The Lisa & Clark Expedition: Old Places and Familiar Faces
In which intrepid road trippers Lisa & Clark go in pursuit of historic hotels, old friends, rusty auto parts (the more the better), wineries, and gardens. And maybe a dress or two for Lisa, because she just can’t help herself.
Looking for the beginning of the trip? Start here.
Sunday, May 27
Depoe Bay to Requa, CA; 282 miles
We had a restless night in the full-size bed; woke up shortly after 5:00 AM and thought what the heck, might as well get going. We had to get to Yachats (YAH-hots) by 8, for breakfast with Kama and Rex.
Kama is a former high school classmate and girlfriend of Clark’s; a smart, fun woman with a PhD in marine biology, presently teaching at an Oregon coast middle school. Rex works in construction (he built their house), but is also a sculptor, working in wood or, recently, copper. He goes to garage sales to find copper on the cheap, transforming pans and cans and jugs into fish, birds, and marine creatures. We wanted the bird sculpture on their wall, but thought it would be rude to pry it off and offer filthy lucre.
Kama still had the model Corvair that Clark had given her years and years ago; he used to race Corvairs. Now, we all drive green Subaru Outbacks. So Northwest.
Drizzling rain came down all through breakfast, and for the first half hour of our drive south from Yachats. Rex had said that the weather could change in twenty miles, and indeed it did, getting progressively better the further we went. We stopped at a couple ‘perma-sale’ yard sales (sales that are probably there every single day of the year, and the goods are filthy, rotten junk — unusable tools, mildewed books, guns (!), cheap ‘collectible’ plates, empty old tins, dirty toys.).
Heceta Head Lighthouse is open for tours and the keeper’s house is famously haunted, but the drizzle kept us from stopping, and the lighthouse was shrouded in scaffolding. The keeper’s house is a B&B, and someday I want to stay there… someday. But not today. Onwards we went.
We spotted an old cemetery on a steep hill in Gardiner, and pulled over to investigate. Another couple pulled up shortly thereafter, and went the rounds placing flags on service members’ graves for Memorial Day.
Driving through Bandon, we stopped at a yard sale where Clark saw an old California license plate for $5. He offered them $2. The guy said, “Sure, I’ll take it, but you do realize that it’s marked 50 cents?” Heh! The bargainer bites himself!
While trying to follow the ‘Scenic Beach Loop’ in Bandon we stumbled on yet another lighthouse:
Lunch in Port Orford, at Griff’s on the Dock — a place I’d heard about on TripAdvisor. The setting was half the charm, smack dab in the middle of fishing vessels up on trailers. It was a working dock, and the place was obviously a favorite of locals, given the softball team that arrived for lunch. There was a tiny museum next to the restrooms, fishing weights for sale, and a rack of Bigfoot and other local topic titles.
This photo of Griff’s On The Dock is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Back on the road…
In Gold Beach, pulled over to see the rotting remains of the Mary D. Hume. The steamer has a long history, serving in her career as a cargo vessel, whaler (plenty of sailors died along with the whales), tugboat, tender, and towboat. She was registered as a historic place, but conservation efforts met with disaster (the sling hoisting her out of the water broke), and so there she sinks.
Beautiful coastline, beautiful coastline, bathroom break… And then in Brookings there was a sign: Classic Car Show! We zipped down to the harbor to see, and Clark got a good look at a few Model As before motors started revving and the show broke up.
A couple miles later, we crossed the border into California, and almost immediately the sequoias started appearing in the forest along the road.
4 PM by now, and we were both growing weary; I almost dozed off a couple times, despite the redwoods, despite the glimpses of fantastic coastline. By 4:50, though, we were turning off 101 and winding our way along Requa Road to the historic Requa Inn. We were met a the desk by ‘junior innkeeper’ Te Maia, age… 7? who pressed a bell and said under her breath, “Wake up, Dad!” Old enough to start rolling her eyes at her father, at any rate.
Her mother Geneva checked us in, to the charming Rhododendron Room, full of bright light and views of a bend of the Klamath River. She said one of the windows opened, and she could find a screen if we needed it, but there weren’t many bugs and it was pretty rare for a bat to miscalculate and come in the room (but if one did, we need only call her, and she or her husband would remove it). There are bat boxes a few feet from the window, around a corner. I think we’ll close the window sheers before going to sleep; problem solved.
Bats aside, the room and the view threw us mentally back to our trip to the southwest of France, undertaken as research for Wake Unto Me, and the night spent in La Roque Gageac in an old hotel at a bend of the Dordogne River. Here at the Requa we opened a bottle of wine (corkscrews and wine glasses provided in the room — this is California, after all) and sat in our wingback chairs, looking out at sunlight and river, and being glad we weren’t on board the Jet River Tour boats roaring past every hour or so.
Dinner is family-style, one seating, 7 PM. We sat with two younger couples from India, who live and work in San Francisco. They’re a cheery bunch, and we exchanged recommendations — us for dining in Seattle (Art of the Table, The Walrus & the Carpenter), them for hikes near the inn (Fern Canyon, and the Klamath River Overlook), and a restaurant in Sonoma (The Girl & the Fig).
One of the couples wants to write a book, but they don’t know about what… The woman had written twenty pages once, then given up. She leaned forward and hung on every bit of advice I gave, which made me think she actually does want to do this. Both the women are ‘domestic engineers’ (as they put it); I didn’t ask if that was by choice or by visa requirement, or just how things were expected to be.
The food was great, but the time between courses was extended, and when you’re sitting with a group of strangers it’s a lot of effort to keep the conversation going to avoid awkward stretches of silence. It didn’t help that the table was too long, spacing us out too far, which meant leaning over the table to try to hear what someone six feet away was saying. I think we all did a fair job of entertaining each other, but after a day of driving, Clark and I were grateful for the last course to come, the bill to be signed, and to retreat to our room. Our dining companions looked beat, too, and one of the couples still had to drive 40 minutes north to the campground where their tent was pitched.
The walls of the inn are made of redwood, insulated with redwood sawdust that did nothing to deaden sound. When our neighbors got to their room, I could hear every word they said. Even though I knew that they, too, could therefore hear every word from my own lips, I managed to forget that each time I spoke, until too late. So, our joking argument about which side of the bed was mine, and Clark’s protest that this was a disruption of normal routine, was likely heard word for word, as well as a few giggles and the use of the term ‘pookie-pants.’
If anyone reading this is planning a trip to the redwoods, and you like quirky, friendly, historic places with great food, stay at the Requa Inn. I’m feeling affectionate about it already, and I’ve only been here a few hours.
So far, I’m not hating this road trip as much as I thought I would. It’s been… quite nice.
More of The Lisa & Clark Expedition:
Who are Lisa & Clark?
Lisa’s latest novel,
Great-Aunt Sophia’s Lessons for Bombshells, from Simon & Schuster