Thursday, May 30, 2019

Wonderful Surprises - Places and People!

May 8 - 13, 2019
Fortuna, California

Our one-night stop in Fortuna, California, four years ago, gave us a glimpse of the beautiful giant Coastal Redwoods, and I knew that this time I wanted more time here. Little did I know just how special it would be!

After our quickie in Fort Bragg, Wednesday's drive north from Willits takes us on a narrow section of Hwy 101 where the redwoods are so close there are reflectors on the trunks to assure you don't hit them. Still, there are "signs" that a few mirrors and fenders have made contact. Nothing like the nightmare road of a few days ago, it's a beautiful drive.

Although it's next to the small street, our site at Riverwalk RV Park has a nice large grass yard and is one of only a couple sites that has satellite access. For others, there's cable. Level asphalt and 50 amp FHUs with a pretty view of the green hills, it's a good spot for our five nights.

One of our prettier front yards.
First priority is getting Tessa groomed. She's been itching horribly for the last week and I'm hoping shorter hair and a good bath will give her some relief.

It still takes a few days and doses of Benadryl, but the itching does finally stop. So relieved to have her more comfortable!

Our previous one-nighter was a Harvest Hosts stop at the Eel River Brewery that also had good eats. We return a couple times to enjoy tasty brews and bites.

Thursday we head out on what I initially think is a short "hop" to the coast. We pass through the quaint town of Ferndale, and plan to stop on our return. The rhododendrons are in their fully glory!

An initial steep, narrow and rutted road takes us over the hills where we discover a gentle new world. The air is so fresh, it seems to expand my lungs and I feel great! 

In the distance, the pines are blanketed with fog, adding to the magic. It only gets better.

Once we get our first glimpse of the coast we're in awe. No place we've been has felt like this. Because the combination of natural beauty, peaceful pastoral vistas, and complete quiet, has it's own unique feel that is overwhelming. 


Happy California cows with a million dollar view.
Over the next hill we find yet another magical place, this one raw and brutal in its wildness. The smattering of wildflowers add another dimension. Known as the Lost Coast, it feels like something you "find" by accident. Once you leave, you're not really sure it could have been as stunning as you're remembering. 

There are only a couple small places to pull off the pot-hole filled road, so I drive very slow to take it all in.

Rough and rugged seas.

A small section of basalt sand beach.
Site of the Cape Mendocino Lighthouse from 1868 to 1951, and the western most spot in California.

In person she looks lavender like the flowers.

A youngster watches us from the blooms.

Yet another environment.
Rather than return to Ferndale we continue in a loop back through the forest and the little towns of Petrolia, Honeydew and Bull Creek. There are lots of 10 mph curves, making for a slow, but pretty drive.

What an amazing surprise this drive was! Since going, we've found several others who have been and loved it. But for our time along the Lost Coast, it felt like an undiscovered treasure. The multiple pot-holes and road swells add to the "nobody else has been here" vibe.

Hoping to avoid weekend crowds, we head to the Avenue of the Giants on Friday. With so much to look at over our heads, we take off the Jeep's top. As the temps rise, it turns out to be a perfect topless day.

A whispering place.
An aqua blue meander of the Eel River

This roadside map accurately depicts the route we drove home yesterday :-)

Among the Giants are the Guardians of the Forest.
Even with these markers, it's hard to comprehend the age of these trees.

Another marker that's hard to believe is this water level as high as telephone poles during the flood of 1961! From here the bank of the river is over 200 yards away.

I love this 20 foot tall dude pointing at a closed eatery.
Like the red rocks of Utah, I never tire of these red trees.

Feeling very small.
Leaving the little town of Redcrest it's a surprising 90 degrees! 30 minutes later we're back in Fortuna where it's a pleasant 63 - much better.

Over the weekend we return to Ferndale to see the colorful Victorian homes and businesses. Local musicians, pretty flowers, and friendly shop owners add to a lovely small town visit.

We take a short drive through the countryside on our way home. 

Nothing prettier than a sweet pink house.

So much beautiful detail on every layer.

Victorian Inn

Gingerbread Mansion Inn

Sculpture leaning on tree, surrounding a small bench on the other side. And a not-so-fluffy Tessa dog.

Makin' music on the corner.

