It is 24 hours since I last wrote, when I was in a Starbucks. It may not come as a complete shock to you to learn that I am again in a branch of that fine establishment, a mere 250 miles to the north. You have no idea how long ago yesterday’s blog entry feels! It has been another packed day, lots to write about, so many memories (captured by over 300 photos – but don’t worry, I won’t make any of you view them all!).
[The best of my photos from today are now available to view on Flickr].
Here’s a cute squirrel to whet you appetite for the rest of the story…
After I finished typing and fiddling with the day’s photos I looked at the map to see what there was around and about that I could go and look at. Turned out there was a decently spectacular view point over the mouth of the Noyo River which kept me occupied a while snapping away. The sun was still quite high in the sky and I got the sense there would be a decent Pacific sunset later, but I’d be otherwise occupied then. I was still quite happy with what I saw though. The below view is looking out to sea, the mouth of the river is to my right…
Back to the hotel to get rid of the car keys and a walk into the compact town centre area for a look around before dinner. Other than a ‘home grown’ coffee shop (which if I had a conscience I know I ought to have used rather than SBs, but…) everywhere was pretty much closed. The rest of the shops in town all look very interesting and uniquely ‘local’ (I don’t think I saw a single “chain” in the town centre?).
The town railway station – home of the Skunk Train – was also closed. This is a preserved standard gauge railway which cuts through the town with multiple level crossings. Its existence, like Fort Bragg itself, is owed to the lumber trade – though that is no longer a dominant business for the town. (The name, apparently, comes from diesel railcars introduced in the 1930s which reputedly emitted distinctly pungent exhaust fumes!). The line is closed until later in the month for engineering work, but that didn’t stop me being held up by a works train as I arrived in town…
A quick detour back to the car to retrieve my forgotten phone. Not that it is ‘surgically attached’ (ok, it is!), but I didn’t want to leave it on show in the car. That and I wanted to be able to see how the Red Sox were doing against the Seattle Mariners. That accomplished I darkened the door of the North Coast Brewing Company. Entering the door there is a posh restaurant to the left, but I turned right into the Brewery Tap. I was greeted by a friendly, if a little going-through-the-motions, waiter and was informed that “tonight is pint night”. Little did he know! What that actually meant was that if I were to start with a “pint of the night” (Blue Star – American Wheat Beer 4.5%) I could keep the glass. It arrived but the glass wasn’t branded – but it turned out that customers were presented with a specially wrapped (and clean!) glass at the end of the night!
Having rejected most of lunch I was proper hungry so had a Caesar salad as appetiser to the inevitable burger. I enjoyed both immensely. Further beer sampled; Old No. 38 Stout – Dublin Style Dry Stout (5.4%), Beer Engine Red Seal Draft (5.4%). This was served through a hand-pull. I’d seen the bartender serve one earlier – the head was so lively he’d poured half a glass worth into another, so I was dubious. They’re proud of their “traditional English beer engine” though, so I felt obliged to lend my considerable experience to testing it out! When mine came, it at least looked the part… It was very cold, of course, but the lack of gas certainly made it a pleasant drink. I finished off with a ACME Californian Pale Ale (5.0%). All good. I then waddled back to the Travelodge and was very soon asleep.
[Oh, and the Red Sox won!]
The Travelodge experience, like any motel, is largely at the mercy of your neighbours and how considerate they may be. In my case, when they came in at 01:00, I briefly discovered that “not at all” was how considerate they were. I turned over and thought no more about their banging, cursing and general yobbishness. (I resisted the temptation to slam my door as I went out early next morning out of consideration for anyone in the room on the other side!)
Northern California Friday
As part of the developing pattern, I was out and ready to go by 07:00. The complimentary breakfast was exactly what I expected it to be, so didn’t bother other than to take some “coffee” in a go cup. First thing on the agenda was to go look at the other end of Fort Brag, specifically, Glass Beach. I took a few snaps, both there and from a spectacular footbridge which crosses a small gorge at the north end of town. It was a cool, grey morning, not really the best for photography.
