26, 2011: This was supposed to be a very different trip. I was
planning to travel with my friend Janell Sidney to Oregon,
Washington, and British Columbia. However, she was unable to go, so I decided
on a shorter, closer trip, which I vaguely defined as
"wandering about the northern California coast and a little
I am trying to make this a "no rules, no deadlines, no firm
destination" trip, I had to follow a few rules for my first
stop. I wanted to rent a car to get around the area, so I had to find
an R/V park and a car rental close enough that they would pick me
up. A few phone calls and some time on the Internet two days ago got
everything set, and this morning I left home at 7:30, heading up CA
99, then west on CA 120 and I-580. This route goes through Tracey
and Livermore, over a couple of passes, and turns north into the
east bay area and Oakland. The highway goes all the way through the
metro area and crosses the bay via the Richmond-San Rafael
few miles north it merges into US 101, and a little past Santa Rosa
I turned west on River Road, heading for the River Bend Resort in Forestville. Tomorrow, if all goes well, a nice lady will pick me
up, take me to Sebastopol (about 30 miles away), and rent me a
vehicle that is easier to get around in than a 28-foot motor home.
chose this area as a starting point because of some friends who
camped at the beach at Jenner, where the
Russian River runs
into the ocean. This was back in "hippy" days, and
there would be people living on the beach in driftwood shacks, staying
for a night or a week or whatever they felt like. I was concerned
that the driftwood shacks might have been replaced by high rise
condos, and in
the next two days, I will find out. I will also take most of a day
visiting Point Reyes National
Seashore, which is about 40 miles south
of where I am staying.
arrived about 12:30, and six hours later my accomplishments include
eating dinner, getting a good start on the latest Elmore Leonard
novel, Djibouti, and taking a nap. I also walked down to look
at the river, only a few feet behind me, but down a 15 foot bank.
It's a fair size stream, but not wild and raging like the creeks and
rivers I saw a week or so ago in Yosemite.
27: I had made reservations on line through Enterprise Car Rental,
so this morning I called them and made final
arrangements to be picked up. The office in Sebastopol is a one-person
operation, so Amanda has to make sure she doesn't have anyone
scheduled to come in when she leaves to pick someone up. In my case,
it's around a 20-minute drive one way from there to here. At the
office I got the papers signed, got the car, and headed west on various county
roads to Bodega Bay, which is on
1. I went in to Doran
Beach, a Sonoma County regional park, and spent at least an hour
there, going down to the surf on the beach, then walking a couple of
are a lot of plants, many in bloom, that I am not familiar with, so I
wandered through the trails that cut across the dunes everywhere,
taking pictures. Some of the plants I saw would not look out of
place on an alien planet in Star Trek. Something completely new to
me were bush lupines with yellow
flowers. We have tons of bush
lupines in the Sierra foothills, all with blue blossoms.
From Bodega Bay I drove up CA
1 to Jenner, located where the Russian River runs in. No condos on
the beach, but there were dozens of elephant seals on the sand between the
river and the ocean, doing what
elephant seals do best - lying still as a rock on the beach.
the south side, a mile or so before you get to the river and the town, there is a road
Rock State Beach, which is the only convenient access to the
beach where the river runs in. The seals are on the other side of
the river, so there is no human-seal conflict, a good thing since elephant seals are
not as quiet and
docile as they appear.
the coast there are flat terraces, sometimes just a couple hundred
feet wide; sometime extending back from the ocean a mile or more.
Many of these areas contain farming and ranching operations,
especially dairy and beef cattle.
I took CA 116 to Guerneville. Here the highway turns
south to Forestville and Sebastopol, but I
continued about four miles on River Road to my RV park, arriving a
little after 2 p.m. My plan for the rest of the day is lots of
reading, loafing, listening to music, and a little eating.
