Wednesday, 9 June 2010


By Cecilia Seilern travelling with Lily Barton

We hit the road again headed north towards the Redwood forest where we planned to spend our first night camping. We drove out of San Francisco and over the Golden Gate Bridge in the morning, (a truly worthwhile minute or two) and soon found ourselves in quite different surroundings. About two hours north of San Francisco, we found ourselves in a sea of massive sequoia trees reaching high into the skies and far into the horizon. Sunlight flickered through the branches like strobe light as the road wound in and out. As we drove through tiny roadside towns, passing endless crumbling Motels with rusty signs, more often than not the ‘O’ hanging low between the ‘M’ and the ‘T’, we finally felt like we were in America. The kind of America you only really see when on the road. Every town we passed, though inhabited, felt like a ghost town. The once brightly coloured gas stations and diners had faded into pastels and every building looked as though it had been built for temporary measures; only someone forgot to tear it down again.

As we approached our destination, Crescent City, a town almost on the border with Oregon and in the middle of nowhere, we were once again on the coast. California’s northern coastline is much wilder, buffered by massive cliffs heavy with dense forest. Our sat nav only took us so far and failed to find our campsite. Having driven around in circles, we finally stopped by a deserted looking motel to ask for directions. We called ‘Hello! Hello!’ and were met with an eerie silence. We finally peered into a dusty window and saw a lonesome woman watching TV. We knocked and she finally lifted herself from her seat and tentatively opened the door a crack. One look at the woman standing on the other side of the door was enough to give Freddy Krueger the creeps. She told us she had been afraid to open the door because a car had recently been stolen out of her parking lot. Her greasy, straggly hair shaking along with her voice, she told us a nearby maximum security prison attracted some unsavory characters and has lead to a lucrative meth trade in the area; a trade to which, I suspected, she no doubt contributed… She had no answer to our queries so we set off again a little unnerved by what we had just learnt. There is something considerably creepier about the thought of an American prison compared to a European one… We found our campsite only a few minutes away from the sinister motel and as the sun was setting and we drove into the woods, an uneasy feeling set into the pit of our stomachs that had little to do with the bear warnings in our empty campsite.

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