California travel is not something either of us had ever even considered. We thought, “Lots of people, smog, traffic”, Who needs it? Jo said yesterday, “If you had told me I would be living in California for two months, I would have said you were crazy !” Well here we are, living in Redding California. And so far, we love our Redding Living !
We spent the last few days on a side trip to the California coast, driving from Crescent City to Eureka to Garberville. Such contrast for one state. Rocky coastlines, mountains, semi-desert, and redwood forests all contribute to the contrast.
Our drive to the coast from Redding took us along Hwy 299 through the coastal range and was about 3 hours of slow wandering. We weren’t prepared to see such a mountain range before getting to the coast. We saw streams, forests and lots of up and down roads for about 140 miles. The fall colors are in full glory and the contrast with the evergreens is beautiful. This is the first week of November.
More Pacific Coastline
The drive along the California Pacific coast is beautiful. The surf averages from 1 foot to 8 feet with plenty of days where it’s higher. We can see why surfers love it here. Rocks and sea stacks are abundant adding a lot to the scenery.
Seafood restaurants ranging from dives to plush eateries dot the coastline. Outside eating is popular.
The birds also seem to like it when you dine on an outside deck. I made the mistake of tossing one a french fry and you would think someone rang the dinner bell. Gulls, pelicans and bird of all types arrived en masse. Fortunately since it was mid afternoon we were the only ones eating outside. I was not too popular with my wife for a few minutes though.
Walk your dog, fly your kite, surf, fish, wind surf, it’s all there, even in November. There are dozens of RV Parks near the coast. California travel seems to have quite a lot to offer.
Eureka is an amazing city on a harbor with a picturesque marina, docks with fascinating boats, stacks and stacks of crab traps, and some of the most beautiful Victorian houses I have ever seen.
Crabbing is king here. Clams are also big, and there seems to be some kind of fish “running” all year long.
Quaint shops and a large variety of restaurants add to the charm. Be sure to drive through town and just look at the houses and shops at the very least. Eureka was a highlight of our California Travel experience.
California Travel – The Redwood Forests
Drive either north or south of Eureka and you start to see the Redwood forests. Redwoods National and State parks are between Crescent City and Eureka. On our first day we visited the Lady Bird Johnson Grove and several other nice groves in the same area.
On the second California travel day. driving south from Eureka, we exited from Hwy 101 a short distance south of Ferndale (more Victorian houses), and drove the Avenue of the Giants Hwy. Miles and miles of Coastal Redwoods growing right along the road await you. As you enter the forests, it’s like the sun seems to go down. In fact it’s so dark, signs advise that you drive with your headlights on for safety. And it’s quiet. Eerily so, and sounds do not echo. Sounds are absorbed by the trees.
We had seen redwoods a few years ago, stopping only briefly for a short look. This time we took the time to really get to know the forests. There would be a large grove followed by a plot of normal size trees, more light again, then back to another huge grove of redwoods. Needles, moss, ferns, and occasional fallen giants cover the floor of the forests. Brush and some undergrowth also are there, but not as much as most forests. It’s just too far away from the light. These trees grow to heights of 300 feet or more and block most of the sunlight. The Avenue of the Giants runs for almost 40 miles, parallel to Hwy 101. There are several access points to and from 101 along the drive.
Photographing these giant trees is a challenge. You just about have to have something like a car, a person, or something, to give perspective to illustrate the size of these giant trees. We did one “drive through tree” to show the size. And of course , we posed in front of several. Of note, the Giant Sequoia in Yosemite that you probably saw in older photos, fell in a storm a couple of decades ago. The only remaining trees you can drive through are on private property, and of course, there is a fee to drive through. Our fee was $5.00. We had fun setting up our shots, so it was more than worth it.
California Travel – The drive back
On the way back to Redding, we decided to take Hwy 36 toward Red Bluff. A beautiful scenic drive, this is one of the steepest highway drives we have ever seen. Numerous grades of over 10% (one was actually marked 15%) with extreme switchbacks make driving slow. We used to climb steeper grades while rock crawling back in the day, but never on a main highway. Yesterday, while Jo was driving, looking over and seeing a steep slope starting right at the highway, with cattle all along the slope. I thought to myself “I wonder if a cow ever absently grazes up and up, then lifts it’s head, looks down and says “Holy cow ! That’s a long way down !” Maybe that’s just a human thing….!
As we made our way down the final slope towards Red Bluff, the forest began to be replaced with low growth scrub oak, small pinions, and manzanita.
The road also began to undulate. Just like a roller coaster the small hills were so close together they would block the view and you would lose the road completely until you topped that one, only to find another in front of you. I think we were airborne a couple of times. And you know that feeling of your stomach coming up into your throat when you suddenly drop? Dozens and dozens of times ! If we hadn’t been a little concerned that a big bull elk might be in the road over the next hill, we might have really tried it out. It was a fun ending to our adventure.
Our California travel has started to change our attitudes about California.
Today we are back at the RV Park just taking it easy, editing photos, writing, and enjoying a beautiful mid 70’s November day. In a little while we are going to go for a walk around theSundial Bridge.