Sue and Mo at Harris Beach

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

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Folks are following and all I am doing is “painting the living room” and cooking

181586_10150146248752640_652237639_7797407_3571941_n While I was writing about our trip to the California coast, and working diligently to catch up on my cruise stories, a few more followers joined my list of supporters.  I want to welcome you and thank all of you, visible and invisible for your support.  I also think you might deserve better than the sudden silence that followed immediately after you joined. 

Welcome to PB and J, a young family writing about their travels through some of my favorite places in the southeastern US.  It’s nice to see young families out there adventuring together.

I have followed Connie and Tracy at the Gypsy GMas for some time now, as they create their full-timing life while continuing to work.  I treasure reading the incredibly open stories and enjoy how much Connie shares her feelings about life, love, working, and creating a more meaningful life.

Welcome also to Erik, who does not yet have a blog, but plans to start blogging when he begins his full time journey, and in the mean time is learning from all those full time folks out there sharing their stories.

I have followed John and Carol for some time as well, while they kayak in the gorgeous clear waters of north central Florida, one of my favorite places in the world.  Check out their great blog  “Our Trip Around the Sun”.

Painting the Living Room (3) But back to the living room.  It is snowing again in Rocky Point, it is February, my least favorite month to be in snow country, so of course it’s time to do a nice big home project.  When Mo built her home in 2002, she painted everything a lovely off-white, to create light and open airy space in the deep forest.  On the other hand, when we worked together on the mobile where I lived in California, we painted warm colors and white trim that also created a nice environment that we both enjoyed.

Painting the Living Room (1)  It’s been a year now since I have shared Mo’s home, and we came to the joint conclusion that it was time for the white walls to exit and something a bit newer to enter.  We spent the last year or so looking at colors and thinking about just how it might look with the change. 

Combining households at this stage in life is always an interesting process.  Mo is understated and has great antiques, and likes neutral colors and not a lot of “stuff”.  I am flamboyant, love the southwest canyon look, and love my ceramic chickens, rocks, jars of sand, and a ton of other stuff.  Her paintings are European originals gathered from her travels.  Mine are mostly inexpensive prints, a few good prints, and limited edition photos of rocks, sand, and other southwest themes.  Pulling all this together in a cohesive unit has been a fun process, and both of us have a goal of creating a home that feels warm and welcoming to company, but most of all, comfortable  to us.  

Painting the Living Room (14) It works!  The color we settled on is a warm honey gold called on the paint chip “Chamois”, but we laughingly refer to it as our pumpkin/carrot soup bisque.  It’s fun in that sometimes it is a nice warm yellow gold, and other times in turns peachy, or bronzy, or who knows what color to call it.  Much like my beloved canyons, the color shifts with the light.  I love that.  We decided to accent with another darker warm butterscotch color that initially looked a bit like baby poop till we fixed it a bit.  Now it also is perfect.  Amazingly, the light is warm and the rooms aren’t a bit darker than they were when the walls were white. 

In the midst of all this, an old folk song from the late 80’s keeps running through my head.  I used to have it on a CD somewhere, or maybe it was a cassette tape, sung by one of the women singers I used to follow, but when I went to the internet, I could only find the actual authors of the song and the You Tube video.  Don’t click on the title unless you want to get redirected to YouTube and a very silly bluegrass song, the gist of which is that the world is falling apart and so…

Why Am I Painting the Living Room?

Ah yes I can see how my tombstone will read
Here lies someone of exceptional worth
Though she did not do a lot for her kind
Or help hold together this crumbling earth
Here lies a woman they're saying of whom
Sure had a good looking living room...

Feb 27 Sunday Dinner Sunday morning dawned bright and cold today, and I started cooking early in the day for the planned Sunday dinner for Melody and her family.  One of my favorite magazines is Cook’s Illustrated.  This time the star of the show was an old fashioned blade pork roast with the bone in, rubbed with kosher salt and brown sugar and steeped for 18 hours, then slow cooked for 7 hours until it was meltingly tender and encased in a crackling crunchy crust.  I made roasted potatoes and an apple onion sauté to go with it and that great orange spinach salad that rolls around the internet recipes.  Yum.  By the time the kids arrived in the early afternoon the house smelled so dang good anyone would be hungry just walking inside. 