I'm glad I don't have to maintain these grand exteriors!

Peaceful pastures

with ocean views.

So handsome!

Easy to imagine ghosts at the windows.

Bill had two very good friends in college. Steve is our current "address" in SoCal, and Bob lives in Costa Rica. When Bill gets a call from Bob a few days ago, they make arrangements to meet up during Bob's visit with his family near San Francisco. Turns out Willits is a good half-way point for both of us, so on Monday we return the two hours south! 

Given how many people we visit in our travels, it's a great surprise to have this opportunity to see an international friend. Bob brings his sister and brother on their day trip, and we all have a wonderful time.

Mari and Mark are a lot of fun and it's like we've always known them too. After a leisurely lunch, we find a pretty redwood park to spend a couple hours.

Mari soaks up the majesty of the tall trees.

Bob, Bill, Jodee, Mari and Mark

College pals.
Sometimes people ask us if we get bored with traveling all the time, if it ever seems like the same thing every day. For us that couldn't be further from our reality! Even routine days at home are enjoyable, but stops like our time in Fortuna are filled with amazing surprises. 

Life is so good.


  1. What a gorgeous area! We've spent a lot of time in Arcata and have always meant to explore nearby Fortuna and I see what we've missed. Thanks for showing us the beauty. We will definitely add this to our plan for our next California coastal trip. I love the abundance of blooming rhodies, the lupine, the colorful Victorian homes, and those very cool Guardians of the Forest. You have such a good imagination. :-)

    1. Oh you and Eric would so appreciate the incredible beauty of this area! You must do the Lost Coast drive :-)

  2. I can't get enough of those Redwoods. And certainly all the blooming flowers added to the ambiance of the day spent touring about. How did you find the local people? Inviting? Aloof? And was that Seagrass in the one Ocean picture --so wavy and ethereal looking. If Tess's itchiness doesn't improve, you can consider Cytopoint. ONe of my dachhsunds had allergies in the move to KY. One injection and improvement within 24 hours which greatly added to my sane mind! Cindy

    1. Thanks for the input on the itchies meds!

      The local people are very, very friendly. It's a laid back area of young people, retirees and blue collar workers. The brewery crowd "looked" rough, but were so much fun!

      Yes, Seagrass in the dunes that looked so soft!

  3. New to your blog and appreciate the beautiful photos!

    1. Delighted to have you along Phyllis! Hope you'll check in often.

  4. Anxious to enjoy the redwoods,we'll have a couple nights Prairie Creek next month. But not time for the surrounding area. Thanks for the great job detailing what we will like miss.

    1. You'll see lots of redwoods there, and of course the drive along Hwy 101 gives you lots of ocean views. Enjoy!!

  5. What a fabulous stay. Beach, flowers, animals, friends! The wood man was cool. Glad it was as good on this return trip!

    1. With all the crazy weather in other areas I'm so happy this return has been as nice as before. There's a little bit of everything!

  6. I love when you find those unexpected areas. They seem extra special. You sure found lots of beauty from the coastal fog, adorable cattle, and those gorgeous big guys!! The Avenue of the Giants is a take your top off road. Tessa looks much cooler with her new short look:) We love being in new places all the time which is why we still need to be on the road part time. How can you ever get bored with this beautiful country!

    1. What a difference it made to have that top off - being able to see miles of trees all the way to the tops was great! Tessa is much happier with her shorter do :-)Even on a return route like this we're finding so much new beauty.

  7. All those blooming flowers could be making Tessa itchy. Our Jenny would get itchy in the springtime also. She sure looks good in her new do!

    1. Fortunately she's much better now, with almost no itches. Thinking I'll keep her cut short through summer.

  8. I did find the Lost Coast accidentally back in the 90s and fell in love with the neighborhood. Camped at the mouth of the Eel River. Of course I love those curvy roads. Love to see the Rhodies and the Redwoods. How could anyone get bored traveling?

    1. Somehow finding it accidentally makes it even better!! There's nowhere to camp on the stretch we drove so there must be more to discover. We'll just have to come back :-)

  9. This area is incomparably lovely and your photos really do it justice!

    1. Thanks Lisa, it's sure on our list of favorites now, and we'll be back for sure!

  10. 63 degrees on the coast is perfect.

  11. Love the fogged in coastline :-)