West Coast Road Trip

November 2016

The weather was stormy when we arrived at Cannon Beach.

By the time we got to Cape Kiwanda, the weather had improved a bit.

From the high cliffs overlooking the Pacific, we spotted a colony of seals below us.

We drove south on Route 101, which follows the Pacific coast.

Our visit to the Redwood National Park brought back memories of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Some of that movie’s scenes that take place on the forest moon of Endor (where the Ewoks lived) were filmed in the general area we visited. As we walked among the trees, we imagined we were riding fast-flying speeder bikes, hovering just above the ferns, leaning side-to-side as we threaded our way through the narrow openings between the trees. We hummed music from the Star Wars movies, getting strange looks from other visitors in the park.

It’s not surprising that the Star Wars staff picked this location for the movie. The coast redwood trees (a kind of sequoia) are the tallest living trees on Earth, reaching 379 feet (115.5m) in height. They also live a long time — the average redwood lives 500 to 700 years, but a few are thought to be 2,000 years old. Walking among these giant ancient trees, we felt tremendous respect for nature and all its beauty.

The Redwood National Park was created in 1968, and the UN declared it a World Heritage Site in 1980, so this beautiful forest is well protected now. This was not always the case, though. These ancient trees used to occupy a very large area in northern California, but due to uncontrolled logging, by the time the area was declared a national park, only 10% of the original growth remained.

We owe it to our future generations to protect what’s left.

In the Redwood National and State Parks.

We encountered a herd of Roosevelt elk near the redwoods.

From the headlands south of Mendocino, we hiked down to Bowling Ball Beach.

No wonder it’s called Bowling Ball Beach!

We stopped at Point Reyes just before reaching San Francisco.

We drove across the Golden Gate Bridge to arrive in San Francisco.

The Transamerica Pyramid.

Mount Shasta’s peak was a bit shy when we drove by.

Llao (god of the Below World) used to live beneath Mount Mazama. Sometimes, he would pass through a hole and climb to the top of the mountain, where he could almost touch the sky, where Skell (god of the Above World) lived. One day, while standing on top of the mountain, Llao saw Loha, the beautiful daughter of Skell, and fell in love with her. But unfortunately for him, she rejected his dark nature. Llao became very angry, and a long and furious battle between Llao and Skell ensued, resulting in the destruction of Mount Mazama.

In the end, Skell defeated Llao, imprisoning him back in the underworld beneath Mount Mazama. Later, Skell covered the dark ash that remained with water and peace was restored. Crater Lake had been formed.

This story from the Native American Klamath tribe, from 6000 to 8000 years ago, describes the eruption of the Mount Mazama volcano and formation of Crater Lake in a much more interesting way than scientists can.

The nature around Crater Lake is absolutely stunning, and we’re glad that President Theodore Roosevelt declared it a National Park in 1902. Today, Crater Lake has some of the cleanest waters in the world because there are no local pollutants and no rivers leading to it.

Hydrothermal activity is still present, so Mazama may erupt again in the future. Hopefully, Llao is well buried in the underworld and doesn’t attempt to escape again!

On the way to Crater Lake.

Wizard Island emerges from Crater Lake.

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