28: Today I thought I must be at a bluegrass festival. It
started raining about 5 a.m. and didn't stop for at least 12 hours,
and rained more during the night. I had planned to go to Pt. Reyes,
an all-day trip, but decided to stay closer to "home." I
drove west four miles on River Road to the town of Guerneville, and
turned north on Armstrong Grove Road another four miles. This led me
to the Armstrong Redwoods State
checked out the small visitor center, then put on a poncho and
headed out on the trail into the grove. With a very light rain
falling, it was the perfect time to stroll through this rain forest
type of terrain. There is something green growing everywhere, with
the dark trunks of the redwoods providing contrast. Any tree that is
dead is covered with green moss, as are many living trees.
much of the coast redwood area, there was logging here prior to it
becoming a state park, and a number of big stumps are visible, all
inevitably covered with moss and with trees and plants growing from
the roots or from the top of the stumps.
the clouds and the thick trees, it was dark but not gloomy. There
are lots of smaller redwoods and a few pretty big ones, a couple
over 300 feet tall. The coast redwoods are not as big as the sequoias
of the Sierra, but are taller. They also prefer a much wetter
climate, 55 inches per year in this particular area. Although I
have seen coast redwoods that look quite red, most of those in this
area are very dark, closer to a very dark brown. Additional color is
provided by a number of wildflowers, including some on bushes.
probably walked about a mile and a half total, although there are
longer trails available. My path had some up and down, and went by a
creek. There are signs along the trail explaining some of the
natural features. Something I had not seen before was a hazel nut
tree (not harvest season, darn it!)
the rain I enjoyed my walk, and did not get wet except for my shoe
29: Today I drove over some back roads, the most common
kind in this area, to Point Reyes. I went west on River Road, then
took the Bohemian Highway most of the way to Pt. Reyes Station. Pt.
Reyes National Seashore is a section of land that is separated from
the main coast by the long, narrow Tomales
Bay, which is a part of
the San Andreas Fault. The area was suddenly shifted north as much
as 16 feet in the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, and was first
thought to be the epicenter. Point Reyes
itself curves around Drake's Bay, considered the most likely landing site of
Francis Drake in 1579.
the area is a combination of public and private land, totaling over
100 square miles, so there are lots of roads and trails, much more
than can be enjoyed in a one-day trip. On the other hand, some areas
were damp and foggy, and places with alleged ocean views offered only mist.
I hiked a loop trail near the visitor center which has signs
explaining how the area has been shaped by earthquakes. As I was
visitor center I saw a number of quail. I then drove
up a road that goes over Inverness
Ridge, the "backbone"
of the area. Although it's probably not a thousand feet above sea
level, it's a pretty good climb. Near the top I walked a short way
on a couple of trails. For the first walk it was wet and drippy, and
I wore my poncho. It seemed a little dryer at the second stop, but
it was still foggy, and if there was a view to the ocean or
elsewhere, it was not visible this day. Still, it was a nice walk through forest
map shows the outline of Pt. Reyes, Tomales Bay, Drake's Bay and
SF Bay to the south.
I was ready to leave I called Enterprise, but it was too late in the
day for me to return the car and get a ride back to camp, so I made
arrangements to return the car in the morning, and headed back to
Forestville. I followed some different roads, and ended up going up
State 116 right by the rental office on my way back to the Russian
River. This country has miles
of winding two-lane blacktop roads which go through rolling hills, small
valleys, heavily shaded, steep-sided canyons, and low passes over
hills covered with redwood, Douglas fir, and live oak. It is rare to
be able to drive over 50 MPH, and 30 to 35 is more common.
30: Today was a traveling day, although the distance was short -
about 75 miles. Heading west from my RV park, I drove down to
Highway 1 at Jenner. From here to my next stop at Manchester it's a winding,
with many 15 and 20 MPH curves. About half way up the road, it opens up, with some farms and ranches along
the marine terraces. There are more pines and Douglas firs than
redwoods in this area, and the road goes high above
the ocean in some places.
considered staying at Manchester Beach State Park, but I am spoiled
for electricity, so I chose a KOA about a mile from the ocean. I did
only a short walk, a few hundred yards down the road that runs by the RV. I did get a chance to engage in my other exercise,
swimming, since this park had a pool, which fortunately was heated.
the July 4 weekend at hand, I thought I should have reservations,
and called an RV park in Fort
Bragg. Although the signal kept
breaking up, I thought I got across my desire to reserve a space for
the 1st through the 4th. I then reserved a rental car on line. With
the unreliable phone service I didn't try to call and discuss picking
me up. There would be time to do that after I arrived at Fort Bragg.
1: Today a got a leisurely start, having only 40 miles to travel.
