It’s sort of hard to believe that the Eureka-Arcata-Redwoods area is in California. Its certainly not the California I live in. Where we are dry and sunny, the northwest corner of the state is a temperate rain forest — so it’s incredibly lush — think Jurassic Park without the dinosaurs. Very cool. And foggy.
The architecture is also very different. Eureka had several turn-of-the-century Victorians, like the one above (I thought this one was really interesting b/c it had both a redwood and a palm tree in the yard..). The counter-culture aspects are also pretty different between the different regions. Despite the impact of Hollywood, Southern California is staunchly conservative. In the towns we visited, we literally saw people smoking pot and (once) hash on the street. There are also an inordinate number of people apparently walking all around Humboldt County with their worldly possessions in a knapsack. Bizarre.
That however, is not our style. We stayed at a pretty fancy inn — though I was gratified that this was not a "doily" inn/b&b (which can be a little much for me). Like in Sonoma though, we paid for the cheapest room and b/c of availability got upgraded — to like a whole floor to ourselves. Sweet.
On Saturday, we drove north into Redwood NP — foggy in the morning and then sort of like perpetual sunset during the day b/c of the fires in the region—the smoke was high in the atmosphere, so you couldn't smell it, but it really did filter the sun all day — until the fog rolled back in. I have to say I think we both embraced a child-like glee around these colossal trees — I mean they are truly awe-inspiring. Pictures (at least the ones I take) can’t capture the forest at all. It took a long time for our eyes just to adjust to the scale of the place. We hiked about 5 miles (rt) in an old growth grove — quiet and lush — we saw exactly two other people the entire time. Awesome.
Later, we then went back to one of the more popular (i.e. car turnout) places and took a ranger-guided-tour (we were the only ones to show so it was like a private tour!) — which was good too, b/c we'd developed a lot of questions about the biology and ecology of the forest during our hike and our ranger (Jane) was both enthusiastic and knowledgeable and did a great job.
Next, we stopped back along the coast (in a harrowing rutted-dirt-road ride in our rental Corolla-S) to a cool little "fern canyon" which was exactly what it describes — you could wade up a creek into a steep (50-70ft) ravine that was just covered with ferns and moss. Talk about looking prehistoric. We also walked out to the beach, which was cold, bleak and windy (beautiful in its own way), and from what I could tell had a small clusters of couples and families smoking pot.
Finally, we stopped at the tiny seaside town of Trinidad – a protected harbor just south the NP – the harbor was full of sea stacks. Gorgeous. We thought of walking around some more (the town was cute, with no sign of dopers) but we were gassed and wanted to clean up for dinner. Maybe that’s where we’ll retire.
Sunday was a bit of a bust as we spent a good deal of the day re-scheduling flights because of mechanical and fog problems, but we rode them out appropriately – each of us reading through a book or two.
That part of California might be remote and not at all what I’m used to, but I can’t wait to get back.