On Monday, June 24, I FOUND BIGFOOT! Okay, it was a statue peeking out from behind a tree, but I’m just going with it! We hit the road at 6 AM to get the heck out of these crowds, starting north on US-101 up to Petaluma, then side-stepping to CA-1, better known as the Pacific Coast Highway. We took that all the way to Fort Bragg, only stopping at a couple of overlooks and to get gas in Gualala. The scenery was spectacular…rugged, rocky coast line, breaking surf, dense forests filled with giant trees, and unexpected ranch land with cows, horses, and sheep. Lunch was at Mountain Mike’s Pizza in Fort Bragg, which had a special that included a salad bar…getting those greens! After that and a quick pop-in at Safeway for some groceries, we continued north to the lost coast, where we were, once again, routed to CA-101. Five miles north of there we landed at the Redwoods River Resort & Campground, our home for the next few days. In addition to the farm animals, we saw a bald eagle, lots of sea birds, and a bunch of vultures sitting on all of the posts down a fence line…pretty funny looking. A few notes about the drive: 1) It was very cool, 47 degrees at 7 AM and barely into the 50s for most of the drive, until we moved inland from the ocean. 2) It was also foggy off and on all day, but never very dense on the road. 3) There were frequent stops for construction which added a good bit of time to the drive. 4) Mr. Wonderful (MW) said he would not drive this route again because of the constant curves and switchbacks with narrow lanes. NOTE: There is a suggestion that anyone with a kingpin to rear axle measurement greater than 30′ find another route. There are lots of turnouts for slower vehicles to allow faster ones to pass, so you can take it at your own pace. After setting up, we headed up to Harrison’s Pub in the campground and watched the Tennessee Vols win the College World Series while enjoying appetizers and a libation for supper. The only negative to the evening…mosquitoes. This is the first time we’ve seen them since Louisiana…little buggers!!

Tuesday was a PAJAMA DAY!! I didn’t leave the RV at all and spent a LOT of time writing and, truth be told, a little time napping! MW went to the pub and brought us back hamburgers for supper, which were delicious. That was pretty much it except that I slept like a baby. You know, a pajama day every now and again is good for the heart, mind, and soul. No kidding!

Wednesday I did a bit of writing in the morning, then we took a short drive south to Leggett, California. Our first stop was supposed to be the post office, but that was a pile of rubble and ash. According to the guy at the gas station next door, a bolt of lightning hit the tree beside the building, which exploded, raining debris and fire down on the wooden structure. Thankfully, the store and gas station on either side escaped harm. Oddly, that happened in March and nothing has been done towards cleaning up or rebuilding. Meanwhile, the folks of Leggett have to drive 23 miles each way to Garberville to get their mail. Next we headed over to drive through a tree. Well, Big Jake wouldn’t fit, but many cars do. There are actually several drive-thru trees, but the most famous now is the Chandelier Tree in the Drive-Thru Tree Park in Leggett. There is a nice drive through the woods with lots of carvings scattered about and a gift shop at the end. The park also has a pond and plenty of spots for a picnic. It was a pretty cool stop.

While we were there, several cars drove through the tree. I was standing beside it taking pics when a couple drove up in one of those new, off-road Broncos…you know, the beefy one, not that little tiny Bronco wanna be. The woman got out, and the man said “I think it will fit.” They pulled in the side mirrors, and she looked at the width and agreed. Ahead he drove, but no one was looking at the height. At about 8′ out, I told her it was too tall. She told him to slow down. At about 6′ out, I told her she better tell him to stop. She said, “Maybe you should stop.” He said, “No, it will fit.” I told her it wouldn’t. Finally, when he was about a foot away, she said “Stop!” He was about 3-4″ too tall and was just about to take the roof off of their brand new vehicle.

On our way back to Priscilla, we stopped at The Peg House to check out the store and grab lunch. According to the plaque on the wall, this place was built in 1961 by Hans Hauer in the traditional Danish manner from hand hewn beams without nails. That makes it older than me, and it has held up pretty well without any of the modern stuff that everyone says is “better”. We enjoyed sandwiches on the outdoor patio while listening to the live band. The store was very touristy, but did have amazing homemade cookies. Bonus! Back at the campground, we walked around a bit and took pictures. Later we went up to the pub patio, but the mosquitoes cut that short.

Redwoods River Resort, located just down the road from Leggett, California, off of CA-101, was beautifully situated among giant redwoods. From there you can get to Mendocino, Fort Bragg, the drive-thru tree, and parts of Redwood National Park. The park has a nice office and store, the pub, a nice pool that is heated, a game room, a nice playground, and free wifi. There is also a short trail to the river, but they were working on it during our visit. Other activities include basketball, horseshoes, shuffleboard, bocce ball, tetherball, volleyball, pool, foos ball, badminton, ping pong, and air hockey. Lodging opportunities include a small motel, several rental cabins, and the campground. The latter has tent sites in a variety of sizes, small electric and water sites for vans, trucks, and pop-ups, and full-hook-up sites for RVs. Most electric sites are 30-amp, but there are some that are 50. Some of these are not terribly wide or long, so you will want to make sure they know what you will be bringing in when you make the reservation. This was one of the nicest settings we’ve been in for a private park, and there was plenty to do. The pub offered a nice spot to watch tv, play games, or just enjoy the patio, and the park has a schedule of activities that they sponsor during the summer months. The bathhouse was older, but very clean. Cell signals were fine, but there was no over-the-air TV. We would definitely stop here again. For this visit in June 2024, we paid a little over $89 per night.

