My roadtrip from Portland (OR) to San Diego (CA) along the pacific coast

This post is also available in : French

When I first left Portland, in 2004, I took a night bus, leading me to San Francisco by night, where I my flight back to France was waiting for me.

A long journey, in between 2 attempts to sleep, uncomfortable, but from which I kept dreaming of the landscapes I’ve seen, along the Pacific ocean coast of Oregon.

Since that trip, and until that trip in 2013, my only dream was to be able to make it back to Portland, but also to do this roadtrip along the Oregon Coast, to see these landscapes, that seemed in between dreams and reality. 2013 was the year where my dream became reality !

And since I’ve planned to rent a car, and then, later on, go and visit a friend in San Diego, I’ve decided to also drive all the way down to San Diego. A friend of  mine told me lots of good things about Big Sur, in between San Francisco and Los Angeles, so that was a perfect time to check this also,instead of taking a flight from SFO to San Diego, let’s drive all the way down from Portland to San Diego ! And so ‘ve left Portland to reach road 101, along the coast, and follow it until almost the mexican border.

More than 3000km drive (yes, I did a few detour), all by myself, with my camera, in a little Chevrolet Spark, with a good music playlist, a guide book I’ve been working on before my departure, and craving for  freedom and being amazed by what’s surrounding me.

So, are you ready to see my photos of this long roadtrip ?

LET’S GO !

🙂  🙂 🙂 🙂

So, after 5 delightful days in Portland

2 - Portland - small (31)

I’ve left the city at 5am, in order to make it at Cannon Beach and Ecola State Park at sunrise.

As soon as I’m there, I’m already breathtaken by what I see… fog everywhere, ocean, and majestic Haystack Rock… and elks or deers everywhere around me !

4 - Ecola State Park - small (26)

4 - Ecola State Park - small (10)

🙂

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I’ve never seen woods like these (except in Twilight), amazing and beautiful green trees like in fairytale…

<3 🙂 <3

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4 - Ecola State Park - small (28)

And then, going to Cannon Beach to have a look at Haystack Rock

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5 - Cannon Beach - small (12)

I’m not used to tides (I grew up near the Mediterranean sea !), so, on the first day, I get caught by water, and it was very close from being dangerous 🙁

Surrounded by water, with all my expensive photo gear on me, my only escape was to cross a part of the water for few minutes, with water up to my knees !!!!

I’ve been quite scared, but at least, I’ve learnt the lesson ! 🙁

And then, because of this, I had to walk 30 extra minutes around to reack the parking lot where I’ve left my car, since the beach I walked in at first had become…. the ocean ! This also is a lesson I kept in mind :S

But, I do believe things always happen for a reason… and without this little incident, I wouldn’t have seen this, on my walk back to the car… Sun warming the hills, in early morning… glittering nature, after a rainshower (that I received on my own head 15 min before !) :)The ocean was just 5 minutes walk away behind me, when I took this photo…:)

5 - Cannon Beach - small (3)

And then, leaving Cannon beach,

Roadtrip Portland San Diego GOOD - small-286

on the road again, with a goal : to see most of Oregon’s lighthouses…in between 2 amazing landscapes 🙂

Netarts Bay  (and my own satisfaction to be able to see, for real, a landscape that was on photo on my tourist guidebook !)

and take the same photo 🙂

Roadtrip Portland San Diego GOOD - small-237

Yaquina Bay  Lighthouse

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Yaquina Head Lighthouse

9 - Yaquina Head Lightouse (3)

and arriving in Heceta Head Lighthouse at sunset….

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11 - Heceta Head Lighthouse - small (4)

Since night was almost there, I didn’t get to really see and enjoy the Oregon Sand Dunes, that stretches out for about 100 km

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After a night spent in Coos Bay, I was back on the road, exploring around Coos Bay, because I arrived there late at night.

Marsh, ponds, Pine trees (christmas trees ?) on a sandy ground, these landscapes were both strange and splendid…

13 - Near Coos Bay (10)

I’ve wanted to stop to have a walk on a trail, but then, at the beginning of the trail, I’ve read on the sign there, that you can meet tracks of several wild animals… among them : cougars !

I didn’t want to take the risk to run into a lonely cougar…. since the area was totally empty of any people…

(yeah yeah, I’m a scared city girl… I’ll do better next time, I promise) 🙂

13 - Near Coos Bay (1)

13 - Near Coos Bay (12)

13 - Near Coos Bay (16)

And then, looking for Cape Arago lighthouse !

I’ve been looking for it, and get almost mad at not finding it, thinking I’ve finally lost my sense of direction…

This lighthouse is not open to public for visits, but I wanted at least to see it and take a photo.

So… if you ever happen to want to see it, please know that you can only see it from 1 way of the road…. actually the way back from a deadend entrance of a National Park

Thanks to these people who had stopped there, at the place I’ve been driving  by 3 times, I get to finally look up, and see the lighthouse, driving on my way back !

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14 - cape arago lighthouse - small (5)

🙂

and then drive past a group of very noisy sealions 🙂

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Cute ocean town and ports

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15 - Road 101 in Oregon - small (10)

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And then arriving at Coquille River Lighthouse on a crazy windstorm….

