Originally published 28 December, 2014
Sea lions, Crescent City, CA
Today was a bit different, as the focus was away from the ocean and further inland. We arose this morning and got breakfast at some west coast IHOP/Waffle House clone called The Apple Peddler. It was a quite serviceable diner style breakfast.....no dungeness crab omelets today. It was meat and potatoes or french toast. Then we were headed south.
Our first stop was out on the wharf in Crescent City. I had heard the seals barking when we went to dinner the night before. We went back to the place we had dinner and there were two floating docks just covered in the little buggers! They actually aren't even close to little. They're around 600 or 700 pounds. But they're fun to watch for a few minutes!
Paul Bunyon and Babe the Blue Ox, at Trees of Mystery! Klamath, CA
After this short stop, we head down 101 and fall right into the clutches of a well known tourist trap called "Trees of Mystery". Most people will know it from the multi story Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox out front. It's a tourist attraction that includes a walk through some redwoods and spruce trees of note. In the past decade they've added a gondola ride up the mountain. Yes, it's touristy....but not cheezy like "Legend of Bigfoot" that we saw later in the day. Admission was 15 bucks......so we splurged.
Gondola ride, Trees of Mystery
The walk through the woods was actually quite interesting. We saw massive trees and all matter of flora and fauna. We then took the gondola to the top of the mountain. The redwoods were a "must see" for Laurie, and one of the main things she wanted to do. She was in awe of the trees, and wandered around like a little kid all agog. It actually makes me very happy to see how much she enjoyed it. I liked it, but I loved seeing her so excited even more.
California redwood forests
From here, we hit another one of those long stretches where there were things to see, but not as important to us as other things. Like everything in life, time management sometimes comes into play. We made a speed run down the 101 to our next stop, another Laurie "must see"......The Avenue of the Giants.
The Avenue of the Giants is actually the old route 101. The new 101 runs parallel to it, but bypasses the forests. Even I was impressed with the trees we saw. Trees 20 plus feet across and 350 plus feet tall. Ya don't see those every day. We would get out and take short hikes through the forest, taking everything in. The trees come right down to the road, but the real monsters are usually a short walk.
The forest is so lush and so dense, with ferns, clover, and all matter of vegetation growing, even in the middle of winter. There is so much green here, odd for us to see in December. As for how dense the forest is, if someone wants to disappear in this area they will not be found. Rambo, Bigfoot, and the Keebler elves may actually live here....there's just no way to find them! We stopped along the way and photographed the elk, which were very tolerant of all the people. Those suckers are truly huge.
Roadside Elk, Avenue of the Giants
Root ball of a Redwood, Laurie is there for scale.
We head out and drive south, stopping at one of the "drive through" trees. There are two, and one is more famous, but we weren't sure we would make it to the most famous one. So we went to the first one! After that, we picked up Route 1 through some of the curviest road this side of the coal fields. If ya got kids, it's carsick city for sure. Then all of a sudden, you pop out of the forest and there is the ocean.
We follow the shore to where we are staying tonight, Fort Bragg, California. It's a fishing/semi tourist town. We're staying in a cheap hotel for the few hours we're here. Tomorrow we head down the coast towards San Francisco. More tomorrow! Now a few words from Laurie!
Massive redwoods, Avenue of the Giants
The Oregon coast was not what I expected, although I'm not sure what I expected. The mountains end dramatically in the sea but there were sandy, or sometimes muddy/sandy beaches depending on whether or not there was a fresh water stream coming to the ocean. It was beautiful and wild. Haystacks are not found at all on the east coast and reminded me of the desert rock formations that jut randomly from the earth. The coast line was frequently muted by mist and made me wonder how many days the sun actually shines there, since we didn't really see much of it. But it created a wonderful moodiness to the landscape.
Bill drives the rental car through a tree!
Moving from this wide expansiveness of moist, fresh, salt air to the closeness of the forests with the smell of cedar and earth was quite a change. The giant redwoods and Douglas fir trees were so amazing in their size and silent beauty. The sounds are muted in the forest, no echoing fog horns and buoy bells, but soft shuffling of forest critters and dripping of moisture accumulating on giant leaves. To stand beside something that has been living for a thousand years is quite humbling. Moss and lichen cover everything, ferns and clover in abundance show how life can adapt to any circumstances. It seemed that light very rarely reaches the forest floor but it does, filtering in between the canopies of the trees hundreds of feet in the air. Even as they fall and lie on the forest floor, these trees provide their own ecosystems of new growth. It was a magical, mystical experience.
I'm Bill. My wife Laurie and I love to travel and share our stories. We especially love it when we have been able to motivate our readers to start traveling on their own, and making their own stories.
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