Out of the mountains and Westward bound
We were ready for the sea..the inland valleys over the last two months have been beautiful, and the mountains smelled wonderful but that hankering for the ocean was starting to come over us so it was time to go West.
We headed towards Mount Shasta. Mike wanted a clean horizon for the lunar eclipse and I wanted to see the waterfalls in McCloud, and the cats wanted a warmer spot:) and we needed groceries and a bit of civilization for a few days. We spent a few days exploring the area and scoping out campgrounds for our next visit as we decided we would be back:) we can’t always get the 35′ trailer into just anywhere so it’s good to do a drive by and check out campsites, especially near waterfalls! I guess after 8 years on the Baja Peninsula I’ve been craving water, and trying to get the chance to photograph it:)
They didn’t let me down, the McCloud Falls that is. Mike took one look at the path down and the drop-offs to the Middle Falls and said he’d wait in the car…so I ambled down the path, tripod and camera backpack loaded up. What a beautiful view it was. Even with the low water flow this is a gorgeous spot with several different areas to set up and if you’re willing to scramble over some rocks there are different angles and views to choose from.I would love to see this in Springtime with the runoff, but I settled for some nice Fall leaves and a great hike down…Didn’t take too long as Mike would be worried I’d fallen off of a cliff somewhere but an hour and a half went by in a flash:) and I finally got to play with waterfalls and my camera:) I even convinced him to go to the upper Falls as well for a quick look…I’ll be back to hike the whole path from lower to upper..spectacular place to visit and the campground looked great as well. I’d love to come back and play with my ND8 Filter and some long exposures but as I’m learning you have to plan..time of day, length of shadows and on and on..gimme me a week here:)
Mt. Shasta, what a wonderful area. Good pet stores (always important to keep the boys fed) wonderful food stores and an incredible tamales cart “Lupes” across from the Berryvale health food store..OMG…they were delicious and we took more to go, available by the dozen..wish I had a bigger freezer!!! Thank you Guadalupe for that amazing taste of Mexico! If you are ever here, give these tamales a try:) We’d been American fooded out so this was a chance to skip the hamburgers and fries and go back to our favorites…Indian..Maruti’s cuisine was some of the best Indian food we have eaten since leaving Ontario and Ottawa…FANTASTIC! We judge these places by their vibe and food..Mt. Shasta is good at both and we will be back.
So with our laundry done, stomachs happy and larder replenished we spent the last evening here looking for a spot to view the eclipse. With it being so low to the horizon we hoped going up in altitude would help so we drove up Ski Park Hwy off of the 89 until we came to the closed gate, turned around and further down joined some other folks who were waiting there as well. It was worth the wait and I got to”pay back” or pay forward” to a young budding Portuguese teenager struggling with a Canon 3Ti to get a shot of the eclipse..at least I knew my way around his camera and he and his father looked very pleased with the results after we showed him a few tricks:)
The seeing was not the best being so close to the horizon and the details were fuzzy but it was a lovely sight and we met some wonderful people in the process..including a wonderful couple who suggested Feliway to help calm our cats when we travel as they travel with theirs as well..she said it saved their marriage..I think hubby was about to strangle the screaming cat;)..the next morning before we left we dashed to the pet food store and purchased a spray bottle of it and sprayed their carrier and bed before we moved them from the trailer to the truck and my oh my oh my..what a difference..no hollering or meowing..they just calmly lay between our two seats like three little sausages..with an occasional squeak or two but sooooo much happier! Our nerves would no longer be stretched to the end of the”meowing” capacity!!! Yippity do dah!
