Oh, wow, look at this! Tues, Aug 12th

Tuesday night's sunset was outstanding.  This was the first evening we were able to see a sunset because of low clouds and fog, and we timed it perfectly.  It was beautiful.

We left MacKerricher State Park, near Fort Bragg, on Wednesday morning, via Hwy 20.  We were aiming East for Clear Lake State Park, but as soon as we got over the Coastal Range, smoke was visible and our eyes and noses began to burn.  We stopped at Clear Lake to sniff the air, and then jumped right back in Tergel and continued due East for Nevada City and home. Our two weeks Out and About was lots o' fun, and although we didn't get to all the places we'd hoped to go, no matter -- where we were and what we did was really enjoyable.  Another time we'll try for Medicine Lake.  Let us all hope the wildfires can be extinguished SOON.

Look what I picked when I got home!


One More Time! -- Tues, Aug 12, 2014

Back in May of 2009 Jimmy and I hopped aboard the Skunk Train to ride the 20+ miles from Fort Bragg to Northspur and -- since we like being on trains -- we decided to do it again this year.  The track actually runs from Fort Bragg, snaking its way along the Noyo River, 40 miles east to Willits, but our train only goes to Northspur and back.  It's quite a scenic run, approximately four hours thru redwood-thick forest.  During the first half of the trip, we mostly sat inside, making forays to the back for pictures, but when we re-boarded after eating our picnic lunch at Northspur, we stood outside on the open "cattle car" to drink in the forest beauty and feel the wind on our faces ... till we got chilled ... and back inside we'd go.

This trip we had the added bonus of being filmed!  Great Scenic Railway Journeys (GRSJ) was filming for one of their shows.  We'll try to catch the show when it airs.  So much fun!

Our train was the diesel at left.  Old #45 on the right was the focus of GSRJ's filming.

Where to sit?  We were among the first to board.

This guy seemed stuck on the outside for a long time, and then suddenly it was gone.

Camera crew, Old #45 steam engine, engineer, and us waving from the diesel train as we went by!

 We saw an occasional cabin in the woods.

This redwood giant located along the track still has a springboard embedded.  One of the most fascinating reads on falling the Big Ones is here.  Give the site a look.

I "liked" the Skunk Train on facebook and saw a snippet of #45 come chugging out of the trees, bells a-clanging, whistle tooting!  Just the way it should be!

Tomorrow?  We leave the coast, aiming for Clear Lake, CA.


Ten Mile Haul Road, what a day! Monday, 8/11/4

You can see so much more when you get out of the vehicle, be it car, truck or motor home.  Walking is a good way to be up close, tho you're limited on how far you can go.  But bicycles can get you farther and you still see multitudes of things you'd never guess were there.  Fort Bragg has a great bike road, called the Ten Mile Haul Road, open to walkers, joggers, bikes and others out to enjoy the ocean view.  I don't think all ten miles is accessible, but you can get in a respectable distance.  We put 12+ miles on our bikes, but we wander a lot! For us, it was perfect, 'cause the haul road takes you right into Fort Bragg, as well as the boonies of Inglenook Fen (Ten Mile Dunes Preserve) at the opposite end.  The haul road, as you might guess, was originally used by giant logging trucks.  Fort Bragg is, after all, a logging town in the redwoods.

 Pudding Creek Trestle.  Can you spot Jimmy?  Interesting history on this.

 A little gray out, but we enjoyed the day nonetheless.

 The thing in the middle above the water?  Looks like a helicopter to me.  It's a fishing boat in a disappearing horizon.  The clouds parted directly above the two boats (and nowhere else) and waters beneath reflected the deep blue of the sky.  Never saw that before.

Listen to this -- in the early 20th Century, Fort Bragg residents threw their household garbage over cliffs owned by the Union Lumber Co onto what is now "Glass Beach," discarding glass, appliances, even vehicles.  (makes you wonder where they thought that garbage would go...?)  Locals referred to it as "The Dumps."  Fires were even lit to reduce the trash pile size.  It wasn't until 1967 (!!) that city leaders closed the area and cleanup programs began. Over the decades, pounding waves wore down the discarded glass into small smooth pieces called sea glass that litter the beach today.  The beach at Elm St and Glass Beach Dr is now a tourist attraction!  We visited the beach and we could have filled a bushel basket w/ sea glass.  (we just picked up a few)  It was crazy!

 Belladonna Lily (Naked ladies).  I used to grow these elegant pink flowers when I lived in SoCal.  Fort Bragg was covered in pink!

 We packed a lunch, but what could be better than to stop for a cuppa coffee to go w/ the sandwich, and maybe a cookie or a scone, too?

Tired driver?

Back on the bikes, at Inglenook Fen/dunes area.  We had the entire area to ourselves.

 Several Whimbrels were picking and choosing lunch.

 The sign said the area was nesting grounds for the Snowy Plover, but none of these birds looked like the Snowy to me.  Maybe Judy can help out.  I guess the gull was standing guard.

