Redwood Country Weekend

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.

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40 thoughts on “Redwood Country Weekend

  1. Beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing. I love California. Tom and I drove from Las Vegas to San Francisco a few years ago and absolutely fell in love. We stopped at Sequoia National Park for a wander and watched an amazing sunset from Moro Rock.

  2. Certainly nothing like we have on this eastern coast, hard to believe it's the same country. Just beautful, though, and my thanks for a momentary escape to live vicariously and imagine being there.

  3. What a great read! It was fun to see the redwoods through someone else's eyes, yet I noticed that a lot of your impressions were the same as mine…awe-inspiring, prehistoric, huge! Except the dope-smokers, I didn't see any of them but I did see a makeshift trailer park comprised of who looked like washed-up hippies. They were probably smoking stuff.
    I forgot to mention the winery we stopped at toward the south end of the Avenue of the Giants. If (when) you go back there, it's worth a stop..they had a fabulous cabernet. Really bold & smoky…..of course, maybe you didn't need any more smoke. :)

  4. Then — I also love Sequoia (though the Beloved has yet to get there…) — the two trees are related genetically, but have each adapted to different climates — the redwoods in the coastal wet cool, and the sequoia to the more alpine drier climate inland.

  5. Katie — the Beloved had lived in OR for some time and kept remarking how similar it is there to coastal Oregon. Where we were was ~75-100 miles south of the border.

  6. No problem Kelly — I'm usually a pretty cheap hire for a couple of drinks and a good burger… ;)
    It's funny though, we've really talked about how there are so many different places in CA that we haven't seen yet — including places like Yosemite and Lake Tahoe.

  7. Thanks Mello — it was really a wonderful place. We didn't have time (a sacrifice to our busted Sunday) to make it down to the south end of the park… next time for sure! (Also, we'd have to see the winery in the morning, I think — we were (well, I least I was) pretty scuzzy coming off the trail…;) )

  8. That looks gorgeous. I've been wanting to go up there for some time, so maybe I'll check out that inn. It kind of looks like you're not really hugging that tree, but maybe trying to do something naughty to it. Tee hee. I have the mind of a 12-year-old boy.

  9. One year for a family vacation we drove the coast from Seattle down to the Redwoods in Northern California. Stopping at virtually anything that may be interesting or picture worthy. It was really quite a trip. My brother and I were just talking about how we would love to get back down there to the redwood forest and check'em out again now that we are older and would appreciate it more. And now after looking at your pictures, I think I might actually start making the plans to get back down there sooner than later.

  10. I love the northern coast up there. Our family had a cabin right by Redwoods NP, and I loved it. The trees are just so…mighty. I used to lie on the deck and stare up into the canopy — the light could barely get through.
    Glad to see you had a great time on your trip! Maybe we should all have a Vox Meet-up in the middle of the forest. That'd be different. :-)

  11. Skins — its funny — the last time when I was there was during a family vacation when I was a kid (I was only 6 or 7) — i didn't remember too much except for the "drive-through tree" — which we didn't go to this time around.

  12. Cori — what a cool place to have a getaway. I actually looked before we left to see how far we were from you — google maps put it at ~5+ hours… which was farther away than I thought.

  13. We did the "drive through tree" as well, in our giant brown 1979 Chevy van, we made it but we had to fold in the mirrors, and even then it was a TIGHT squeeze.

  14. So I went and looked at a map and apparently our cabin wasn't anywhere near the actual national park. We were just…in a place full of redwoods that looked a bit like a national park. You can see how one might be confused.
    In Sacramento, we are only 2.5 hours from the cabin, which was north of San Francisco (well, I'm sure it's still there…but we don't own it anymore). Plenty of redwoods there. We used to go to Armstrong Redwoods a lot — it's a state park. So many parks. So many redwoods. So many confused Californians.

  15. Its ok — where we were was a combination park co-administered by both the state park service AND the NPS… it was very confusing and I vetoed trying to explain it — well, for just this sort of reason… ;)

  16. Beautiful pictures. Looks like a fantastic trip. Redwood NP is on the list of stuff I want to see when I drive from Seattle to San Diego.

  17. Almost every family vacation we took when I was a kid was to the redwoods. My grandmother lives in a little town on highway 101 in the extreme north bay area. Our trips always started with an overnight at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Drive-through tree, sea lion caves, one-log house… I've seen them all.Also, I'm not sure that it's fair, in a state with liberal medical marijuana laws, to lump all people who smoke pot into the very negative "dopers" category. Personally, I have glaucoma and a horrible and painful nerve condition called neuropathy, and the marijuana helps. While I only have anecdotal evidence that it helps the neuropathy, I have indisputable scientific evidence that it works with the glaucoma.

  18. Awesome pictures! I tell you, my in-laws both love and hate living there — but I'm with you, I can see it as a great place to retire. It's just so dang pretty! My sister in law was married in one of those big Victorians on the bay … talk about a gorgeous wedding. And it probably maps out Cori taking so long to get there because the drive up there is horrible (but gorgeous!). SO windy and twisty and foggy. My in-laws routinely drive to Sacramento for Costco and actual mall stores – and it takes them a good 5.5-6 hours solid each time. I hope you do get to go back someday!

  19. PLL — growing up in NJ, I can't imagine having had access to the beauty of the NorCal coast for family trips — how cool. As for the "dopers", I'm sure there are actually very "respectable" people that use drugs much worse than pot everyday, I just don't notice it. I was more making fun of the "doper" persona — the grungy "slacker" type that was in pretty strong evidence throughout the region.

  20. Wow — I can't imagine having to go that far for shopping, but as I think about it, I noticed a Target in Arcata (and it looked brand new) and that might have been it as "big-box" stores and shopping go.

  21. Pingback: A Little Heaven, A Little Hell | Stevil

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