Tuesday, November 19, 2013

California - Crescent City, Eureka, Willits, Ukiah and Anderson Valley

Friday, Nov. 8th - Tuesday, Nov. 19th

We arrived at the Village Inn Campground in Crescent City on Friday and set up camp next to these tiny, little pine trees.

Far away on the horizon is St. George Reef Lighthouse off Point St. George at the north end of Pebble Beach Drive in Crescent City.  This was our view at the end of a little hike we went on.

A little further south along Pebble Beach Drive, this is a view of Castle Rock National Wildlife Refuge where sea lions, elephant seals and lots of birds hang out. 

Another view along Pebble Beach Drive, not "The Pebble Beach", which is at Carmel.

View, from Crescent Beach, of Battery Point Lighthouse on an island in the distance. 

Zooming in.  It's on the other side of the jetty and you can walk to it at low tide for tours.

Boats moored at the Crescent City Harbor ready to go out crabbing.  

We're in Redwood country, so we drove out to do some hiking in Stout Grove.  

Looking up!  

I assumed the reason for the name, Stout Grove, was obvious, but it turns out it was named after some rich guy named, Frank Deming Stout, who donated money to save the Redwoods.

Another day we drove south to Klamath to see the Trees Of Mystery.  Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox each weigh 30,000 pounds.  Paul is 49 feet tall and Babe is 35 feet to the tips of his horns.

World's largest family tree with a total of 12 trees growing from one trunk.  Look closely and you will be able to see several full size trees growing from some of the branches.  Also, notice all the ferns growing on the branches.

Upside Down Tree has two trunks and two root structures with one growing vertical and one growing horizontal.  The horizontal one is always seeking sunshine and grows out toward us, then twists around and grows across the trail and then makes another sharp turn and grows straight up.

Cathedral Tree, one of the largest known of this formation, is 9 trees growing from one base.  It is used as a setting for Easter services and many weddings.

There is a smaller formation like this in the park with a sign that says they are taking reservations for future weddings in 600 years when the trees will be ready.

Brotherhood Tree is 297 feet tall, 19 feet in diameter and close to 2,000 years old.  The size of the boardwalk around it is about like walking around a small swimming pool at a motel.  The root system of a Redwood is very shallow, having no tap root.  The entire tree feeds from this root network just below ground.  The earth around it must never be trampled hard or the tree will die from lack of nourishment, which makes me wonder how we can be allowed to hike all around these beautiful giants.

We took the Sky Trail ride up to the observation deck at 752 feet. We could see the ocean from here, but with the fog, it doesn't show up in the picture.

Candelabra Tree growing across the trail with several trees growing from it's trunk.  The horizontal tree has roots that feed the vertical trees and they, in turn, feed the horizontal tree by photo synthesis.

Then we came upon the Trail of Tall Tales with chain saw carvings of the lore and legends Paul Bunyan and his friends and recordings of some of his stories.

Any dog named Digger has got to be a good dog.  We miss you Digger, especially Grandpa.

I'm not sure if this was supposed to be Paul or one of his friends.  It was just carved out of a flat slice of a tree.

That is one big squirrel, because that is a giant of a tree.  I assume it was carved out of a burl that was growing on the side of the tree.

Mama Bear and Baby Bear.
They also have one of the largest private Native American Museums in the world next to the gift shop.

A short ways south, we just had to do the drive-thru tree.  There are a couple of others further down the coast.  Sequoia Redwoods were named for the famous Cherokee Indian , Sequoyah, born in Tennessee in 1760.  He believed the white man had a distinct advantage because of their ability to read and write.  After a 12 year struggle he developed symbols for 85 sounds of the Cherokee language.  Soon his people had their own newspaper and bible, the first Native Americans to acquire this.  (We saw his portrait in the State Historical Museum in Montgomery, Alabama.)  There are three types of redwoods, the Coastal Redwood in Northern California, the Big Tree in the Sierra Nevadas and the oldest of the three, the Dawn Redwood found in China in 1944.  A popular local novel, Valley of the Giants, was filmed in the redwoods in silent and sound versions.  They served as ancient forests for Jurassic Park and the Ewok's moon in Star Wars.  Humboldt beaches are frequently filmed and the Victorian village of Ferndale is in several films, including Dustin Hoffman's Outbreak.

