Thursday, August 16, 2018

Heading south through the fire areas

A picture of Mickey for Hildie!
Today is Thursday, August 16. Since leaving Eugene on Tuesday we have not done much except drive south on Highway 5 and 99. When we got to Grants Pass on Tuesday we started noticing the smoke smell and hazy sky. The sun was really red just before sunset. There were many signs on buildings and hanging from the overpasses thanking the firemen and first responders for their efforts in fighting the fires. We really saw very little evidence of burned land and trees. I think it was all to the west of where we were. I picked up a map of the Taylor Creek and the Klondike Fires.They were both started by lightning on July 15 - a month later they are still less than 50% contained. Between the two fires there were about 1500 people fighting it. Since 2002 there have been 4 other major fires in this area.

I was worried about going through Redding because that was also in the middle of the Ranch Fire a couple weeks ago. However, once we got south of Medford the sky cleared and we saw no more evidence of fire. We even saw a sign that Yosemite was now open, so thank heavens for our fire fighters. Although I know the fires are not over yet.

One of the nights I wanted to stay in a National Forest camp site (we have given up on State Parks). However, it turns out they have established a policy of only selling sites by reservation. You can pick one out, but you still have to have Internet access to go to the Web site, reserve the spot, and pay by credit card. We decided that was too complicated and went to a private campground instead! Tonight we are in another private campground in Fresno.
Looking forward to getting home

Into Oregon

Along the Oregon Coast
On Sunday, August 12, we left the Redwoods behind and crossed the border into Oregon. 101 becomes the Pacific Coast Scenic Trail and it definitely fulfills that title. We could see the rugged coast line from many spots. We were traveling through pine forests which had probably been logged over at least twice. The towns were mainly supported by logging, fishing, and tourism. At one point we were supposed to see cranberry bogs - they seemed to be missing! We did stop in Bandon to buy cranberry candy at a store called Cranberry Sweets.

We spent the night in Coos Bay, dry camping at the Mill Casino. On Monday we found the Pancake Mill across from the Mill Casino. The line was long, and the food was good! We continued the drive along the coast going north. The main feature here is Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. We stopped to look at the dunes, but decided they were too hard to climb. Micky did enjoy running in the sand! When we got to Florence we decided it was time to think about heading south. We drove highway 126 to Eugene and found a camping spot in a beautiful County Park (Armitage CP). We have noticed that many county parks have wonderful camp grounds - clean, camping spots not too close together, reasonably priced, lots of flora and fauna.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

All about the Redwoods

Suzanne admires the sculptural tree roots of a fallen tree
Thursday afternoon we started to drive the Avenue of the Giants Scenic Drive. This is a windy two lane road paralleling Highway 101, going through Humboldt Redwoods State Park. The road wends its way through forests of these giant trees (taller than Sequoias, but not as massive). There were many places to stop and walk among the trees, enjoying the cooler temperatures, the sculptural root systems of the fallen trees, the stumps left from logging, the 362 foot tall Dyerville Redwood which fell in 1991 and still provides nutrients and living to the other plants and animals, the splintered log of another fallen tree, learning about burls which are actually a cluster of buds which may sprout to grow a new tree.
It's hard to take a picture of the whole tree!

About half way we stopped at Burlington Campground to spend the night. The next day we finished the drive and rejoined 101 to continue north. We got to Eureka and ate at the famous Cookhouse Restaurant. It is on the Register of Historic Places because it was formerly a cookhouse for the Samoan workers. It serves one menu, family style. People sit at long tables and you never know who your neighbor might be!

Since we had no trouble camping last night I thought tonight would also be easy! Not so! The state beach campgrounds were full, so we ended up at a private campground, Emerald Forest.
Don and the burned out tree
By Saturday, I was tired of camping among the redwoods. In spite of their beauty and uniqueness, they make for a dark and sometimes damp campground. Our drive was still through the forests until we got to Crescent City (named for the crescent shape of the bay). We gave up looking for campgrounds and stayed in the WalMart parking lot!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

We reached the ocean

Wednesday at the beach
On Wednesday, we left the wine country and headed for the coast on Highway 20. When we got to Highway 1 we started to look for a campsite. I couldn't believe they were still all full - in the middle of the week! We tried Russian Gulch and were directed to Van Damme State Park where we were gifted with a spot in the parking lot right on the beach. Well, that was pretty exciting - watching the waves and all the people in their boats, kayaks, and canoes enjoying the water. It was quite an afternoon.

