After a later start than planned, I headed across the Golden Gate Bridge once again on Monday morning, and began the long drive northwards. The further I went the more beautiful the route became as I entered the northern part of California.
I detoured through the Avenue of the Giants, and was awed by the size of the huge redwood trees, but couldn’t linger long, as I had quite a few more miles to go yet. Another quick stop at the roadside for a photo of the sunset over the ocean, and onwards up the twisting coast road in the gathering darkness.
Eventually I arrived at the Lucky 7 casino at the Oregon border, where I had arranged to meet Debbie, and her partner Jeff. Debbie and I have been in contact for a while on the internet, and she had suggested that I should call in at the beautiful Gold Beach area of the Oregon coast, where I could possibly achieve a couple of goals.
Prior to my arrival Debbie had been very busy, and had arranged a busy schedule for me. After a fantastic beer and pizza dinner we went to look at the local park Christmas lights, which was pretty spectacular for a small town, and was then taken to my accomodation for the evening, Ghost Cottage.
There I met Kelli and Riley, the owners of the haunted cottage, and we all took a walk through the dark woodlands outside. For my first evening there I was not alone in the house, and I went to bed downstairs in the comfortable guestroom.
I was pretty shattered after my long drive, and slept soundly that night. I woke a couple of times in the night, and listned for any noises, but soon fell asleep again. I woke feeling very refreshed, but slightly disappointed that I had not experienced anything. At breakfast Kelli assured me that I would meet the other “residents” that night when I was alone in the house!
The next activity that Debbie had arranged for me was a jet boat ride up Rogue River. Ryan, a friend of a friend of Debbie’s, picked me up from Ghost Cottage at nine, and after fuelling the boat up we drove upriver to Lobster Creek where we launched the boat. We wrapped up well, put in earplugs, and once the engine warmed up we headed upstream. The boat was very fast, and skipped across the surface of the water. As we approached the first small rapids I thought Ryan might have to slow down, but he just gunned it through and we continued onwards at high speed.
The scenery was absolutely beautiful, and twelve miles further upriver we entered an area listed by the government as “wild and scenic”. What better way to enjoy wild and scenic beauty than powering through it in a highly tuned racing machine?
We raced onwards, the view becoming ever more spectacular as the river narrowed, and twisted and turned, and we blasted up through more rapids. It was very cold, with the temperature just above freezing, and with the added windchill factor of travelling at about 60 miles per hour, I think my head was as cold as it has ever been. But I had a huge smile on my face the whole time.
About 40 miles upriver we stopped at Paradise Lodge, an isolated resort which can only be reached by either boat or helicopter. It was a lovely place, closed now for winter, but offering what I imagine would be wonderful summer accomodation. We chatted to the owner, warmed ourselves inside briefly, then headed back downriver.
Halfway down Ryan pulled over and said, “Your turn,” and we swapped seats. What a machine! It was fantastically responsive as I pressed the throttle and we powered through the calm flat sections and bounced through the rapids. What a thrill!
It all came to a sudden halt though three miles from the end of the journey, when we ran out of petrol, and had to wait for the local fishing guide to tow us to shore! All part of the adventure. It was nice sat in the sun warming up again, enjoying the peace of this beautiful area. What a brilliant experience all round.
As soon as we arrived in town Debbie came to meet us, and whisked me away for the next activity, which was actually on my list of goals.
I have tried horse riding a few times, and am happy to admit being a bit nervous of them. They are just so big and powerful, and it seems to me that if they get the idea into their head that they want to do something, what can you do to stop them? I had a bit of a nerve-wracking experience on a horse on holiday in Tunisia once, when it bolted, scared by a motorbike, but managed to live to tell the tale!
My goal then has been to have the confidence and ability to gallop a horse along a deserted beach at sunset. Ideally this would be a romantic ride with a perfect companion, but this part of the picture I had mentally painted for myself was not a necessity for the completion of the goal. My companion on the ride was to be Paul, and I romance would not be a part of the ride!
So we met up with Paul, who seemed very blase about galloping on a horse. “Just tell it to go, and you’ll be fine,” he said. I wasn’t convinced, but he wasn’t advocating weeks of lessons, as most places I have mentioned this goal to seem to do. It was almost sunset, and there was a beautiful beach just across the road. This was my chance!
We walked the horses down to the beach, and got there just before sunset. It was beautiful. My horse, a girl called Booty seemed very steady and relaxed, and when Paul spurred his horse on Booty followed suit with a word of encouragement, and before I knew it we were galloping! I’m sure I didn’t look very stylish, but I felt pretty comfortable, and after a quick few words of advice from Paul we were off again.
We tried swapping horses, and I climbed aboard Bo, a Formula 1 of the horse world who was now warmed up and ready to go! And go he tried to do, until the saddle slipped a bit, and I found myself on my backside on the beach! I wasn’t hurt, but there will be a bruise! I got back on Bo briefly, but I think he knew I was nervous now, and I soon elected to swap back.
We galloped again, and headed back for the stables as the sky turned a brilliant orange behind us. A perfect way to achieve another goal, with thanks to Debbie for arranging it, and Paul for making it happen so smoothly.
Afterwards we all went to a local restaurant for dinner, meeting Jeff, Kelli and Riley there too, and the freshly-caught local crab was delicious. Later we headed back to Ghost Cottage, and Kelli and the others left me on my own there for the night. To be continued…