Feb 27 Sunday Dinner-5 I love having Melody and her family close enough to share a simple Sunday dinner, and I love that the almost 18 year old and the 12 year old still like to come and hang at Grandma’s house.  Melody’s husband Kevin brought their Wii console and we all laughed ourselves silly over bowling, baseball, and tennis.  Mo and I really cracked up watching our little Wii selves jumping and rolling on the tennis court. This week is Mo’s birthday, and the kids all spent a lot of time making handmade cards for her and I made her requested carrot cake. 

It was a wonderful way to spend a very cold and snowy week, with temperatures dropping into the single digits.  It was also a wonderful way to spend a perfect Sunday before I go off to work again tomorrow. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

One more wild ride and then home Friday and Saturday Feb 11 and 12

Highway 36.bmp Once more the skies were brilliantly blue when we woke in Eureka.  The winds were calm and there wasn’t a bit of fog, but the 32 degree temperatures were still a bit daunting.  We read the forecasts and knew that it wasn’t a lot warmer in the Sacramento valley to the east, and that we had snow and rain to look forward to once back in Rocky Point.  Our decision was to drive the winding 142 miles of Highway 36 across the mountains, to stop for the night in a forest service campground along the way if it was accessible.  If not, we would continue on toward Red Bluff and possibly go park at the Rolling Hills Casino about 20 minutes south. 

driving 36 (48) Timing our travels sometimes gets a bit confusing.  My ex mom-in-law lives in Red Bluff, and wasn’t going to be home until afternoon on Saturday, so we needed to plan accordingly since I wanted to stop for a visit while passing by.  We wanted to spend the night in Redding on Saturday night before we spent Sunday morning getting the MoHo ready for her last month in storage.  Even though we had a bit of a schedule to figure out, it was nice to just take off on the highway with the options open.

Highway 36 is 142 miles of wild road indeed.  While it doesn’t have quite the grades that our Lost Coast roads had, and didn’t have quite as many hairpin curves, the big difference was that this time we were in the MoHo towing the baby car.  If it had been hot, we would have unhooked the car and both driven the steepest grades, but the cool temperatures were in our favor and the MoHo did just fine.  Jeremy once again settled into his dash position and it only took us 4 hours to go less than 100 miles to a small forest service side road leading down to the Basin Gulch forest service campground. 

Another wild ride
camping at Basin gulch (1)We were smart enough to unhook and take the baby car to check out the campground before driving the MoHo down that side road, and once we looked around we thought, ‘Sure, no big deal”. Camping at Basin-3 With our Golden Age Pass, camping was a hefty 5 bucks for a lovely little campground, completely alone in the middle of nowhere without another car or camper anywhere in sight.  A mile or so before the campground, there were a few summer cabins, but we didn’t see any cars or people at all.  It was only about 2:30 in the afternoon, so we had plenty of time to settle in, go for a nice walk along the stream and relax a bit before supper. I slept better and longer that night than any in very a long time, with the absolute darkness and silence of the forest around us.

Camping at Basin-4 The next morning we continued the last 50 miles or so to Red Bluff, and thought we might go park at the Red Bluff Lake Recreation Area to wait for Gen to get home.  To my surprise, there was an RV park at the lake. The campground however, was federal, and our Golden Age Pass got us a site with water and electric for $12.50.  By the time we settled in again, it was time to go visiting.  Gen is 87 years old now, and spiffy and lovely as always.  We enjoyed our visit before driving the mile or so back to our waiting home. The warm sun felt fabulous.