As we left there, we stopped to look at this slice of redwood tree with the rings showing its age.  The first year marked near the center was 1377, then 1500, 1600, 1700, 1800 and finally 1980 at the outside, making it over 600 years old when it was cut down.

I liked this one better as we left the Trees of Mystery.  This picture just shows about a quarter of the slice from the center to the outside.  The center is marked Crusades 1086, then Magna Carta 1215, Columbus 1492, Pilgrims 1620, Independence 1776 and California joining the Union in 1850.  Really puts it in perspective.  They had to cut down a tree that was 10' in diameter because it had grown over the top of one of the fallen giants and become unsafe.  However the root structure of the old fallen tree was still sound after 3,000 years.  The bark is a protector against fire, as it is neither pitch nor resin and contains great amounts of water.  The outside bark can burn and the inside heart of the tree can burn. As long as it doesn't burn the layer beneath the bark where the sap runs, it will survive.  Railroad ties across the U.S. were made of redwood because of its resistance to insects and harsh weather.  Too bad it takes hundreds of years to grow one.

There were Emus across the street from the drive-thru tree.  Flightless birds native to Australia, they are the second largest of all birds, averaging 5 1/2 feet tall and 130 to 150 pounds.  I was glad there was a fence between us.

We moved on to Eureka and stayed at Mad River Campground in nearby Arcata.  This is at the boardwalk and marina in Eureka.  Eureka is on Humboldt Bay, the second largest natural bay on the California coast.  Oysters are farmed in long lines or in bays, mostly on Arcata's mud flats and can be harvested every 2 or 3 years.  The long lines keep them off the bottom which helps them grow faster.  While in Eureka, we also walked around Fort Humboldt on the bluff overlooking the city and waterfront.  It was the main supply depot along the Pacific coast and Ulysses S. Grant was the quartermaster four short months in 1854 and was promoted from Lieutenant to Captain while serving here.  He was a loner spending most of his time in the tavern or out riding the countryside.  He missed his wife and kids and resigned the Army and went home.  He re-enlisted during the Civil War and went on to become the General in charge and President.  There is also old logging machinery on display that was used to handle the huge sections of redwood trees.  A favorite food of the lumberjacks was raisin bread, which they called flybread.   The Timberbeasts wrestled with the thick jungle-like underbrush and massive timber in wet and dangerous conditions 12 hours a day.  The Sawfilers kept cross-cut saws, or misery whips, sharpened to a razors edge.  They both respected the Zooglers, animal wranglers, who hauled trees to the mill driving horses or oxen.  They were jolted awake at 4:00 AM when the boss shouted "Daylight in the swamp" (something my Dad was known to shout at us kids and the grandkids, too) and they would climb into their stiff, waterproof trousers, known as tin pants. 

We drove to the south end of Humboldt Bay to have lunch at Gill's on the Bay for the beautiful ocean view.  Unfortunately, the fog moved in and there was no view.  I thought Gills referred to fish, but 85-year-old Ben Gill was working on remodeling the patio.  The meal was good and there were pictures on the walls from a 1949 National Geographic article with a young Ben Gill cutting up whales.

These are Native American deer skin dresses of the Wiyot or Yurok tribes in the Clark Historical Museum decorated with dentalium shells, abalone shells, clam shells, acorn shells, beads, grasses, etc.  I always think it's so interesting to see how much time and effort they put into their clothes, especially considering they had to kill the animal, scrape and tan the hides, and cut and sew everything by hand.  They are a beautiful work of art.  In 1924 the U.S. government finally granted citizenship to our "First Americans".  The first treaty was with the Delaware in 1773 and by 1890, there had been 450 treaties and agreements made with 157 tribes.  Before 1880 the tail feathers of a Golden Eagle were worth a horse and 100 elk teeth were worth a horse.  Elk tooth dresses were worn by the wives of the wealthy men of the Crow tribe.  Before 1880, a full-feathered headdress was worn only by important chiefs and war leaders.  After 1880, they were worn by men in most tribes on important occasions.  After the flesh and hair had been removed, buffalo brains and fat were worked into a hide to make it soft.

