the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Planning Our Road Trip


Sophia’s list of exciting things to do on our road trip to Portland:

Dune buggies in Florence, Oregon
Driving through Giant Redwoods
Jet boating on Rouge River
Mud Bath in Calistoga
“Safari West” in Santa Rosa
Hiking Near Pacific

Neil’s list of exciting things to do on our road trip to Portland:

Stopping at Los Bagels in the tiny town of Arcata, California, voted the best bagels outside of New York City.

Tentative plans:

Day 1 and 2 (next Saturday) — Santa Rosa/Napa

Day 3 – Mendocino

Day 4 – Eureka/Redwoods

Day 5 – More Redwoods, Gold Beach, Oregon

Day 6 – Florence/Yachats, Oregon

Day 7 – Portland

Any suggestions, like what do we do if it rains all the time?


  1. Marilyn

    Best to just accept it…it probably WILL rain the entire time. (I say that as someone who grew up in those redwoods and lived in Portland for several years.) You’ll still have a good time. 🙂

  2. Nance

    Do stuff even if it rains. You didn’t go all the way to Oregon–which is lovely, by the way–just to sit and watch tv and blog, which you can do at home. Get umbrellas and rain gear and see the sights. I don’t hike or boat, however. That Sophia! She’s such an adventurer! (I like the idea of a steamy mud bath, though. I hear it’s wonderful for the skin–shrinks the pores and all…)

  3. Neil

    And by rain gear you mean… like one of those jackets they sell at REI? And boots?

  4. Not Faint Hearted

    I agree. Dress for the weather and you’ll have a blast. That’s the Minnesota motto, too.

    And get one of those waterproof notebooks too. Then you can write about your adventures in the rain and the mud while you’re still in the rain and the mud.

  5. Neil

    When you say that it rains all the time this time of year, do you mean heavy rain or a drizzle? As adventurous as Sophia is, she’s not big at all on driving in serious rain. We’re Southern Californians now, after all…

  6. ms. sizzle

    I like walking in the rain, even better amidst the redwoods. Just bring the right gear. It sounds like a lovely road trip. I’ve always wanted to check out the Oregon coast. I’ve heard it’s beautiful.

  7. Scarlet

    Oh what fun! I have never been up and over that way.

  8. Roberta

    There’s that really cool bookstore.
    And a lot of good coffee.
    And I’m pretty sure they have an awesome Target just outside of town.
    But mostly yeah, if it rains just sleep the whole time.

  9. lizardek

    It rains in the morning, then it’s beautiful the rest of the day, at least that’s how it was in Oregon when I’VE been there (though I’ve only been in the summer).

    Also, art and antique gallery-hopping along the coast is a lot of fun 🙂

    Jetboating on the Rouge River is a BLAST. Also, if you’re into funky/freaky/rollyoureyes things, the Oregon Vortex is a fun way to spend some time. (

  10. Eileen

    If it rains? ha ha ha ha ha ha Welcome to the Pacific Northwest my friend.

  11. plain jane

    Of course it will rain the entire trip–it IS Oregon.

    Here is a little something to give you the flavor of the Northwest.

    Feel guilty throwing aluminum cans or paper in the trash.

    Use the expression “sun break” and know what it means.

    Know more than ten ways to order coffee.

    Know more people who own boats than air conditioners.

    Feel overdressed wearing a suit to a nice restaurant.

    Stand on a deserted corner in the rain waiting for the “walk” signal.

    Consider that if it has no snow or has not recently erupted, it’s not a real mountain.

    Complain about Californians, as you sell your house for twice its value to one.

    Know the difference between Chinook, Coho and Sockeye salmon.

    Know how to pronounce Sequim, Puyallup, Issaquah, Oregon and Willamette.

    Consider swimming an indoor sport.

    Can tell the difference between Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese food.

    In winter, go to work in the dark and come home in the dark–while only working eight-hour days.

    Obey all traffic laws except “keep right except to pass.”

    Never go camping without waterproof matches and a poncho.

    Are not fazed by “Today’s forecast: showers followed by rain” and “Tomorrow’s forecast: rain followed by showers.”

    Can’t wait for a day with “Showers and sun breaks.”

    Have no concept of humidity without precipitation.

    Can taste the difference between Starbucks, Seattle’s Best Coffee, and Tully’s.

    Know that Boring is a town in Oregon and not just a state of mind.

    Can point to at least two volcanoes, even if you can’t see through the cloud cover.

    Say “the mountain is out” when it’s a pretty day and you can actually see it.

    Put on your shorts when the temperature gets above 50 degrees, but still wear your hiking boots and parka.

    Switch to your sandals when it gets above 60, but keep the socks on.
    Have actually used your mountain bike on a mountain.

    Think people who use umbrellas are either wimps or tourists.

    Knew immediately that the view out Frasier’s window was fake.

    You know you’re from the Northwest if you buy new sunglasses every year, because you can’t find the old ones after such a long time.