IMG_1107 Sunday morning we took our own sweet time packing up, cleaning up the MoHo, and driving north on I-5 to Redding to our favorite credit card operated self car wash.  This time we got the entire rig washed for a mere $6.50.  Love it when we don’t have to keep messing with the quarters to keep the spray going.  For the last time this year we slid the rig into the big shed, piled everything into the car, and headed north to Klamath Falls.  It happens to us every single time.  As we drop down from Mt Shasta into the Klamath Basin, in the midst of quiet contemplation, one or the other of us says out loud, “I love this place". It certainly isn’t perfect.  Winter time can be brutal and spring can be long in coming.  It’s the interface between desert and mountains, and can be brown and barren at times.  But the vistas are wide, and now, even in February, the Pacific Flyway birds are returning.  The fields and marshes along Highway 97 are already filling with thousands of swans and ducks, and the snow geese are back. 

We were home by 5, and the car was unloaded and unpacked before 6.  We are getting good at this back and forth thing. It’s so good to go, and it’s so good to come home.  So far, I love not having to choose between one or the other.


Monday, February 14, 2011

The “Big Move” Thursday February 10

morning at Shorline RV I think today qualified as the very shortest move we have ever made from one campground to another. Our little spot at the fairgrounds in Ferndale was quite comfortable, except for the fact that we don’t have a satellite and there was very little TV reception, with the majority of broadcast stations in Spanish. After our hard driving day on the Lost Coast, we thought a little bit of TV would be good, especially since the news from Egypt seemed to be shifting by the hour. The skies were clear, but it was still way too cold to think of dropping the kayaks in the water. Our hope was that if we moved a bit farther north toward Eureka we might find a place along the Mad River or even farther north on Big Lagoon to slip into some water and christen my new raspberry colored boat.

After a bit of time, Swift Kayak stood by their promise to replace my green topped boat with the damaged paint without charge to me, and in early February my new boat was delivered to Klamath Falls late one dark evening. The shipper was traveling all over the US from Rochester New York, and his load was an amazing mixture of high end kayaks and $60,000 racing rowers. My little boat was tucked in safely and this time wrapped in some amazing felt and plastic that took considerable work to get undone, and the paint job was perfect.

view from the front of the MoHo at Shoreline.  We have the end site number 55Shoreline RV looks like a parking lot behind us but it 's not too bad from our far end spot and really convenient to EurekaWe took our time with a lazy breakfast and then loaded up the rig for the short 13 mile drive north from Ferndale to Eureka. Our searches had revealed another possibility for camping at the Redwood Acres Fairground RV Park, so we drove by to check it out. It looked merely OK for 20 bucks, another parking lot with rigs lined up along the one road, and while there were full hook-ups, there was no cable and wireless could be sketchy. Instead we opted to go back the Shoreline RV, where we stayed last fall, and with our CampClub USA card we spent a reasonable 20 bucks a night, including 70 plus channels and screaming hot Wi-Fi. We knew the routine, the manager shows up around 5 in the evening to take money and check you in, and in the mean time you simply park, fill out a form, and give her a call. We again took a spot on the “unavailable” back row, where she gets a bit antsy about people running over her sprinkler heads, but after assuring her we remembered that part, and that we are only 26 feet long she calmed down.

lovely ferns and moss taking over the campground signOur spot was perfectly level on pavement, with a view on two sides of the slough. I checked the tides even though the wind had come up a bit, we thought maybe with the sun we could get out on the water. Again, it was not to be, with high tides listed before dark in the morning and after dark in the evening. In Humboldt Bay and all its surrounding rivers and sloughs, the tide is the most important factor, second only to wind. We had neither in our favor.

view of Big Lagoon from site 11Instead we traveled up the coast north beyond Trinidad to check out Big Lagoon, one of three large lagoons that keep showing up in internet searches for kayaking around this area. The Lagoon was beautiful, but no more protected from wind than Humboldt Bay. Near the launch area was the Big Lagoon County Campground, completely empty except for the camp host, with somewhat rough sites right on the water. The signs warned against motorhomes or trailers, but we were sure we could fit the MoHo in there just fine. Of course, here there were no hookups at all, and with kayaking out of the question, we didn’t consider leaving our fancy smooth asphalt parking lot back in Shoreline RV. Still, it was a pretty park, and gave us something to think about when we come back sometime to try kayaking in the lagoons. Even with good weather forecasts, we also need to double check where the tides are maxing out since this area needs at least a 3 foot high tide to keep from finding yourself stranded in the thick bay mud.