At nearby McKinleyville, the world's largest and/or tallest totem pole was carved in 1962 from a 500-year-old redwood as a landmark for a new shopping center.  Carved from old growth redwood, it weighs 57,000 pounds and is definitely the largest totem pole and is the tallest carved out of one log.  There is a taller one in Alert Bay, British Columbia, but it was made out of two logs spliced together in 1973.

In McKinleyville we hiked some trails along the bluffs overlooking the Mad River estuary with a view of Trinidad Head in the distance.  We hiked the trails up the hill at Trinidad Head on our first trip through here in 2009.  I can't believe we have already started our 5th year on the road as of October 1st.  How time flies!

Hiking down the bluff to the beach.  Gold was discovered along the Trinity River in 1850, but the real gold turned out to be the endless forest of giant redwoods.

View of Arcata and the Mad River from the bridge on the pedestrian and biking trail a short ways north of our campground.  While driving around, we went through the little town of Loleta where they happened to have a small cheese making factory with 30 plus kinds of cheese.  They have samples of them all for you to try and you can watch the cheese makers at work through the windows.  There are lovely gardens out back where you can have a picnic with the cheese and other goodies they have for sale.  There is a huge, old brick complex across the street that used to be a creamery that made powdered milk.  I imagine that was big business during WWII.  They told us that you can age any unopened cheese in the bottom of your frig for up to three years.  It has to be tightly sealed and you turn it over every few months.  If it is a flavored cheese, such as garlic, onion, jalapeno, etc., the flavor will get stronger as it ages.  In 1802 a small cheese maker delivered a 1,235 pound wheel of cheese to President Thomas Jefferson to impress him.  Onlookers were so amazed, they called it "The Big Cheese" and the name stuck as a nickname for "Da Boss"!

On our way further south to Willits we drove through the 31-mile Avenue of the Giants, more redwoods.  We stopped here for a lunch break with a view of the Eel River where the town of Dyerville used to be, until the flood of 1955 completely washed it away.

We hiked the Frisbee golf course up and around the hills at our KOA campground in Willits.  This is a view back down toward the campground, where there is an old pioneer town replica set up and a petting zoo, playgrounds, swimming pool and three campsites with their own hot tubs.  A really nice family campground.

This is a Madrone Tree along the Frisbee golf course.  They are native to the Pacific Northwest and there is a smaller variety called the Texas Madrone in Texas, New Mexico, Southern California, Mexico and the Mediterranean.  It has a thick, papery, peeling bark that has to peel off every year to allow it to grow.  As it peels, it changes colors from cream-colored to peach to coral to reddish to chocolate.  It has clusters of white or pale pink blossoms in spring and orange-red berries dangling in 3" clusters in the fall.  It is sometimes called a strawberry tree for the sweet berries that the Native Americans used to eat. 

Saturday John said he was taking me wine tasting, but the first place he stopped was a micro-brewery, so he could do a little tasting himself.  Hmmm.

This is a view outside the brewery.  The grass on the hillsides shows what an exceptionally dry year they have had here.

We probably stopped at 9 or 10 wineries and I did a little tasting at most of them, but Navarro Vineyards was my favorite the first time we did this tour and it still is.  They have such a pretty setting and their prices are a little more reasonable than the rest and I like their wines.  So I bought a case.  It's hard to find room to store much more than that in our little home on wheels.  Speaking of our home, my sweet husband mentioned earlier today, that I probably turned out just about how everyone expected - 60, unemployed and living in a 240 sq. ft. mobile home.  Nice!    

This is where we had a picnic lunch on our first tour of the wineries here.  This time we had a pizza at The Madrones in Philo where there are three different wineries offering tastings.  It was very good.