I fixed bacon, and checked my email before leaving a few minutes
before the 11 a.m. check-out time. I continued north on Highway 1,
up the rugged and rocky Mendocino County coast line. The road
closely follows the coast most of the way, cutting back away from
the ocean where creeks and rivers run in, and generally winding up
and down and around most of the way to Mendocino. The road
conditions and limited population combine to keep traffic very light
much of the way.
Mendocino and Fort Bragg the road is wider and straighter, and has
some long fairly flat sections. It's possible to drive 55 MPH
through most of this eight-mile section. There is also more traffic, since a
highway comes in from the east and because there are a lot of
activities in both towns that draw visitors from throughout the
at Fort Bragg I saw the RV park as I drove past it; then missed the
road again after I turned around. However, I discovered a better way
to get in and out, a road that goes to a cross street that joins
Highway 1 at a traffic light. Setting up was a
little more of a project than usual since the site was not very
level and I had to set up blocks and drive on to them, always a
challenging task with no assistant.
a bit warmer here than Manchester, about 70 degrees, with a strong
breeze most of the time. The locals think this is a pretty hot day.
Bragg started as a lumber and fishing town, and is still a major
sport fishing center. I don't know how much logging activity there
is near here, but there are mills and various lumbering operations
inland, especially along US 101. The current population is just
prices are very high in Fort Bragg. A bell pepper was $1.70,
although the "club price" was under a dollar. Brand name
ice cream that sells for $5.49 in Fresno is a dollar higher.
picked up my rental car, but didn't go
anywhere today except to a pizza parlor. I did walk out along a
paved trail that runs next to the RV park. It is part of Pomo Bluff
and you can follow the trail out to the point of land between the
Noyo River bay and the smaller bay of a creek just to the south.
It's probably close to a mile to the point, and I did not walk all
the way out, but would do so later.
2: Today I headed back south in the rental car (a Nissan Versa)
Village, about eight miles south of Fort Bragg.
Mendocino was founded as a lumber and ranching town, but is now the
center of a large artistic community, and a major tourist
destination. It's also a town with an unusual number of old wooden
water tanks and towers, dating from the early days. Residents
built tanks high enough to provide good water pressure, and pumped
water into the tank with windmills. Read more about it in this Mendocino
unique aspect of the town is some tall, spiky
plants with tiny flowers. They grow to 15 feet or more, and have
long, narrow leaves starting a few feet up, gradually giving way to
small purple blossoms on the upper part of the plant. As far as I
can determine from my research, they are called echium
(the following year I also learned the common name, Pride
town is surrounded by the Mendocino Headlands State
preserves the coastal terraces that rise above the shore, as well as
the land along Big River for several miles upstream. The town is on
the north side of the river, and you can walk the edge of the bluffs
from above the river near Highway 1, out on the headlands that
protect the bay on the north and around the point to where the land
curves back into a small cove. Much of the protected section of the
headland is covered with dry grass, but there are lots of flowers,
both on the flat land and growing on the sides of the cliffs, as
well as a few evergreens, mostly growing just at the edge of the
I always like to do, I stopped at the visitor center which is also a
museum known as Ford
House, having once been the home of the Ford
family, who were involved in the first lumber mill and are
considered the founders of the town. Here I was interested to see some
photos of lumber milling taken in the 1860s by Carlton Watkins, who
is also known for his photos of Yosemite and the Mother Lode country
a few years earlier.
is no single trail, but rather a series of narrow paths that cut
through the tall grass, with various branches and shortcuts. There
are many places to get close to the edge and watch the surf smash on
big rocks, pour through windows and under natural bridges in the
rock, and show off with what I call "big
is when a strong wave hits a rock or cliff so that the water
splashes high up in the air. Centuries of wave action as well as
other weathering has created some long, narrow coves, some big rocky
islands just off shore, and various narrow passages where water runs
through and over and around the rugged terrain.
did a fairly long walk, with several stops to rest on benches that
are available here and there, and took lots of photos. I then
returned to my car, which was parked in town, and drove to the
opposite side of the headlands. Here I stopped at several different
parking areas and took short walks, including one that led out on a
narrow bit of land where a careless person could fall into the ocean
on either the right or the left side.
the visitor center I had asked about hikes into the hills away from
the coast, but these are limited. I drove down to Big River Beach,
where an old logging road provides a trail for several miles on the
north side of the river. I just checked out the first 100 yards or
so, deciding that if I want to make a longer walk there it would
have to be the main walk of the day, not the big finish to an
already busy day.
covered as much of the Mendocino Village area as I wanted for the
day, I headed back "home." Just
as it got dark an early Independence Day fireworks display got under
way. The rockets were fired from down on the beach by the river, but
rose up where we could see them from the bluffs. Some of them were
pretty much at eye level, and the concussion from a couple of them
rocked the motor home. The best views were from down on the beach or
right at the edge of the bluffs, since they were shooting off some
smaller fireworks that did not quite reach the top of the cliff
(average height of the cliffs in this area is 90 feet).