02 Feb 10 Murals of Eureka  We wandered back to Eureka and Costco to buy the cheapest gas around at a whopping $3.46 per gallon for regular unleaded. Ouch. Afterward, a short trip to the local Chamber of Commerce yielded some maps and photos of the locally famous murals. I plotted the addresses out on the map, since the chamber no longer had the walking tour brochures as advertized, and Mo and I parked near downtown and walked the streets viewing the murals. We actually managed to find all of them except one which we discovered later had listed the wrong street location.

It was fun, and we saw a completely different part of town than the “Old Town” where we walked the other day, and enjoyed finding the murals in what is called “Old Downtown”. The largest mural, at 70x70 feet, on the back wall of the Performing Arts Center, was truly magnificent, but my favorite is still the panels on the wall of the North Coast Co-Op.

The day ended with us back in our cozy MoHo enjoying the late afternoon sun and catching up on the world news. We then had an excellent supper with our local cheeses and watched Julia Roberts in “Eat, Pray, Love”. I loved this book, and had Jeremy catching afternoon sunlightno idea how it would be possible to make a movie out of it. They did a surprisingly good job and we both especially enjoyed the beautiful locations and Julia’s performance. It’s a quiet little movie, but lovely, although I am not sure Mo got as much from it as I did by not having read the book, so not knowing the background of her spiritual search that was the motivating factor behind her travels.

We decided that it may have been a good thing that we couldn’t kayak because we saw parts of the area that we hadn’t seen the last time we were here, and entertained ourselves in completely different ways.

Tomorrow we plan to drive the wild highway 36 back across the mountains toward Red Bluff and perhaps spend the night somewhere along the way, depending on what we find. This time it really is a spontaneous drive, with no idea what is waiting for us. I love that, even if I get a little nervous about it at the same time.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A wild ride exploring the Lost Coast

Humboldt County Fairgrounds Campground The day dawned brilliant and sunny this morning, without a trace of fog.  But it was COLD and WINDY!  Much too cold to even think of dropping a kayak into the water, so we went with our next plan for a day trip to explore the Lost Coast.  If you look at a map of California, south of Eureka and north of Fort Bragg, you will see a large hump jutting westward into the Pacific. This area is so wild and rugged that in the 1920’s, when they built the Coast Highway in Northern California, the engineers determined that the stretch of coastline through the King Range was entirely too rugged for a road.  This huge expanse of wild land was isolated and became known as the “Lost Coast”.

Lost CoastWe read about the “Lost Coast Loop” in our favorite local publication “101 Things to Do in Humboldt County”.  What the wonderful write-up didn’t include was the rugged nature of the narrow roads leading to our destinations.  In addition to the 100 mile loop, we also wanted to explore Shelter Cove, an isolated paradise that boasted a tea house, an RV park, a lighthouse, and a community of 900 rugged souls.  It is the jump-off point for magnificent wilderness hiking on the California Coast Trail through the King Range, and famous for sea cave kayaking along the wild coast.

clean as a whistle company town of scotiaWe started our day with a simple drive south on Highway 101, stopping in to check out the perfectly pristine company town of Scotia. Even though it is steeped in logging history, (the first company bunkhouse was built in 1884), the town also has a bright future thanks to the ecologically minded folks who are part of the “Town of Scotia Company, LLC” who now actually own the town. Driving through in the morning sun was like stepping back in time to the 50’s, with perfect little houses, clean yards and streets, and well maintained buildings.  This isn’t always the case in this part of California, with the other extreme including a lifetime’s worth of trash as yard art.