This is a view at Greenwood Ridge Vineyards.  Besides being terribly dry, we were a couple weeks late for good pictures of the vineyards, as they had already had a frost and a lot of the leaves had already fallen off the vines.  Here in the Anderson Valley they have a 10-day Mushroom Festival including the first and second weekend of November.  Most of the wineries serve hors d'oeuvres made with wild foraged mushrooms with their wine tastings and a lot of the restaurants serve special mushroom focused menus, also.  We were here during that time our first year through here and it was very good, but we were too late this time.

Sunday John told me to plan our day, so we drove down to Ukiah and went to the City of 10,000 Buddhas to their vegetarian restaurant for lunch.  We had spring rolls for an appetizer and I chose rice noodles with mixed vegetables.   John had protein balls with pineapple and peppers in a very tasty sauce and brown rice.  I liked it all very much.  John had informed me beforehand that he would be stopping at McDonald's when we were done, but he didn't.  He said it wasn't too bad, but the lack of meat was definitely a problem for him.

It is the largest Buddhist monastery, university, prayer and meditation center in the United States.  All of their street signs had names like this, including Morality Way, Wonderful Enlightenment Way, Proper Thought Avenue, Unicorn Way ?, Joyous Way, Virtue Way, etc.  There is a lot of focus in this area of California on meditative healing arts, relaxation techniques, massages, and that sort of thing.  Just a couple miles from here is Vichy Springs, named after a famous area with healing springs in France.  It was a favorite plave of Teddy Roosevelt, Jack London and Mark Twain.  Ukiah was named California's best small town and sixth best in the country.

The town has four marked walking routes around town, so we picked one and walked about 3 1/2 miles around the town through parks, along the river, and through old historic neighborhoods.  John is standing under this sculpted bush over the sidewalk.  It looked a bit like a poodle or perhaps a llama.  I'm not quite sure what it was supposed to be, but it looked like keeping it trimmed must be a major job.  Monday we just stayed home and hiked around the Frisbee golf course at the campground.  Tuesday we leave for Placerville.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.  We are thankful for many things, not the least of which is our tiny, little home on wheels that enables us to spend time with all our friends and family whom we love very much!

One touch of nature makes the whole world kin. -- Shakespeare

Happy Turkey Day!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Oregon Coast, Tillamook, Newport & Florence

Tuesday, Nov. 5th - Friday, Nov. 8th 

We left Astoria on Tuesday and headed on down the coast through Seaside, Cannon Beach and other small beach towns before making our first stop at Tillamook Cheese factory. I think it's the fourth time we have been here, but you just can't drive by without stopping because it's udderly amazing.  It's the tenth top tourist attraction in Oregon.

They have the self-guided tour where you can look down at factory workers keeping the blocks of cheese moving along the conveyors, getting them trimmed and cut and packaged and sealed.  Each of 8 stainless steel vats holds 53,500 pounds of fresh milk and each vat makes 5 batches a day.  It takes 10 pounds of milk to make 1 pound of cheese.  1.7 million pounds of milk arrive each day to make 167,000 pounds of cheese.  Cows can drink a bathtub full of water each day.  It takes 2 gal. of water to make one gal. of milk.  An average cow can produce 6 to 8 gal. of milk per day, over 100 glasses.  It takes approximately 350 squirts to make a gal. of milk.  Good thing they don't have to do it by hand anymore!

Tillamook is the first major U.S. cheese maker to produce a kosher cheese where a rabbi personally comes in and observes the cleaning of the equipment, adds a microbial rennet and gives the final packages his kosher stamp, Medium Kosher Vegetarian Cheddar Cheese.  But this is the best part of the tour, the tasting bins!  John can't wait to get here and have some "squeaky cheese", it's mild curds or leftover crumbs, but very tasty.  We bought a couple bags of them and a couple other kinds of cheese, before we headed over to the ice cream counter for our five flavor sampler.  We always say we're going to try the 27 flavor sampler tray, but we always chicken out.  Probably a good thing.

