LJ and I left Newport bright and early, freshly pressed Kicking Horse coffee in hand. Under different circumstances the town was probably lovely, but with everything shut down due ot weather it was a little boring, and our hotel was super hick. We were put in a smoking room because “there ain’t no difference between dogs and cigarettes; they both stink up a place.” We had upgraded to a room with a tub, but there was no plug, so we had to unscrew one from the sink. Our room was filthy and the toiletries practically stripped our skin. The front desk attendent, a man in his fifties, had on a big ol’ pair of gold gat earrings. It was interesting, at least.
We continued south on the 101, passing old-style fishing villages and awe-inspiring natural landmarks. The Byway brought us to the sea and away again as we wound past verdent marshes and seaside cliffs, plunging valleys and wind-sculpted dunes. We drove through lush rainforests and around majestic red woods, then back to the rugged coastline. Periodically a small cottage would make an appearance near the beach, and the occasional estate could be seen as well.
At one point, just past Heceta Head, we stopped at a sign that boasted the World’s Largest Sea Lion Cave. Inside a small shop, another sign advertised the World’s Best Popcorn. We thought they might be hyperbolizing a bit but, damn that popcorn was good. A live feed of the cave showed hundreds of sea lions, some more than 500 kg (1200 lbs). An elevator near the building took viewers far below to an observation deck, but since it was open dogs weren’t allowed. We couldn’t leave Soph on the side of the road, but it sure seemed worth seeing.
As we ventured further south, the towns became smaller and more poverty stricken. We’d been warned repeatedly about the abject povery in Mexico and South America, but it was clear that the US west coast had experienced its share of that. Most of the places we passed through were destitute, with but a few artisans and convenience stores remaining; others were abandoned altogether, buildings boarded up and grown over. However, where people were struggling, the animals thrived.
We decided to rest our heads in a city called Ukiah. After half a dozen hotels, we finally found somewhere that accepted pets. Once they saw Sophie, they even dropped their fee from $25 to $10. A stark contrast from the previous night, this motel was clean, warm and inviting. An abundance of half decent toiletries lined the bathroom counter and in the morning there really was a complimentary breakfast. Not only did our morning meal feature all the food groups, but the woman (she must have run the place with her husband) even made us fresh eggs and sausage.