wild ride to Shelter Cove We skipped the amazing “Avenue of the Giants”, since we drove that road last fall, and continued on to the town of Redway. While the write-up in the magazine was glowing, the town itself didn’t seem to sparkle enough to warrant a stop before we headed out west on Redway Road to find Shelter Cove. The map showed 21 miles ahead, with what appeared to be a very winding road.  I must say, there wasn’t a word about this being a scary road for RV’s, with an RV park at the final destination, but as adventurous as Mo and I are with the MoHo, we wouldn’t attempt a trip down this incredibly narrow and steep road to the Lost Coast.

the tidepools at sheltered Cove Once at Shelter Cove, the ocean was gorgeous, the skies were crystal clear, and the wind was howling.  We took photos of the 1886 Cape Mendocino Lighthouse, relocated here from the Cape in 1998.  A pictorial history of the relocation is displayed on signs around the lighthouse.  Cape Mendocino is the westernmost point on the coast of  California. It has been a landmark since the 16th century when the Manila Galleons would reach the coast here following the prevailing westerlies all the way across the Pacific, then make their way down the coast all the way to Acapulco, Mexico.

Lost coast (13) We found a small curved bay below the cliffs with seals romping in the surf, somewhat protected from the wind.  We checked out the RV Park and had some great fish and chips at the Shelter Cove RV Campstore and Deli, and laughed at the tee shirts that said “I drove to Shelter Cove RV Park and survived”. 

After our great lunch, we drove around the town toward the Black Sand Beach.  The area is filled with some truly lovely homes, and with a population of 900 people, we wondered just how often those people managed to drive back to town.  It took us an hour and a half to drive that 21 miles to Redway, and that isn’t exactly a destination city. Black Sand Beach was gorgeous, with black volcanic perfectly smoothed pebbles along the upper reaches grading to fine black volcanic sand at the water’s edge.  The wind was still howling, so Mo stayed in the car with Abby while I walked down to the beach for photos.

the sands are truly black  By the time we got back to Redway, it was close to 3:30.  Even though the Lost Coast Loop was estimated to be a 3 hour drive, we weren’t about to miss it.  We had no idea our little foray to Shelter Cove would take up this much of the day. The first part of the route meandered through thick dark redwoods in the Rockefeller Grove, part of Humboldt Redwood State Park.  There were places where the trees were so close to the road we were sure that the MoHo wouldn’t have fit through, but then later we saw a couple of trucks winding their way around, so I suppose it might have made it.

wild ride to PetroliaOnce more we started up switchbacks and grades that were mind boggeldy steep. This part of California is wilder and more rugged than anything I have traveled, including some of the back roads in the Sierra’s.  Offshore of Cape Mendocino lies the Mendocino Triple Junction, a geologic triple junction where three tectonic plates come together. This explains the extreme complexity of the King Range and the wild ups and downs and arounds required to traverse the landscape.

time for a break from the road! I don’t think we have traveled so many ups that required downs, over and over again, anywhere.  Finally we reached the community of Honeydew, with a couple of houses situated along the Mattole River. The road followed the river through the gorgeous Mattole River Valley for 15 more miles before we reached Petrolia.  Petrolia is a place that lives in mythic proportions in my earth scientist soul, since it is the heart of the Triple Junction, and when I watch California earthquakes, Petrolia is always there, popping and shaking, and possibly predicting the big subduction quake that will eventually come.

Petrolia has an estimated population of 300-500 people and is also known for it’s ecologically minded residents and proximity to the Lost Coast Wilderness Area, one of the largest wilderness areas and the longest stretch of undeveloped coastline in the continental United States. Travel magazines have called this area "too lovely to be believed, perhaps too beautiful to last".  I would agree with it’s recognition as the top "still wild" place in California.

sure glad we didn't have the motorhome! The Mattole River flows through Petrolia and is one of only a handful of undammed rivers left in the country. Petrolia is five miles (8 km) from the Pacific Ocean, where there is located the start of a 25-mile (40 km) section of beach protected by the King Range National Conservation Area and Sinkyone Wilderness State Park, and the Punta Gorda lighthouse, one requiring a rugged three mile hike to even see. The Mattole River is home to a variety of California wildlife, including otters, Roosevelt elk,  black-tailed deer, steelhead trout,  more than 250 bird species, and an endangered salmon that was the subject of Totem Salmon, a book about the community's attempts over two decades to preserve the Mattole salmon. It is also one of the few remaining areas with virgin old-growth stands of Douglas fir in California.

