Curbside Roadtrip: Half Moon Bay To Eugene, The Long Way – Everything From An Old Corolla, A Lambo, And Yaks

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After a restful week of being sequestered (house-sitting) on a hilltop overlooking the Pacific in Half Moon Bay (30 miles south of SF) without an internet connection, it was time to head home again. The weather was warm and sunny, so we decided to make a road trip out of it instead of the straight shot up I5.

Over the decades, we’ve done both 101 and Hwy 1 numerous times, so we decided to mix them up a bit, as well as try a different way back inland. We took 101 to Cloverdale, then 128, which winds itself in a north-westerly direction out to the coast via Booneville. That put us on Hwy 1, just south of Mendocino. Now if you’re thinking I stopped repeatedly for shots of one of the most magnificent stretches of road in the country, you’re wrong. The camera never came out until we hit Fort Bragg, for this very old Corolla wagon. That’s just how I roll.

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Truth is, I didn’t shoot a single car in the Bay Area except this two-tone Camry on a trail head. And it’s not exactly all that interesting. Frankly, I was a bit burned out, and just tuned out cars for the most part. The Bay Area is CC Nirvana, but you have to go looking a bit, and be in the right parts of town. The cars on the freeways are very predictable and boring, a sea of CUVs, Lexii, BMWs, Toyotas, etc. Very different than from Eugene, needless to say.

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So I saved my precious pixels for other things, like these Elephant Seals snoozing on the beach at Año Nuevo. Snoozing is not quite the right word, as these large members of the pinniped family spend up to three and a half months out of the water here breeding and calving without eating or drinking a thing (except for the rich milk the calves feed on, of course).  Fat is a very efficient storage medium of both nutrients and water.

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But when I came up on this circa-1974 Corolla (CC here), I knew we were getting back to familiar territory. These have become quite rare on the road, and I noticed it had been crudely repainted at least once or twice, in an effort to keep the beach-town surface rust at bay.

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Just a few blocks later, I came across another unlikely survivor, an Alfa Romeo Milano/75, driven by an older woman, no less. I’ve shot one in Eugene, but like so many others, haven’t given it its day in the CC spotlight yet.

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We spent the night in Eureka, and saw some of the same cars that Laurence Jones shot there a while back. He didn’t shoot this ’61 Falcon, in a delicious mint green.

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Needless to say, the sunshine had given way to fog by then. Actually, in the spring and fall, coastal fog is not very common, as it usually saves itself for the high summer, when all the tourists flock to the California Coast: Gotcha’! Smart visitors come anytime other than July and August, when the fog rolls in predictably, along with a chilly breeze. As Mark Twain said: ‘The coldest winter I ever spent was the summer in San Francisco”. A bit of an exaggeration, but consider the source.

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It was getting dark as we finished our walk through Old Town Eureka down by the docks, where there were mountains of crab pots along with a ’63 Fairlane showing the typical signs of living near (but not too near) the ocean.

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In the morning, we headed over to the Blue Ox Millworks and Museum (separate post coming soon). These two old toughs are still at work, it appears.

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Afterwards, we headed across Humboldt Bay to Arcata, the “greenest” little town in the land. Stephanie spent her formative years here, where her father was an English Lit prof at Humboldt State University. Couldn’t help but notice the delivery bike on this Volvo wagon.

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We stopped in at the Co-op for some sandwiches for the road, and what is there in the parking lot? Two yaks, out for a stroll with their “herder”. All to often, I find myself saying “only in Eugene”; but even this I wouldn’t expect to see there. So I have to revert to “only in Arcata”. And in the parking lot of the Co-op, of course.

Hwy 96 Klamath


From Arcata, we took Hwy 299 to Willow Creek, and from there followed the Klamath River on Hwy 96. For some 100 miles, this deserted road winds and twists along whichever side of the rugged Klamath was more hospitable to the builders who managed to carve out this highway. A superb driving road, which give one’s arms a good workout. Something a bit sportier than Stephanie’s automatic Forester would have been quite welcome here. Like a…Lamborghini, perhaps?

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Ironically, the first car to catch my notice after crossing the Oregon state line was this Lamborghini. This was in Medford, and it did have Washington dealer plates, so I suppose it wasn’t strictly a local car.

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Makes a rather dramatic contrast to the tall and narrow SUV ahead of it. In the Bay Area, I wouldn’t have even given it a second glance. There’s a Lambo dealer in downtown Los Gatos, where we used to live. Shortly later, it gave a loud whoosh and shot off before it pulled out at an exit. Have fun with your toy!

So that’s the end of my rather disjointed road trip post. Sorry about the lack of shots from Hwy 1; I never was big on shooting scenery. Old Corollas; that’s another thing.

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I thought I’d leave you with a nice shot of the coast by someone else, and it turns out to be one by Chuck Goolsbee, an occasional CC reader. He stopped by our house in the summer of 2009 just as he and his son were heading south for a roadtrip in his XK-E, and his write-up and pictures can be found here. Now there’s a proper car for Hw1, as long as the fog stays away.