People who were gathered on the beach had built fires, and I counted at least
25 separate fires scattered around the sand.
3: I had a couple of possible activities planned for today, but
ended up mostly loafing around. Right at the edge of the R/V park is
a paved trail that goes along the south cliffs above the bay (where
the Noyo River runs in), and I had walked a short distance on it
before. This morning I walked all the way out to the end, where I
discovered that there is a road in from the other side. There are
informational signs at several points along the way, and one thing I
learned is that the coastal terraces are sections of former seabed
that have been lifted up by the subduction of the Pacific Plate
under the North American Plate, along the San Andreas Fault. So they
are composed of sandy soil, full of nutrients, making them a great
place for natural as well as planted crops.
brunch, I took a short drive a few miles up California Highway 20,
which winds through the redwoods, over a ridge, and joins US 101 at
Willits. Although I have not decided yet where I will go next, I may
drive across on that highway. The other logical route is to continue
on Highway 1, which heads north a while, then goes inland to join 101.
from my drive, I went down the road that goes out to the point west
of my R/V park, and explored the far corners that I did not reach on
my morning walk. This proved to be one of my favorite spots.
It's very rocky, with rock "islands" creating channels
through which the tide surges. There are a number of places where
the waves create a huge splash against the cliffs or a rock out in
the water. I noticed that the power of the waves would diminish for
a few minutes, then increase. At the peak, there would be powerful
waves hitting the rocks from several directions, creating huge
clouds of spray and areas of swirling white water.
4: I finally found a trail that does not follow the coastline, one that led into very warm territory. Looking at a booklet
I picked up at the Ford House in Mendocino, I saw mention of a
"trail through the redwoods" at Russian Gulch State
There are no signs indicating where the trail is until you actually
get to it, but I found it with some help from a gentleman who had
camped there in the 1980s.
trail follows the creek (Russian Gulch) for probably a mile
and a half, then heads up hill to a waterfall. By the time I reached
the start of the hill, my leg was telling me to start back, so I skipped the
waterfall and retraced my steps. The trial is in a narrow, very
steep canyon, with lots of shrubs, redwoods, firs, tan oak, and
other trees and plants. Since it heads away from the ocean, for the
first time in several days it was warm to be hiking. Along the trail, small creeks
run down through the thick forest and into the main creek. To give
an idea of how thick the vegetation is, although you can hear the
main creek and its tributaries, you almost never see the water. Only
in the upper end of the canyon did it widen out and offer views of
also observed one of the unique aspects of a coast redwood forest -
growth of new trees around an old stump. In many areas redwoods grow
as "fairy rings" - a circle of new trees that grow around
the base of a cut or fallen tree, growing from its roots. In this
area the trees had a different approach - a single tree growing
right on top of an old stump. In one case the tree had sent roots
down the stump on all sides, giving the appearance of a banyan tree.
I returned to the car, I drove down to a small beach that is under a
bridge over Highway 1. There were probably a half dozen people
enjoying this small cove. I walked out on the sand close to the
water's edge, took some pictures, then headed out of that area.
road off the main park road leads to a picnic area and the start of
trails through the brush and grass out to the edge of the bluff. The
land here is not as level as other places I've walked, having some
small rolling hills, and the vegetation includes quite a bit more
returning to Fort Bragg, I did my usual stuff - eating, using the
computer, watching TV. I drove out Ocean View Drive to the bluffs
soon after returning; then again late in the afternoon, near sunset.
In this area
and others I have seen many seagulls, buzzards, crows, quail,
pelicans and an eagle, possibly an osprey.