1171854946_400bdfcb50_b As sunset approached, we wound our way down to a long stretch of road that paralleled the beach and stopped for a photo of Shiprock before climbing a grade that had to be more than 16 percent. There wasn’t a grade sign in sight, and in the dim evening light, a photo wouldn’t have come close to showing just how wild it was. This photo of  Sugar Loaf, at the westernmost edge of Cape Mendocino nearby, was taken from the internet with kudos to the Flickr photographer since I it wasn’t light enough for us to photograph as we passed.

in the middle of nowhere, the gorgeous Mattole River ValleyBy the time we reached Cape Town, just a ranch house in a small river valley leading to the sea, and climbed up another wild grade, the darkness was thickening.  The road followed a high ridge for a long time before dropping like a rock into the town of Ferndale.  It was a surprise to realize that we were just half a mile from the fairgrounds and home.  Mo did the driving to Shelter Cove and I drove the Lost Coast Loop.  I have to say that Mo is probably the better passenger in these conditions.  She didn’t whimper once.

Here’s an article by someone with more time than I have to write about this amazing trip. I would highly recommend it for an view of a wild part of California few people ever see.  I would also say whatever you do, don’t take a motorhome on this road, ever!  Funny thing, as Mo and I were getting close to Ferndale, we saw an older  Class C motorhome headed back the way we had come.  We still wonder if he had a clue of what he was getting into, and it was already dark!  There was no other destination on that road before the 20 percent grade down to the beach.sunset at Cape Mendocino, wildest place I have been to on the California coast

For more of our photos of this day exploring the Lost Coast, click here

Monday, February 7, 2011

COLD on the Eel River but sunny in Eureka

We woke this morning to more cold fog in Ferndale, and when Mo stepped outside to let Abby do her business, she came back in rubbing her hands saying, “It’s really cold out there!” Our plans today included some kayaking on the Eel River, and after morning tea we thought better of that plan, and decided to explore the surrounding area instead.

morning fog over the Eel River at Fernbridge makes for a dull day We drove north to Fernbridge, crossing the Eel River once again, shrouded in murky skies and fog, and looking quite uninviting.  On the internet last night I found a web page with put-in information,and with the help of the handy iPhone and 5 full bars, we found the road leading west to the ocean and the new boat launch at the eastern edge of the Eel River Estuary. 

more sunlight o n the way but the wind was killer coldOnce on the beach and out of the car, we zipped up our windbreakers and pushed our way into the cold wind.  There was no way either of us would have dropped a boat into that water and tried to paddle anywhere.  Birds couldn’t even fly, and we watched them winging in place in mid air against the gale.

the Eel River Estuary would be wonderful if the winds weren't blowingAfter a very short beach walk while we tried to find an area that was more protected, we gave up and hurried back to the warm safety of the car.  The only good thing about that wind was watching it push the fog back inland.  The sun came out brilliantly, but it’s warmth was completely unavailable to us unless we were closed up tight inside the car and even then it was a thin warmth. 

Let's check out the Loleta Cheese factory.  This great employee gave me the employee discount for my organic white cheddar! We checked out the boat launch, or I should say I checked it out and took a quick photo while Mo waited in the car, and then headed back inland to Loleta and the cheese factory.  We found this quaint little home town cheese making place last fall when we were here and I was excited about getting some more of their fabulous Organic Sharp White Cheddar and a jar of solid gold salsa, in other words, Roasted Pineapple Habanera Salsa, at 9.95 a jar.  A steal at any price. 

