2014 EPIC Summer Road Trip: Part 5 – The End of the Road


Finally, the finale to our 2014 EPIC Summer Road Trip!

To start at Part One, click here.

In this post:

Ft. Bragg – Sea Glass Beach (pit stop)
The Redwood National Forest

Ah, I swear have started this post a few times and then I get “squirrel!!!”. Distracted. I know it’s a bit picture heavy. Forgive me. The Redwoods and nature were so beautiful it was hard to narrow down the photos! So, finally, here it is:

After we left San Francisco, the hubs and I were especially excited for the last stop on our tour: The Redwoods was on both of our bucket lists and after visiting, I can honestly tell you: make the trip. EVERYONE should see the Redwoods at least once. It was spectacular and there are no photos that can do it justice. You have to experience it with your own eyes, ears and heart. EPIC indeed.

On the way, we stopped in Ft. Bragg at Sea Glass Beach. I had seen some beautiful photos on Pinterest and went Pin happy. When we arrived, while it was nice, it didn’t quite live up to the hype. I’d tell people to stop if you’re in the area, but don’t make a special trip just to see it.

Here are a few tips:

  • Wear sturdy shoes that you are okay with getting messy and wet.
  • Same with clothes – wear something you don’t mind getting dirty – you will do some climbing to get to the glass.
  • Leave the dogs at home – we did see some people with their dogs, but it gets steep and it isn’t exactly easy to navigate.
  • Keep walking to the left. The further to the left you go through alcoves, the more sea glass you will find.
  • Watch the tides and currents. They can be high and strong, so be careful!
  • DO NOT TAKE THE SEA GLASS! I know it is tempting to take it, but leave it so others can enjoy it! Remember the saying, leave only footprints behind, take only memories with you (and pictures…take pictures)! Edited to add: For those who don’t know: The site used to be a garbage dump. The sea glass is actually old broken beer bottles / glass bottles that were dumped there. Mother Nature got to work over time-the crashing waves smoothed it and that is what the sea glass is made up of. Since people can no longer dump there, what you see is all that is left. You can buy it from local shops licensed to take an allotment.
Sea Glass
Sea Glass

Sea Glass Beach Collage

Sea Glass Beach

Once we got ourselves nice and tired, we popped a DVD in and hit the road. In store was a small glitch…

I was pretty ecstatic when I got a reservation (over the phone) at Elk Prairie Campground. It is one of the nicest in the Redwoods:

ElkPrairieIt was past 20:00 (8:00pm) and we were pretty tired. The girls were ready to just get out and roam a little. Then the ranger asked for our disability paperwork and I was like, “Whaaaa?” Apparently, the person over the phone booked us in a disabled spot and all other spots were full. Because it is a state park, we could not stay there. I was NOT a happy camper. No pun intended. So just call and find somewhere else, right? Sure. Except phone reception? ZILCH. The ranger gave us the name of a few places, we drove a handful of miles back down the road and found a campground with room; Elk Country RV Resort and Campground. It was pitch black when we arrived, but our lanterns and fire were great assists. The girls were troopers. I was so disappointed and I’m really proud of them because they kept telling me it was okay. I think they knew how badly I felt. Total cost of the campsite was less than $70.00 for three nights. (Still waiting on my refund from Elk Prairie Campground).

The campsite itself was not as nice as Elk Prairie’s, but the overall grounds were good and true to its namesake, we were surrounded by Elk. One kept appearing right behind our site and she was an expectant mama!

Elk Country Campground

Elk in the Redwoods

The surroundings really were beautiful. We picked wild blackberries everyday:

Redwoods Collage

And we hung out with the locals, of course:


When we got up the next day after some breakfast, we ventured off to play tourists. The Tour-Thru Tree was $5.00. You drive through a residential area to get there. Our SUV barely made it through, but we did it!

