The Redwoods Along the Pacific Coast Highway

As I had posted in my personal blog last year, I had always wanted to see the redwoods in California. I remember flipping through this old travel book my parents had; I was always amazed at the pictures of tiny people next to massive, living, towering trees.

Having been born in California while my parents were in the Navy, I’d actually been to see the redwoods when I was a little baby. My mom always talked about them fondly, saying they were amazing and bigger than you can imagine.

When people say things are more than you can imagine, you still try to imagine them. You might even think that you’ve successfully imagined the awe inspiring feeling you’d get from looking at the redwoods… but you haven’t.

We drove from Crescent City down to San Francisco in November of 2013 on Highway 101. It was a 6.5 hour drive. Honestly, a bit short by our normal standards of driving 12+ hours per day. We even stayed in Fort Bragg for a couple nights in the middle of the drive. This gave us plenty of time to see the northern Californian coast.

The redwoods thrive and are able to grow so tall because of the fog on the west coast. John and I had never seen fog quite so thick or expansive. If I remember correctly, we were either driving through, towards, or around fog for 2-3 hours of our morning drive.

The smallest redwoods we saw were at least 2 times the size of the largest pine trees we’ve seen in Florida. In areas with older groves that weren’t bothered by loggers, looking up towards the top of the trees reminded me of looking up at the buildings in New York City. Nothing has ever made me feel smaller or more in awe of our planet.

Endert’s Beach Overlook

This was a little park near Crescent City. It has hiking trails and we took a short 30 minute hike that reminded us of something from Jurassic Park.

Bridge and ferns


Coastal hike near Crescent City

It was extremely foggy and wet, but we got to experience some coastal hiking and even saw one of those huge banana slugs.



Banana slug for scale
A banana slug for scale

The overlook was nice even if we couldn’t see much. We had initially stopped there in hopes of seeing a whale but we could barely see the water below.

Fog at Endert's Beach Overlook

Fog at Endert's Beach Overlook

Cathedral Trees Trail

We stopped at the Cathedral Trees Trail in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. This park had one of the first really large redwoods we had the opportunity to stand next to.


Meet the Big Tree:

John in front of the Big Tree in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
John in front of the Big Tree in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

John looking up at the

This was a really lovely hike. I noticed that everywhere that we hiked in California, it was very quiet. Maybe it was the time of year (mid-November), but everything seemed very peaceful.


Lady Bird Johnson Grove

The Lady Bird Johnson Grove was a really short hike on a lot of boardwalks. We were here around 2pm and the sun came through the trees beautifully. I guess all of the moisture in the air gives the light a lot to play off of.










Fern Canyon

Fern Canyon was a really fun and easy hike in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. We got a little wet walking in the creek between the fern walls and saw so many different types of mushrooms.

Driving to Fern Canyon
The drive through Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park to Fern Canyon was lovely, dark and deep.
We saw elk – for real
John in Fern Canyon
John taking a picture of me taking a picture of him
Fern Canyon
Playing in the canyon
Shallow waters
Shallow water
Fern Canyon
Leveling up those climbing skills
Fern Canyon
Tight roping in Fern Canyon
Mushrooms galore
Mushrooms galore
Like I said…
Fern Canyon, California
Fern Canyon
I enjoy taking pictures of mushrooms
Mandy and John at Fern Canyon
A little hippy took a picture of us
Mandy at Fern Canyon
Everything just seems to dwarf me… but that’s nothing new
Fern Canyon
John on the path towards/away from Fern Canyon
One more for good measure


Avenue of the Giants

Before we started driving through the Avenue of the Giants, I had it in my head that it couldn’t possibly be that great to drive through the redwoods. We had been driving through the redwoods along 101 all day, so what could be so different?

Amazing redwoods – Avenue of the Giants

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The Avenue of the Giants
Our redwoods will blot out the sun!

The redwoods along the Avenue of the Giants are bigger, better, and some are so close to the road you feel like you want to fold in the side-view mirrors to keep them from flying off.