Thursday it was time to get back on the path. We struck out north on US-101. Part of this route is along the “forgotten coast”, so-called because the Pacific Coast Highway isn’t actually along the ocean here. What does butt up to the shore is the King Range, making for some very hilly land. There are a couple of tertiary roads that loop out that way if you want to check it out, though. Also in this stretch is the Avenue of the Giants, a scenic, 31-mile drive that runs along the old US-101 road grade. It starts north of Garberville and ends south of Scotia. We didn’t make that drive, but it definitely looked interesting. Our first stop for the day wasn’t until we were nearing the coast again at Fortuna. There we found the Redwood Cafe for breakfast and were able to parallel park a couple of streets up. The food was very good, and our waitress was on her own and hopping! Oddly, there was a woman with a couple of other people there when we arrived who was, judging by the empty glasses, on her third beer at 9 AM. That’s hard core!! After dropping off some mail at the post office, we were back on the road. At Eureka we picked up a few things at Kohl’s, then checked out Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate. Located on the bay it had beautiful views, but the chocolate was too much for me. That’s saying something! Even their milk chocolate tasted very bitter, but dark chocolate aficionados would love it. That is if they can get past the price! LOL The final leg was the most beautiful. Nothing can prepare you for the majesty of the giant Redwoods, and this drive takes you through the southern portion of the national park, which is divided into several sections. The road is a mix of curvy, mountain drive and cliffs along the shoreline, only occasionally making it down to the water level. We saw a small herd of elk milling around a campground, then a little later came across a bunch of people along the side of the road with cameras. That means slow the heck down!! It was a huge herd of elk just hanging out around an old house! Someone needs to move those “Elk” signs closer to there, because we didn’t see any in the labelled areas!! We passed through Crescent City and crossed into Oregon. Right about there, we saw a bald eagle in flight and an osprey hauling a pretty big fish back to the nest. By mid-afternoon we made it to our stop for the day, The Riverside RV Resort in Brookings, Oregon. The weather had been cool and mostly sunny all day, so setup was nice.

Friday morning MW saw a buck resting in the gravel beside one of the cabins in the campground. He walked right by, and the deer did not seem worried about him at all. Later in the morning I headed out to the Old Wash House Laundromat in Brookings to take care of the dirt. There was one guy sitting in a corner when I arrived, so I got it all started and found a seat to tackle some writing. No sooner had I opened up my Mac than a man came in to fold his clothes and started talking to me. MW says I have some type of aura that attracts people, and you know I love to talk to strangers, but sometimes I just need to get some stuff done. I stopped, though, and talked to him until he left. I mean, what if he needed to talk to a stranger that day? I did get a little bit done while my stuff was drying, then transferred over to the Dairy Queen to focus. The kid that took my order looked really young, but he was very conscientious and his attention to detail was amazing. I later asked him how old he was…14. It was his third day there, and he just wanted to get out and work. Nice! I managed to put a couple of hours in before taking some supper back to MW.

Saturday on his trip to the bathhouse, MW saw three bucks resting in the tent camping area. I hadn’t seen one at all. We headed out about 6 AM for a hike, taking US-101 south, then turned southeast on CA-197, North Bank Road. Then in Hiouchi, we took Howland Hill Road, an unpaved, occasionally bumpy road into Redwood National Park and the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, which are co-located here. This road, which is an old stage coach route, is listed in the brochure as “A Dirt Road Where Redwoods Kiss Your Car”. They aren’t far off. We pulled in our side mirrors and made it fine in our big Silverado, but it is definitely not the road for your trailer or motorhome. This is such a cool drive, though, that I recommend it even if you don’t stop to hike. We didn’t pass anyone on the way in and thought we were going to be alone, but a couple beat us to the punch and were just heading out to walk the Grove of the Titans trail when we pulled up. It was a perfect morning for a walk in the woods with cool temps. When MW stepped out of the truck, he immediately remembered the bug spray…back at Priscilla. It turned out okay, though, because although there were mosquitoes, they weren’t biting. Maybe it was just a little too cool for them to be really active? Whatever the reason, we were thankful.

