Every summer, we looked forward to a nice and relaxing family vacation to get away from the everyday routine of school and work. This year, we decided to try out a road trip for the purpose of seeing the natural beauty of Northern California and Southern Oregon. In our 9-day journey, we plan to travel over 1,800 miles to visit Shasta Lake, Lassen Volcanic National Park, Crater Lake, the city of Portland, California Coast, Redwood National Forest plus playing a couple rounds of golf at Bandon Dunes.
8/14 - 8/15
We arrived at Redding, CA for our first leg of the trip. We were able to finally convince almost everyone in the Wang family to join us – grandpa, grandma, Kandy’s family, Cindy’s family plus in-laws, uncle Frank and auntie Amity. Altogether 13 adults and 3 kids, wow! Our first stop was Lake Shasta Cavern which was accessible by a 15-minutes boat ride plus another 10 minutes of bus ride. On the way, we learned that squirrels would throw the acorns in the middle of the road for the bus to crash the hard shells open - how clever! Inside the cave, it was cool and dark so it was quite a challenge for the little ones to stay calm. HanHan was a little nervous at first, but she quickly adapted to the new environment like a 2nd-grader should; I was so proud of her! The tour lasted about 40-45 minute while we walked and climbed stairs most of the time. We were especially proud of grandpa for keeping up with the group walking up and down. But he probably won’t be coming back anytime soon… :)
2nd day, we visited Lassen Volcanic National Park. It was a perfect day for hiking and picnicking by the summit lake. See the 3 waterbugs in the lake? The highlight of the trip was seeing a pot of boiling hot mud on the ground and smelling the sulphur in the air. Reminded us of how devastating a volcano can be when it’s alive!
8/16 - 8/18
The next leg of our trip was to see Crater Lake in Oregon. We stayed at Sun Pass Ranch Bed and Breakfast for the next 2 nights of our trip. The town was Fort Klamath with a population of < 100 which was the smallest we’ve been to. Where the only sit-down to eat place that served hot food after 5:30pm was a general store, imagine that! The owner of the ranch, Patty and Mike, offered us a clean and cozy room with 2 beds and a private bath. At night, we gazed up at the sky for shooting stars by a warm fire, how cool was that!
Crater Lake, being the deepest, bluest and purest lake in the US, was meant to be seen from way up so we hiked a semi-strenuous trail to the Watchman’s Lookout Station for a panorama view. This was a three-quarter of a mile uphill battle and HanHan was up to it all the way. Another interesting hike was the Pinnacles trail where we encountered groups of towering needle-like rock formations which were the result of the volcano's eruption 7,700 years ago. On the way back, we stopped by to see the Vidae Falls and tasted the sweet spring water nature provided – so refreshing…
The next day, Mark and HanHan went fishing with a local guide at the nearby Wood River. Southern Oregon is known for its fly fishing. But since HanHan is too young to fly-fish, they went for trout fishing instead. See the fish she caught? It’s a whopping 22 pounder! After the fishing trip, we waved bye-bye to the moo-moo cows and left for our next destination - Portland.
Aftering arriving at Portland but before we checked into our hotel, we checked out this popular eatery, Pok Pok, which was known for its southeastern Asia cuisine. I had high hopes for this place because of the rave reviews I heard, but was not all that impressed. I had to say that the SF Bay Area still has the best ethnic food joints in the US by my count. Luckily, 3 blocks away from Pok Pok we found Pix Patisseries which sells treats that looked too delicate and too good to eat. Must try the macaroons, they are to-die-for! After a long day, we were dying to rest in a nice/comfy hotel and Hotel Modera was just the place. Chic but cozy, just the combination Mark and I loved; check it out for yourself!
2nd morning at Portland, the first thing that came to my mind was Stumptown Coffee. Having read about it in the tour book 'Northwest's Best' as one of the nation's best coffee roasters just behind Seattle, I was dying to try it. Did you know that Portland was once known as the 'Stumptown' (town filled with stumps) during its timbering time? I had no idea!
But first, we went to OHSI (Oregon Health and Science Institute) to ride the aerial tram by HanHan's request. The tram inter-connects the 2 campuses of OHSI for students and faculties to use but was also open to the public. Imagine going to school in an aerial train rather than a bus? That's what I called "arrive in style"! After the tram ride, we took the FREE streetcar to Stumptown coffee and had lunch at Jake's Famous Crawfish in downtown Portland.
After lunch, we visited the International Rose Garden at Washington Park just west of downtown Portland. Washington Park was a lot like Golden Gate Park in SF where there was a zoo, a childen's museum, several gardens inside the park. We only had time to see the rose garden and I was impressed at the scale of the garden - definitely not like the ones in my back yard! :)
That's all the time we had at Portland; it's on to the next stop - Bandon.
8/20 - 8/21
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, one of the best golf resorts in the country, was Mark’s designated destination of this trip. The resort housed 4 upscale golf courses with professional staffs catering to golfers’ every need, was definitely a golfer’s paradise. While Mark enjoyed 2 rounds of golf at Bandon Dunes and Pacific Dunes, HanHan and I went to West Coast Game Park Safari to see and pet wild animals.
The Safari Park exhibited many unusual wild animals such as Bears, Antelopes, Elks and Bison but unfortunately all in cages. Every half an hour, the park staff brought out different young animals for us to see and pet. We saw a panther cub, a little white ferret, and a possum baby still wrapped in a blanket. But the most exciting part was when they brought out a couple of 10-weeks-old tiger cubs for petting. HanHan was a-bit turned off by the strong animal odor and scared by the aggressiveness of the animals so she didn’t enjoy as much as she’d hoped. But she did enjoy watching a parrot name Max playing peek-a-boo with zoo guests, a very smart bird indeed!
Returned from the park, we ended up at Bandon Fish Market for lunch following a local’s advice. Staring at the line going out the door, we knew we were at the right place. The fish and chips was definitely one of the best I’ve had. But avoid the clam chowder, you will thank me later!
Our stay at Bandon was sweet and short; now it’s on to the next stop – Redwood National Forest.
Going from Bandon to the Redwoods, we drove along HWY 101 by the beautiful coastline. Different from the sunny California we were accustomed to, this area was foggy and gray – not my kind of weather…
Driving past Crescent City, we started seeing giant redwood trees along the way. Do you know how tall the trees were? So tall that I couldn’t see the top from under the trees. The biggest living tree in the park is 1,500 years-old and counting, wow! The Redwood National Park is a number of national forest and state parks combined. I chose to visit the Prairie Creek Redwood State Park hoping to see not only giant redwoods but also elks and indeed we had, lucky us!
At night, we stayed at Eureka’s Clarion Inn for our last night away from home. Clarion not only served breakfast in the morning but also a light dinner (spaghetti, meatballs and salad) for its guests between 5-7pm, how convenient! So we took advantage of that and went swimming for a while before we called it a day.
Last day of our vacation, I didn’t have anything planned so we simply strolled along Eureka’s Waterfront and the Old Town. We discovered a candy store, Sea Breeze, which had incredible salt water taffies, yummy!
On our way home, we detoured to stop by Bouchon Bistro & Bakery in Yountville for an early dinner. Bouchon is the sister restaurant to Thomas Keller's French Laundry which we visited 10 years ago. The delicate butter-poached lobster at French Laundry was the best I’ve had. Mark and I were amazed at how much Yountville had developed in the past 10 years; we can hardly recognize the place. But what's more amazing wast the hanger steak at Bouchon - so tender and beefy, truly delicious! (We later learned that the steak was Kobe beef from Snake River Farm in Idaho).
With that, we finished our road trip in a tasty note and took home lots of sweet memories!