Most people picture sandy beaches and palm trees when they think about the famous Highway 1. But there is so much more to see! North of San Francisco, the highway winds along spectacular cliffs, rocky beaches, and through enormous Redwood forests; it also touches a row of National Parks and other unique spots that are worth exploring.
On our way along the Californian coast we saw many beautiful beaches. But the most unusual is probably Glass Beach, about 20 minutes north of Mendocino in the MacKerricher State Park. Walking down the steps to the ocean, you have to look closely to realize that you are not standing on colorful stones, but that the beach is entirely covered with small pieces of glass. At this point, starting in the early 1900s, the residents of the Fort Bragg area established an official water dump site to dispose their trash into the ocean. What used to be electronic scrap, glass bottles, and even cars are nowadays small white, green, and red glass pebbles - so polished that you can walk on them barefoot without getting cut. A crazy turn of history: while people usually complain about maritime pollution, they come to Glass Beach to admire the trash of the last century.
Grandparents on quads, kids on sleds, adults rolling down the steepest sand hills - in the Oregon Dunes, North America's largest sand box, everybody turns into a child again. The sand dunes, which stretch about 40 miles north from the Coos River, are a unique area that were shaped by millions of years of wind and rain erosions on the Oregon Coast creating some dunes that reach up to 500 feet above sea level. We chose the Umpqua dunes to go for a walk, which turned out to be quite a workout after so may hours in the car (we are still waiting for the sore muscles). After passing some trees, we felt like being thrown out into a desert: miles of sand dunes, some footprints in the sand, but no other person around, chilly winds, and, surprisingly, no ocean in sight.
Special fuel service
We stopped at a gas station in Oregon today and – as we are used to – we get out of the car and walk to the pump. As we reach for the nozzle, a furious gas station employee sprints towards us and gives us a little lecture: In Oregon, it is illegal to pump your own gas. Seriously. In the early days of self-service gas stations (the first one opened in California in 1949), a row of explosions and fires caused significant damage. As technology advanced, gas stations became much safer, and most of the States allowed gas self-service as we know it today. Oregon and the State of New Jersey, however, still see it as a safety hazard and require a gas attendant to fuel up your car. If you do it yourself, you are charged with a $500 fine. To add to the curiosity, this law does not include motorcyclist – since 2001, they can legally fuel their bikes themselves.