Who knows what was in here, by now we were worn out We then drove the fifteen miles or so north on Highway 101 to the town of Eureka, another place where we camped last fall, but somehow with all our kayaking, never managed to check out the Old Downtown Area.  Today we were actually glad that we couldn’t kayak, because the Old Town was delightful.  Eureka is a place filled with old logging and waterfront history and prides itself especially on it’s lovely Victorian buildings.   In spite of the lagging economy, there were many unique, creative shops that seemed to operating in full swing, even in the quiet February season.

sit and knit in heaven I found a knit shop filled with wonderful art yarns and a truly creative, knowledgeable, inspired knitter teaching a young woman her first purl stitches.  This man knew everything about yarn, and shared his knowledge and expertise so willingly that before I knew it, I had a bag of yarn and another new pattern to add to my stash. What a delight!

inside Los Bagels for some great coffees We took a break for cappuccinos and a croissant at Los Bagels and enjoyed the warm sunshine streaming in through the windows while Mo read aloud from a local arts magazine.  It seems that in addition to it’s reputation for growing more weed than anyplace in the country, Humboldt County also boasts more artists per capita than any other place in California. The town has an incredible collection of outdoor sculptures and there are many gorgeous murals throughout the city.

In addition to amazing inspirational landscapes, there is a colorful multi-cultural population of people committed to art and creativity. That is a nice way of saying there are some rather strange folks running around Eureka.  It is a very complex culture of artists, people who once must have been hippies and are still here, homeless people, laid-back students, lots of people with bikes and backpacks, and a few ordinary looking folks, whatever that means.

not too busy on the cold windy day After a bit more shopping and street wandering we found our way to the Eureka Food Co-Op, a truly remarkable store filled with amazing organic produce, grass fed meats from the surrounding valleys, and row upon row of amazing stuff.  I managed to get out of there with one small bag of our favorite green tea that we can’t find anywhere else, a bunch of some really gorgeous strange looking kale, and organic endive.  The giant murals on the outside street wall of the Co-Op are my favorite in the city.

Eureka Old town (30) Eureka Old town (29) Eureka Old town (31) the murals on the food co-op are incredible

By the time we got back to the car the winds were stronger than ever and it was after 4pm.  We thought it turned out to be a perfect day, in spite of the cold and wind. Jeremy was very vocal when we got back to the MoHo, scolding us for being gone so long.  I immediately pulled out all the goodies and built some amazing quesadillas with our wonderful cheese, some spicy poached chicken I brought from home, onions, and jalapenos, all topped off with the sweet hot perfect pineapple salsa. 

Tomorrow if the fog clears and the winds die down we will again attempt a kayak trip, but if not, the day will be filled again with explorations.  The 100 mile Lost Coast trip is calling us, with some coastal explorations of places we haven’t yet seen, campgrounds we haven’t yet tried.  Either way, it will be a good day.

More photos of our day in Eureka are here.


Travel decisions and Grizzly Creek State Park

CG near Juneau As we were driving over the winding mountain roads on Saturday, there was plenty of time to talk about all sorts of things.  Among the conversations was the one often repeated, “So, we have at least ten good years of travel, right? When are we going to do the AlCan?”.  When Mo bought the first MoHo back in 2005 she was already urging me to think about retiring so that we could take that famous road.  Mo has some great photos of her first trip north in 1974 in a little Scout with some built in boxes on top to carry supplies.  She scanned all the faded, slightly scratchy slides a few years ago, and we look at them and laugh at the stories about mosquitoes while thinking about that future trip someday in the MoHo.

