Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

4/27/16-4/28/16 (Wednesday/Thursday) in Klamath, CA (Golden Bear RV Resort-PPA)

Yesterday it poured rain all day, as predicted. We went on a fun drive along the Coastal Drive, then on the Newton B Drury Parkway to the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park Visitor’s Center. We got maps and bought Redwoods National Park t-shirts.

On that Coastal Drive we saw buildings that housed radar during WWII, but were disguised as farm buildings, even with sheep on the site. Our photo shows how much foliage has grown in the area since then. The next photo gives a clearer view of what the enemy would have seen. Note the road on the upper left. That’s where we were when I took my photo.

 

Next we stopped where the Klamath River meets the ocean. There is a large rock on the north shore (across from us) that is part of a Yurok (native tribe-largest in the country) legend. If you enlarge (click on) the first image you’ll see that rock on the distant shore. While there we met a lovely couple (from the UK and France) who noted the seals out in the ocean, then John spotted several gray whale spouts as well. So exciting! All of these sightings were so brief there was no way I could get pictures of them. While there I saw the largest rhododendrons ever. They truly love all the sun and moisture.

 

Later we saw what was left of a bridge that got wiped out in the 1964 flood.

coast 6

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (our National Parks Senior Pass gets us into California State Parks)

Highlights from our treks in the woods:

 

Notice the burl (growth) on the left? These are protections the tree grows when it is stressed in that spot. They contain stem cells, so you can also see the new tree above growing out of the burl.

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The Corkscrew Tree

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Some images of other kinds of trees, plants and animals that were fun to photograph. Can you find the Banana Slug? How do you like the expression on that Stellar’s Jay?

 

Wonderful sunny day to enjoy the forest, but my feet were getting sore and John was done with walking, so we headed home.

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Moving on – to Klamath, CA

4/26/16 (Tuesday) in Klamath, CA (Golden Bear RV Resort-PPA)

Yesterday I got ambitious and after cleaning house I cleaned all our windows and screens, including on the outside (via a ladder). What a difference-such a clear view now.

John timed everything well this morning. At 9 we started pulling in the slides, jacks up, and unhooked from utilities. Then our friendly campground manager talked awhile, showing us photos of his rooms built inside a redwood stump (near our site, available for rent). It is beautiful.

 

Then we trundled over to the dump site, got rid of our gray water and drove separately to the Renner fuel station in Scotia. They have the cheapest fuel around and are big rig friendly. After fueling both RV and car we hooked up the car and were off by 10! Just what we were aiming for, since this was a short trip, all on US 101N. It was 4 lane, with stoplights at Eureka…. More lovely scenery. North of Eureka, nearing the Redwood National Park the road became 2 lane with passing lanes, then to 4 lanes after that Park.

A simple left turn off US 101 got us right into Golden Bear RV Resort. It’s completely open, so TV was good, as well as cell phone reception which was okay. $150 for a week, much better than the $206/week at Stafford, plus here we have strong 50 amp power, water and sewer. Not to mention a great view of the Klamath River through our really clean windows. We’ve seen birds, but apparently harbor seals hang out here, so we’re eager to see them too.

site 1

Lots of empty spaces now because it’s low season (they’re closed in the winter, open April 1st). After July 4th it’s crazy full. August is already booked. People come to fish salmon then. So I got busy washing those 2 weeks of clothes and making lasagna for supper. Such a joy, to have 50 amp power (strong to boot) and the sewer hookup! Tomorrow will be raining all day, so we’ll take it easy and plan our explorations.

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Avenue of the Giants

4/20/16 (Wednesday) in Scotia, CA (Stafford RV-PPA)

Because this looked like the nicest day in our week (rain predicted), we decided to drive the “Avenue of the Giants” today. The “Giants” are Redwoods. The “Avenue” is a road that pretty much parallels US 101, but with a speed limit of 35 mpg and on a narrow, tree hugging road. A lot of this road was similar to the “30 seconds of terror” piece we experienced at the Richardson Grove. A wonderful experience in a car! It all lies within Humboldt Redwoods State Park. There are brochures for an “Auto Tour” located at the north end, conveniently where we started! Along the way are places with nice trails, with the nicest right at that north spot: Drury Chaney Grove #8. Many people worked hard to preserve these redwoods, providing the funds to buy the land. Their names are posted at various groves. Note you can always click on the image to enlarge it (to read it).

