Friday, August 2, 2019

The Trip Home

Road Trippin’
with Steve McCarthy

So, our time in Oly was over, time to say farewell to Mom, the rain, and the gray skies. Only one was tough to do. We headed out at an almost reasonable hour (6AM) to meet with Pam and Joel at a typical diner, a place called “Spiffy’s.” I kid you not. Nice place, good pancakes, nice waitresses (they are all of an age where they would feel insulted to be called “servers”), and of course good friends. Joel was nice enough to have a B-Day present for me! A die cast Citroen DS Ragtop! Sweet! 

After eating and getting gas (I’m betting you’re either tired of the joke or finally got it) we headed south on the I-5 to Oregon. It was still early on a Sunday, so we didn’t have to avoid the usual crush around Portland, then off to Eugene, where we turned off onto OR 126, and headed to Coos Bay. 

This is a nice road. Bit twisty, lots of trees (big surprise there) and not too many RVs going our way. Most were headed home after the 4th of July weekend. A very pleasant drive. In Coos Bay, we checked into what must be one of the biggest Motel 6s there is. Now, Constant Reader might remember, we’d sworn off Motel 6 after the disaster in San Jose (roaches on the walls and skid mark on the sheet), but this place had good reviews and a good price. After all, Coos Bay is a MAJOR tourist stop on the Oregon Coast and this WAS July. I have to say, the place was one of the best we’ve stayed in. VERY friendly staff (although the call from the desk JUST was we were dropping off for a nap was just unnecessary. I know, they were trying to be nice, but...)

Lunch had been at the side of the road on snack stuff, so we were ready for dinner. There are a lot of options in Coos Bay (it is a tourist town, after all) but one stuck out. The Blue Heron, featuring German food, of all things! Cool. Not that I’m a huge fan of German food, AND I was worried about showing up at a German restaurant in a FRENCH car, but this place sounded good, and most importantly, DIFFERENT! We’d had enough burgers, and Italian food is everywhere, so, hey, different! Adventurous. That’s what Road Trippin’ is all about. 

And we hit it big. Now, the decor is Christmas 365, which is a bit odd, especially overlaid onto a traditional Oompa Band looking place. Deer heads, painted beams, German travel posters, and dirndl dressed waitresses. The place is neat. Also, crowded! There is a good reason for this. The food was GREAT! I had the Vispannetje, which is a Dutch seafood casserole. Fish, shrimp, clams, covered in mashed potatoes and dill Havarti cheese. (nobody said this was Lite Cuisine!). YUM!  Marianne opted for the seafood pasta. Also good. They have all the usual suspects, Sauerbraten, Wiener Schnitzel, and so on, so if German food is your thing, give this place a try. And here’s the kicker. IF YOU PAY IN CASH YOU GET A FREE DESSERT! So, two strudels for breakfast! 

The next day would be, perhaps a challenge. We were off to Garberville for the night. that meant the wonderful drive along first, the Oregon Coast, then, into the redwoods. Naturally, we stopped at the Trees of Mystery along the way. A bus of tourists had just pulled up and we were SWARMED by selfie stick wielding gawkers. Few of whom spoke English. What fun. Someday, I’m gonna figure out how to charge for pictures of my weird cars. I got the obligatory “Trees of Mystery Bumper Sticker) but they didn’t have any wire to attach it with. Seems they don’t bother anymore, no one has a proper bumper anymore. sigh. 

For lunch, good old St. Serendipity led the way to Ferndale. This is a lovely Victorian town, full of shops and eateries. Just as we got there, the horn for the volunteer fire department sounded off, making Marianne homesick for Sierra Madre. We ate in the Ferndale Meat Market. Great sandwiches and they make their own fabulous jerky. It’s a proper butcher shop. In our wandering about town, we found a blacksmith’s shop, complete with a forge! Shades of “Forged in Fire.” Wonderful stuff from a variety of metal workers. Not just knives, but tables, lamps, and wine racks. Our new kitchen needed a fancy wine rack, so...

From there, we wound our way through the redwoods, cruised the awe inspiring Avenue of the Giants, then to Garberville and the Sherwood Forest Inn. We’d spent enough money on this trip to rule out the Benbow Inn, but we’d stayed at the Sherwood several years ago. It’s a nice, family run, old school motel. For dinner, St. Serendipity guided us down the road a bit to a wide spot in the road called Redway, and the Lost Frenchman Cafe. How could we NOT? The food was good, although the menu had gotten lost and somehow wound up in Italy. I had the cheese and charcuterie plate, one of the few nods to “French.” It was good, but I would have liked a wider range of cheeses. They were tasty, but all were rather mild. Needed some Humboldt Fog blue. As a bonus, we were treated to a show put on by the Redwoods Tweaker Repertory Company. Sadly, this area is awash in homeless druggies who need help. Lots of help. 

Breakfast was at the Eel River Cafe. I’ve mentioned it before, but, it’s changed hands. And not for the better. We were the first there for breakfast, and you know when you make pancakes? The first one is always lousy? That’s the one I got. Marianne’s waffle was stone cold and a bit tough. How the hell do you screw up pancakes? Even Denny’s doesn’t screw up pancakes. It’s a shame. this is a classic diner, but...

Anyway, from there is was off first to Clearlake to pick up the bits and bobs for the Vintage Air air conditioning for the Citroen. Yes, ladies and Germs, AC for the DS! I’ll probably get it all installed in time for winter. But still, a major score. From Clearlake, we cruised back to King City. 380 miles and about eight hours on the road for the day. Lots of hills to Clearlake, but mostly flat land cruising from there. 

Finally, we could head home. We actually headed out early, in fact, we made it to Monrovia by lunchtime and avoided the usual 210 madness. 

All in all, it was a great trip. Good people, great sights, mostly great food, new places to return to. Just what a Road Trip is all about.