I've reached a new high (or low) in laziness. Last night I didn't
feel like figuring out where to go today, so I paid for one more
night and arranged to keep the car another day. After a late, leisurely
breakfast, I headed south once again, to
the Point Cabrillo Light
Station, about two miles north of
Mendocino and six south of Fort Bragg. This station was put in
service about 1910, and like most lighthouses, was automated in the
1970s, with the original lamp being replaced by an airport beacon
light. In the 1990s the run-down condition of the station's six
buildings inspired a local group to begin a preservation effort. At
the same time, the land around the station was scheduled to become a
trailer park. The lighthouse preservation group raised several
million dollars, purchased the land, and started restoring the
buildings. This included receiving permission from the Coast Guard
to go back to the original light - a British-made fresnel lens
lighted by a thousand watt bulb.
the assistant lighthouse keeper's house is open as a museum, and the
lower part of the lighthouse is a gift shop and a place to learn
from the docent on duty. Tours of the light area are given a few
times a year. The head lighthouse keeper's home is now a 4-bedroom
vacation rental, and two small buildings have been converted into cottages
suitable for two. Restoration
of another assistant keeper's house is awaiting funding.
have a handicap license, the parking area is a half mile walk from
the light station. Half of it is downhill going in, so uphill
coming out. I contemplated the difference between being able to walk
from the mall parking lot into the stores vs. having to walk a half
mile, and it seemed there should be some middle ground...close
parking for senior citizens, maybe.
Point Cabrillo, I continued south and headed into the Mendocino Headlands State Park once again. I stopped at two or three places
and walked to the edge of the cliff, but didn't do any extensive
hiking. After about a 20-minute visit, I said goodbye to Mendocino
and headed north again. About halfway between Mendocino and Fort
Bragg I had noticed the Jug Handle State
Natural Reserve, so I stopped there. This proved to be mostly more of the same, paths through the
tall grass on the marine terraces. There was a group of wind-blasted
evergreens, clustered together as if for mutual protection, that
created a dark, shady woods - home to a unique group of plants and
animals, according to an informational sign. Trees in the area
included Sitka spruce, Douglas fir, and bishop pine.
when I was out at the point I noticed a couple who had brought their
lawn chairs so they could enjoy wave watching in comfort. So today I
took my chair, book, and a drink, and went to the same spot. It's a
tiny point between two small coves, at a slightly lower level than
most of the bluffs, which makes it a little more private. I
alternated between reading and watching the waves crashing into the
rocks, staying there about an hour. There are some places where a
wave hits an exposed rock and makes a big splash, then makes a
series of smaller splashes hitting smaller rocks farther in.
6: Today I returned the rental car and started north again. The
trip was relatively brief, although far from fast.
From Fort Bragg I drove north on Highway 1, which first goes inland
through some open country with horse and cattle ranches, then
returns to hug the cliffs and canyons at the edge of the ocean.
There was fog drifting up above the headlands, but for the most part
it did not reach the highway. After a while the road goes inland,
with lots of up and down over ridges and continuous curves with
speed limit signs of 20, 15 and even 10. This section is even
narrower and more winding than the section along the ocean.
Eventually it meets up with US 101, and that is the end of Highway 1
in California. Highway 101 remains inland for about 75 miles,
returning to the coast at Eureka and staying close to the ocean most
of the time well into Oregon.
no advance reservations or other planning, I had chosen as my
destination Richardson Grove, about 8 miles south of Garberville.
There is a state park with a large campground, but no hookups, and a
commercial RV park just south of the grove. I chose the latter - the Richardson Grove Campground and RV Park.
Coincidentally, my older grandson Johnny and I stayed here on a trip
to Oregon in 1999.
started late, stopping to eat lunch in the motor home, and generally
poking along at a
slow pace, it was around 3 p.m. by the time I arrived. The first
thing I did was change into shorts, having left the coastal weather
behind and arrived in the land of 90 degree temperatures.
addition to getting set up, I walked across the road where there are
a couple of long-time Redwood Highway attractions - the One-Log
House, and the Grandfather Tree. The latter is worth noting - it has
two or three huge trunks, all joined at the base, so it is
impressive in size, even though it's under 300 feet in height. Past the tree
it's a short walk down to the Eel
River, where some
people swimming advised me that the water was refreshing. I
considered a swim, but figured by the time I walked the nearly half
mile back to the motor home, I would be hot and sweaty again.
