Stout Grove, A Walk Among the Giants


It was hard for us to leave Ashland, Oregon as we felt that we could stay there for weeks. We might have stayed, but we had an appointment to meet friends in Crescent City, California. Mary and Tommy are fellow full-time travelers and Marisa went to High School with them. They knew the Crescent City area really well and they took us to Stout Grove in Jedediah Smith State Smith State Park. Jedediah Smith should not be confused with Jebediah Springfield.

The hike is only half a mile (more of a walk) but it took us through the most peaceful grove of Redwood trees. Since this was our first time seeing Redwoods up close and personal we were awestruck by the giant trees. I was literally speechless. There isn’t any way to describe what its like to be next to such massive living things. It was a spiritual experience.


Even with the beauty of the hike, the highlight of the day was meeting Tommy and Mary and their family. I have mentioned this before and I probably will again since it seems to be one of the major themes of our trip, the people we meet are the thing we will probably remember more than anything else. We were only together for a few hours but we felt a strong bond with this family that I had never met and Marisa hadn’t seen since high school. We are so blessed to be able to see so much of God’s beauty, and meet so many wonderful people.


Failed Butt Trip: Oregon Vortex

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While we were in Ashland, I read about a nearby attraction called the Oregon Vortex. I recalled that Mulder spoke of this mysterious anomaly on one of the episodes of X-Files and since “I want to believe,” I looked into it a little more. Here is what it says on the Oregon Vortex website.

“The Oregon Vortex is a glimpse of a strange world where the improbable is the commonplace and everyday physical facts are reversed. It is an area of naturally occurring visual and perceptual phenomena, which can be captured on film. No matter your education or profession you will find a challenge to all your accepted theories.”

Apparently, when you are at the vortex, reality and the laws of physics cease to exist. People’s heights change and perspectives are distorted. I looked at Marisa and said “What a wonderful butt trip opportunity.” Her eyes sparkled in anticipation. It made me love her even more.

The drive from Ashland to Gold Hills is about 45 minutes and while it was not across barren, featureless land, the kids were still bored. It seemed like a good start to another successful butt trip. Little did we know, that this would become a failed butt trip.vortex21

I didn’t look into the fee for entry and it turned out that it was like $12 per person for a 45 minute tour. A bit steep and way too expensive to be considered a butt trip. The tour was pretty good. There were plenty of optical illusions in what they claimed to be a vortex that distorted the laws of physics. We would stand up opposite to each other against some posts and our height looked the same, but then we would switch sides and it looked like one person would grow and one person would shrink. There were quite a few illusions here and I was pretty perplexed.


To be clear, I am a sucker for weird ideas, conspiracy theories, and paranormal phenomena. I tried hard to figure out how the optical illusions work but I was unable to wrap my head around what my eyes were seeing. I know there is some perspective stuff going on in the house of mystery but I was still perplexedvortex13


The Oregon Vortex costs more than it should, however my family thought it was unique and fun. I am glad we did it but it failed as a butt trip based on the following criteria.

  • It cost more than it should for a butt trip.
  • The kids enjoyed it.
  • There were no car breakdowns nor were there any character building opportunities.

In review the trip to the Oregon Vortex was a fail. It was pretty interesting and fun, and too expensive to be a butt trip. What was originally intended to be a butt trip was disqualified and a butt trip score can not be assigned.

Glass Beach

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While we were staying in Fortuna, California we heard rumors of a mystical beach that was made entirely of tumbled sea glass in Fort Bragg. Unicorns frolic in the surf and mermaids sing their siren call to sailors that pass by. Dolphins wear sombreros and strum huge guitars while jelly beans rain from the sky. These rumors caught our attention and bore further investigation.

Image from the early 1900's of the beach filled with trash.
Image from the early 1900’s of the beach filled with trash.

Before you get your hopes up, I should tell you that most of the above rumors aren’t true. There is however a glass beach. Between the years of 1906 to 1967 the citizens of Fort Bragg used the ocean as a landfill. They would throw their garbage over the cliffs and let the ocean take it away. Apparently in 1967 someone noticed that the ocean was beautiful and that we all depend on it to live and they said “hey maybe we shouldn’t dump all our garbage into the ocean.”

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Over the years, mother nature has overcome the years of abuse. Much of the garbage has deteriorated and been taken out to sea. The metal has rusted and worn away. All that remains is glass. Over the years the glass has been washed in and out by the ocean and now there is an amazing beach covered with polished glass (sans dolphins wearing sombreros.)

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The drive from Fortuna to Fort Bragg is 126 miles but it is a 2 hour 30 minute drive since a lot of the drive is through winding forests. Needless to say we had a lot of car sickness going on. One thing we have learned on this trip is to always have Ziploc bags with us.

We all thought the beach was worth the drive as it was so unique. Madelyn always finds a treasure in the form of a rock, or a shell, or a stick wherever we go, and she almost passed out with over-stimulation from seeing a beach full of polished glass treasures. I had warned her before hand that we wouldn’t be able to collect any so other people can see them, but she was still thrilled to collect glass in a pile and leave it for others to see.

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This was one of the favorite places we have visited because of the uniqueness of the experience.