|Aimee and Kim woke up way too early again this morning thanks to our little room friends. Some people just can’t grasp the concept that just because they are awake, doesn’t mean everyone wants to be awake. Therefore it is not ok to get ready in the room and chat it up when others are sleeping, and it’s especially not ok to whip your wet, frizzy, knee length hair around the room. Aimee slept in the bottom bunk and nearly got taken out by the hair…disgusting. We peaced out of the Redwood Hostel as fast as Min would carry us. Why stay there when the Good Nite Inn and its one queen bed is awaiting us?
We are having an intense need to see that friendly welcoming Starbucks sign ASAP. The coffee we have been choking down has been far from amazing. Borderline undrinkable. Kim said that the next time her and Aimee come across a Starbucks she is tempted to buy three caramel macchiatos. She feels that it is highly necessary to stockpile coffee since decent options have been so few and far between thus far. Shout out to the Starbucks website for helping us locate the nearest Starbucks at all times. Now if only we had decent internet to look it up for ourselves. Luckily there are these things in the world called cell phones and parents with reliable internet. Thanks for helping caffeinate us.
On our way towards coffee (and Napa and Sonoma) we stopped at the Drive Thru Tree, for those who don’t know this is a tree that you can actually drive through the trunk of. It’s a live Redwood tree that is 735 years old and 15 feet in diameter. Although it is very cool and huge, the enthusiasm of some members of this road trip was severely lacking at this attraction. This was due to a lack of caffeine and a horrible night’s sleep. Other members did their best to pep them back up, but quickly realized that the best bet was to cut their losses and head out. Min looked great driving through the tree though.
Note: unless you have a strong desire to see Emus the only thing you are paying $4 to see at this point is the tree. We thought there would be more, but actually it is just this one tree, and really….why the one Emu?
Note: Aimee has had coffee and informed Kim that she is now ready to talk and smile.
Double Note: Kim is VERY grateful.
Our last stop in the Redwood Forest was the Avenue of Giants and Founders Grove. Kim and Aimee are both freaks for factoids…so you are going to get some:
-The Dyerville Giant is 362 foot long Redwood that fell in 1991. Its root base points 35 feet into the sky, the trunk is 17 feet in diameter, 52 feet circumference and the tree weighs approximately 1 million pounds. This makes it two feet taller than Niagara Falls and equivalent to a 30 story building. It is estimated to be 1600 years old.
When this tree fell, know one saw it but the crash was heard from a mile away and sounded like a train wreck. A Tree more than 50 feet away had mud splattered 15 feet up its trunk from the fall. Aimee asked, “so when a tree falls in the forest and..” Kim quickly responded “.. it does make a noise!”
-Botanical ancestors of these trees date back to the Jurassic era, 160 million years ago.
-These trees commonly live to be 600 years old, though some live to be 2000 years old.
-Redwood bark is fire resistant and lacks resin, their trunks absorb thousands of gallons of water. Fire can destroy the insides of these trees, and they will continue to thrive and grow.
-A large Redwood can release up to 500 gallons of water into the air a day.
-Redwoods are among the oldest living things on Earth
-The oldest recorded one here is 2200 years old.
-Coastal Redwood are the worlds tallest trees, the tallest is 379 feet tall, and resides in this forest.
The drive and hike through the giants was amazing. Pictures can’t begin to convey how mighty these trees are. We tried several times to take pictures of entire trees, and could never get a whole tree from base to top in one photo. Many of the trees were wider than Min. Definitely a great stop. The Avenue of Giants and Fern Canyon are two “must see” stops when visiting Redwood National Park.
After leaving the Redwoods we headed straight down 101 towards Napa and Sonoma. At mile 905 we encountered our first wildfire smoke, but saw no flames. Regardless, Min was shut up tight. Lunch was at Schot’s Café in Ukiah, California. It was the best meal of the trip so far, until we attempted to get dessert, which was a huge disappointment. Kim took one bite of hers and threw it away and for anyone who knows how much she loves dessert this is a huge deal. Aimee’s was slightly better, but only marginally. It had 4 whole bites taken of it.
At 3:39pm, just outside of Ukiah, California, USA, Earth we passed the 1000 mile mark for our trip. Almost immediately after celebrating this milestone, the smoke cleared and the scenery began changing dramatically. It went from dusty, smoky, dense forest to beautiful, hilly, desert, vineyard, countryside, a la Tuscany. Aimee gently commented to Kim that she was surprised Kim wasn’t taking any pictures. Upon this realization, Kim felt ashamed that she had dropped the ball on one of her most important duties and began snapping away like crazy.
The scenery, bright blue sky and upper 80 degree weather all combined to make Kim really want to go para-Mining (think parasailing, but behind Min instead of a boat). At 4:30pm we hit our first rush hour traffic of the trip. Aimee and Kim killed time by hashing out the specifics of para-Mining. We have also concluded that while highway 101 offers up some breathtaking scenery, it leaves much to be desired in terms of the people and towns you encounter along the way. Aimee said it felt good to be back in the land of the normals. Aimee and Kim think they will fit in much better in wine country than any of the other places they have encountered so far. By this we mean we do not have dreadlocks or wear camo and leather together, we don’t have bear claw scratch mark tattoos, we DO have full sets of teeth, and we live somewhere where the population of over 200 does not sell wood carvings at roadside stands.
