Thursday, September 27, 2012

Day 21 – Oh Say Can You See A Big Redwood Tree

We left Bullards Beach State Park campground this morning.  Unfortunately it took us so long to get there yesterday that we didn’t really have a chance to look around.  It seemed like a nice place and it certainly was quiet.  Perhaps one day we will return and I can report on the lighthouse tour and the walking trail.   I must be getting confused after all these days traveling.  This morning I referred to the hose as the water wire.  To Brett’s credit, he understood what I meant.
We headed south on US101 again and this morning we began the day with no fog.  Another procession of beach towns and scenery would mark the day.   I keep careful watch on what roads we will be driving on any day and then double check my truck driver’s atlas to see if they are approved for big trucks.  The reasoning is that if a big rig can get through so can we.  Yesterday I was somewhat taken aback to see a sign suddenly appear to warn of “Tunnel Ahead, 11’0” Clearance” .  We are 12’9” so there was a moment of angst until we saw the tunnel and understood that the 11’ was at the very edges.  We stayed in the middle.

This town wanted to be sure that you didn’t miss a chance to see the ocean. 
But if you persevere and just keep driving down the highway, this is what you see around the bend.

There were a lot more sea stacks to see today. 

We also observed Oregon’s tax dollars at work.  They keep Oregon moving.   Brett observed that speeders seem to be slowing us down.  Whenever we build up an entourage of 3 or so cars behind us we have to pull over to let them by.  Since we are careful to drive at the speed limit, all this courteous behavior is doing us in.

Where ever there was a little town, there was some sort of roadside kitsch to attract a tourist or two.  I think that this was a SideTheRoadASaurus. 

Also, cranberries are grown in fields here.  We saw an Ocean Spray operation.  The fields have a kind of earthen rim around the edges which probably holds in water when they are flooded for harvest.

I’ll let the scenery do the talking again.  It takes a while to get anywhere if you want to stop at every beautiful spot.  We did.

More of these bridge pylons today.  My friend Rick told me that these are on the bridge for decoration.  Well done!

I am a coffee drinker.  I love my coffee and I can drink just about anything.  But this morning the coffee water had way too much chlorine in it and I could NOT drink the stuff.  This meant that I was pretty desperate for my morning drink and was keeping a close lookout for anything resembling a coffee shop.  Now, if this had been Seattle I would only have had to go around the corner but in the wilds of Oregon we had to drive a few miles.  This cute little town appeared and the store that said café had a largish parking lot so we went to investigate.  The café didn’t open until 11 but the ladies selling salmon wanted to chat and one of them turned out to have been born in Caribou, ME.  They sent us over to the coffee shop next door where we met another nice lady.  She has a sign that says “Nearest Starbucks 80 miles south or far north”.   She was happy to fill up our travel mugs for us and wish us a nice day.  I love finding places like this.  I never did catch the name of the town.  Update:  Theresa the internet sleuth found the name for me.  It is Gold Beach and the bridge is over the Rogue River.

We drove a while longer and more gorgeous scenery appeared.

I noticed a couple of signs that make me want to do a little more research to learn:
  • What was the conflict at Pistol River
Update:   Located between Gold Beach and Brookings. The stream, which flows into the Pacific Ocean, was supposedly named for the pistol which James MACE lost in its waters in 1853. The town nearby is named accordingly.
  • And who was Bruce and why is there a Bruce’s Bones Creek
Update:  The creek was named for an incident which occurred when a highway crew was surveying the area in the 1950s. One of the party, a Bruce Schilling, went the wrong way and became lost. The other surveyors commented that they would probably find Bruce's Bones in the brush when they returned to the site in the spring. Luckily for Bruce, this scenario did not occur, but the name remains to this day.
Once I get some sort of Internet access again I intend to find out.
Fuel in Oregon is much cheaper than in California so we stopped to fill up before we crossed the border.  As with yesterday, there was an attendant at the pump who took care of pumping the fuel and taking the money.  I’m spoiled now.  

