02-24-2022 From Lodi to Brookings on Highway 1 and other stuff

Our time in Lodi came to an end on Saturday morning. The temperatures were in the low 50s, and the sun was shining when we departed Flag City RV Resort. Fuel at the nearby Flying J was $4.49 per gallon for regular, and I am glad regular gas works perfectly fine in the MoHo. Another little delight at the Flying J is the Cinnabon kiosk. An excellent sugar rush and oh so sinfully good!

I planned one last visit for our trip. My sister lives in Vallejo, California. We don’t see each other often, but it is always a kick. Sally is a true homebody with no desire to travel anywhere, so a trip to Grants Pass for Sally won’t happen any time soon. Sally has good reasons for staying close to home. At 72 years old, she has chickens, bees, dogs, cats, and a horse that she rides almost daily. Sally also quilts and makes all sorts of lovely goodies that she sells to local shops.

In addition, Sally works full time, at home a couple of days a week, and in an office the other three days. I am in awe of her energy, and visiting is always so much fun.Before her current legal secretarial gig, Sally’s job was driving a semi-truck cross country. She managed that one for a few years before settling back in Vallejo, the town where she was raised and lived much of her life. I am still amazed at how Sally has turned a duplex on a city lot into a small farm. It was a fun visit, and we left with jars of honey, homemade peach jam from her trees, lemons, and giant brown eggs.

We had a great visit before continuing our westward journey toward Bodega Bay. Within minutes of leaving Sally’s house traveling Highway 37, we were at a dead stop. Stuck in traffic for half an hour wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I was driving and had plenty of time to check our route, look up the campground reservation, eat a snack, and recuperate from all the wonderful high-energy time at Sally’s.

We arrived at the Westside Regional Park and Campground around 3, in time to settle in and settle down a bit for the afternoon. The weather was sunny, but the cold wind made walking along the bay somewhat challenging. Even Mattie was ready to go back inside after her walk.

Mo and I paid no attention to the coincidental holiday dates when making our trip plans. We landed at Bodega Bay on President’s Day weekend. In California, we discovered it was also President’s Day Week, with schools suspended for the entire week. Happy families filled the park with lots of kids and a good kind of noise. I enjoyed watching the big extended family come to their joint campsite next to us for huge pots of boiled crabs and clams cooking on the big bbq. The families were loud but not obnoxious, and there wasn’t a single noisy motorized anything disturbing the sound of gulls and laughing kids.

After settling into our supper, we fell asleep to the sounds of people laughing and talking around the campfires. When I woke up to the moonlight at midnight, everything was silent. Unlike some horror stories I have read from other bloggers about holiday weekends at regional parks, this was a pleasing experience.

The following day, Mo took Mattie to walk along the bay before we drove south on the spit. The campground is on the bay, but nearby side roads lead to high cliffs with views of the Pacific Ocean in all its wild glory.

The wind was strong and cold, and the steep trails weren’t very inviting. The view from the cliff was terrific. Whale watchers lined up watching for the migrating blue whales that pass by here daily at this time of year.

The sun was brilliant, and the winds were not too strong when we pulled out of the park. Google wanted us to return inland to Highway 101, but we had other plans. Highway 1 is narrow, winding, and gorgeous. On 101, the ocean is several miles west, but on Highway 1, the route is adjacent to the steep, wild cliffs that make for spectacular views. It also makes for breathtaking driving, especially in a motorhome.

In the past, we drove Highway 1 through rainstorms and road closures due to slides. On this day, our drive was beautiful and easy.

Yes, the road is curvy, the pavement can be rough, the cliffs are close, and sometimes I thought ferns hanging off the rocks on the passenger side were cleaning the rig. However, the most challenging part of the drive isn’t the part along the coast.

The stretch from Westport to Legget is not an easy drive over the coast range. The road is steep, and the cliffs are close and crazy winding. We were worn out by the time we reached Legget, just a few miles south of Richardson Grove. We agreed that maybe we didn’t have to drive Highway 1 again.

We had no plan for our day other than meandering along the highway to our night destination. I couldn’t get a reservation for our park of choice near Richardson Grove, and no one ever answered the phone, and there wasn’t an option to leave a message. We took our chances. Over the years, we have parked at Richardson Grove RV Park without reservations several times.

A church group runs the park in a relatively loose manner. When we arrived at Richardson Grove, the office was closed. We were used to this from past experience. A note on the board stated the price for a site and envelopes and a slot for payment. There wasn’t a soul around until we parked, and I walked back toward the office. A young woman appeared and asked if I needed help. The current price for a spot is $56. I questioned if they were still a Passport America park, and she said no, and the best she could do was $50. for the night. The most we ever paid at this park was $18 with our PPA discount. That is a BIG change, but we paid the price, glad for a place to land for the night after our challenging drive.

The following day we took our time leaving to travel north toward Brookings. When we left Richardson Grove the sun was shining, but as we continued north on 101 the predicted clouds began to appear.

