We woke to 57 degrees in the camper and 43 degrees outside. I realize the hot part of the trip is over and we are into the colder section of the journey. I am excited at this as the heat has dogged me most of the trip. The heat and humidity in North Carolina was terrible and I got used to being wet most of the day. The dry heat in Needles was demoralizing and made me almost pack it in and go home. So, waking up to Fall like weather was energizing.
Our campground was nice once we saw it in the light. A large spot with plenty of room, trees, and a blanket of leaves. The dropping acorns provided many chase opportunities for Mable and she took advantage of the off-leash freedom. She stayed close but used all our open space to run and do her barrel turns. It is fun to watch and like I said before you can see the joy in her face. It must feel so good for her to run as fast as those little legs can carry her.
We take a path to the river and roam around. Its water is low giving Mabel plenty of room to sniff. Mabel stiffens up when I see a pile of scat and wonder if it is from a bear. She didn’t want to go forward which has my Spidey sense racing. We are near a large clump of brush, a perfect hiding place for a bear to jump out and eat us. But it doesn’t happen, no close calls today. The walk back was brutal, the hill was at a very steep pitch and the narrow trail didn’t provide much traction. I had to stop a few times but Mabel seemed fine. She is polite and waits for me to catch up. Sometimes I wish she had more sled dog in her as I could have used the help.
Today’s destination is The Avenue of the Giants, a 31-mile country road that runs by and over HWY 101. We will catch the road just North of Garberville and follow it to a little South of Scotia. According to the map, I will see the most outstanding display of the giant redwoods in the entire redwood belt. The map continued to say that the Avenue is surrounded by Humboldt Redwoods State Park, home to the largest stand of virgin redwoods in the world. The trip did not disappoint as I stopped just past Phillipsville to see the beginning of the forest. It said no dogs on the trail so Mabel stayed in the car and I was alone except for four sisters here for a weekend vacation. I took their picture for them and then moved on down the trail. The forest seems full, many trees either upright or fallen and I get the same feeling as I did at Muir Woods. The woods fill the soul with good feelings and these are on steroids.
I see on the promotional map that there are wood shops in Miranda, the next town from Phillipsville. It would be nice to bring something home from this part of the trip and I remember that I owe Sheri a wooden bowl. It was a while ago that I dropped and broke her only wooden bowl and a few Christmases have come and gone without me providing a replacement. Korbly Wood Products sits off their main street, across from the small school. It’s a small but tidy building with a large supply of old redwood sitting in the front yard. I walk in the building and see brilliant examples of craftsmanship. A few large tables made from hulking redwoods and many samples of turned wood greet me. The shop is just off the showroom and you can feel the “oldness” of it. The usual woodworking tools are present as are projects in various states of completion. Surplus lumber sits waiting to be used, the chunky squares of wood close to the lathe. The shop’s warm hue seeps out and fills the room, a golden color dominating the view.
Bernie Korbly comes out and greets me and another couple and I ask him how long he has had the shop. His family thought he was crazy when he moved here in 1970 and bought three and a half acres for $1,000. But the move has made him a success and he tells me it has been a good life. I ask if we can get a tour and he agrees, explaining the processes used to make his creations. He is a green turner of salvaged wood, nothing is made from a cut tree. The wood is heavier as redwood is a very moist tree and he has a lathe that is big enough to turn it. Bernie has two lathes, one from around 1900 and his “Porsche” a modern lather from Germany. Both are used for his many projects. He told us he has deposits for work that is four years out. I guess you have to be patient if wanting the larger pieces.
I found a nice bowl for Sheri, not like the one I broke, but it should be a suitable substitute.
We continue up the road, stopping when something catches my eye. I am alone so Mabel joins me for the walk. I let her off the leash and she had a blast navigating her way through and over the many redwoods we saw near the paths. I did lose sight of her for a bit and couldn’t hear her tags jingle so I did get a little worried. She came running down the path after ten minutes or so, tongue dragging but looking very happy. The redwoods stretch far up into the sky and their tallness is something to marvel at. The forest is exquisite, I don’t know what else to say.
Our last stop was the Founder’s Grove which was the home to the Dyerville Giant which I gather used to be the tallest tree in the forest. I say, “used to be” because it came crashing down in 1991, its fall to earth so hard it registered on a nearby seismograph.
*As I was walking through the redwoods feeling so good I thought about those that don’t have the opportunity to experience them. There have been times when I dream about winning the lottery and opening a wilderness camp for disadvantaged kids, the ones that don’t go to a weekend cabin or even have an opportunity to join scouts. These kids will grow and be the stewards of our natural resources so they need to be exposed to its wonder, and beauty, and feel how nature fills your soul with good spirits. So how do we include kids like this in the experience? Are there already programs in place that takes a kid from the city to the wilderness for a day, overnight, or week? Is there a charitable angle we can tap? Do we apply for a grant that would cover costs and help with the logistics? I don’t know and if anyone else does, please message me through the blog. To me it seems like these kids are missing out.
The ride on HWY 101 is now inland and we see inland scenery. It is mostly trees and it’s not until North of Eureka that we see the ocean. My friends from the Doran Regional Park CG told me I must stop at the town of Ferndale as it is host to a number of Victorian Buildings. We pull off the highway and follow the road to Main Street. It was community yard sale day and I see tables in front of most of the homes but do not stop. I don't feel the need to purchase other people's cast offs, at least not today. We continue down a quaint main street; the store fronts all Victorian and follow the signs for RV parking. I guess they get a lot of traffic. We are at a park at the very end of town almost at the foot of the mountains, nothing like feeling we are welcome. Mabel is up for a walk so we hoof it up the street and take in the sites. The town is full of Victorians and I would like to come back with Sheri.
The route takes us through Redwood National Park which stretches along the coast, a separate piece of the park sits near Crescent City, our stop for the night. We encounter a traffic jam near the park and I see cars at the side of the road. I get close and see that an elk is at the side of the road and people have pulled off to take pictures which has narrowed the two-lane road. I see a parking spot and pull off to join them, camera at the ready. Two elk are in the background, grazing just outside of the tree line and they don’t seem to want the public attention. I feel like I am at a golf tournament with the spectators jockeying for position as the golfer puts on the last hole. The locals don’t seem pleased at the inconvenience and blast their horns for us to move. One nice lady emphatically flips us the finger like a pro. As I walk back to the car I follow two ladies and can hear one say, “….but we’re tourists…” How many times have I heard that one before. The ironic thing is that just a little ways up the road is a sign for an area designated for wildlife viewing.
The beach did look different the father North I travelled. Not as rocky but just as tough looking, a course sand to walk on.
KOA is running a special for its frequent flyer card members with Saturday night a freebie if you stay on Friday. It’s a thank you to its loyal members that have ponied up $30 for the opportunity to save 10% on their camping. I took the bait, not initially, but as the trip progressed, and the $30 investment has been repaid. I made reservations at the Crescent City KOA since I knew it was going to be busy weekend and was able to secure a spot in the redwoods. This was very exciting and I hoped my spot would be like something I just experienced.
Mabel and I pull off the road into the KOA and get directions to the back of the campground where we would be spending the next two days. The spot was so cool! We were nestled among large redwood trees, a dirt road looping through more of the grove. Some of the giants had fallen, their trunks lying on the ground. This part of the campground had a neat vibe and I felt set apart from the campers not in the grove, almost special.
I meet our neighbors, two ladies camping in a tent, who turned out to be nice but quiet. I find out later they are from Oregon and they give me some tips on what to see in their state. We fall asleep very thankful to be in such a cool campsite.
Thankful tonight for the feeling I get when surrounded by nature.