4 – 7 May 2009

Yes, I really am this far behind. It seems that while we are out making memories I find it really hard to keep up. Making matters worse, as I was working on my last post we were having connectivity problems that kept me from uploading my photo album, much less get the blog published. Our connectivity issues have continued and as I write this we have no connectivity at all. Therefore, I intend to try to push out a few updates over the next few days without photos. When we get somewhere with reliable service I will upload a web album that catches up the photo tour.

With that in mind, this update will concentrate on our visit to the various Redwood State and National Parks. I will get it uploaded when we get a little connection. I guess I should explain why we are having connection problems. Knowing we were going to be on the road nearly every day this spring and summer we decided to put our HughesNet system in a suspended status as we would likely not be setting it up every night. We also have a Verizon Air Card which has been very good to us. However, we found some of the deadest spots in the country making a continuous connection for reasonably long periods impossible. Most of the parks we have stayed in of late have either had no wifi or wifi that doesn’t work. Therefore, we are struggling. To make our future more challenging we have also suspended the air card for the summer because of the high cost of using it while in Canada. We will hope for good wifi at the RV Parks where we stay.

When we left Napa Valley with what we were afraid was too much wine to avoid stiff taxes going into Canada, we headed north on US 101. Our next stop would be Eureka, California. We picked Eureka because it was between state and federal parks where the main attractions are the grand groves of Redwoods. To the north of Eureka is Redwood National Park. To the south is Humboldt Redwoods State Park. It seemed to me to be a good place to base ourselves for a few days of tree sightings. We stayed at the county fairgrounds campground. We had been to a few fairgrounds in California by this time and liked what we had seen. This was not the best of the fairground RV Parks we had seen, but the location was good and the price was right.

We drove in rain most of the way from Calistoga to Eureka. I remembered thinking that I once said that if rains on a scheduled drive day we would change the schedule. After all, we are retired. Why drive in ugly weather? Well, sometimes you have to do what you have to do. When we arrived at the RV park it was raining so hard the host told us to find a spot and come back when it was a little dryer to pay. Of course we had to do all the hook-ups in a driving rain. I have to say that at least I had help from my wonderful wife performing those necessary tasks. Later, I watched another fellow having to do all the hook-ups by himself; including unhitching the car from the motorhome and moving it out of the way while he backed into his site without assistance. After getting all hooked up, he still had to move the car again.

While I was getting our extra step out of the basement I noticed that the carpet in the basement was wet. I would later learn that at least two of the basement doors leaked badly while we traveled down the wet roads. So, as well as doing a good bit of sightseeing while in the area I would learn how to adjust the latches on the doors and dry out the basement. It took me a couple of tries to get them adjusted properly, but I think I have beaten the problem.

Our reason for being in the area was to see trees. We were afraid that the weather would dampen our spirits if not seal our fate altogether regarding these magnificent trees. Well, we awoke on day two of our stay to what would become a truly beautiful day. We set out to look at trees and see everything we could. Our first stop was at the Redwood National and State Park Headquarters to get some advice from the rangers. We then spent the rest of the day roaming the forests going from grove to grove and snapping tens if not hundreds of photos of not just trees, but of the ground cover taking advantage of the light screened in through the upper stories of the magnificent redwood trees. Of course there were also some birds to see on the forest floor. We saw the Varied Thrush which in my case was a first and a second sighting for Connie.

The trees are just absolutely too overwhelming to properly describe. With many of the largest approaching 2000 years old, which is an amazing thing in and of itself, you get the feeling of being a real young inhabitant of the planet. The diameters are really hard to fathom as most are not perfectly round, however the brochure says they get up to 22 feet in diameter. For a reason we were not able to get an answer for, many of the Coastal Redwoods grow in a grand spiral. How many twists there may be cannot be determined from the ground as they grow to well over 300 feet with some reaching 370 feet. For comparison, the Giant Sequoia can reach 311 feet in height, while living to 3200 years of age. While not being as tall as Coastal Redwoods, the Giant Sequoia can reach 40 feet in diameter. Looking up from the forest floor your view is not broken until you are looking up some 60 or 70 feet before you see a limb. I took a lot of pictures looking straight up. Connie told me I was crazy. You certainly cannot tell how tall a tree is by looking up, when you know the tree you are sighting along is nearly 300 feet tall there is a huge wow in that view. When I get those photos into my web album you will hopefully get a feel for what we saw. Our few days visiting these wonderful grand old trees was both inspiring and saddening. It is really sad to realize that there once were thousands more acres of these magnificent trees and all other living things their existence supported before we humans went on a cutting binge for the sake of lumber. Had we only been imprinted with a bend towards conservation we could have avoided the destruction of so much of what we should be able to co-exist with.

On a more positive note, one cannot survive on sightseeing alone. Everyone has to eat once in awhile. I got myself into a little trouble with Connie when I said we didn’t need to take a lunch on that first day of tree sighting. We had to drive a long way to get lunch and it was really late. However, the place we found was really neat. It was an old drugstore that had been transformed into a deli with several hot dishes as well as great sandwich creations. Unfortunately, neither Connie nor I remember the name of the establishment or the town it was in.

We also found a great restaurant in old town Eureka called The Sea Grill. We took a chance and went in without reservations and were surprised to be seated before we could get the bartender’s attention. The food was naturally seafood and it was really well prepared. We had a wonderful evening.

As we move around the country we are often given recommendations as to where we should eat by friends and relatives. We try to take advantage of those recommendations when possible. Eureka is home to one such establishment. The Samoa Cookhouse is truly a relic of the old time logging days. During the height of the 19th and early 20th century logging industry many of the loggers were single men living in bunkhouses and spending their days in the forest. Cookhouses existed as an efficient way to feed a lot of hungry men in a short period of time. The tables are long, seating up to 20 people per table. The food is served family style and there are not a lot of choices. In making the transition to a restaurant setting, the Samoa Cookhouse has successfully kept very close to tradition by having a limited menu and, while not serving everyone at once, they do still serve everything family style and the size of the platters is determined by how many are in the party. The night we were there the menu included, soup, salad, fried chicken, pork roast, whole kernel corn, mashed potatoes, and beverage of choice. For dessert we had a choice of carrot cake or pineapple upside down cake. The joke was that as we approached the halfway point in all the food before us our waitress actually asked if we wanted seconds on anything. While we were there we took a look at the menu for the next several days. We learned that breakfasts could provide enough calories for two days. Lunches were a little smaller than the dinners in that they featured only one meat dish. The dinner meal always included the meat dish from lunch and one other meat dish. I suspect that back in the day, the loggers frequently asked for more. But then, they worked really hard for many hours a day and were burning all those calories. We just didn’t eat for two days to compensate. Thank you, Denise!

The Samoa Cookhouse is also a museum to preserve the history of the logging industry as well as the history of the cookhouse. It is really worth the time to visit and get a “bite” to eat.

We had a wonderful time visiting the Redwoods and all that lives with them. We got lucky in that the weather moderated while we were out and about giving us more or less dry conditions to do our exploring. The rain did return in time for our drive north to Oregon, but that is a story that will be told in the next addition.

Stay tuned.


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