Friday - July 14, 2006


On the first two thirds of the trip, Vienna and I set off alone, heading toward the Pacific Northwest before turning east toward the Atlantic. Jenny flew to New York City two weeks later and met us in Queens. Thereafter, we drove home together, visiting several sites central to Jenny and Vienna’s Mormon faith along the way.

Vienna and I woke up at 5 a.m. to avoid the Friday commute traffic out of town. The plan worked flawlessly, except for our getting lost in San Francisco - again - as 101 merges confusingly with surface streets in the City by the Bay. After an impromptu tour of the piers along The Embarcadero and Golden Gate Park, we finally found the famed bridge engulfed by fog and returned to 101 driving north.

Hoping to make miles on the first day, we stuck to the highway for hours, stopping briefly in Cloverdale for some pancakes at the Owl Cafe. Working on our short stacks, we chatted with a local fellow who recognized by the map that the newcomers were just passing through. He said, "If I ever travel again, I want to go to Ireland. That's where I want to go." It seemed that he'd done a brief stint in the armed forces, but no more. After wishing him luck, we returned to the car and started off for Arcata. Since Vienna is entering her junior year of high school at summer's end, we thought we might visit some colleges and universities during our travels. First stop: Humboldt State University.

Since a previous visit, this school has fascinated Vienna. She digs the Santa Cruz-like vibe, the rambling topography, and the eclectic architecture. The town complements the campus with plenty of progressive bookstores and protest posters. With the increasingly bloody American presence in Iraq and Afghanistan lasting nearly as long as the entirely of the Second World War, there's plenty for liberal minded folks to protest. For her first college visit as a prospective student, Vienna was lucky: The admissions office was handing out free disposable cameras. So, she toured the campus a bit and shot some pictures.

Afterward, we grabbed some above average grub at Stars Burgers before continuing toward Crescent City where we caught US-199 northeast toward I-5. Along the way, we stopped to visit Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox at the Trees of Mystery in Klamath. On this busy tourist season day Paul was talking to folks in the parking lot, waving his giant hand and turning his head in a manner that still manages to freak us out a little.

Predictably, I-5 was fairly uneventful. We reached Eugene and searched for a motel. Tourist season prices - even being relatively low when compared to the Oregon coast - resulted in a $70 room and a cheap meal at Subway. Given our desire to maintain a frugal budget, we were annoyed by the cost and therefore dour at dinner (well, I was). But the relentless smiles and chatting of the Subway counter-person cheered us right up. It's hard to be blue while in the presence of a person who loves where she is and what she's doing.