Wednesday, July 28, 2004

"This is definitely the best drive-thru tree I've ever seen"

The day started out with a cruise up the remains of Highway 1, later merging onto US 101. The fog burned off early on, and the scenery was again gorgeous. Along the way I took a quick detour to drive through a massive 2400-year-old redwood tree. (The quote above was overheard from one of the bystanders.)

Somewhere near the California-Oregon border, I crossed a bridge and saw a herd of elk lounging on the banks of the river. There was a turnoff ahead, so I pulled over to see if I could get a closer look.

Several other people had the same idea. At first I followed their lead and bushwhacked my way through a grove of stinging nettles (ouch!) to get closer. The view wasn't that great, however.

On my way back to my car, I realized that there was a dirt road leading down to the gravel and sand-covered river bed. I was driving a rental car, and there was no way I was going to risk burying it. But I walked down the road to get a closer look.

Some folks, however, didn't share my prudence. One dumbass in particular drove his front-wheel drive SUV down, and then proceeded to bury it up to the axels in sand. His driving showed a remarkable lack of common sense -- he was able to back up, but rather than simply backing out of the sand onto firmer ground, he went a few feet and then zoomed forward to have another go.

After watching this little show for a few minutes, I offered to help push. The guy's wife also got out to help, and a Korean tourist pitched in. The three of us waded into the sand and began frantically pushing, eventually dislodging the underpowered SUV. Unfortunately, however, I lost my footing in the sand when the vehicle started moving and did a split -- ripping a rather noticable hole in my pants.

Not content to be a Good Samaritan/sucker once in a day, about an hour later I was driving down a road and was flagged down by two adults and about 10 kids standing in the middle of the road. A shirtless guy explained to me that they were out of gas, and asked for a ride to a gas station. I wasn't in a huge hurry, so he climbed in with one of the kids and we headed to a Chevron station about 10 miles up the road. While riding, however, it emerged that the guy didn't actually have money to pay for the gas. So I ended up subsidizing a few gallons for them. It may be they were really in trouble -- or that they have just hit on a scam for getting a few gallons of free fuel. Who knows? In any case, I'll live without the $6.

Spent the night at a Motel 6 in Medford, Oregon. Today I'm off to Crater Lake, and then heading back toward the coast.

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