Saturday, May 31, 2014

Our last few days in California

Black sand beach

Memorial Day weekend was pretty quiet in our little RV Park in the Redwoods.  We wanted to take it easy on Sunday, but we took a short drive over to the coast at Shelter Cove, where there are black sand beaches.

Shelter Cove

Shelter Cove is part of the “Lost Coast” of California . . . apparently, the road planners felt that the coastline in this northern portion of California was too rugged, so they just skipped it, and there is no road following the coastline in this area.

There’s just one road that goes through the redwood forest, over some steep hills, and down to this little cove.  It was really hoppin’ on this Memorial Day weekend!  There’s even an RV park down here, and it was packed!  The little airstrip also had planes constantly landing and taking off while we were there!

Shelter Cove Lighthouse

We stopped at the lighthouse and talked to the volunteer.  He pointed out some areas around town to check out.  From the lighthouse, we walked down to the rocky shoreline where there were some pelicans and harbor seals hanging out on the rocks.

Pelicans, seagulls and seals

We walked over to the beach, where there were lots of people enjoying this little cove sheltered from the wind.

Lots of people on the beach










Ocean cliffs

We watched several fishing boats being brought in by a big tractor,

Shelter Cove

Fishing boats coming out of the water











and had to resist some temptation when a little girl on the beach tried to get us to take a little St. Bernard puppy home!

The beach was beautiful, although the black sand was hard to get used to,     Shelter Cove Beach

and the water was COLD!

Cold water!

Walking the beach

We stopped to watch the fisherman cleaning the fish they brought in . . . those were some really big salmon!

Fishermen cleaning their catch

Back at the car, we made our way to the other end of town, and looked for the other black sand beaches.

Fishing boats

We found some more harbor seals,

Harbor seals











and made our way over to the black sand beach overlook.

Black sand beach

Black sand beach











Black sand beach

It was a beautiful day, and although it was cool at the coast, it had gotten into the 80s back at the RV Park. 

We relaxed a little and visited with our new friends – Dave & Lynn, fellow fulltimers from our home state of Michigan.  We were headed out the next day, and they were moving on Tuesday, but both of us were headed to Klamath . . . so our chance of meeting up again was pretty good.

We don’t usually like to travel on the holiday, but it didn’t seem like there was going to be much traffic, and we didn’t have too far to go . . . so we figured we might as well get an early start and we might even have time to do some exploring at our new location . . . and get some laundry done!



We continued our drive north on US-101, over the twisty-turny roads through the redwoods.

Driving north on 101

Before long, we arrived at our next destination – Klamath, CA, and settled into the Golden Bear RV Park,

Golden Bear RV Park

at the mouth of the Klamath River.

Klamath River

We had some lunch and the boys finished up a little bit of schoolwork, and we went in search of some wildlife . . . we were still in the Redwoods, in fact we were now deep in the heart of the Redwood National and State Parks,          DSC_0869

but we had seen enough tall trees!  On the way to the RV Park, we had passed Elk Meadow, so we drove back on the scenic parkway to look for elk.




Across from the Visitor Center, we found a meadow full of bull elk!

A whole herd of elk hiding

They were camera shy, though, and found the area of grass just long enough to keep them almost hidden!

Once in a while, one would stand up and we could catch a picture.

Bull Elk

We continued on, and stumbled on another meadow where all the females were hanging out.  They were a lot closer to the road!

Female Elk in another meadow










I also managed to catch a photo of a stellar jay . . . these are really pretty birds!     Stellar Jay









The Ranger in the Visitor Center had told us that migrating whales could still be seen from the Klamath Overlook, which was just past our RV Park, so we headed there next.

It was a beautiful spot, with a great view of the coastline!

Rocky coastline

Along with several other people, we kept our eyes glued to the water looking for whales.  We were looking a little too far out at first, but then somebody spotted a couple whales closer to the shoreline.


We could only see part of their backs as they came to the surface, but occasionally they would spout out water, and that was easier to see . . . it was pretty cool!