    We do have a couple of nice weeks of weather in September.

    Have fun!

  12. Pearl

    Neil, if Sophia’s choices are too exciting, why not make a stop in Boring, Oregon?,_Oregon

  13. Rabbit

    Well . . . I guess there will be plenty of opportunity to go puddle jumping.

  14. steppingoverthejunk

    sit around in an inn bedroom with a view and have sex all day.

    I rafted the Rougue River when I was a kid. It was a 5 day trip and we stopped and stayed at lodges every night with beds and dinner and fireplaces. THAT was awesome.

  15. mckay

    you’ll love the spa at calistoga. i was there and enjoyed the massage the best. i got a bit lightheaded in the mud bath, which is fairly common with the experience. allow tons of time for the spa visit. once you’ve completed the experience you’ll just want to sit, relax and enjoy the mellow afterglow.

    try to have a meal in yountville. the french laundry is one of the best. enjoy!!

  16. Bice

    “Any suggestions, like what do we do if it rains all the time?”


  17. Rick

    “ you mean heavy rain or a drizzle?”…

    Yes. With occasional sunbreaks.

  18. Leah

    My suggestion would be keep an umbrella and galoshes handy.

  19. Jocelyn

    Depends on whether you want to be a tourist or a traveler. Are you gonna let a little rain stop you from doing whatever Sophia has planned for you?!

  20. Dagny

    I say stop at the Samoa Cookhouse when you’re in the Eureka area.

    And French Laundry? On a weekend? Good luck with reservations.

  21. Ariel

    A little bit of rain has never hurt anyone, look at England! Just wrap yourself up in waterproof attire and resolve not to let the elements get in your way. Granted, you may get more mud baths than you bargained for, but hey, it’s all part of the fun!

  22. Neil

    French Laundry? Do you read this blog? Do you see how much it costs?

    Do they take coupons?

    And Sophia and I just went to REI and bought rain pants, so we can be all prepared for the rainfall as we drive from the upscale coffee shop to the trendy art gallery.

  23. sbukophile

    We’re currently on vaca in Seattle where it is raining the whole time, and ya know, it’s been a great trip–just bring the right clothes! To (mis)quote Billy Connelly, there is no such thing as bad weather, it’s just weather. There are bad clothes. Have fun, we want to see Portland too.

  24. Finn

    Mud baths, (good)bagels and wine. Sounds like a great trip to me.

    If it rains, stay in the mud bath with a good bottle of wine and some bagels. 😉

    Seriously, bring rain gear and just go out and enjoy it!

  25. wendy

    If the mud baths are still like they were when I went…It’s a pretty trippy experience. You will remember it always. I also went gliding..where the plane tows you up tethered and then drops the tether and you glide down on the air currents. Very cool Used to be a good resteraunt called Mustards in St. Helena. Oh and I biked through the vineyards. That was fun too. You’ll have a lot to do.

  26. Karen

    I used to live in Arcata, and the bagels at Los Bagels are the best. Try one with Larrupin Sauce. I promise it’s good. The Larrupin Cafe in Trinidad is worth the stop too.

  27. girl and dog

    Hey Neil, off topic… I found where you can watch The Secret for free.

    Enjoy your trip!

  28. Neil

    Thanks, Girl and Dog, this will give me something to do while it rains. I love that she finds the Secret because a yellow sticky note is on this mysterious book. I have those notes all over my monitor and I always forget that they are there.

  29. better safe than sorry

    don’t let a little rain stop you, it’s not like it’s snow. unless it’s extremely heavy rain, i’d still go ahead with what you’ve got planned. have a great trip!

  30. Lefty

    You should have planned this for later in the year. That way you could attend the NASCAR race in Sonoma.

  31. Karen

    And don’t forget the monster truck show in Redding.

  32. Marilyn

    Well, I don’t know what summer my pal Lizardek was visiting Oregon…but that’s not MY experience of Portland in the summer. 😉 (Even though there ARE beautiful days there.) It’s the ice storms you have to fear in winter….mwahahahahaha! Sorry. No, really, fear the ice. In comparison, rain schmain…no biggie. As Plain Jane’s fab list says, when you stop carrying an umbrella up there is when you finally feel like a local. I’ll email you with more info…

  33. Marisa

    When you are in Portland, you should make a point of getting to Powell’s books. It’s the best bookstore I’ve ever experienced and has ruined all other bookstores for me. Philadelphia has nothing that compares. When it comes to food, make sure to get yourself to a McMenamin’s. The Communication Breakdown burger is fantastic and their french fries are excellent.

    When you’re in Florence, you should make sure to do the hike that takes you through the forest and out to the dunes. It’s a workout, but it’s amazing, because you’re walking throught huge old trees, then you’re out on the dunes, feeling as if you’re in the middle of the desert and then suddenly, there’s the ocean. It’s really gorgeous.

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