Without too much fanfare we crossed into California.  There was a group of bicyclists around the welcome sign celebrating their arrival.  US101 also includes lots of shoulder room and/or bike paths and we say many serious cyclists trekking up and down the mountains.

Almost as soon as we got to California, we noticed that any kind of flat land between the highway and the sea was agricultural.  There were fields of crops but we could not determine what was growing.

Because I had been brazen enough to celebrate a sunny morning, the fog settled in.

We stopped at a turnout right next to the beach for lunch.  While we were sitting there, a lady knocked on the window of the RV and wanted to chat about Maine.  She needed to tell us that she grew up in Jackman.  Another small world story.  It’s funny that almost every time we mention that we are from Maine somebody will say “You are a long way from home”.  It’s almost as though they want to be sure that we know it.
We drove through the decidedly unlovely city of Crescent City on our way into Redwood country.  We learned that the city has seen hard times.  Much of it was destroyed in a flood some number of years ago and the people who stayed had to rebuild from scratch.  All of the industry has left and tourism is very important.  There is a big prison for very bad people nearby (Charles Manson was kept here for a while).  These prisoners have families and many of them have come to Crescent City to be near their loved one.  Unfortunately many of these haven’t got many resources and are consequently homeless and panhandling.  There is a village of these families living behind the Safeway in town.  We saw a couple of women just pushing carts around with their belongings in them.  It must be a hard way  to live.

We didn’t have any campground reservations for tonight but weren’t too worried since it isn’t a very busy time of year.  We got to Klamath at about 2pm and decided to spend the night here.  We found a mom & pop campground called “Mystic Forest RV Park”.  They’ve been here for 18 years and have 36 campsites.  It is mostly a big field surrounded by the forest.  We were the only ones here this afternoon but a few more have since arrived. 

 Our Mom gave us suggestions about the best tree watching spots so we got set up and then took a drive to see the sights.  We first went into the town of Orick and visited a couple of wood working places. 

Brett bought a redwood burl, a piece of purple redwood, a slab of redwood burl and some other piece of wood which neither of us can remember at the moment.  I suspect at least some of them will become lovely wooden bowls.  At one of the shops we had quite a chat with the artist.  He had worked in Maine at some point during his career as a woodworker and carved things for sailboats. 

I wasn’t going to come to Redwood country and not see the big trees.  We decided to visit the Lady Bird Johnson Grove and it did not disappoint me.  No trees have ever been cut in this glade and they are HUGE.  I would guess 200 feet or so and some easily had diameters greater than 6 feet.  Pictures cannot express the size of these things but pictures I have nonetheless.

This grove is at the top of a 1200 foot mountain. 

.  I remarked that the big redwoods must all grow on mountaintops.  Brett believes they are all up high because they were too hard to reach when the area was being cut.  Then luckily they were preserved.  That is probably correct.

There are elk hanging about the area as well.  We spotted a small herd beside the road. 

On the way back to the campground we found a smoked salmon shop where they prepare it the traditional Indian way (without heat). 

The lady who runs it is Indian and she said that her family catches the salmon that they smoke.  We spent a long time here tasting samples, chatting with her and another couple who were shopping there.  I finally decided on the traditional smoked salmon and the salmon jerky.  Brett also bought some buffalo jerky (which they do no prepare locally).

We had to stop one other place so that I could take of photo of Paul Bunyan and Babe.  At least the people in the shop knew that Paul was born in Maine.  I guess he did some traveling too. 

  There was a very interesting Indian Museum here too which we walked through.  This area is Yurok Indian but the museum featured items from many tribes across North America.

We were glad that we stopped early and took the time to visit the area.  Tomorrow we continue south and we will stop when something seems interesting.


  1. Keep us posted about Pistol Creek and Bruce's Bones. As you have discovered, Maine is a great origin. Everyone has a connection to our renowned difficulty in getting here from there or not or vice versa, ayuh. Paul Bunyan had to move where there was work. Seems the tree size matches his appetite.

    1. I have updated with some info about Pistol Creek and Bruce's Bones