Avenue of the Giants // Northern California

I've been taking the solo trip from the Sacramento Valley to visit my family in Crescent City, California for nearly 15 years. Many times, the journey looked a lot like cruise control, I-5 (to 199 to 197 to get back to the northern-most portion of California) and The White Stripes turned all the way up:

"Something better than nothing
Something better than nothing, it's giving up
We all need to do something
Try to keep the truth from showing up"

Avenue of t  he Giants // Northern California
Avenue of t  he Giants // Northern California

Other times, it looked like jetting up I-5 to Highway 20 through the quirky towns spotting the edges of Clear Lake. Eventually, I would hit Highway 101 just north of Ukiah and I would cruise quickly along the winding highway, barely pausing to appreciate the surrounding beauty. Fiona Apple's vibrato reminding me of earlier (and moodier) days:

"And all my armour
Falling down
In a pile at my feet
And my winter giving
Way to warm
As I'm singing him to sleep"

Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway // Northern California
Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway   // Northern California

Lately, however, I've been taking things a little slower. I've been stopping at towns I used to pass by on my way to the destination, getting lost in an area I used to call home and taking back roads and scenic routes that require a bit more time and a greater sense of wonder. I've been turning down the music and rolling down the windows. I've been pulling onto the shoulder turn-outs and staring up at giants.

Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway   // Northern California

On my most recent trip up north (a quick stop-over on my Seattle/Portland CYOP Road Trip), I decided to add a little extra time to my already long trip to take some scenic routes. If you're ever in the area, please do yourself a favor and take the exits for the Avenue of The Giants and the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway. It will take you longer to get wherever it is that you're heading, but go slow anyway.

Stop and get out of your car. 

Worry less about the destination.

And keep heading north.

There's more to California (and to the journey) than you might think.