The remainder of California Rt1 to its junction with US101 was notable mostly for the fact that I had it to myself but for a few empty logging trucks going the other way. Like the southern part yesterday, it had bits of everything and as the sun started to come out, burning off the mist hanging around the trees on the uplands to my right, there were some more really spectacular bits. For its last 20 miles or so, Rt 1 turns inland and leaves the Pacific behind. This section is entirely through forest and gets really interesting to drive. It is never straight nor level with lots of big trees very close to the edge and some steep drops in between. It certainly wakes a drive up!
I reached the junction with the 101 at a place called Leggett by 09:00. I was starting to get low on gas, down to about quarter of a tank with the trip computer suggesting I had a range left of 80 miles. I was expecting Leggett to be a reasonably sizeable town but it wasn’t! Although it had a place that served gas, the Rising Sun Cafe & Grille, (and one of three tourist attractions I passed today with a “Drive Thru’ Tree!”), I decided to push on. I joined the 101, which is a road which really can’t seem to make its mind up. A some points it is an Interstate in all but name, then in others it’s a twisty two-lane country highway – before coming a six lane interstate again! Still, it was ‘my route’ for the rest of the day and we got on well together.
Fuel was becoming marginally more critical by 09:30, both for me and the car. Luckily, in the middle-of-nowhere called Garberville, there’s a gas station and convenience store. There the very helpful lady tolerated me while I went through the performance of pre-paying for an amount of fuel I couldn’t gauge until I’d actually put it in! (7.883 gallons @ 389.9 = $30.73 – odo 13,340).
By now US101 was much busier, the rest of the tourists and their RVs had woken up and the logging lorries were on their first load of the day. Even so, I was still able to make pretty good progress, to the point that when Eureka was only 70 miles away, I thought I was making too much progress! Luckily, an answer arrived in the form of the “Avenue of the Giants scenic alternate”. Effectively this is 20 miles of the “old road” (i.e. before US101 was built in 1956) through Humboldt Redwoods State Park. It certainly lived up to its billing of scenic and the redwoods lived up to their reputation of being bloomin’ BIG.
Eventually I reached Eureka, the first big place I’ve passed through since leaving San Francisco. It must be big, it has a mall! There was little about the place that made me want to do anything other than keep on along US101 through it. I wasn’t even tempted by the SBs in a cute old building the edge of the “historic town center”. McKinleyville, 10 miles further on, was another matter and I arrived there by noon. Considering that my outline plan for today was to end up there overnight, you’ll see now why I was a little perplexed about how well I was progressing. I pulled into the parking lot of the Six Rivers Brewery which is what had made me single-out this town. From the outside looked like an identikit brew-by-formula-on-the-premises-for-the-restaurant sort of place. That may be unfair, but we will probably never know. I took lunch just up the road in the form of a very pleasant roast beef sub from Ray’s food place, a large sort-of Waitrose like supermarket for gourmet wannabes! (Look at me with all these sweeping statements based on little or no evidence at all!)
By now the sun was out, the sky was blue and only a slight but persistent breeze was keeping the temperature down to around 15 deg. C. The sunglasses were on as I returned to US101 and headed north again. I was tempted off 101 again by the “Prairie Creek Redwood State Park scenic alternate” which had added attraction in the form of multiple warning signs and references to wild elk. Not that I saw any, but to be fair I neither stopped nor went out of my way to look for any. Back on 101 and more really stunning Pacific views, a lot more redwoods, some hills, some bends and some interstatey type sections and before long I was approaching Klamath. I was slightly led astray by a road sign for a ‘coastal trail’ and scenic overlook. After the success of the last two ‘scenic alternates’ I tried this one realised I’d misunderstood what was on offer when I found myself on a dirt road. Worse, it was a One Way dirt road, so I was forced to see it through. Sure enough there were some reasonable views, but all-in-all I felt it had been a small mistake.
Next port of call was Crescent City. This was another candidate for the overnight stop, but not only was it still early, I’m afraid the place didn’t grab me. I went and had a look at the oceanfront, which is where the many squirrel-like creatures were crowding what few cars there were, obviously used to being fed scraps.
And now I’m at Brookings, over the state line into Oregon. I’m going to leave things now. I’ve got an evening to enjoy! I hope to have the capacity to share the details with you later, but if – like last night – I’m too, er, “emotional” about it, I’ll see you this tine tomorrow!
[Odo = 13278 – 13540]