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.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

A Quickie in Fort Bragg, California

May 6-8, 2019
Willits, California

Given the opportunity, one should always visit Fort Bragg and Mendocino along the California coast. The area is a long-time favorite of Bill's.

To make that happen on this trip, we stay in Willits along Highway 101 so we can take the Jeep for a day trip. 

Taking Hwy 20 from Lakeport is the only way to travel over those mountains, and is a nice drive on Monday morning. We're staying at the Willits Holiday KOA, a pretty little park in the trees. I can't get level in our back-in site, and we can't connect to satellite, but it's fine for a couple nights. The domestic bunnies running around are cute :-) 

Two large bunnies call the park home. Tessa is very interested. 
Breakfast at Eggheads is a tasty treat in a very tiny space. The restroom out back used to be a magical little building painted in their Wizard of Oz theme, but now it's been "redone" in plain white and is nothing special. Sadly I had built it up as something our friends must see when visiting a few days ago, so it was even more disappointing that they didn't get to see it "in its glory"!

We spend a wow-filled day taking in the incredible natural beauty, and exploring the small vintage town of Mendocino.

Mendocino Headlands

Such raw power.

And delicate beauty.

Pudding Creek Trestle

The historic Masonic Hall in Mendocino is now a bank.

Pops of whimsy along the boardwalk.

Natural Bridge

The drive there and back through the forest is part of the charm.
It's a quick visit, but it turns out we'll return to Willits next week :-)