Sue and Mo at Harris Beach

Sue and Mo at Harris Beach
Sue and Mo at Harris Beach

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving trip to California

Just a quick note to anyone following my blog, I am not sure if this post will show up in all your blog rolls or not.  I am backtracking here a bit, and decided to put some old journals and photos into the blog so that Mo and I could have our travel history all in one place.  More times than once lately, we have wondered when we did something and gone to the blog only to realize it happened “pre-blog”.  So any of you reading, if this pops us with a date of 2005 or even earlier, don’t worry, you aren’t time traveling and it isn’t a mistake.  My actual hope is that it won’t show up at all.  Guess I will find out if anyone starts commenting! You might notice a different “MoHo” and a different dog.  Molly left us in 2006 and we didn’t pick up the new “MoHo” until December of 2007 on our cross country winter travels that year. I still lived in Klamath Falls and was working full time and Mo lived in Rocky Point.  We started traveling together back in 2003, so eventually I hope to all our trips right here.

11_05 Mendocino Coast 002

My kids are scattered around the country, and this year we decided that everyone didn’t need to make the long trek to Klamath Falls for Thanksgiving and Mo and I could go on little MoHo trip. I took off work early on Wednesday and Mo picked me up in Klamath.  The MoHo was rolling along toward California by 3pm.  It was our first attempt at boondocking at a Wal-Mart.  We wanted to get far enough into California on Thursday to find a nice restaurant for dinner.  It was dark when we arrived and we didn’t see any signs saying we couldn’t park, so settled in, turned on the lights and within an hour an employee security person was knocking on our door saying we couldn’t stay there. Redding evidently has some laws about store parking that we didn’t know about.  He was nice to us, however, and told us that we could simply move to the east of the official parking lot into the dirt and safely park there.  We put up the TV antenna, hoping for some diversion, but for some reason nothing worked.  We walked Molly around the parking lot before going to sleep.

11_05 Mendocino Coast 004 It was a bit of a restless night, but not bad, and by 8:30 on Thursday morning we were coffee’d up and ready to hit the road.  We decided to travel west to the coast via Highway 299 through Whiskeytown and then along the beautiful Trinity River. The day was cloudy but a balmy 55 degrees, which felt warm after the cold Klamath fall air. Whiskeytown and French Gulch were pretty little towns we visited along the way, then crossed the mountains to Highway 3, to Highway 36 and finally to Highway 101 on the coast.  At the top of one of the passes we saw a large cat-like black animal streaking across the road and up the hill beside us.  Later I searched the internet and finally figured out that we had seen a fisher, a rather rare animal in this part of the world.  I glad we both saw it.

The roads were narrow, winding and long.  It was raining hard when we reached Fortuna on 101 and we decided to eat our Thanksgiving dinner at Peppers.  It was a nice turkey dinner with all the trimmings and certainly not expensive.  We even had leftovers to take with us, which of course are necessary for a Thanksgiving dinner. 

Even in the rain, the town of Ferndale was interesting to visit.  Most of the stores were closed because of the holiday and it was a bit drab in the rain, but I would love to go back there someday and shop.  Later we took the road to “Centerville” which turned out to be nothing more than an empty beach.  We followed a very narrow winding road up the steep hills south of the beach for a distance before deciding to turn around after talking with a local who said the road eventually came to a dead end with nothing to see.

11_05 Mendocino Coast 008 Returning to Highway 101 we traveled south toward Humboldt Bay, looking for a place to camp in the Redwoods.  the Burlington Campground showed up just after dark, and there was a space for us.  We tucked the MoHo into the small spaces between huge redwood stumps and settled in for the evening.  Some of the stumps were actually as big as the MoHo! It was a surrealistic place, and in the dark even more so.  I went to camp headquarters to pay and managed to lose the MoHo and myself for a time before finding my way back.

We slept great in the deep dark forest, with the sound of the pouring rain keeping us in bed until quite late.  Even at 9am the forest was still dim and dark as late evening.  I made omelets for breakfast and we took the slow beautiful drive along the Avenue of the Giants, stopping at the visitor center.  The displays were excellent, with stories of a man named Kellogg and his van made entirely of one redwood log.

11_05 Mendocino Coast 016 We drove south all day on the winding highway 1, through many dark and winding forests, and many signs that said “road narrows”.  It was hard to imagine how the road could get any more narrow.  Eventually we emerged from the forest to the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  The Mendocino coast was wild, rugged, and beautiful, but the roads are incredibly narrow with very few places to pull over, and no shoulders at all.  I was car-sick most of the way and was very happy to finally get to the little town of Mendocino.  We did stop along the way to hike the half mile down to the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse, beautifully restored.

11_05 Mendocino Coast 025Continuing through town just in time to settle into space 11 in the Van Damme State Park just as darkness settled in.  Our late lunch of leftover turkey sandwiches at an ocean overlook should have been plenty, but Mo started a campfire and wee cooked burgers.  They were great! Venus was huge and brilliant over the ocean and Mars glowed red through the redwood branches, forecasting a sunny day to come. I knitted while Mo read until lights out at 9 or so.

The next morning we were up at 8 and after a good home cooked breakfast we packed up to go explore Mendocino.  It was a gorgeous clear day, but cool and windy.  we walked the town, checked out the Art Fair, I found some wonderful yarn at the perfect little yarn shop, and had a delightful cappuccino.

11_05 Mendocino Coast 037 We decided to travel south on Highway 1 until we found a place to spend the night.  Instead we saw a sign that said “coastal access” and followed it to the tiny perfect little hamlet of Point Arena.  Supper at the restaurant overlooking the ocean was perfect, with rock cod and a perfect salad.  Beautiful.  Our plan was to continue as far south as Sea Ranch before heading inland but we hoped for someplace along the beach.  Sure enough, high above the ocean, we found a wide turnout in the road, level and safe, with no signs saying we couldn’t park there.  As we were settling in, a man drove up and let his dogs out of his car.  Suddenly the peace was ruined by a huge tussle of dogs with his aggressive animals attacking Molly, who ended up scared, shaking, and limping a bit.  I was furious!  Thank goodness he left. 

11_05 Mendocino Coast 043The evening settled into a peaceful sunset with music on the stereo, Mo reading while I wrote and Molly sleeping peacefully.At dawn, the skies over the ocean were all shades of pastel pink and lavender and the rising moon was visible in the east.  We tried out the new toaster oven with some corn muffins which tasted ok, but I burned them a bit too much. Driving all day east from Gualala through Annapolis where the signs said “no rv’s” but with our little 21 footer and no tow car we did just fine.  The road was really steep and curvy but not much worse overall than all those curves on highway 1!  Continuing to Clear Lake and Williams we hit the interstate by 1pm to take us back north to Oregon.  Stopped for a steak dinner in Redding before the last long leg into Klamath over highway 97, leaving the interstate at Weed. It’s a long stretch to do in a day, but since I had to be to work on Monday morning, it was necessary.  Mo is retired but I am not, so sometimes these little trips with me are much quicker than either of us would like.