 

Highlights from our various treks throughout that park:

 

 

 

There were commercial areas along the route, naturally, even campgrounds (more expensive than ours). Some highlights from those places:

The Immortal Tree: It’s about 1000 years old, surviving lightening that removed its top, a logger’s axe and fire in 1908, then the ’64 flood. Then the Eternal Tree House. Can you see the new trees growing from its roof?

 

At the Visitor Center: what most impressed me was Charles Kellogg (1868-1949). He was raised largely in the woods, with Indians, so he became very close to nature. Most remarkably, he could imitate bird sounds (they played them on an old RCA record there). Also cool was the Travel Log he built (4 wheel drive) to cover the country asking for help with saving the Redwoods (SRL-Save the Redwoods League) and to sell U.S. Bonds to fund WWI. Notice the toilet under the sink!

 

We drove into Roosevelt Forest, but the road was extremely narrow and rough and there weren’t nice places/groves with trails, so we headed out and toward home. We missed a couple groves at the southern end that we may return to visit. We’d walked a lot today, so we crashed when we got home.

Thursday we kept expecting rain and just laid around. I got bored and went over to visit our neighbor (Don/Shirley), the RV that isn’t here for just one day. In fact they’ll be here until Monday and we leave Tuesday. Lovely folks. I even enjoyed a quiet walk with Shirley and their dog Corky (a Corgi). We did manage to wipe down our CRV (filthy from rainy trip here).

Friday it poured all day, so we wiped down Miss Journey in the short respites. I can’t remember when we last washed her. Well, I remember we did when we were home July 2015!

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Moving on – to Scotia, CA

4/19/16 (Tuesday) in Scotia, CA (Stafford RV-PPA)

Ah, Russian River, you were a lovely park/campground. I forgot to mention that this is in Sonoma County, more wine country. So if you like wine you’d have more than enough places to visit here, vineyards galore. If you love the water, you can kayak and fish the Russian River, which runs by our campground.

RR

We were on our way before 9. John had cleaned the jacks/levelers yesterday and they lifted in 2 minutes! I think they’re behaving much better these days. It looks like he may only have to lube the leveler shafts once a month now. Our trip was on US 101N the whole way. It started to go down to 2 lanes now, except when passing lanes were called for. Population has slimmed down enough to warrant that I suspect. There were more areas where the road was not real smooth as well. Lovely green hills with trees sprinkled around to make the ride worth it.

greenhills 2

We found the road was now interrupted with small towns, in other words, stoplights, as we traveled farther north. Then we were in Redwood country. As we entered Richardson Grove State Park (north of Leggett) we were treated with huge redwoods right up against the narrow road! One RVer had warned us: 30 seconds of terror! Actually, I enjoyed it, threading through those majestic tree trunks. John did an excellent job of keeping in the lane and safe from contact with our mirrors/rig. You could say I’ve come a long way in trusting John’s driving abilities.

We arrived at Stafford RV just before noon. We’d called the day before to ask if it was okay to come around noon. The manager had noted that check in time was 3 o’clock but he’d allow it. When he saw us he commented, jokingly, that we were two minutes early and would have to wait!! He’d just finished mowing a large section of lawn in preparation for us. Since we were scheduled to stay a week, that grass would have gotten really tall. He even led John to our site, right on the grass. This felt like luxury. We’re usually on gravel, sometimes next to some grass.

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We proceeded to enjoy our lunch, then just plain relaxed with TV. Only one other rig in our area, than another came for 1 night. There are a number of permanent RVs, but you don’t really see them for all the wonderful Redwoods surrounding the campground.

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Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, Fort Ross and Korbel Champagne Cellars

4/17/16 (Sunday) in Cloverdale, CA (Russian River-TT)

Saturday, even though Kim/Kim were trying to get packed up to go, we kept giving them more tips. We’d gone for a walk, found a TT Directory for them, then came upon them at the dump station. When we handed them the Directory, I thought to ask for phone numbers and got their photo for my phone. It must have felt like we would NEVER leave them alone!!! We did manage to say heartfelt good bys at that point, wishing them safe travels. We basically crashed the rest of that day, except for our trip to Cloverdale for Mass, because that would give us the whole day to do more exploring on Sunday.