Just when we thought that we had re-entered civilization, we were greeted by the Good Nite Inn, our humble home for the next 3 nights. However, things quickly took a sharp turn in the worst direction possible starting when we checked in. For those unfamiliar with the Good Nite Inn in Rohnert Park, or as Aimee likes to call it R to the P, it is a typical motel that is trying to look nicer from the outside but is seriously scary if you actually make it further than the parking lot that it shares with the Burger King drive-through. The reception area (it does not qualify to use the term lobby) was dingy and outdated. We had to wait to check in while a man who was cracked out on Meth tried to put together any string of words that resembled a sentence in order for the receptionists to understand what he needed. Although it was dark as night in the “lobby” he chose to wear his sunglasses throughout the encounter. Red Flag #1
After getting our keys we attempted to take the elevator with all our stuff to the third floor. Red Flag #2 It creaked, it shook, and we weren’t sure we would make it alive to the third floor. Needless to say we swore to each other we would never ride on it again….until we checked out. We got to the room and opened the door…it reeked of stale smoke, the window didn’t properly lock and it had no closet. What kind of motel room doesn’t have a closet? And really, if you are going to have no closet, then don’t bother with the courtesy bar by the sink, just skip it all together. While you are at it, also skip the chair at the desk that has a ripped back and an unidentifiable chalky film that coated Kim’s hands when she tried to pull it out to sit on. We quickly replaced it with the non ripped, but still chalky chair. Kim would not sit in the chair until Aimee handed her a towel from her backpack to cover all surfaces. Red Flag #3
After our initial shock and recovery, Aimee decided that she wanted to go for a run. Kim was full from lunch and she knew after her last experience of running with Aimee that if she attempted to go with her right now, it might be a complete disaster. Aimee left, heading for the stairs (NOT the elevator) only to notice a sketchy man two doors down about to go into his room. Once he noticed her he freaked and although he had his hand on the door and obviously wanted to go in, wouldn’t open the door as long as she was around. The problem was that the only stairs for her to get down to the first floor were beyond him. He watched her in that very paranoid/aggressive way that immediately puts you on guard even when you don’t see anything amiss. You just feel it and know. Aimee tried to act oblivious and ignore all the bad vibes coming from him, but once she reached the stairs she met Creepy McCreeperson, a man wandering around the motel with a duffle bag of god knows what, looking for Sketchy McSketcherson’s room. When she looked back, she saw both men look around and then walk into the room. Red Flag #4.
She flew back up the stairs to report all to Kim and freak her out. Kim was immediately instructed to close all windows and shades, lock deadbolts and not leave the room while Aimee was gone. A secret knock was invented so Kim would know when Aimee returned. Kim tried to tell Aimee it was not a good idea for them to separate in such circumstances, but Aimee reassured her she was just running a short ways down a main drag, 15 minutes tops to Home Depot and back. Kim made her take mace with her. While Aimee was gone, Kim tried to pretend she was not sitting in the chalky chair, imagining her friend being snatched by druggies with guns…it was VERY hard to focus on their journal. She was very relieved when she heard the secret knock, but was very distraught to realize she was not tall enough to look out the peep hole to confirm it was Aimee.
Note: next to a Redwood, Kim tops out at 5’3” while Aimee soars at 5’7½”.
Double Note: The Good Nite Inn peepholes are NOT designed for people who are 5’3”.
Although she had no visual confirmation and was thus very hesitant to open the door, Aimee somehow knew this and yelled “Kim its me!!!” A very relieved reunion ensued.
At this point, we definitely discussed the sketchiness that was our motel, but figured we should just try and make the best of it even though we knew neither of us would be sleeping that night and there was a strong possibility that we would be huddled together in the bathtub hiding from our cracked out neighbors next door and two doors down.
Aimee went to cool down at the pool and was met by Mr. and Mrs. Sleezy McSleezerson, who were enjoying the hot tub in 90 degree weather. Mr. McSleezerson kept staring at Aimee in a very creepy way. His wife noticed and attempted to pull his face back to looking at her. When that didn’t work, she would dunk his head under water. Once Kim finished the day’s journal, she joined Aimee and witnessed the whole very creepy, not okay situation for herself. It was the kind of moment where you look at each other and say, “friend, this is really creepy and uncomfortable. This is not okay.” It was as this precise moment that Mr. McSleezerson got out of the hot tub , shot a sleazy, suggestive grin in Aimee’s direction and revealed that he was wearing ONLY patterned tighty-whitey underwear while his wife was wearing a black thong under see-through white shorts. This confirmed everything. We were out. There was no way we were staying somewhere where not only was our room a sketchy mess but the people all around us were creepy and made us uncomfortable and we did not feel safe at all.
Kim and Aimee discussed their feelings and their predicament and realized that they needed help—they were stuck in a creepy motel without internet with no idea of where to go or what to do. Luckily Kim’s mom answered when they called. No questions asked, she immediately got on helping us find a safe, non-sketchy place to stay and got us out of there as fast as possible. F.Y.I., we love parents and cell phones and the internet. They are life-savers.
Our new place was on the other side of Napa/Sonoma from where we had been and was absolutely perfect. Just what we needed and even a king bed instead of the queen we were going to be sharing. It was a huge sigh of relief and a big stress reliever to be there and know that we didn’t have to stay up all night, clutching each other, watching the door, waiting for whatever might happen.
In the end, we just want to say from our new, safe, comfortable room with non-ripped, non-chalky chairs and no cracked out neighbors, that we really appreciate knowing that in a time of need we can always turn to our parents to support us and keep us safe.