 Then we drove down to Newport, where we set up camp at South Beach State Park, and went the next day to the Sea Lion Caves a little further down the coast between Yachats and Florence.  This shows about half of the trail from the gift shop down to the elevator which descends a 215-foot shaft through solid rock down to almost sea level, 20 stories in 50 seconds.  People have been going down to see the cave since the 1930s.  The elevator was completed in 1961.  Prior to that, after the 1,500 foot hike down the trail, there was a 135 foot staircase in an enclosed wooden tower.  

On the far distant point is Heceta (ha-see-ta) Head Lighthouse.  It was a very foggy day, but the blinking light was very visible.  It was built in 1894 and can be seen 21 miles out at sea.  

Zooming in, you can see the light, and the keeper's house is a ways over to the right.  16,000 gray whales migrate along here from the Arctic to lower California for calving and breeding, the longest known migration of any mammal - 6,000 miles each way.

Stepping out of the elevator, we have arrived at the world's largest sea cave.  It was discovered in 1880 and has a two acre floor with the dome 12 stories above (125').  It is home to 500 to 2,000 Stellar (Northern) Sea Lions.  They stay here year around while the strongest bulls swim 4,000 miles to winter in Alaska and rejoin the herd here in the spring for breeding.  California Sea Lions also come here, but travel to southern California for breeding season.  They generally go in the cave for protection from weather and rough seas in late fall and winter.  We were a little too early to see them in the cave.  We did see hundreds of them barking up a storm on the beach the first year when we stopped near here.

When we left the cave, we drove on down to Florence and had lunch at Mo's on the harbor front.  Mo is famous for her clam chowder.  We ate at the original Mo's in Newport a couple years ago.  There are branches in several of the coast towns.  Mo opened her restaurant almost 60 years ago in Newport.  Her chowder has been featured in magazines (America's Favorite Seafood Dives) and on TV.  In 1999 it was a featured entree at the first luncheon ever held in the Smithsonian Institute, celebrating "Best American Regional Foods".  They opened several other restaurants and eventually two stories of chowder factory, packing and shipping facilities where they produce about 500,000 pounds of Clam Chowder a year.  It's shipped to grocery stores and delivered fresh to all of her restaurants and you can even order it on-line at  www.moschowder.com .  We both had it with our lunch, delicious, and stopped a couple days later in Newport to pick up a quart to take home.

A Dead Guy Ale and his smart phone to play with, he couldn't be happier, but just wait till they bring our clam chowder and that seafood platter!  Mmm, Mmm, can't wait!

View of the harbor and Yaquina Bay Bridge from the patio of the Pacific Maritime & Heritage Center in Newport.

I loved this picture in the museum.  She was holding up a Wolf Eel and the cameraman said he got her to smile by telling her that she had finally found someone uglier than her.

Log trucks hauling sections of one giant spruce tree in 1943.  It isn't even a redwood or a sequoia. 

Yaquina Bay Bridge.

Yaquina Head Lighthouse.

We were down on the waterfront in Newport looking for a place to eat.  We thought we might fit right in here, but they didn't have food.  The Historic Barge Inn - Home of the winos, dingbats and riff raff.

We settled on Port Dock Restaurant and these were the views out the window from our table.  Crab pots on the end of the pier.  They say the commercial ones weigh 80 pounds.  I don't know how much these weigh, but I tried to move one on the top of a stack and I couldn't budge it at all.

Yaquina Bay Bridge.  There's a sea lion swimming in the middle next to the boat.

Just below our window, the sea lions were barking up a storm.  On the jetty just on the other side of the pier, the rocks are covered solid with sea lions.

Closer view.  Yaquina Bay has the largest fishing fleet on the Oregon Coast with about 250 commercial vessels and 500 people.  Newport brings in 322,000 lbs. salmon, 301,000 lbs. rockfish, 112,000 lbs. halibut and 200 million lbs. dungeness crab annually.  We watched a lady fishing for the dungeness crab off the pier while we ate.  She was casting in with a flat triangle piece of netting with some bait tied to it and seemed to be pulling one in every few minutes.  

Mushrooms next to our camper.  We went for a night hike down to the ocean for a view of the bridge and lighthouse and called it a night.  Tomorrow we head for Crescent City, California.