This is a coast redwood forest that is one of the wettest in California…an actual rain forest. Coast redwoods, which are only found in a strip of land from southern Oregon to Big Sur in central California, are the tallest trees on earth. They can reach 380′ tall not including the roots and 29′ in diameter at about 4′ above ground level. They are truly giants, although in actual mass or volume they are beat by a whopping 12,500 cubic feet by the giant sequoias down in Sequoia National Park. Sequoias don’t grow nearly as tall, though, at 314′, but both are similar in diameter. For comparison, both are taller than the Statue of Liberty! In age, redwoods are the youngsters at 2,200+ years, while sequoias are much older at 3,200+. It is wild to walk through forests with trees that date back to the time when Jesus walked this big blue ball. Wow! In addition to the spectacular redwoods, you might see Douglas fir, western hemlock, tanoak, and bigleaf maple. The forest floor is dense with ferns, rhododendron, and a variety of other plants, but is not too tall. Park inhabitants include mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, foxes, black bears, elk, black-tailed deer, Humboldt Martens, and a large variety of small mammals, bugs, slugs and the like. The Tolowa people made their lives here and depended on the forest and giant trees to help make canoes, houses, and other necessities.

As we made it back to the trailhead, I was thankful that we get up at the crack of dawn for these hikes as a whole bunch of people started flooding in. There is just nothing like the peaceful feeling of total quiet in the early morning in the woods! With our steps taken care of, we headed back to Hiouchi to check out the Historic Hiouchi Cafe for breakfast. This place has been around since the 1930s. It began as a gas station with a garage/grocery/bait store inside. Someone thought selling hooch in Hiouchi would be more profitable, so the pumps were removed and stills built. It was apparently quite the raucous place with loggers, fishermen, and locals giving it a serious drinkin’ and fightin’ rep. Today it serves righteous breakfast, brunch, and lunch fare, including a 14″ pancake!! (Nope…I just couldn’t do it.) Their omelets also have FOUR eggs!! (Didn’t do that, either!) Our final stop in the park was the Hiouchi Visitor Center.

There are lots of signs saying to stay on the trail, and one in particular was very informative. Apparently these giant trees have a VERY shallow root system and lots of traffic on the ground around the base causes the roots to die back, creating dead sections in the tree. They showed two pics of the same tree 10 years apart. One looked like any of the bases you see in the above shots, and the other had a huge chunk that had died and sloughed off. (Sorry but the pic of the comparison came out blurry.) Despite the multitude of signs, there are tons of places along just this 2-1/2 mile stretch where folks have cut their own paths. At one switchback, there were three separate paths down the hillside that created slight shortcuts. We also found discarded snack wrappers. Wow, who can’t just put it in their pocket until they get back to the trash bins? These are our national parks, and if we aren’t going to protect them, who will?

Back in town we hit McKay’s Market for groceries. I had to run back out later for something I missed and popped in to Honeybee Bakery. Holy smokes!!! I was nice and took MW an apple fritter, too!! Later, as I was sitting at the table writing, I glanced up and finally saw a buck. He was relaxing up near the campground fence, occasionally getting up to eat a little. I took some pics, then went back to my work. A little later I glanced up to see him and three others grazing very close to the campers. They must be constant visitors, because MW went out to the truck for something, and they didn’t even look up. Turns you they are black-tailed deer, a subspecies of the mule deer that live in the Pacific Northwest.

Sunday we headed over to First Baptist Community Church to hear a nice service by Pastor Ken Whitted from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. The takeaway: love, as talked about here, is an ACTION VERB, not something we passively feel. Lunch was at Kaya Sushi & Noodle House. It’s always a good sign when you go into a Mexican restaurant and see Mexican customers and a Chinese restaurant with Chinese customers. In this case, there was a party of about 20 Japanese folks just finishing up their lunch when we arrived. Once we tasted the fare, we certainly agreed with their assessment. On the way home we passed Chetco Brewing, and stopped in to see what they had. MW took a couple of things to sample later. Our last stop was to wander around at Fred Meyer a bit. We’ve been to these grocery stores before, but the one here is like a Walmart, but better quality, with clothes, jewelry, electronics, well just about anything you could need. It was even two stories! After checking it all out, we headed back to Priscilla.

Riverside RV Resort is a very nice, private, seniors-only park. As is typical, it is paralleled in pretty close, but the sites are adequate and the grounds are beautiful. Located just across the southern state border on the Chetco River, it was 5 minutes from Brookings and Harbor, Oregon, and 40 minutes or so from Redwood National Park and Crescent City, California. Despite its proximity to town, it was also remarkably quiet. The owners are very nice and live on the premises. Amenities include a fenced dog park, clubhouse, laundry, bathhouse, pavilion with kitchen, boat ramp, river walk, fire pit, wifi, and limited boat storage. Their paperwork says they have cable TV, but we didn’t check into that. Lodging options include several vacation rentals, 7 tent sites, and a couple dozen RV sites. Most are full hookup with 50-amp, but the overflow sites are water and electric only. We would definitely stay here again. For this visit in June, 2024, we paid just under $58 per night.

Well we have one more stop on the Pacific Coast Highway, and then it’ll be time to point Big Jake towards Tennessee. There will be a lot of meandering before we actually get there, though! Next up…The Last Ocean Stop, America’s Birthday, And Oregon’s Best State Park. See you on the path!


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