7: I came very close to leaving this morning, with only a vague
idea of my destination, then laziness set in and I paid for another
night. I considered walking up the road to the redwood grove, but
just past this little "village" of RV Park, gas station
and gift shops, the shoulder narrows down to a few inches, with
thick woods on one side and a high bank on the other. I decided
walking that road would be hazardous to my health. Then I thought of
driving, but that would mean bringing in the slide-out, disconnecting
water and electric, and when I returned, getting the RV leveled once
again. So Richardson Grove (the state park) will be a stop on
of tree-watching, I put on my swim suit, gathered up my chair, book,
and towel, and walked down to the river. The water was indeed
refreshing - a bit cooler than the swimming pool at home in my condo
complex, but much warmer than some streams I have been in. The
current is very slight, enough to carry you slowly if you don't swim
against it, but easily handled by an old man. It's safe enough that
people were letting their kids swim unsupervised, contrary to the
swam a while, then sat in my chair reading, then took a final swim
to get cooled off for the warm walk back "home." Actually
it is a little cooler today than yesterday, with a nice breeze a lot
of the time. Of course, it's not quite 2 p.m., so there is time for
it to warm up a little more.
it turned out, it stayed fairly cool today, with an even stronger
breeze late in the day. It's 7:45 now, the breeze has died down, but
it's very comfortable inside or out.
8: I got started around 10:30 this morning, but only drove about
a half mile before my first stop. I turned in to Richardson Grove
Redwood State Park, stopping first at the visitor center. I then
walked a short, signed loop trail through the grove. There are a
lot of good size
trees, and lots of tall ones. It's much dryer in
this location than the redwood grove I visited near the Russian River.
There's hardly any moss on dead logs and stumps. The Eel River runs
through the park, and there are many public camping spaces near the
river, but outside the actual grove. I spent a little over
an hour there, then continued on to my destination, where I arrived
am in Shelter
Cove, on the "Lost Coast" of California.
Where Highway 1 angles inland to join US 101, there are no
more roads along the coast until 101 goes into Eureka. There are few
roads, and few people. Between the ocean and the Eel River drainage
is the King Range, which goes up a little over 4,000 feet at the
highest point. This is a BLM preserve, with hiking trails, and only
the most primitive roads and camping. Since the shortest trail in
the preserve is over five miles, I didn't do any hiking here.
is one "good" road into this area, and it is steep, narrow
and winding. It goes up from Redway off Highway 101 near
Garberville, and over the King Range. It's only about 25 miles from Highway 101 to Shelter
Cove, but it takes a good hour. The RV park manager said that other roads on the map
that lead from here to Highway 101 are partly dirt and gravel, and
not well maintained.
in town there is an RV park, harbor, fishing services, a small
restaurant, and a lighthouse. There
are a few other tiny towns nearby, so there are probably some other
businesses. But the main industry is obviously tourism. It's kind of
cool to know that such remote places exist, and to be in one of
them. But don't come in the winter - the north coast is lashed
by violent storms in the winter, with winds up to 90 miles per hour.
land rises up steeply very close to the shore. Although the hills
are steep, you can see houses scattered about in the forested
mountainside. North of here there is a very high headland that
appears to drop directly to the ocean. It's a few miles away, so
impossible to check it.
lighthouse did not operate at this
location. It was built on Cape
Mendocino, on top of a rugged 420 foot cliff. This height made it possible to build an unusually
short lighthouse - only a little over 40 feet. However, with the
cliff it was the highest coastal light in the US. After it was
abandoned in favor of a pole light, it began to deteriorate, so a
group was formed to move it to Shelter Cove and restore it. This
involved dismantling the building, and having the largest pieces
moved by Army National Guard helicopter, as part of a training
mission. The lens is stored at the fairgrounds in Redway (about 25
miles away), but there are plans to return it to the lighthouse. You can go in the lower floor of the
building, and a docent is on duty to answer questions.
after getting set up I went down to the lighthouse, then on to the
shore. I went down a path with steps to the rocks at the base of the
cliff. There were plenty of pools, but not much visible life
other than a lot of small anemones. There are a lot of small rocks
offshore, but no big "island" rocks like at Fort Bragg.
