On our second morning in Lassen we set off up the mountain as far as we could go. We were able to drive to Bunny Flat at about 6900 feet (Mt Shasta is just over 14,000 ft 4231m high). At the Bunny Flat carpark there were already quite a number of people getting ready to go snowshoeing, cross country skiing or climbing. Some people make a day trip to a high altitude lake while others do a two or three day trip involving a summit climb. Must be pretty tough with all the snow and ice. We realised that we had been very lucky on the previous day because even in the morning some cloud was moving in on the summit and by the afternoon the summit was completely covered by cloud.
A quick drive down the freeway to Castle Crags State Park gave us a view of some completely different geologic formations. Steep craggy rock formations rising out of the forest contrasted with the snowy slopes of Mt Shasta. We took a walk through some nice forest trails hoping to find a bear or two but all we got was the tail end of a small snake slithering into the woods. It wasn't even a rattlesnake. Speaking of wildlife, I forgot to mention that the other day on our way to McCloud falls a deer ran across the road in front of the car and, just as I said to Maree that I better slow down because they always travel in groups, another on popped out even closer to the car. I guess that they are the US equivalent of kangaroos on the road.
Maree had read that there was a Botanic Garden in a town called Dunsmuir so that was our next destination. Here we stopped for a coffee and then sought information about said gardens. It turned out that they were not too far away so off we drove. Once again, a pretty area with some nice vegetation and a river frontage to the Sacramento River. For the rest of the day we took it easy. I filled up the car and washed the windscreen while Maree relaxed. After a forgettable Mexican dinner we had an early night because the internet was playing up again.
Next morning we set out for our journey to the coast. Due to the intervening mountain ranges we had to head North into Oregon on US 5. In Medford we stopped to get me some more cough medicine because I had kept Maree awake most of the night with my coughing. I'm not sure how well it is working but I wish that I had brought my Betadine gargle with me. I somehow thought that I could get it here but apparently not. The first part of the drive was along a nice four lane highway which was not too busy and I was able to set cruise control to 65 mph and admire the ever changing scenery. Initially the landscape was dry, a change from the very green mountains, and somewhat reminiscent of Australia. However it wasn't long before some more hills covered with conifers appeared and soon the highway began to wind and snake around the hills. We finally turned towards the coast on Hwy 199 which was a two lane road through the redwood forests.
About 10 km from Crescent City there was a National Park office so Maree stepped in to get some directions. As a result we found ourselves on a narrow and bumpy gravel road driving through some spectacular redwoods of the Jeremiah Smith Redwoods State Park. In a little section called Stout Grove we found some immense trees, some standing others fallen. Maree tried to give one of the trees a hug but we would have needed more than a dozen of her to encircle the tree. Some of the redwoods were incredibly tall while many of the really wide on looked like their upper storeys had broken off at some stage in their life.
Our hotel in Crescent City has a nice view over the Pacific Ocean through the harbour. The coastal ranges come right down to the sea and stretch for kilometres in both directions. We took a walk to the Battery Point Lighthouse which is nearby the town. It looks quite quaint and is still used by local watercraft and has a private residence attached. Apparently sea lions and whales can be seen at this time of the year so I was quite excited when I spotted first a few then many, many seals in the water near the lighthouse. It was strange though that they didn't seem to move about very much. Maree soon put me right - it was bundles of kelp bobbing up and down not seals. As for whales, nary a sign of these. Crescent City has two claims to fame; one are the redwood forests and two is the tsunami that, as a result of the 1964 Alaskan earthquake, destroyed 29 blocks of downtown. The city seems to be quite proud of this disaster and has wave symbols around town and on their civic documents.