By Don Benham
Our neighbors Joe and Ellen McMellon and my wife Flora and I spent several evenings planning a trip we wanted to take to California. Flora and I would go to California first to visit our daughter. Joe and Ellen were going to go later to make a sales call in Mountain View. Joe was vice president and sales manager for the company that he worked for. From there we planned to continue on and take this trip. He also planned to make several sales calls along the way. Flora and I left Vista California, which was our daughter’s home, and drove to Mountain View where our granddaughter lived to visit her and to meet the McMillan’s.
We parked our camper alongside their camper with our back windows looking out on to a huge sea salt operation. The sea salt facility allowed ocean water in then closed the opening and allowed the water to evaporate. They did this many times then scraped the dry residue out which contained the salt. Then they refined the residue and claimed the salt. While there we drove to the coast bringing a lunch with us. We drove over the mountain to the cooler shore. We drove on a road that went along the shore. We spotted a huge rock with seals on it. We thought that would be a great place to have our lunch until we opened our car windows and caught the odor of the seal droppings and decided that we would move down the road a piece to have our lunch.
After lunch we drove to Pebble Beach to see the famous golf course. Then on back to our trailers. After a short stop in San Francisco and getting our fill of seafood we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge. On the north side of the bridge we pulled in to a rest stop and saw a number of beautiful flowers. We continued a short ways where we stayed for the night. We drove through Napa valley where we visited a couple of the wineries. At one we bought a bottle of wine, a loaf of bread and cheese. We got glasses at the winery and sat at a table to eat in the court yard. We tore the bread in pieces with our hands but didn’t have a knife with us so we used my pocket knife to cut the cheese.
In a nearby travel court we stayed for the night. The next day the McMellons and I played golf on a nine-hole course. It was the hilliest course I had ever played on. On the ninth hole when we teed off, we could not see the green. We were hitting at such a high elevation you couldn’t see the green below. We had to walk quite a ways to get down to the green. The next day we drove through the red wood forest. We stopped at a pull off that was on the edge of the ocean. We took our lunch out and sat on the sand to eat. Looking around we saw several large logs that had washed up on the shore. Some of the logs were large enough that they made good shelters. Some people put up canvas tarps attached to the logs.
Two couples had bikes and were camped there on the beach. We talked to a local man about the logs. Why were they not cut up and used for lumber? The man said they were saturated with salt water and sand and couldn’t be sawed into boards. Also a log truck pulled up into the pull off and because I am always curious about things I walked up to the driver and talked with him about his logs. He had three twenty foot large, large logs. In our conversation most all of the logs he was hauling were going to Korea. We stayed close that night. The next day we drove along the Williamette River in Oregon. We spotted a camp ground close to a dam.
The dam had a fish ladder. We spent time watching the Salmon use the ladder to go up river (as I’ve said before the salmon go back up the river to where they were hatched to spawn and die). They use the ladder to get pasted the dam. The next day we drove up to Crater Lake National Park to view Crater Lake which is the deepest, over one thousand feet, fresh water lake. To our surprise we had snow on our way. When we arrived at the visitor’s center they had young students shoveling snow off the roof. After we grabbed a sandwich we decided the cold wasn’t what we were after so we went back to our trailers. We stayed the night at our trailers and the next morning we started back to the Pacific Coast again where we decided to drive along the coastal road of Oregon and Washington. We were in a fog the whole time we were on the road. We stopped at the southern shore of the Strait of Juan de Fuca close to Port Angeles. Being a photographer I spent a lot of time in the tide pools taking pictures of the sea life.
The next day we caught a ferry at Port Angeles to Port Victoria on Vancouver Island. We visited a famous garden called Bushard Gardens while we were there. We also visited a museum and had lunch in a famous hotel. As we debarked on the Washington side we couldn’t get into our vehicles because of trucks parked on both sides so Mrs. McMellon climbed into her car through the rear window and drove ahead of the trucks so they could open the doors. Then we headed back to Washington. That night McMellon’s daughter, her husband and their children along with Mrs. McMellon’s father showed up at the camp ground to stay with us. Our adventure will be continued in a later column.
Donald Benham was born Nov. 28, 1919 in Ashtabula. He served in World War II in the Army Transportation Corps, worked on the railroad for 38 years and in contracting for 12. He was married for 69 years to Flora and has three daughters. He’s traveled extensively in the U. S., Canada and Mexico, lived in Florida for 35 years and now resides at Brooks House Assisted Living in Hiram.