 Cormorants at attention, waiting for ...?

Photogenic Harbor Seals lounge on the rocks, sunning themselves.
"Fins out, belly up, and having too much of a good time!"

We had a good time, too, sans fins and right-side up!

Gone, but not forgotten. Monday, Aug 11th, 2014

I thought this deserved a special post.  We spotted this tree memorial outside the Fort Bragg Guest House Museum and stopped to look.  The museum itself wasn't open, but it would've been interesting to spend an hour or two inside.  Craning our necks up and side to side to take in this colossal redwood slab, we stood mesmerized reading bare facts. The tree was nearly 2000 years old when the saw men began their cuts.

One of the many enormous redwoods downed.

 Feel free to enlarge any photo for easier viewing.

Of particular note:  #10 above -- the saw used to fell the tree was 22 feet long.
The dots above the saw relate to the historical events listed below:

If the tree hadn't been cut down, it would be 71 years older, and 71 years taller and wider....


Cruising down the Coast. August 10-11-12

We really enjoyed our stay in Humboldt Redwoods State Pk, both with and w/o hookups.  An added bonus was that we found a patch of ripe blackberries on our first day camping at Myers Flat and picked enough for yummy desserts two nites in a row (it helps to have Redi-whip on hand)!

So where to next?  Moving further north and inland was out of the question since wildfires and smoke would make camping a nightmare.  Looking at a camp book and the map, we knew various campgrounds could be found on the coast south of the redwoods.  The first one we came to was MacKerricher State Pk on Hwy 1, a bit north of Fort Bragg on the Mendocino Coast.  The sign at the entrance said:  Campground Full.  Because we didn't have a long way to travel this day, it was only Noon/ish, so I said, "let's pull in anyway... those signs don't always mean FULL UP full."  The long and short of it is we snagged probably the best site in the entire 140-space park for one nite, and one more nite, and still one more nite!  Site 123, large, private, and up on a bluff with a view of the ocean and an easy trail down to it.  Pays to double check!

Driving Hwy 1 on the California coast is always - uh - well, not fun, exactly, maybe challenging would be the right word... especially in a motor home pulling a toad.

No part of Hwy 1 is straight or flat!

Lone kayak in the water off the shore.

We'll gravitate to the water's edge ASAP!

 MacKerricher St Park has beaches, dunes, tide pools, and rocks to navigate and explore.

And monster logs that find their way ashore during storms.  Yeehaw!

 Caves and hidey holes...

... and maybe pirate bones and buried treasure?

 Young men hoping to pull in a keeper.

I could hear the cheer from where I was standing (this is zoomed in), so the fish must have been a good one!

Summers on the Pacific Coast often involve low clouds/fog/mist, and a sun that maybe peeks out for an hour or two in late afternoons.  We enjoyed a sunny afternoon on Sunday, our first day here.  But as soon as dinner was finished, the low clouds drifted in, so we knew there'd be no viewing of the Big Fat Moon that evening.  We didn't need A/C or heat while we camped here, which was nice.  The weather is pretty constant, neither too hot nor too cold. Damp, yes.  Nor were we able to catch any of the 2014 Perseid meteor shower, but that's okay. Ya just can't do it all.  Oh, and there's a nice bike path on an old haul road for tomorrow!  Yay!


Ferndale, CA and the Lost Coast Scenic Drive -- Sat, 8/9

We've passed it by in the past, so this year we made a point of visiting Ferndale, a small town just south of Eureka, CA.  It's known as the Victorian Village and for good reason:  this bucolic farming town has barely changed for 150 years.  We picked a chilly gray day to stroll down Main Street and several side streets to view beautifully preserved homes and shops.  We elected to stay away from the Gothic Ferndale Cemetery (crypts marching up hills) and concentrate on the living!  The town was full of colorful flowers, sparkling windows, and interesting designs.  A sampling:

This kitty ambled at a snail's pace across "busy" Main Street, disregarding heavy traffic (the red car and us in Smartie).  Nine lives, doncha know!  The Victorian Inn is the blue and white bldg on the left.  Built of Humboldt County local redwoods in 1890, it characterizes the small town Victorian atmosphere.  We asked a local lady for a lunch recommendation and were directed to Curley's Full Circle Restaurant.  She did us a favor -- the food and ambiance were terrific.

After strolling and lunching, we hopped back in Smartie to ride the Lost Coast Scenic Drive.  The brochure said to allow 3-4 hours "for this adventure," and we'd end up back in Humboldt Redwoods St Park where we were camped.  For us it was a 100-mile (+/-) loop.  Wild and scenic... up, down, twist around, down to the ocean and back up into the hills again.  It really was spectacular, and it was fun, but we were exhausted by the time we returned to camp!

The lighthouse itself has disappeared.

 Smartie fits nicely on this one-lane bridge.

 Always reassuring.  You never know ....

Next up?  Coasting down the coast!