Thursday, September 27, 2012

Day 22 – Geezers: 1 – Giants: 0

We left this morning under foggy skies and because we’d driven 20 miles of our route yesterday while looking at trees we knew a bit about what to expect.  Still it is exciting to encounter those 7% grades along with a 30mph tippy truck curve with an “Elk Crossing Next 2 Miles” sign in the middle of the whole thing.  Once we got to the crest of the mountain we had the fog in the valley to look forward to.   Apparently the redwoods love this stuff.

Too much chlorine in the water again today meant that we were on the lookout for coffee this morning.  The town of Orick had a little café where they were happy to fill our cups for us.  We chatted with the cashier for a bit and he gave us some sightseeing advice before we went on our way.  

The scenery featured many changes today.  These are the Humboldt Lagoons at Humboldt State Park.  They are shallow bays between rocky headlands where coastal was action has formed a sandy bar separating each of the 3 lagoons from the ocean.  We saw some people kayaking in one.  Also there were several people unloading horse trailers in preparation for a ride on the beach.  There seems to be quite a horse culture here about.  The state parks where we stayed in Oregon both had horse camping areas.  Places for camping as well as corrals for horses.  I wonder if horses like to go camping. 
The coastal area is also dotted with little “you are now entering a tsunami danger area” and then “you are now leaving a tsunami danger area”.  I’m not sure what elevation qualifies as no danger.  I suppose it would depend upon the size of the waves.  This is probably another reason why I just couldn’t live here.  I’d be too busy worrying about all the things that might kill me and forget to just go ahead and live.

The slightly larger city of Eureka CA (pop. 27,000) was the first biggish city that we’ve seen for a while.  US101 becomes “the freeway” for some of the route now and the approach to the city was one of these places.  We noticed a huge cedar (or maybe redwood) lumber yard here.

My quest for art in the wild was rewarded with this bit of wall art and there were also several interesting looking buildings along our route. 

Notice the fuel prices.  They are outlandishly high.

Once again, when we left the city and encountered some flat stretches of land they were being farmed.  In this case a herd of cows. 


Several people yesterday told us that we should drive The Avenue of the Giants.  With those recommendations in mind and with the fact that the road has such a great name we really had to do it.  These gentlemen were preparing for a bicycle ride along the avenue and told us that it was the most beautiful road in all of California.  They just asked us to watch out for bicyclists (especially them).  

The road is a 31 mile stretch along an old alignment of US101 that runs from Fortuna to Garberville.  It gets the name from the giant redwoods that overshadow the road.  The road runs alongside the Eel River and connects several small towns.  Some of these towns have a few thriving businesses and others look a little worse for wear.

These huge trees are right along the road side.  There is no shoulder to speak of but many turnouts.  Each of the bigger trees that stand right next to the road has their own reflectors next to them.  Presumably this is to warn unsuspecting drivers (of 5th wheels no doubt) that there is a tree leaning into the road.

A bit white knuckle in a few spots because of the twists and turns, the drive was worth every minute of it.  Here we have found a turnout and did a little exploring. 

Give a man a fallen down redwood tree and he just has to climb all over it!

This is just so beautiful.   We probably use the word “awesome” way too much to describe things.  I do think that this particular stretch of road deserves the adjective.

We stopped in the little town of Miranda because we noticed another coffee shop.  It is amazing to me how friendly folks have been.  Also amazing that not everybody is trying to rip off the tourists.  We got 2 cups of coffee for $2.00.  There is a high school right next door and the bell rang while we were waiting for the coffee.  The server said they’d be inundated with high school students in about 2 minutes and they surely were.  The little businesses here must do a brisk school year trade with the students.  I wonder if the school cafeteria is really very bad or these kids just have to have their noontime coffee fix.

I found more wall art.  This one must be depicting the local sights or at least using the local settings (ie, that big tree) to make a statement. 

I was surprised to find so many little artists and craftspeople along the route.  They all seemed to be selling their wares.  The old car served as a backdrop for this artist’s products. 

Yet another shop with wood carvings appeared in Miranda.  At this one, 2 gentlemen sitting in rocking chairs on the porch offered to sell us a porcelain decorated coal stove.  We had to decline as it really wouldn’t have been practical to keep it in the 5th wheel.  

I like to take pictures of post offices.  I have a collection that includes many from Maine.  Now my collection includes one from Miranda, CA.

When it got to be lunch time, the only turnout we could find was on one of the “freeway” sections of US101.  It wasn’t really such a bad spot.  There was nobody else pulled over, we had enough room to open the slide and this was the view from the back window. 
We didn’t have a reservation for any particular campground tonight.  Rather, we just drove until we thought we’d gone far enough.  That happened near Willits, CA where we found a campground called The Golden Rule RV Park.   This is in a pretty spot somewhat off and down away from the highway.  The campground is surrounded by Ridgewood Ranch which is the home of Seabiscuit (the famous racing horse).  There is a sign on a gate next to the road on the way down to the campground.  You can actually tour the ranch.   The campground office was closed when we got here but they had a sign directing us to just go pick an empty campsite and then pay them in the morning.  We did just that.  The campground has one curious rule – no mind altering drugs.  Just before we got here, I noticed a place called Mendo Meds which I later learned is a marijuana dispensary so that rule probably has something to do with that establishment.   So I guess we won’t tell anybody about the Ibuprofen or the coffee or the wine that we have on board!
It was another great day and we saw more wonderful sights.  Tomorrow we head towards San Francisco.

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