The surf seemed to have a little less power here, and I did not see
many good "splash-ups." One good size off-shore rock had a
line of birds shoulder to shoulder all across the top. Right next to
it a smaller rock was occupied by several seals.
Later I went out to the edge of
bluff with my chair and book, and alternated between watching the
waves and reading. I stayed about 30 or 40 minutes, then came back
to the motor home and heated the last of the pizza I had bought my first
day in Fort Bragg.
supper, I took another walk out to the edge of the bluff. The time
was 5:40, which was high tide according to a chart posted near the
lighthouse. I could immediately see that the rocks I had walked on
in the afternoon were under water.
seemed a little warmer here than at Fort Bragg, but around 7:30 the
temperature dropped and the wind picked up, and it's too cool for me
to be outside now.
been reported to me that temperatures at home are supposed to drop
below the triple digits by tomorrow, which is good since I plan to
start toward home then. I will probably stay somewhere on Highway
101 tomorrow, and hope to get home on Sunday. But not at the price
of rushing or having too many deadlines.
The weather this morning is more what I expected at the ocean.
Instead of the nice sunshine that has prevailed almost everywhere,
it is foggy and drippy, with visibility reduced so much that I can't
see the ocean. I haven't been outside to see how cold it is, but
everyone is bundled up, whereas yesterday many were in shorts
and t-shirts. I assume it will burn off, hopefully before I have to
drive in it. I will be going up hill as soon as I leave the RV park,
so I hope the fog is not clinging to the mountains.
I walked out
to the edge about 9 a.m. It was cool, but not windy or cold and
visibility was improving slightly. I returned to the motor home and
got ready to go. Although it never cleared up on
the ground at Shelter Cove, I got into sunshine about a mile up the
hill. From the pass above town I could look down on green trees on
the hill, then fog over the cove, then blue ocean beyond the
safely to Highway 101 and headed south. For a long stretch from where
I joined Highway 101 to the junction with Highway 1, the road
follows the Eel River. The Eel valley is fairly open, so there are
lots of views of the river from the road, and many places where
people can get down to the banks for swimming or fishing. Most of
the rivers that flow into the ocean simply cross under Highway 1 or
Highway 101 at a bridge; as far as I know the Eel is the only one
where the road runs beside the river for such a distance.
I decided to
go "out" for lunch, so stopped at a BBQ/burger place in
Laytonville, where I had a pretty good hamburger. It was getting
into the middle of the afternoon, and I would be turning east from
101 about 30 or 40 miles south, so I decided it would be easier to
find an RV park along the US highway then on the smaller state
roads. I am at the Golden Rule RV Park, which is located in a small
valley about a mile off 101 and seven miles south of Willits. There
is some level terrain, with open fields next to the park. The park
is next to Ridgewood
Ranch, the home of Seabiscuit (he's
actually buried there). Although there are evergreens on the
hills above, the trees in the valley are nearly all hardwoods,
including a lot of big valley oaks, some live oak, and various
landscape trees. There is also the biggest bay tree I have ever seen.
The base is about three feet in diameter, and it has several large
trunks. A couple of huge limbs
have been cut off long ago. The tree is probably 30 feet high.
Typical bay trees, at least in the Sierra foothills, have several
small trunks, rarely over two or three inches in diameter, and a
base that is usually less than a foot across.
I got a fairly early start this morning and headed for home,
arriving about 5 p.m. My trip totaled 870 miles, not counting rental
There are not a lot of choices in getting from Highway 101 to the
central valley and Highway 5 and/or 99. To avoid the Bay Area, I
turned east on highway 20, which leaves 101 about 60 miles north of
Santa Rosa. This road goes along the north and east side of Clear
Lake, a huge lake and major recreation area inland from 101
about 80 miles north of San Francisco. State 20 goes out to
Interstate 5 at Williams, but this takes you many miles farther north
than necessary. I
turned off 20 on State 16, which goes south then east to join I-5 at
Much of this
route is very scenic. There are redwoods along the first part of the
drive, then Clear Lake, a huge natural lake, with motels, resorts,
condos, and places to stop and fish or go boating. Once over the
hills between Clear Lake and the valley, the road follows Cache
Creek for a long ways, also going over some mountains, and past various farming and ranching operations.
this was one of those trips that did not turn out as originally
planned, I enjoyed it and would do it all again.
Estel, July 2011