We were up bright and early Sunday, on our way with our picnic lunch to Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve. Oh, we did stop in Cloverdale for fuel since John would be doing a lot of driving. By the way, US 101 is still mostly 4 lane and so scenic in these parts that it’s a drive I look forward to when we leave Tuesday. Then we headed towards the coast. Still beautiful, but these roads were 2 lane and very twisty. John had to really concentrate.

Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve: We arrived about 10, very thankful that we were that early because the parking spots were close to gone. The good news, you can walk all the trails from there and not pay any fee. If you wanted to drive your car on the longer path, it cost $7/senior 62+).  The clover looking plant is Red Sorrel, that often grows where Redwoods grow. We enjoyed our picnic lunch here, then headed to the coast and Fort Ross.

 This is a Russian Fort, created by the Russians around 1812 (hence Russian River is so named) to hold off the Spanish advance north from Mexico. It worked too. Here they had a unique way of working with the local Native Americans. The Russians leased the land from the Pomo, building their fort on it, along with raising crops, cattle, sheep and especially hunting sea otters for their most dense pelts. All of these efforts were to supply their people in Alaska. Unfortunately, the sea otters were hunted really close to extinction (in California), when only 50 of them were left. At this point the Russians also left and the Fort changed hands a few times. In the photo with furs is a press (on the left) to make 60 pelts compact down. The wrapping is from sea otters, with the fur removed. The chapel is the most distinctive building, with a marvelous door handle. We also took a stroll on the Fort property to the ocean. Beautiful. This coastline was just too rugged for the Spanish to manage any threats to this fort.

Korbel Champagne Cellars. I’d been wanting to go here for the highly recommended tour and free champagne/wine tasting. John was not so interested. Plus he didn’t want to drink because he was driving and he was tired. Yet it wasn’t too far off our path home, so he graciously took us there. Unfortunately, we arrived just before 4 and the last tour was at 3. Oh well. I did get my 4 free champagne/wine tastings. There was plenty of excited people also getting the tastes. Apparently, this is an exceptional winery (lots of ribbons on the wall) and many of their bottles are only sold here at the winery.

Then we were on our way home. Talk about tired!!!! We barely managed supper, then cards, then bed. Big day. We planned to rest Monday, but I did get ambitious and cleaned the filters in Miss Journey, the headlamps and lubed the steps. John lubed the slides.

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Grace Hudson Sun House and Museum

4/15/16 (Friday) in Cloverdale, CA (Russian River-TT)

This morning we got to talking with Kim/Kim. They’ve been camping in a trailer for some time but now they’ve just purchased a brand new Winnebago 37′ Forza, so they had a few questions about full timing (they’re selling their house) and their rig. Boy, did John and I get excited, happy to share all sorts of goodies we’ve figured out along our almost 4 years of full time camping.

Unfortunately, lunch time arrived, then we needed to get groceries, so our visiting was halted for the time being. Earlier we’d figured it would be a good idea to see one of the sites while we did that shopping since it would be a 30 minute or more drive to a decent grocery store. We started off intending to drive south to Healdsburg but missed the sign for S 101, finding ourselves on N 101. Hmm. Hey, flexibility is the name of the RV lifestyle, so we figured we’d go to the grocery store in Ukia. John remembered we’d thought of some places to visit while there, so we went to Grace Hudson’s Sun House and Museum. So glad we did. When we bought our tickets ($3/senior, 62+), we found out the tour of the house wouldn’t happen today. We considered coming back just for that, but were not eager for another drive this way. Then the lady kindly offered to do the tour for us (she apparently was the director of the group that keeps this place going), later. SO we enjoyed the museum first, where they had exhibits of local artists, plus Grace Hudson’s work (oil painter) as well as the history of the native peoples, her favorite subject. Her husband was an anthropologist, so their interests blended well.

Local artists’ work:

Grace Hudson paintings. This first is a self portrait she did when she was 15! It’s life size.

The Pomo peoples were known for their basket making, which they still do today, even though it’s harder to find their natural materials, so they often have gardens of these grasses. They (both males and females) made 22 distinct types, the men concentrating on the those they used while the women did the same. They had conceptualize the pattern/design at the beginning and keep it in mind as they concentrated on the intricacies of weaving the basket.