Off we went South on the 5. Woohoo, a real freeway, no bumps, and then West on the 299, which gradually got narrower and winding after Junction City. I had trouble locating many RV parks ahead of time along this stretch of the road, we saw one, but too late, and no where to turn around and getting a bit low on gas we were getting worried..0_0…we spied Straw House Coffee shop out in the middle of literally nowhere and as we pulled over I saw they had RV sites on the other side of the road…sigh of relief…and good coffee. The staff was very friendly but struggled to use some new software to get us checked in so we were told to take any spot we wanted, set up , and then come back to pay. We did, they were still struggling and finally had to call the owner over, this is the first time at any of the RV parks/places we have visited that I felt like I was not welcome..Oh my god..such a bother to help your employee..maybe she had experienced a bad day but if you work retail, you smile…Can’t say I’d ever go back other than for the freshly roasted coffee, not the vibe. Still, the Trinity river runs right by here and it was beautiful. Mike and I walked down the road and 300 feet further down, a perfect RV Park..right on the river…damn..next time we will stop there and not at snooty pants coffee place;) No cell service or Internet here (except in the coffee shop during their open hours)..well, just for their paying cabin guests the owner proclaimed, made you feel right at home..not…what am I chopped liver?…I think I paid for my RV site;)
We headed out first thing in the morning enjoying the view along the Trinity River and a very winding road with some serious construction going on. We got lucky and had green lights through most of the construction waits ( some over 45 minutes!) but it was a bumpy ride along the 299 until we came down from the mountains and could see Arcata and the coast. Mike was relieved to be off of the narrow winding roads and back onto US 101 south. He is an amazing driver. All those years of backing up hay wagons and horse trailers have made him the perfect RV spouse:)..among other things:)
It was good to see and smell the ocean as we came down into Arcata and Eureka and then we turned inland down the US 101 into the Avenue of the Giants. It takes your breathe away as you drive between these incredible trees…where are the words to honor these living things, so much older than us. It’s heartbreaking to see the logging trucks roaring by to Scotia, a company mill town, where do all the trees come from? I often wonder if we are looking at a tiny strip of them here at the park and beyond lies mankind’s destruction and a waste land.
Our stop for the next few nights was in the Ancient Redwoods RV Park. They were a jovial helpful bunch, handing over our Amazon packages, just had to see the next season of M*A*S*H, we are going through all of them;)..and helping us with phone service as it was almost non-existent except near a yaggi antenna they had. It felt good to stop, it’s as if you keep moving for awhile even after you do stop! We decided against any more “one nighters”, we needed to give ourselves at least two days/nights in each place especially after stressful driving conditions to recoup before we took off again.
The next few days we spent exploring this incredible area. Searching out trails and marveling at the life there. Looking for the back roads that were the least trodden. What magical spirits inhabit this realm of giants? Behind the park the Eel River wound it’s way back and forth down the 101. We took a small road out to the river and explored it’s banks and washed out bridges. In 1964 a series of huge storms swept through this area and washed most everything away. There are signs in the park showing the water level rising to such heights that barns and houses were swept downstream. A reminder that the redwoods stood, and most of man made structures did not around the Eel River.
Everywhere you went the smell of wood and decay filled the air, in a good way. When one tree fell, it made room for many young ones and new life sprung from it. Walking around the RV park you had your choice of blackberries to eat and wildflowers to enjoy as well as the Immortal Tree a 950 year old Redwood survivor.
Our last day there we headed North for supplies to the Company town of Scotia. It had a sad feel to it, it’s a vibe you pick up at the stores and gas stations that is hard to describe. We decided to push further North and headed to Ferndale and it’s Victorian architecture. We made a stop in Rio Dell at an amazing apple orchard for some cider and real apples. I can’t eat those imported ones..I want a crisp fresh apple and I was not disappointed.
We spent the day exploring Ferndale and enjoying some good eats before we headed back to the trailer to plan our next escapade. This rural farming community has a nice feel to it, of county fairs and old wooden farmhouses and barns. We looked for a back way to see some more of the country taking a road in Ferndale up to the ridge but eventually turned back as the road was so rough, and we know rough roads;)
There was a distinct aroma in the air, we’d been smelling it since we were halfway across the 299…harvest time for Humboldt County growers..of fine quality marijuana…made me smile every time we drove through an aromatic area.
At the RV Park or in the local stores make sure you try a bottle or two of “Frogs Alley Cellars”..their Syrah and Zinfandel were amazing and well priced. It’s so nice to discover the local flavor!
We were sad to go but an offer on the ranch in Baja and the need for better communications had us on the move again. The 101 was a lovely drive but we should have looked closer at the signs turning off onto the US 1 at Leggett…trailers or motor-homes over 40 feet “Prohibited”, not just use caution..prohibited…too late and nowhere to turn around. Twenty one white knuckle miles of having to use the middle of the road on hundreds of corners while facing the occasional logging truck barreling towards you. I would have enjoyed the scenery and drop offs more but it was tense driving. I’d like to congratulate all the drivers we did encounter, courteous and waving when we would pull over to let them by…Northern California, love ya, Southern California, man you have a lot to learn about manners:)
Here ends this part of the trip, on the coast at last. Walking on the beach at Van Damne State Park did resurrect the nerves a bit after a long drive and Mendocino turned out to be one of those treasured “If I had a choice to live somewhere, it would have to be here” places. But that is for another day..stay tuned and eventually I’ll catch up:)