Traveling the Pacific Coast


Scenes along the Oregon Coast

(Artistic license used to present these images)

Redwood Country and Portland's Japanese Garden


Our trip north along the Pacific Coast was borne of two purposes…the first, to visit friends who live in the Los Angeles / San Diego area and second, to travel the coast line from Los Angeles, California to Portland, Oregon.      Originally we had planned to visit Crater Lake National Park in Oregon, but that idea was scuttled when we were informed that heavy snows in that region are not cleared out until the end of May.    

As we headed north, we travelled close to the coast line driving most of the time on the famed Highway 101.   Wikipedia informs us that this highway is known as El Camino Real (The Royal Road), where its route along the southern and central California coast approximates the old trail which linked the Spanish missions, pueblos, and presidios or fortresses.   Our route took us through San Luis Obispo, north to Carmel/Monterey, San Francisco, Garberville (the beginning of the Redwood country) and Ferndale (the Victorian town at the northern end of the Redwood country) all in California.     Then our travels continued north to Gold Beach, Newport and Portland in Oregon.

But first, I must extend our affection for the friends that opened their hearts and their home to us during our visits.    Though short, the visits were unfortunately packed into a schedule that was far too limited.   In that regard, our visits took us to Oceanside, Studio City, Hollywood and Pacific Palisades in southern California.    The visit with Frank and Lee brought back the great reminiscences of our time together at sea where we would discuss world events and many other topics of the day.   Our visit with Jerry and Susan taught us that even distance does not diminish a close and loving friendship borne on the Yangtze River almost ten years ago.  

And our visit with Michael and Aunene, who also traveled the Pacific coast with us, grew from just an amazing eighteen days ….time that we shared on the first phase of our world cruise… a very warm and close “family” relationship that will endure the test of time and distance.    And of course our visit with Estelle and Sy, whom we also met aboard ship, was filled with humor and talks of family.


San Francisco Skyline (above left, clockwise); Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa; Redwood Trees in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park , Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge,  the Getty Museum in Los Angeles; the Oregon Coast and Pioneer Square in Portland.

(Artistic license used to present some of these images)


Leaving Los Angeles, we headed for San Luis Obispo, stopping for lunch in Santa Barbara right at the beach.     San Luis Obispo is Spanish for St. Louis, the Bishop and is located midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles.   Founded in 1772, San Luis Obispo is one of California’s oldest communities. It is referred to locally as "SLO", "S.L.O." and "San Luis", and is the county seat of San Luis Obispo County.    The recent census reports a population of 45,016 people.   We stayed at the Garden Street Inn which was most pleasant and very much a part of the cityscape.  

I liked the city… seemed easy (to use), nice restaurants and shopping, a river running through town which makes a very nice venue for restaurants where you can dine outside.    There is a small office building that was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and an appealing Japanese garden.    There is also a very delightful mission called Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa.   The mission was built with adobe and tile structures and included, the Church, the Priest's residence, the convent, the storerooms, and additional residences.   

Carmel / Monterey is known around the country if not around the world as the home of the Pebble Beach Golf course, the famed Seventeen Mile Drive along the Pacific Ocean, the unique charisma of the town of Carmel with its wonderful beaches and stunning homes just on the ocean.  Carmel-by-the-Sea, often called simply Carmel, is known for its natural scenery and rich artistic history.   The City of Monterey is on Monterey Bay and it is noted for its history of resident artists and its legendary fishery.   Monterey is home to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row and Fisherman's Wharf.

It is not possible for me to say enough about San Francisco nor can I say what has not been said many times over.     It is a most exciting city with great architecture, restaurants from almost every culture and famous landmarks like Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, Golden Gate Park, and Chinatown.  But if that were not enough there is also Lombard Street that takes you down Russian Hill, Coit Tower, Japan Town and museums.  

We went to the Museum of Modern Art, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, the de Young Museum and the California Academy of Sciences, the latter two in Golden Gate Park.   And San Francisco is also noted for its Fisherman’s wharf, the Embarcadero and Ghirardelli Square.    I could go on, but what I loved about San Francisco this time was its many neighborhoods and the character that each brings to this great city.   


Venice District in the Westside of Los Angeles, known for its canals (above left, clockwise) ; Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa; Black & White Rendering of the Redwood Trees in Humboldt Redwoods State Park; Oregon Beach Scene; Japanese Garden in Portland; the Oregon Coast; Another Presentation of the Oregon Coast (seen above); and the Japanese Garden in Portland


We continued north to the Redwood country, a place I had not been before so I was excited about experiencing new places…..and we did.    The entrance to the “Avenue of the Giants”, the winding road that would take us into Redwood country was just past the town of Garberville.     Not many people live in Garberville, but those that do love it.   It appears to be the center of the marijuana growing region there, if not the whole country and the people we saw could have moved there directly from the Woodstock experience, they are just a little bit older.  

The Avenue of the Giants is a scenic highway running through Humboldt Redwoods State Park and has many parking areas, paths to hike and visitor attractions.    The coastal redwoods are simply amazing, with 51,222 acres of trees, some as tall as 346 feet, with a diameter of approximately thirteen feet and over two thousand years old.    The trees are so immense that they live in three climate zones…..the base being in one, the stem in another and the crown in yet another zone.   Dead trees fall and through their decay provide a source of nourishment to those that remain.   There is one tree set aside for a commercial purpose that you can actually drive through, but others have bases that are open enough to readily walk through.

Heading into southern Oregon was a real treat…every ten feet along the Oregon coast is a Kodak moment.    The Oregon Coast is the western border of the state, and stretches approximately 363 miles from the Columbia River by Portland in the north to the California state border in the south.  Because of the complex geological history of the Pacific Northwest, the geography of the Oregon Coast is diversely varied, and is often separated into different regions based upon three primary landforms along the shoreline: sea cliffs, beaches, and stacks or columns of rock.    We visited Gold Beach and Newport, where stayed and played to experience life on the Oregon coast.    

Portland is probably the one city I would want to live in if I was relocating.   It is a city, whose weather is cool all year round……I like that; it is a city that is easy to use with excellent cultural venues, wonderful restaurants, educational and health facilities and extraordinary natural beauty close by.    Portland also has beautiful Gardens, notably the Portland Japanese Garden and the International Rose Garden.   It is located on the Willamette River near its confluence with the Columbia River which flows through the Columbia River Gorge from Mount Hood.   Lewis and Clark came through the gorge during the final phase of their expedition to reach the Pacific Ocean.