Grace Hudson Sun House. This was built about 100 years ago. They hired an architect and specified what they wanted. They were in their 40’s and childless, so they only had one bedroom: theirs. Guests were expected to stay in a nearby hotel. Grace guarded her privacy and time alone. It’s Craftsman style, which interested us as well. Grace and her mom woodburned the beautiful round wood piece. Their architect built the beautiful sideboard. On top of it is one of the samovars from Fort Ross (Russian).

Then we found the Safeway and got our milk at CVS, per the Ranger’s recommendation (much cheaper there).

When we returned to our campground, we couldn’t resist getting together with Kim/Kim to share more RV tips. They were SO receptive, it just inspired us to keep on sharing. We all had a break for supper, then got together for cards. We had to teach them our favorite game, “13”. I think they enjoyed it!

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Moving on – to Cloverdale, CA

4/14/16 (Thursday) in Cloverdale, CA (Russian River-TT)

So long, farewell…to San Benito-TT campground. Lovely place. We saw starlings, scrub jays, acorn woodpeckers, quails and turkey vultures all the time. Plus we got bonus sightings of deer and warblers. Best of all we saw a pair of Bullock’s Orioles for the first time ever!! They are such beautiful birds with bright orange faces fading into bright yellow breasts with black crown, black wings with white streaks. Below is an image of something that reminds me of red clover that grew near our site.

flowers

It was raining as we awoke. We were so glad that John had decided to get the slides in, jacks up and sewer and water connections put away the night before. There was a 25% chance of rain, so we could have thought we’d escape, but so glad we did those jobs earlier. Another plus, we’d planned to leave the campground at 9 (no earlier, not much later), to avoid the commuter traffic in the big towns when we hit them. Despite the need to reprogram our cockpit powered MCD shades this morning, we were on our way by 9! Also very glad we’d scoped out whether to use SR 25 vs the Fairview/Shore alternate route. We could tell that they’d built a new 4 lane SR 25 around the town of Hollister; that’s why that route was the better of the two. We had done a great deal of research, especially asking campers about which might be the best route through this very populated San Francisco country north to Cloverdate. We feel we arrived at an excellent plan. After SR 25 we took US 101N, I-880N, I-980E, I-580 then I-580W (that needed our full attention, we almost missed our 2nd I-580 ramp!) The southbound traffic seemed pretty congested in some areas. All in all, decent roads and traffic kept moving at 60 mph or over (we travel at 60 mph for best fuel mileage). Finally, onto the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge!! Stay in the right lane to pay cash ($5/axle, $20 for us) if you don’t have the CA FasTrak card.

Richmond-San Rafael Bridge (5.8 miles long)

Now we merged onto US 101N. Great 4 or more lane road!

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We arrived before 1, then were all set up by 2. Then it started raining. Good timing!

This is a beautiful park. They had called us before we came to warn us: slow to 5 mph prior to the #525 exit at Geysers Road, because it’s short, then a sharp 135 degree turn. For this park they want you to stop at the “Stop” sign just before the gatehouse. Plus you’ll need your driver’s license, TT membership card as well as your vehicles’ (RV, toad) Vehicle Registrations and Insurance (we made copies of these last 2 items). The ranger was thrilled that we’d made copies of our registration and insurance cards because it makes it simple for them and campers are less likely to lose these important documents. Hey, it makes it simple for us because we keep our original documents in their respective vehicles.

It’s a lovely park, very wooded. The campground roads are narrow (one way) and twisty, with trees, but negotiable. At the first site we considered a few quail crossed in front of us, then an acorn woodpecker and scrub jay were having an issue in the tree at that site. Warms my heart! The ranger even had a map showing which sites were likely to have TV satellite reception (dome or movable)! Unfortunately they don’t have sewer and at the moment their water was breached, so there is no city water in Section D and only gravity fed (low pressure) available in sections A,B,C. We found our spot in C-58 and have 1/3rd tank of fresh water. Yay! Also, they have Verizon (4G) here.  We even met a nice couple from Washington, Kim (Kimberly) and Kim, her husband!   We’re looking forward to 5 days of peace and quiet.

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