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16 - Coquille river lighthouse - small (1)

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16 - Coquille river lighthouse - small (4)

and finally make it to Cape Blanco Lighthouse, the Southern Lighthouse in Oregon (I love this one !) ,

18 - Cape Blanco Lighthouse - small (9)

18 - Cape Blanco Lighthouse - small (7)

18 - Cape Blanco Lighthouse - small (3)

At that point of my roadtrip, landscape had already changed a lot… rocks are less abrupts… cliff less dramatic, and roads less narrow…

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Roadtrip Portland San Diego GOOD - small-425

Roadtrip Portland San Diego GOOD - small-428

Roadtrip Portland San Diego GOOD - small-426

Roadtrip Portland San Diego GOOD - small-427

Bye bye my beloved Oregon 🙁

20 - bye oregon

Oh hello California ! 🙂

21 - hello california

Turning back for a last look at Oregon, because I know I’m going to miss it very much 🙁

Roadtrip Portland San Diego GOOD - small-444

I’ve spent the night in Crescent City, in California, and arrived there at sunset 🙂

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21 - Crescent city - small (6)

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I then woke up really early to be on the road again.

For the upcoming journey, I only had one priority : see the redwoods !!! 🙂

My priority was Oregon coast and see some big redwoods….and then drive drive drive intensely to meet my friend Maite in San Diego.

Now that I’m back in France, I think I could (should ?) have added a day or 2, to spend really more lazy time on the beaches and cliffs of Oregon, because I’ve really loved it there…

California ? no, it’s not my thing… maybe because I grew up in South of France, and find that vegetation was a bit similar ?

Maybe also because of the roads, that became much bigger, straight pieces of tarmac cut in the hills and woods…

I’ve enjoyed much better the narrow cliffs of Oregon.

So here I was, at 6am, ready to drive to “Avenue of the Giants”, where huge redwoods were waiting for me (yeah yeah, for me !) 🙂

I’ve planned to arrive at around 8.30/9am there….But I didn’t expect I would see this on my way….

22 - elks in early morning (5)

and then, few miles later….

22 - elks in early morning (1)

22 - elks in early morning (3)

But also, and this is one amazing time that will give me a good reason for the rest of my life to want to wake up at 6am while on vacation, because it’s sometimes really worth it…

This photo here, is one of my happiest moment in 2013 🙂

22 - elks in early morning (12)

22 - elks in early morning (9)

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22 - elks in early morning (18)

I’ve finally made it to Avenue of the Giants, a place I’ve been dreaming of for several months while planning this trip…

Surrounded by these giant redwoods, in a magical silence, huge trees everywhere, mersmerized by their delightful smell, I’ve felt very very very small…

It’s an amazing place ! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

And so, I’ve spent some time hugging trees, trying to hold them in my arms, and thanking them for being so beautiful and making me so happy to be here….

And there were quite a lot of trees… this is an impressive place ! 🙂

A delightful sweet light was filtered by these giants trees…

I had to take self-portrait to be able later on to remember the size of these trees 🙂

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Sitting near a tree, I’ve absorbed all its energy, and have tried to remember this peaceful moment… for the next time I’ll be upset…

No, I’m not waiting in line at the Post Office for already 20 minutes, I’m here, sitting near a big redwood, and I’m happy…

🙂

(if happiness is something you have to work on, well, sitting by my tree, I’ll live happily ever after !) 🙂

23 - avenue of the giants (21)

And back on the road, with the will to reach San Francisco before nightfall, because my hotel was an hour drive south of SFO.

Christmas trees are not part of the landscape anymore, it’s now eucalyptus

24 - Roadtrip on 101 - California (4)

and grapevines (it’s not the Napa valley, but it’s close by though)

24 - Roadtrip on 101 - California (6)

Arriving in San Francisco at 7pm, guess who drove on the Golden Gate Bridge ?

meeeeeeeee !!!! 🙂

25 - Through SFO - small (2)

25 - Through SFO - small (1)

7pm, big mistake to be in town at that time, office workers are out, and so I get stuck in the traffic… it will take me 3 hours to reach my hotel

(but it’s ok because I had a nice music playlist, air conditionned and so I did a little singing show in my car) 🙂

🙂

Spending the night in Monterey, I was on my last day of roadtrip, with a big piece of driving ahead….

Goal : have a look at Big Sur, but most of all : make it to San Diego directly then…

As mentionned before, my trip was Oregon oriented, California wasn’t my priority…

I’m not a Los Angeles fan, and in San Diego, I have a friend waiting for me. These moments spent with her and her family felt definitely more valuable than any visit I could have done to the Hollywood moovies studios or than another photo of the shore….

And so, I drove, a lot… intensely... and sang even louder in my car :)Landscape there was extremly diffrent from what I’ve seen at the beginning of my trip, although we were in the end of September.

There, it was dry, aride, a bit more flat and less dramatique than Oregon’s cliff….

It was nice, but I’ve enjoyed it less…

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ok, that road was lovely though 🙂

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But there still was a silly squirrel to ask for a piece of your pizza !

🙂

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Or some sealion to make you laugh with their snoring

🙂

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26 - Big Sur - small (28)

and here I was, after several hours stucked in traffic around Los Angeles, arriving in San Diego at sunset…

27- arriving in San Diego - small

I’ve made it ! More than 3000 km by myself, in 4 days, with 2 last intense days…

and then, I’ve spent several days living with my friend Maite and her family, in La Jolla, near San Diego….

Eating cactus, and taking photos around here, while watching cute guys surfing waves 🙂

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This trip was awesome, I had an amazing time, and to be honest, I’d love to do it again ! 🙂

28 - San Diego & La Jolla - small (84)

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