheer, perpendicular, abrupt, sharp, vertical
"a precipitous drop"
So what you have to figure here, at this point in the story, is that WE HAVE NO IDEA what lies ahead, we just figure it's a nice scenic coastal drive. And seeing as how MPJ's ambition is to be right on the coast as much as possible, this seems like a wonderful idea.
And to top it all off, we've been told that the end of the road brings us through another drive-thru cathedral grove - total incentive.
It began innocently enough, but then it began to feel just like that nasty wrong turn in Suislaw National Forest - up and up and up, this time with loads of stops for construction, (at least there are other people - even if they too are struggling to negotiate these narrow roads) one time having to follow a cement truck for about a mile before it could find enough room to turn around and go back to the site.
It's just like last time, steep sides, no barriers, all the ingredients of MPJ's worst nightmare.
I seem to have caught it from her, cause now it's my worst nightmare too.
With a sinking feeling we realise that we were more on gravel than tarmac, and that every moment is taking us bouncing ever up-ward through the WORST potholes, endless jostling, jarring, it's a juddering pounding from one boneshaker to the next.
And then this.
We realise we've ascended up a ridge (seems to be a habit), and that we are looking down into a valley where we can see a cloud rolling in off the Pacific, and that as we look forward we are driving ABOVE the clouds that are banked over the ocean.
We cannot see sea-level, but we know how far we've come up, so, nothing for it, we have no choice but to go back down.
Well, I will not even try to tell you how much MPJ hates this journey. She is in such a state of high anxiety that I can do nothing but hunker down, lying as flat as possible, in my throne, pinning myself, refusing to look, and concentrating with all my might to give her the courage to cope with the switchback road that is dropping us (should I say plummeting us) down to sea level.
Imagine then, if you will, the replay of deep anxiety as we realise that no sooner have we crossed the width of the valley floor than the road is turning inland to take us up the full ascent to the top of the ridge on the OTHER side!
White knuckled, my poor sweet Jani actually began to cry as it became clear that we were in for miles more of these twisting edgeless gravel potholed roads.
And miles and miles.
So you get the idea.
It was a deeply unpleasant journey, and on the descent from the ridge, we began to relax into the awfulness of the constantly bumping dusty road. There was even time to admire the very few homesteads we passed, farms in the middle of nowhere, looking much as they must have over 100 years ago.
And then this...
I. Am. So. Over. It.
We're done. We've come through the 'Lost Coast' drive, and pray God we never have do anything like it again. There is NO WAY this is going on to the Charity Drive map.
No way Jose.
Then to the longed-for Redwood Forest.
Yadda Yadda Hey.
More big trees.
After the rigours of that drive, we now have tourist fatigue. We cannot get our heads around enjoying the trees, all we want is to get back to the main road and Civilisation!
On and on, we drive.
Nothing. Nowhere. Not a motel to have us.
We just want this day to end.
Every single town we pull into there is not a pet-friendly motel to be found.
So finally, into Willits, a strip mall of a town, and after several passes up and down the length of the 4 mile strip, No Pets in every office window, we finally pull into a shall-be-nameless 'Inn' (I use the term lightly). Who cares, it's a bed, we can stop. Shaking with tiredness, numb and exhausted with the trauma of the precipitous drive, all that matters is to sleep.
It could be worse.
It could be significantly better.
The smell in this motel room is dire.
But we are so Grateful to stop.
Stopping is all that matters.