The result of these conversations was a decision.  We are embarking north around June 15th.  Tunnel Mtn CG_BanffOne of the quandaries of this time of year for traveling is how much we love where we live in the summer.  Not many places in the world prettier than Crater Lake and Recreation Creek in July, but Alaska is waiting and we aren’t getting any younger.  I certainly don’t want to go there in the spring or fall, although I have heard some folks say that the road is actually better when it is frozen.  Nah, I’ll take the mosquitoes and the cloudy skies over dealing with serious cold weather in the MoHo.  I have read enough horror stories over the last few weeks of folks dealing with all the cold in the southern part of this country this year to know better. I am excited, to say the least.  It is an epic trip, one for the bucket list, and I don’t want to miss it.

In the mean time, we will enjoy this week in what turned out to be foggy California and prepare for a hopefully warmer foray down to sunny Arizona in March for three weeks of desert time. 

morning in Grizzly Creek SP California On our way here, we stopped overnight at a sweet little state park along Highway 36.  In the gloomy evening, with fog dripping from the redwoods and no one around, it didn’t seem like much.  With morning, however, in spite of the gloomy skies, the park revealed some of it’s delights. 

Grizzly Creek State Park is located along the Van Duzen River on a place that has been used for rest for more than 150 years.  Before that it was a lodging spot for the local tribes, rich with salmon, berries, and shelter. And yes, lots of poison oak, my particular bane of traveling in California.  In 1946 it was established as a state park, and the amenities reflect this heritage.  I didn’t see evidence of the CCC, but the visitor center is an old shingle building with a lot of character and the fire pits are old stone structures that speak of a long history of happy families and the days of car camping.

morning fishin on the foggy Van Duzen River We had the entire park to ourselves on this Sunday morning, except for one lone fisherman who walked in from the highway to catch some of the salmon that still run on this river.  Encouraging. There was one lone employee in the park office, and he said this park isn’t likely on the list of California park closures because it stands alone in the area.  We discussed the ridiculously high California State Park camping rates and laughed about how silly it was.  They keep trying to increase revenue and instead, most RV’rs avoid them like the plague because of the high cost.  He then told us about the Van Duzen County Park just 4 miles down the road that looked very much the same, with river frontage and nice sites for $25.00 a night.  No wonder the state park was empty. When we left, we passed the park, but missed the turn, so didn’t try to turn around on the narrow winding road to check it out.  I guess that is why we have internet.  I’ll go research it for the next time we come this way.

these old campfire ovens are in the picnic day area I was still glad we stayed there, just to contribute our fair share to the economy of California and the state park system.  I wish California would recognize that these state parks are the true legacy of the state and assign lottery funds to support them the way Oregon has done.  I don’t know of any state that has better state parks than Oregon.

The hushed forest was lovely, and I even found a vanilla leaf in bloom at the base of a huge redwood. 

Vanilla leaf in bloom on February 6thThis morning we are in the Humboldt County Fairgrounds, at Fernwood.  As Laurie said, it’s flat, especially where we are parked on the pavement at the edge of the park, just outside the fence, with our water and electric pedestal in easy reach.  The camp host suggested this spot and it is perfect.  There is a dump on the fair property and we are getting a few more channels on the TV this morning.  Fox comes in the best, so we watched the game yesterday and enjoyed a quiet day in the MoHo since the fog never lifted the entire day.

Another amazing little perk is free, fast WiFi.  I’m not sure how it happened, but I plugged in my booster that I bought in Desert Hot Springs, and up came a connection to Frontier with no password requirement.  The guy who sold me this little gadget told me that I could pick up connections up to two miles away in some areas. I know its unsecured, so am careful, but it’s great to be connected.  I am trying to complete my stories of my cruise and get them posted, ( by the actual date so they only show up in the January archives), uploading photos, and cruising the internet with abandon.  Gotta love it.

Today we planned to kayak the Eel River Estuary, but looking out at the drippy, cold fog, we have decided to go exploring instead.  The Co-Op in Eureka has some great goodies, and we haven’t yet seen Fortuna.  Of course, the organic white cheddar cheese and home made roasted pineapple salsa awaits at the Loleta Cheese Factory.  I guess sometimes it’s a good thing to return to places we have enjoyed previously.

The rest of the photos of the park are here.