Whale spouting











We spent the next couple of days getting some work done, catching up on laundry, washing the cars and front of the RV, and visiting with Dave & Lynn, who had caught up with us.  We had a nice campfire on our last night there (firewood courtesy of the RV Park – how nice is that!?!), and we just may meet up with them again . . . possibly in Washington!

Next stop . . . Oregon Coast!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Avenue of the Giants and coastal northern California

Avenue of Giants

The RV Park in Napa Valley was fully booked for the Memorial Day weekend, so it was time to continue our journey north to a park we could get into for the weekend.  Tom called around and found a small Passport America park, Richardson Grove RV Park, at the southern end of the Coastal Redwood region.  It was an easy drive, and we were quickly set for the weekend.

Our site at Richardson Grove

We had no TV signal, no Verizon coverage, and marginal campground wifi . . . it was going to be an “unplugged” weekend!

Overnight sites at Richardson Grove











We were surrounded by giant redwoods, and just down the road from the “Avenue of Giants” in the Humboldt Redwood State Park.



Coastal redwoods are taller than any other living thing.  They can live over 2000 years and withstand fires, floods and insects.  Many of the groves along the Avenue of Giants have never been logged.  They are old growth coastal redwoods.  Their average age is 400 – 600 years old.

We started the Auto Tour at Phillipsville, winding our way through the giant trees.

Giant Redwoods


Standing in a giant redwood

We stopped at many of the pullouts to admire the majestic trees.


Burls on a giant


Many of the trees have interesting shapes and sizes, and some have these growths on them called burls.  The burls are a result of the tree undergoing some kind of stress.


Years ago, there was a lot of logging of redwoods going on, and these rare forests were at risk of being wiped out.  Many people saw the value of preserving these old trees, and founded an organization to save them.

The Founders Grove is named for them, as many other groves in the area are named for families that contributed to the preservation of the redwoods.  We stopped at the Founders Grove to walk the trail through some of the oldest trees in this area.

Founders Grove


Founder's Tree

Wlaking among the giants


Walking through the woods here felt like walking in a jungle – there were ferns growing everywhere, an moss on many of the trees.








Circle of Redwoods












In the center of Founders Grove, there are several really huge fallen logs, including the Dyersville Giant.

Dyersville Giant

Giant Log











Even the big guy likes to climb!


These were some of the oldest and tallest trees in the area, until they were knocked down during a storm in 1991.  Now they are nurturing the growth of new redwoods by allowing light to get into the forest.  There is even a redwood growing out of the stump of the Dyersville Giant!






The giant redwoods and giant sequoias that we saw a few weeks ago are very similar – they belong to the same family – the redwoods get a little taller and thrive in the moist atmosphere of the coast, and the sequoias get bigger in diameter and grown only above 6000 feet in the mountains of the Sierra Nevadas.

They thought they were going to sneak up on us!


The redwoods are just as amazing as the sequoias, and we enjoyed our tour through the Avenue of Giants!









At the end of the avenue, we travelled through dairy farms and cattle ranches,     Happy Cows from California









until we reached the little Victorian town of Ferndale.

Victorian Ferndale

It was a cute little town with quaint shops and restaurants, and I would have liked to explore it some more, but the kids wanted to drive the coastal loop back around to Garberville, where we were going to church that afternoon.

We found the turnoff for the loop road, and started driving up into the mountains.  The roads were steep and narrow going through the woods, and as we got closer to the coast, we were going in and out of a dense fog.

Driving into the fog


Barn in the fog

We eventually drove through the fog, though, and reached the top of a bluff overlooking the ocean – it was really beautiful!


At the bottom of the hill was a ranch, and there were cattle all around us.

A nice spot for a ranch!

Cows with a view











We had only driven about 10 miles of the loop road so far, and it took us over half an hour, so we decided that we should probably turn around and take 101 back to Garberville, or we’d never make it to mass on time . . . as it was we still ended up being 5 minutes late!

Back at the RV Park, Tom and I wandered over to check out the tourist traps across the street.

The Grandfather Tree

Grandfather Tree


Many of the really big, old trees are on private property and have been turned into these type of hokey tourist stops – including all of the “drive thru” trees – but fortunately many more are included in the Redwood National and State Parks, so they will be preserved . . . and not turned into uncomfortable bear chairs!