Drive-thru tree
Then off we were to hike. Apparently, some of the directional signage was missing. We hiked quite a distance further than planned and ended up on the complete opposite side of the park. Some fellow hikers gave us a ride back to the SUV. You had to be there, but we actually laughed about it later. (Disclaimer: We did not randomly ride with strangers. They were registered with the site and the hubs is a former law enforcement officer who was armed). The hiking was GREAT, though:



This stump was taller than I am! There were a lot of these around:

RedwoodsWe drove into Trinidad and grabbed a big meal. The girls crashed out on the way, and it’s a good thing because hangry (yes, hangry) was definitely starting to set in! Then we grocery shopped a bit and headed back to camp. It was a fun night hanging out roasting s’mores and telling stories. We all slept really hard that night.

A lot of people had told us to visit Fern Canyon – part of Jurassic Park was filmed here! So the next day, we loaded up and headed out for the hike. It’s just a few easy miles (with no surprises!). If you do this hike, it is highly likely you will navigate through a small stream, so wear shoes you don’t mind getting a little wet!

Fern Canyon

The hubs was like a kid in a candy store:

FernCanyonI think the most favorite part for all of us was the local residents. Seriously, guys. They are beautiful:



And a little humorous, too:

Elk in Fern Canyon

Okay, so I have about fifty more photos of elk I want to post…but I’ll spare you. We had a wonderful picnic (K made the sandwiches) then headed back to the campsite, roamed the grounds, chatted and cooked a late dinner over our fire. It was fun times :). So simple and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

The next day we got up and headed to The Trees of Mystery. Once you pay your entrance fee, it is about a mile hike to the Sky Trail which is definitely touristy and we stood in a long line to ride it to the top, but it was still fun. The ride to Klamath itself was gorgeous. I had the hubs pull over so I could take shots. Breathtaking, really:


Admission to the Trees of Mystery was around $45 for the four of us. They do have a military discount. At the time it was a couple of dollars. The Tree of Brotherhood (or in this case, sisterhood 😉 ) was so impressive! When we got to the top of the Sky Trail it was pretty cloudy, but you could see the ocean and the view was still pretty amazing.

Trees of Mystery

We hiked our way back down and headed back to the camp. It was our last night in the Redwoods and the last night we’d camp out. The hubs’ birthday was the next day!

He drove for a couple hours (he had done all of the driving up to this point) and I told him it was time for a break, I’d take over the rest of the way. He had his birthday lunch in an Arby’s by his choice (we had a more formal celebration when we got back LOL). After getting out of the Redwoods and off of CA36, which felt like it would never end, we took I-5 South all the way home. I did make a $30.00 pit stop at a Wal-Mart to buy the girls more DVD’s to watch for the rest of the way. What should have been about 12 hours took 20-21 hours instead. We encountered major traffic north of Los Angeles and the I-5 South was completely shut down once we actually reached L.A.. I had to detour and come out in Orange County. I was definitely tired and when we got home, we all slept like babies. The kind who sleep through the night!


When we got up, it was time to take it easy. We enjoyed the last couple of days the girls had with us thoroughly:
Mission Beach


And embarrassed the hubs, just a little (though I think he loved it) :


It was a perfect ending to 2014 EPIC Summer Road Trip!

To tally up gas and mileage here is the verdict – with a lot of highway miles we spent much less on gas than we anticipated:

Total mileage: Just over 1,800 miles/2,896km
Total gas cost: Just over $500.00


I am glad we made this trip reality. We don’t regret a bit of it, but as the hubs says; next time we take a family vacation we’ll do it a little differently. I was ambitious to plan twelve days on the road with a teenager and an eight-year-old. They did get bored and they did complain. As a bonus (aka step) mother, I am learning that for kids that is totally normal. I took it as failure and now that we are a few months past the trip, I realize how amazing the girls did. Hindsight. I treasure the memories and I’m already looking forward to making more – on a beach at a resort next time haha! It’s the little things that are the big things, and we had many of those moments on this trip. Thank you all for reading and riding along. Cheers to all of the adventures to come!

Did you have any summer adventures of your own that may not have gone exactly as planned? Do tell and feel free to leave blog links in the comments!

– Heather

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