On Friday morning Rasmus and I packed up all of our bags and hit the road! We love taking road trips and have traveled thousands of miles together in cars… there is something about not knowing what’s around the corner, so to speak.
We knew we wanted to see Northern California and Oregon for several reasons, and used our recent watching of a “Bigfoot” documentary called The Bigfoot Files to be the topic of our trip. With that in mind, we set “Willow Creek” aka bigfoot capital of CA on our map. We took our time making our way north on Friday, stopping for coffee and lunch along the way. As the night grew nearer and I knew I needed to go running, we picked a cute “American” looking town called Willits. It was so cute and even has a cool train called the “Skunk train” you can take! We stayed at a little motel, and ate at the Lumberjack restaurant – a great way to set the American tone of the trip!
The next day, Saturday, we woke up bright and early, went for another run, made a pit stop at the Dollar Tree, and had breakfast at the Lumberjack. Then we were on our way again – destination, Bigfoot! We drove down the highway from some hours, stopping at cute places like “One Log Cabin” a cabin carved from the inside of one giant redwood tree. My mind was racing the entire time thinking about how I could build a beautiful little bed and breakfast ranch out in the fields / mountains, where we could spend the summers.
We finally made our way through Eureka and drove in about another hour to Willow Creek. We had an early dinner at the Bigfoot restaurant, it was ok. We were pretty disappointed by the lack of Bigfoot tee shirts and kitchy things, especially since we passed dozens of little shops on the sides of highway leaving Willits! Oh well. We got some photos with the Bigfoot carved statue, and were back on the road – this time the Bigfoot Highway.
Our destination this time was Gold’s Beach, OR – a recommendation given by my sisters in laws. We had booked two nights in advance because it seemed busy. From Willow Creek Google maps gave us a few options, and Waze only gave two. Both of them were “urging” us to go back the way we came and then go up the highway…. but Rasmus had found one route that took us up and over the mountain. I said I wanted to go back because Waze didn’t have that option and that’s never a good sign… I saw the look of disappointment in Rasmus face and so I gave in. We drove down a tiny unpaved road, and passed several pedestrians who looked at us funny.
As we passed trailer homes, loose dogs, many cats, lots of obscure things like sofas on front lawns, and what looked like tent cities, there were suddenly three boulders sitting in front of us in the road. In the distance I could see a man in overalls and a big dog, I panicked a little and told Rasmus to get out of there. “Rasmus, we AREN’T in Norway – we need to get out of here! These people have guns and we are hours from the nearest town!!” We circled around, and made our way back to the road. Rasmus sold me on giving one more side street a chance to get up the mountain, so I told him we could go look around in the car for five minutes but were going to drive along the Waze recommended route. He desperately wanted to see “rural America” and to be honest, it was the most rural America I’ve ever seen.
We made our way up the mountain a little, and I figured “what the heck we’re already this far” so I silently sat there as Rasmus drove us deeper into the woods. The rocks got sharper under our tires, and the forest got so thick we had to turn on our headlights. We passed a sign that indicated we were entering a native American Indian Reservation and I was a little confused because I didn’t think we were allowed to drive there, but I figured if Google guided us there it was ok (in the back of my mind wondering if this is why Waze hadn’t). Within moments of being in the thick forest, we were coming up on a turn when I squinted at a funny looking thing in the distance and I said to Rasmus “What’s that? A dog? A wolf” Rasmus goes, “BIGFOOT!” it was a big black creature kind of hovering around strangely, then as we got closer Rasmus yelled “BEAR! IT’S A BEAR!” Lucky for us it ran away. At that very moment our car screeched to a halt because there was a three foot deep lump/crater in the road that there was no way to avoid. We slowly went down, I covered my ears and tensed my face as the metal on the bottom of the car screeched against the rocks and hard dirt, hoping we’d make it over. For the next hour we sat there silently as Rasmus drove us through the unkempt dirt and rock roads of the reservation’s mountain, we had no cell reception, half a tank of gas, and were driving a sedan. At one point we passed two men and a woman who were standing outside a pickup truck with a chainsaw. When we finally reached the top, and the jagged rock and dirt road turned back into smooth dirt and pebbled, it was like a weight had been lifted. Suddenly the sun shined through and the view was breathtaking. We drove along the road taking in the view, and taking some pictures with the Tuscany like hills.
Later Rasmus said he regretted having not turned back saying that it was against one of the ten Norwegian Mountain Codes, that there is no shame in turning back. For me, it was a cool experience and certainly a “memory made” but it also ruined my day. I was enjoying thinking about farms, and B&B ranches, looking for Bigfoot tee shirts, when suddenly we had to take this dark turn. I am disappointed in myself for not sticking with my gut and going back the way we came, but at the same time I love adventures and have done lots of illogical things against my gut that have led me to some great places. It’s cool we had this experience, but next time we’ll go around the mountain and get a bigfoot tee shirt instead of taking a stab at being bigfoot’s dinner.