The only problem is that because the trees are so enormous and not a lot of light gets through to the road, I couldn’t take good photos without stopping the car.

I often wondered if people who live near the redwoods get used to seeing them on the side of the road. I was just in awe for the entire drive, especially on the Avenue of the Giants, gasping every 10-20 minutes as we passed by another tree trunk that was at least 6 feet in diameter.

The redwoods are something everyone should see at least once in their life. Standing next to one is so humbling.

Mount Shasta, California

For our honeymoon in November of 2013, John and I flew to San Fransisco, California and drove around northern California for a week.

We drove to Mount Shasta from San Francisco and stayed there for the first two days of our trip.

Being from Florida, I was amazed at how gigantic this mountain was as we slowly drove toward it from the airport. It’s been a while, but I think we could see it for the last hour of the drive. There’s nothing in Florida that you can see from an 60-80 miles away. Well, except for the sky.

Mount Shasta from afar
Mount Shasta from afar

One of our favorite memories from our entire trip was leaving the hotel around 6am and driving up Mount Shasta to watch the sun rise.

View of Mount Shasta
View of Mount Shasta from the hotel – including beautiful trucks in the way. 😛
Driving on Mount Shasta
This was probably a picture of the drive down, since there is some sunlight

Sun rise on Mount Shasta

Sunrise on Mount Shasta


As the sun rose on Mount Shasta
As the sun rose on Mount Shasta
We couldn't drive higher than this point. This is a trail up towards the skiing areas that weren't open.
We couldn’t drive higher than this point. This is a trail up towards the skiing areas that weren’t open.

It was so cold and so quiet. It was just a perfect moment.

Mount Shasta from so far away
Mount Shasta from so far away



Off to Steinhatchee, FL!

Steinhatchee, Florida. A three hour trip north of Orlando, just south of Gainesville and right on the Gulf Coast. According to Wikipedia, the 2010 population was taken at 1,047 people.

I can’t imagine it’s changed too much since then.

Apparently known for its local seafood, specifically the scallops, Steinhatchee seems like one of those small towns that’s built up around a rental market. During the spring, summer, and fall, I imagine it’s a booming place with people from all around the U.S, coming in to roost for a week near the coast. If you’re patient, however, and can wait until the winter, that’s  when the real deals roll around.

Because the winter in Florida is typically in the seventies, Mandy and I decided to take a small road trip out to Steinhatchee Landing Resorts to take advantage of some  of the off-season deals they have. We knew right when we talked into our cabin that we had made the right decision.

Our cabin in Steinhatchee

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Mandy and I are both suckers for fireplaces, and this cabin had one of the nicest I’ve seen. The fireplace actually extended from the main room into the bathroom so it sat above the bathtub. You could sit in a gigantic hot tub with a fire going in front of you. Awesome. It had a full functioning kitchen with a stove, so in lieu of going out every night (there weren’t a whole lot of restaurants to choose from), we cooked in, played board games, and read a bunch.

Fancy fireplace at Steinhatchee Landing Resort

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Totally nerding out with some pre-packaged DnD A photo posted by Mandy Bee (@mandybee) on

Delicious curry on black rice with swai fish made by john in a small kitchen A photo posted by Mandy Bee (@mandybee) on

In the mornings, weather permitting, we would walk around outside and take in the sights and sounds of the resort area and Steinhatchee proper.

This place is adorable A photo posted by Mandy Bee (@mandybee) on

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A photo posted by Mandy Bee (@mandybee) on

A photo posted by Mandy Bee (@mandybee) on

It’s a small town, but one you could easily get lost in if you didn’t know where you were going. We didn’t see any real grocery stores or chain restaurants with the exception of one dockside Hungry Howies (wat), but the coast always holds its own mystique that pays for itself by just being near it. Birds every morning, the smell of the ocean everywhere, and just being a little bit far from home, even just three hours, is a nice vacation.