The High Road

   

California’s Highway 1, from Malibu to Big Sur, is beautiful. It’s also dotted with overpriced, mediocre restaurants and a lot of tourists. So last spring, my husband, Ian, and I borrowed a 22-foot Airstream and headed north from San Francisco. The farther up the coast you travel, the grittier and wilder everything becomes. As we passed the Humboldt County sign, the scent of marijuana wafted through the vents, making us laugh out loud. (Maybe it was a contact high.) North of Humboldt up Highway 101, the redwoods started jutting up, making us feel small. One had a tunnel through it for cars; another, just a stump, contained a house. Then we made for Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, the least logged redwood park in the state. After camping for a night under the canopy ($35 per night; reserveamerica.com), we continued north into Oregon, where the beaches look utterly foreign, with three-story sea stacks jutting up from the sand. Just north, in the town of Bandon, we spilled into the Wheelhouse Restaurant and Crowsnest Lounge, wet from the rain, for some fresh, vinegary halibut (541-347-9331). From there it’s a five-hour drive to the end of the road in Portland. Along the way, stop in at Cape Lookout State Park (from $19 per night; reserveamerica.com), at the northern end of the old-growth-covered Wilson River pass. Anyone who says camping isn’t romantic has never camped here—40-foot waterfalls stream from cliffs about a mile down the beach from the oceanfront campground. With the Airstream’s awning and a bottle of wine, we weren’t exactly roughing it. But it was just a short walk to an empty beach where we felt like the last two people on the planet.

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