Today started with the most adorable surprise. I decided to have breakfast at my motel, because…well, it was included and I was hungry AND curious. And I wasn’t disappointed. Nothing special, not at all, but they did have waffle makers and batter. I made my waffle, stabbed at it with my plastic fork when one of the more native people indicated to me that using a waffle stick would probably be easier. Yay, waffle stick!
Disappointment followed! No butter! Eh, whatever. I grabbed some syrup and made my way to my table. Munching happily on my waffle I probably made a rather funny face when a little kid, 6-8 years old walked up to me and said something not quite comprehensible to me. I can understand a lot of English accents across three or four continents, but kids often elude me. He repeated twice and pointed into the general direction of buffet. Well, table laden with foodstuffs. At that moment a women, I assume it was his mom said “He says there’s butter again.”
I thanked him and went to grab some, overhearing assumed mom saying to her kid: “That was nice of you.”
Yup. That kid, barely out of kindergarden, decided to be nice to this random stranger without being prompted to.. Lady who had breakfast at the Super 8 Motel in Grants Pass on May 16th of 2015, you are raising your kid right. While there’s people like you left in this world, not all is lost. I salute you with the oddly specific waffle stick of respect and admiration!
Thusly invigorated I made my way South towards Cave Junction, home of Great Cats world which I didn’t visit. I did pull off at the Siskiyou Smokejumper Museum because it looked like something to do with planes and I’m kind of a nerd for those.
If you ever are in that general area I can only recommend you do the same. After I got out of my car and looked at the sign to see what this place was about, an elderly but very alive looking man came out of a building and asked me if I was interested in a small tour of the museum. Of course I was.
He asked me if I knew what smokejumpers were and I admitted that I literally had just seen the sign and randomly pulled off to check it out.
Let me paint you a picture. It’s the mid 50s. Someone spots a column of smoke rising above the forest in the distance. They radio it in, the column is triangulated. At the same time a siren sounds, phones ring. Men in their 20s rush to the base, suit up, grab food for 3 days, a few tools, no water and board a plane. They parachute out of the plane in the middle of nowhere, no roads, no GPS, no cell phones. They look for the fire and maybe a cargo drop. Before the fire spreads they cut fire lanes around it and save thousands of acres. Those are smoke jumpers. The man who gave me the tour and told me stories? Donald Thomas, veteran, used to be a smoke jumper in 1957, loved every second of it until he got married and his wife would rather not have him jump out of airplanes. He told me about their gear, procedures, planes, special incidents and his second training jump ever. When he got dropped over a herd of cows, tried to evade and practically landed on top of one. He could hardly move, there was a bull, his buddy tried to literally just “shoo” it away before he made a beeline. Then his instructor (I forgot that one’S name) literally kicked him in the ribs, screaming “You’re not in pain, get up and run!”
He also took a picture of me in front of the plane that got donated at some point. The same model as one of the later smokejumper planes, not an actual one, though.
After this unexpected but actually really awesome stop I made my way towards the coast, right through the Redwood National and State Park, following Redwood Highway. I made a few stops to hike a short trail, take a few pictures or just look at the scenery. Have you ever been in a place that is so breathtakingly beautiful that it’s almost physically painful not being able to stop at a particular spot? That place is just like that.
Also the corndog at that one rest stop was rather tasty. Here’s a gallery of the few times I actually managed to stop on the way to Eureka, California. Particularly bad and odd was the Trinidad Scenic Drive at the end of this day’s trip. A road…well, no a street or actually a path that felt barely wide enough for my small rental car, cliffs and the Pacific ocean to one side, winding along…suddenly turning a corner and you see those large birds, a dozen of them, hanging around in a tree. Remember how happy I was to see those two turkey vultures I saw on Rogue River? There was a dozen taking flight there and I just slammed the brakes excitedly. Then watched helplessly as they took flight before I even thought of grabbing the camera from the passenger seat. Anyway, here’s the pics, enjoy those!
Later that day I arrived at the Motel in Eureka, and the less we say about that, the better. The steak at Adel’s steak house was okayish, the Sierra Nevada Ale was good, there was no free wifi and the rooms and location where subsubpar compared to the other motels I’d stayed in on the trip. But hey, one night, who cares? In retrospect, of the days I spent driving along the coast (and on Maui), this was the most beautiful and interesting day of the whole trip. I had fun, and a corndog!