We decided to go to Eureka, California to see more big trees, redwoods this time. And the ocean. And all the cool Victorian houses. And ride the many miles of bike trails they have there. After a lovely drive through the Napa Valley and an overnight at the Elks in Ukiah, we headed out.
My turn to drive again. The slow, ponderous uphills and curvy downhills were a little nerve-wracking but we persevered. Traffic was all snarled up in Willits, where the highway was closed and all traffic was routed through town. It was so bad that I was able to take this picture from the driver’s seat. Not normally recommended…
Once we got back on the 101, the ups and downs began. The bus performs great, it is just a little slow which makes me a little anxious with cars whipping all around to pass us. Thank God for passing lanes and pullouts. By the time we switched drivers, it smoothed out and all was downhill from there. We made it in fine shape and got settled down at the Elks Lodge in Eureka, which is just about a mile away from the waterfront bike trail heading into town. I was ready for my cocktail!
The first day we rode into Eureka was the fourth of July, so we gathered with the crowds enjoying music and food (and wine!) and biked around town. We had an awesome local sampling of food and wine at the Humboldt County Tourism Bureau. They also had oysters!
Situated on Humboldt Bay, Eureka is a gem of a town. Lots of Victorian houses in all states of repair, from the grandest of grand to the humble fixer-upper. As my friend, Louise Butler says, they all have a story to tell.
We rode a couple of 30 mile days, one of them over the bridge to the Samoa Peninsula where we ate our meal of the day at the Samoa Cookhouse. The bridge had a bike lane but the traffic was fast and furious. We had a great family style meal at the Cookhouse, thanks to the advice of R. J. Long. Consisting of soup, salad, bread, green beans, potatoes, baked beans, roast pork, gravy and dessert; we were glad we could work it off on the bikes. We biked around the residential area to the beach, then back over the bridge to Eureka.
We had driven the bus on the Redwood Highway through Humboldt Bay State Park and decided to rent a car to go back and do the Avenue of the Giants. The groves of these ancient trees are enough to make a non-believer drop to their knees in awe of the majesty. Walking through the forest, among trees that are over 2000 years old is humbling. These silent sentinels of the forest introduce you to the quiet; the fern ground cover and the fallen debris all add to the hushed magnificence. The ferns and clover are also very large. And Sasquatch lives there!
Of course, the early settlers were intent on cutting them all down and the area was heavily logged. As early as 1918, groups formed to buy land and groves of trees and saved what is left. One of the groups was smart enough to invite John D. Rockefeller for a tour and picnic in the groves. He got involved and donated two million dollars to buy up a couple of large parcels. Some of the groves had never been logged and you can get the sense of the ancient old growth forest.
Why do we always destroy everything that we don’t understand? Oh yeah, money. Because we can… And in those days, Manifest Destiny. Bah.
One of the groves on the Avenue of the Giants Auto Tour, F. K. Lane, has the largest amount of biomass, living and dead, in the world! When these trees fall, they take up a lot of space!
Since we had the car, we drove to the westernmost point in the continental United States. It was a foggy and curvy drive that we were glad we didn’t try in the bus. Also not recommended for motorhomes.
The fog was so thick that you couldn’t see an approaching car until they were upon you. I made some horse friends in Capetown, after we descended from the foggy hills.
The westernmost continental coast was well worth the trip. Surf up and wind blowing. The black sand was silky smooth.
The fog had lifted some on the way back through Ferndale, where they have lots more Victorian houses and architecture.
And beautiful gardens surrounding them! This red hot poker plant was the biggest I have ever seen!
And the hydrangeas range from robin egg blue to magenta to deep purple.
Back to Eureka where they also have all kinds of art murals throughout the town. The front of the performing arts center:
And the back.
More cool stuff around town:
And on a final note; everybody knows (or should know) how bad the drought is in California Fire danger is high and all burning suspended. As in our past travel history, we were able to bring rain! It rained a couple of days while we had the car. I know we are on the coast and all but pretty amazing. I guess we need to go back to the Central Valley, but we are on to Oregon!
More pics on Flickr.