From the Redwoods National and State Parks we headed north to Crescent City where there was another ranger station where the girls could turn in their Jr Ranger booklets and take their pledge. While in the town we saw the Shoreline RV Campground. Since it was within a short walk to the visitor center and it was approaching dinner time, we decided to stay there for the night.
While Justin made dinner in Wobbles, the girls and I walked (I carried our sleeping 3 year old) to the visitor center to have the girls turn in their Jr Ranger books and say their pledge. The girls absolutely loved the Jr Ranger books at the redwoods! Our 5 year old completed the level that a “13 and up” was supposed to complete and our 3 year old completed the level for 10-12 year olds. They just couldn’t get enough!
I knew we were cutting it close to closing time so we were trying our best to walk quickly. We finally got to the building to find that we went to the wrong building! We went to Crescent City Chamber of Commerce. The visitor center was down the street a bit. However, the workers at the commerce building told us that the visitor center was closed that day and the next (Wed and Th). Oh no! We had just passed another visitor center on our drive up but passed it up since we were going to Crescent City anyway. The workers at the last visitor center had assured us that all centers related the the redwood park were open 7 days a week 9-4pm. I didn’t even think to double check. The ladies at the commerce building kindly told us about another visitor center just 10 miles away that was open 7 days a week. Yay!
The campground we stayed at was right on the water so we could easily see the boats going in and out of the bay as well as hear the sea lions barking at one another. This was a blessing and a curse. All night long I was listening to those chattery sea lions and an ongoing fog horn that apparently honks around the clock. It was a rough night.
Side note: When we are in the van for long driving days our little one tends to fall asleep in the late afternoon. Her body probably still needs naps but, here’s what happens: she falls asleep and within minutes cannot be woken (I’m not super rough with her. I’m sure if I really gave it some force I could wake her but, who wants to wake up like that? Certainly not me. So, I loudly but kindly try to wake her). After she falls asleep it’s all over and onto the downward spiral we go. Regardless of whether she sleeps 30 minutes or 3 hours she is destined to not fall asleep for hours after her normal bedtime. She almost always cancels out her nap and gets less overall sleep because of the late bedtime she ends up having. On top of that she almost always follows this by waking up in the night once or twice and then waking for the day before the sun comes up. A driving day that follows this almost guarantees the same thing to happen again. Children! Goodness! As you may guess, we try hard NOT to let her nap. But, as was true with our trip to Crescent City, she took a nap in Dimes on the way.
On our drive into town we had seen a place called Ocean World that looked like it could be neat. I looked into it and they had reasonable prices, Lucky for us, the campground that we stayed at gave us an additional 10% off coupon so we decided to check it out for the morning before we hit the road.
We were able to walk only a couple minutes down the road from the campground to get to the aquarium! It was a different kind of a set up than I had experienced elsewhere. The entire place was seen through a guided tour. The tour started at 10am and we had arrived at 9:15am thinking we could walk around first on our own. Oops! Luckily they had a great gift shop where the girls and I read books and they checked out some of the toys. Before we knew it, it was time for the tour.
The first part of the tour was a touch and feel tide pool! There were lots of different kids of sea anemones in albacore shells and we were allowed to pick up the shell to get a closer look and to touch them. It was so neat!! There were so many different colored anemones and sea stars! They are just so smooth and slippery they don’t feel real.
Next we rubbed noses (almost literally) with some harbor seals and sea lions. The harbor seals were so funny, mostly blubber and short flippers of course they just looked like balls of dough! One of them was massaging herself in front of an air bubble jet while another was sitting on an intake grate. The guide told us she always sits there because it sucks her in and holds her to the bottom. Haha. Pretty funny. The harbor seals were at the spa while the sea lions were busy doing tricks in and out of the water with their fast sleek bodies darting this way and that.
We saw an octopus, some graceful bat rays, huge sturgeon and lots of other fish. On one of the tour stops we got to pet a tiger shark as it swam around a small pool. I hope they let it out into a larger space after the tours are over! The female tiger shark had laid two eggs that were in with her. The shell of her eggs are made of karatin (same as our fingernails) and they were spiral shaped. The guide said tiger sharks spin in circles as they are laying their eggs as to screw the eggs into the sand for safe keeping. Isn’t that neat?! The eggs of a shark are often called mermaid purses but these looked just like giant screws! The tiger shark was so sleek and muscular to feel with a cartilage dorsal fin that slipped right through our fingers as we pet it swimming by.
Lastly, we saw how smart and playful the sea lions are! The harbor seals did some neat things as well but it was really quite amazing what the sea lions showed us.
The sea lions were so full of energy, athletic and very smart as they obeyed the requests of the trainer perfectly. The heights that they could jump was amazing and they had such great balance! It was incredible to see. I felt like the whole time I was saying, “Wow! Oh wow! Did you see that?” We were all glad we went to Ocean World.
Jr Ranger Badge
Off we went to the visitor center (that was really open) to have the girls turn in their booklets and do their pledges. I think I have mentioned this before but, if the girls say their pledges with the ranger they get an automatic movie night. It’s a big deal! We do this because it is a tricky thing to do, being on the spot and interacting with an adult you don’t know, especially one that is asking you questions and expecting an answer. We feel it is important to have the girls practice these skills and hence the movie night reward.
Both girls are usually great (it took a lot of practicing on our own, coaching and coaxing but they’ve got it) at saying their pledges with nice strong voices when asked by the ranger. However, once before, when my Mom was visiting, something came over our 3 year old and she wouldn’t do her pledge no matter how many ways we tried it or how many times we tired. Unfortunately, today was another one of those days for our 3 year old. She just could not muster enough courage to say her pledge. We all have off days.
Our 5 year old did great and earned her badge. We read a couple books, as is tradition, at the visitor center while Justin created deep poems on their word board. 🙂
Curvy Roads/ Detours
From the visitor center we continued on Rt 101 up the CA coast and into Oregon. However, not long after we had hopped back on our route we were taken on a long and very steep and twisty detour. Due to flooding, part of Rt 101 had collapsed in a big way!
It was kind of funny because the road the detour took us on was in terrible shape itself. It looked as if many parts of the road had been wiped out from the rain. Some of these sections were fixed and some were not. My 5 year old and I sucked on ginger chews while we tried not to vomit. These coastal roads are really taking a toll.
Our 5 year old has been asking to go home periodically for the last week or so, but the past couple days have been rough. Not only have we cancelled a lot of really great things due to the heavy rains/flooding and snow in other places, but we have also been moving at a very fast pace (which doesn’t settle well with our 5 year old) and riding on extremely curvy roads that have been making her car sick. All this combined, she broke down crying saying that all she wanted to do was to go home.
We pulled over and had a talk. We were all itching to get home in some way. At this point we were only one very long day’s drive away from our home in Portland. We made a family decision that we would continue on the road for an hour more that day and the following day we would drive the remaining 4 hour journey back home. It was a great relief for our oldest and in a way for the rest of us too. We had all had enough of the long driving days with only a one night’s stay places. That kind of pace doesn’t allow for any down time or much exploring.
We had planned to stay on the road for another full month making our journey a 6 month trip. However, due to weather (snow and rain/flooding), we had to postpone (until a date unknown) our visit to Yosemite N.P., Lassen N.P., Sequoia N.P. and Kings Canyon. We had also hoped to make lots of stops along the CA coast for hikes and beach days but the weather just didn’t allow for this. Luckily for us, our tenants who were renting our main house had moved out 2 weeks ago allowing us the freedom of coming home early.