On Thursday we took a walk in the park's pygmy forest. This is a hard pan area with poor drainage so the soil has become very acidic. Consequently, anything that grows here is very stunted. There are 60 year old cypress trees that are only a few feet tall and the trunks are 1/2 inch in diameter!
Don at the Pygmy Forest

We drove along the rugged coast through old logging towns. This area was the home of the Pomos until the arrival of Russian fur trappers in the early 1800's. It was covered with trees until the brig, Frolic, sank and the salvagers noticed all the trees. So, that started the logging industry. Now, the area is really fueled by tourism. The town of Mendocino is a registered historic district. The homes are still in their original state, including 3 story water towers and outhouses (turned into small dwellings or flower gardens). We headed for the redwoods in the afternoon.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Why State Parks

Model of Apple's new "Spaceship" facility in Cupertino CA
Well, back to square one with my State Parks plan. After driving back to Santa Rosa for breakfast on Tuesday, we headed for Clear Lake State Park. This is a park on the largest natural lake entirely in the state of California. However, when we got there we found it was closed because of the Ranch Fire (the largest ever in the state of California). So, we headed back towards the coast, away from the smoke and ended up in Ukiah. We stayed at the Fairgrounds RV Park.

Ukiah was rather disappointing. We have a map of the spots in California that Huell Howser has visited and this city was on the map. However, it turns out we HAVE been here before and already seen the spots he talked about.

One of my reasons for deciding to support state parks this trip is because it wasn't too long ago that Governor Brown put over 70 park closures in his budget in order to balance it. Due to much hue and outcry. to many citizens groups stepping up to mantain some of the parks, and to raising the rates considerably I think all the parks were saved. When I looked at the list of those he wanted to close, I saw those we had already visited or passed by because they were full including Jack London and Sugarloaf. So, it is very important for all of us to keep supporting these pieces of California's beauty and history.

I also must confess that after passing by so many vineyards and wineries in this part of California (Napa Valley and Sonoma County), we did buy a bottle of wine to enjoy before settling in for the night.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Hanging around Santa Rosa CA

The first night of our trip was Thursday, August 2 (Dad's birthday). We left Santa Monica in the afternoon and drove to Pismo Beach. I had checked the Internet and all the State Parks in this area were full, so we tried a county park that we have stayed at in the past. We lucked out and got the last space at Oceano Beach County Park.

The next 2 days and nights were spent at my Colonial Dames conference in Santa Clara. We remembered that Chris used to live here and that we never had found a camp ground that we really liked. So we just did our usual and stayed in the Wal-Mart parking lot! So, much for my state parks plan!

Suzanne at Santa Clara Mission
On Sunday we went to mass at the Santa Clara Mission which is on the grounds of the Jesuit Santa Clara University. They have a beautiful campus with old mission style buildings and lots of gardens.
This church is the third time they have built the mission church. We also drove through San Francisco and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge.We ended up in Santa Rosa, home of Luther Burbank and lots of old historic buildings. We stayed in Spring Lake Park campground which is on a reservoir and still not a state park!

Finally on Monday, August 5 we hit the jackpot, we found 2 state parks! First we drove to Jack London State Historic Park near Glen Ellen. This is the place where Jack London lived with his wife, Charmiane, and wrote many of his books. However, he found that he really loved farming and experimenting with new ways of growing plants. He took an old, used up piece of land, nurtured it using many techniques from the Chinese and ended up with a vineyard and winery, pigs, horses, and a beautiful green paradise. His tragedy came when the modern home they were building burned (that was Wolf House) and he never quite recovered from that.

Jack London's home
We then drove up to Sugarloaf Ridge State Park to camp. They had several spots left, so we got to choose the best one for us. Sugarloaf was named because there is a volcanic ridge that looks like the sugarloaf cone of crystallized sugar which is how they used to sell sugar. The park also has an observatory, which is only open on weekends.