This blog covers our trip around the world in 2006. We will post here with news of where we are and what we've been up to. Enjoy! Ang & Jane

Wednesday, July 12

Location:  Las Vegas, baby!
Miles Travelled:  8286
Time Zone:  GMT-8

First off, belated happy birthdays to: Edna Cannon, my sister Ailish, Eddie Corry, my sister Olivia, Shane Gannon, Mike Ryan, Mary Joyce and especially to Grannie who just turned 93! Also belated birthday wishes to Big Dave and George.

It's been a while since we updated the blog, but we have good reasons, honest! It's because we're on a budget and they seem to be running a cartel over internet access here. Expensive is not the word for it - yesterday we saw a shop advertising internet access for "only 25c" - and that's per minute! Yep, that's $15 for an hour - and the blog takes about 2 hours to update with pictures etc. We don't love you all that much!

At this point, we have most of the road trip done, there won't be a whole lot of driving left after this week is over.

After leaving Mairead's, we hit the road for Astoria, the most north-westerly tip of Oregon. The scenery en-route was typical Washington countryside, with large forests on both sides of the road, and up into the hills around us. The most amazing sight that night was almost the last thing on the road - a 4.1 mile bridge stretching across the Columbia river into Astoria. We hadn't been reading our guidebook, so it came totally out of the blue and totally surprised us with it's seemingly never-endingness! We stayed in Astoria overnight, and after some lovely buttermilk pancakes for breakfast, we took the advice of our waitress and headed up the hill to view the Astoria Column. The view from the top was well worth the 164 steps we had to climb to get there!! We could even see Mt. St. Helen's from the top.
After stopping off at some beaches in Fort Stevens to see where the river meets the Pacific, we moved on to a town called Seaside, which is your usual British or Irish seaside town, but seems to be quite rare here - it has the promenade, the arcades, the restaurants and sweet shops. We picked up some supplies and drove to beautiful Ecola Park for a picnic lunch - perched on top of a cliff with the sea in front of us and trees around us. They couldn't have picked a prettier spot for a picnic table!
Time seemed to fly by that evening and we were hard-pressed to get to our next overnight stop, Coos Bay so there were no more stops on the way.

The following day was our first sighting of the giant redwood forests and California, so you can imagine the excitement! We took a trip to Jedediah Smith State Park for lunch, and ended up spending most of the afternoon there as it was so amazing! After our lunch, we did a nature trail where we learned a lot about the trees (did you know their roots only extend 6-8 feet underground, and then spread sideways and entwine with other tree roots for stability?), and as we were tempted by the beautiful clear blue water of the Smith river we just had to go for a swim - or paddle in my case! We had such a lovely afternoon, and arrived at our hostel planning a couple of warm showers, a bottle of wine and a long sleep. That's not quite what happened!! On arrival, we were told that our booking wasn't for that night and the following night as we were sure we'd booked, but for the following two nights! So there we are, in the middle of Redwoods National park unable to get accomodation in the only building for miles - what could we do? Luckily we had bought a tent, for just such an emergency and the lady at the hostel kindly gave us directions to a nearby free campsite at Flint Ridge. As the name suggests, Flint Ridge is not in the most easily accessible place ever and involved a very narrow winding road not far from the edge of a cliff. Bearing in mind it was already dark, there were no lights and we weren't sure we were in the right place, it was a fun experience getting there! We managed to find a spot to pitch our tent, next to another tent whose occupants didn't seem to be anywhere about. As we organised our stuff (food well away from the tent, in case of bears... yes, I did say bears!!), 3 shapes came out of the darkness toward the other tent and after introductions we discovered we had met some of a rare variety - people from Wyoming! The three lads were three brothers from a place called Mountain View in the south of the State. Cody (22), Wayson (21) and Austin (18) Wight had been visiting a friend in Portland and had decided to travel that bit further for a view of the ocean. Lucky for us, as they lit a campfire and supplied us with a corkscrew - which greatly improved the evening!! We sat around chatting for the rest of the night and arranged to visit a nearby tourist attraction together the following day.

After a chilly nights sleep, we awoke to the sounds of the lads taking down their tent - numerous uses of the word "Dude" were overheard! After failing to fit their tent back into it's bag, we demonstrated how it's done with our tent and headed back down the trail to our cars to make our way to the "Trees of Mystery". While not exactly a con, there's nothing mysterious about the trees, they just happen to grow near a stream or river that's called Mystery. However that said, it was a great experience and there are some beautiful trees there including: The Brotherhood tree (19 foot in diameter), the Candlabra tree (a fallen tree which has several newer trees growing straight up from it's trunk) and the Cathedral tree, which is actually a semi-circular grouping of 9 trees, that is used as a wedding chapel!! Pretty cool place to get married! After seeing the trees we took the Sky Trail gondola up above the tree tops to a hill top lookout, and after watching a family of Ospreys for a while, took the 1 mile trail down. When they provide hiking sticks and repeatedly warn the trail is for advanced hikers only, make sure and take note!! It was quite difficult - but it ain't the Grouse Grind!!! Everyone made it down in one piece and went off to enjoy the Native American museum and souvenir shop. After a long and interesting tour of the museum (and after Cody finally convinced himself he could afford to buy a hand-made flute, despite having just lost $200 in Vegas!!), we said our goodbyes safe in the knowledge that we had infected the lads with the travel bug! Don't be surprised if they turn up in Limerick or Ennis someday! Not far from the "Trees of Mystery" there is a "Tour-Thru Tree" which naturally we just had to go and drive through - top down on the convertible, of course! It's actually pretty sad, cos it has so obviously been cut to fit cars and SUVs through - I must be very naive cos I had thought it would be a natural phenomonen. On we went to the Lady Bird Johnson Grove for a hike and a picnic and then it was back to that hostel, for attempt number 2! Luckily, all went swimmingly this time around, and we even discovered that 2 other people had had their bookings mysteriously moved by a day too! (We blame the IT staff of that internet site - can't get good staff these days!) We finally got to have our hot showers and good nights sleep!

The next day, we drove along the "Avenue of the Giants" and stopped off in Founder's Grove for lunch before hitting the road to San Francisco! On the map, Highway 1 looked like a good idea as it travelled along the coast - you can imagine the views it would have. I didn't see much of it as I stupidly disbelieved a sign saying the next 22 miles would be a bit bendy... How did I get so mistrusting?? We eventually covered the 22 miles rally-style in over an hour, only to find another sign saying the same thing for the next 30 miles!!! We cut back to Highway 101, along a similarly bendy road, but once there the drive went much faster!

And then we arrived in San Francisco...


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