I had a bit of trouble making our Harris Beach State Park reservations back in December. There was nothing available, and we decided to take our chances with first-come, first-served sites or a possible stay at BeachFront RV Park in Harbor. Before leaving in February, I rechecked the ReserveAmerica website and found a vacancy. 

Our site was on a loop toward the back of the park. We have camped in several spots at Harris Beach, but this loop was a first for us. To our surprise, the site was private, and with high trees all around us, we still had late afternoon sunshine. There was no beach view, but we have enjoyed those beach views many times and didn’t mind.

We were awakened by the rain on our first full day at Harris Beach.  Neither of us minded much.  I made a short run to Fred Meyer for a few groceries.  We enjoyed hanging out in the MoHo doing absolutely nothing except catching up on news while I finished a blog post.

The next two days at Harris Beach were relaxing and uneventful. The rains left, the skies were gorgeous, but temperatures in the 40s with the wind weren’t conducive to long hours on the beach. We managed a fantastic walk with Mattie on Tuesday down the South Beach Trail where Mattie could run off leash outside the official boundaries of the park.

On Wednesday we wakened to another very cold, but sunny day.  We followed a leisurely breakfast and computer/tv time with a mid morning walk on the northern portion of Harris Beach.  The tides were out farther than we have seen in several years.  Much of the time we go to Harris Beach it is during the fall and winter during high King Tides.  It was fun to walk around the rocks between sections of the beach that aren’t usually accessible to us so easily.  The wind was cold, but we found a couple of protected spots to warm ourselves in the sunshine.

\We filled the rest of our days with cards, campfires, relaxing, and reading. Our initial plans included driving a few extra miles to buy fish and chips from our favorite spot in Crescent City on the way home to Grants Pass. By the time Wednesday rolled around, that idea didn’t sound as appealing as it did initially. Instead, we decided to try out a restaurant in the Harbor Area that we often frequented a few years ago. 

Catalyst Seafood was preciously known as Chetco Seafood. Mo and I loved Chetco Seafood. The fish was fresh and only lightly breaded, the wine was three bucks a glass, and the coleslaw was perfect. When it changed hands, we never bothered to try it out. 

When we first walked in, the change was noticeable. The place was packed, and the decor was very different. The owners updated the pastel decor to dark woods and tables. There was a bar in the back rather than the fish counter. We opted to be seated at the bar where two young men were sitting. They moved over for us, and we mentioned that we often ate at Chetco Seafood. One of the guys said, “My grandfather owned that restaurant.”  It turns out his grandfather sold the place to the new owner, the young man’s father. It was fun hearing a bit of the history of the business.

I missed the old place a bit. Especially when it came to paying the bill. Our $8.99 fish and chip dinner was now $20.00 if we wanted cod instead of rockfish, and there was no coleslaw. My Lemon Drop was made well and was a reasonable price at $9.00. The fish was good, but not as perfect as we remembered from the old days at Chetco Seafood. Still, I understand that businesses have to change with the times. Judging from the busy bar and restaurant, I imagine that the change has been profitable for the owners.

We had plenty of leftovers for dinner the next day. We were heading home on Thursday morning, and it is always lovely when dinner is easy on homecoming day.

The only tiny bit of entertainment I enjoyed in town was a leisurely exploration at the “Feather Your Nest” shop. I needed absolutely nothing but still wanted to browse a bit. It tickled me to find a little bit of artsy wall decor for the master bath at home. Hopefully, we can figure out a way to put a ladder in the bathtub and hang it up where it will fit perfectly with my beachy bathroom decor.

A great trip! Easy, no problems, no issues, everything worked perfectly.

02-16-2021 California’s Lost Coast and More Redwoods

With predictions for sunny weather on Tuesday, we were happy that we had saved the best day for driving the wild Lost Coast roads.  There was only a little bit of fog lingering in the morning at the fairgrounds as we packed up snacks and jackets, water and supplies for our day trip.

By the time we began the long ascent up the grade toward the ridgetops, the fog was moving through the hills, sometimes obscuring the views. At other moments we could see bits of blue sky and ocean in the distance.  This was the third time Mo and I have driven this scenic backway, and somehow it wasn’t quite as scary as it has felt in the past.

I guess we might be getting used to it a bit.  Still, sharing it with Deborah added a bit a newness for us as well, seeing it through fresh eyes.

The steep grades and ocean views provide some thrilling moments. Negotiating oncoming vehicles is sometimes a bit daunting even though the road is technically a two lane road.  However, a UPS truck passed us as we were parked taking photos, and barely slowed down.

A bit later, as we were crawling down toward the ocean we suddenly were confronted with a big two trailer gravel hauler coming up the 16 percent grade around a narrow curve.  How in the world can they do that?

The steep grade from the crest of the hills south of Ferndale and the Black Sands beach at ocean level are no doubt the most exciting part of the journey.  The views open up in all directions, with peeks at the distant ocean framed by beautiful hilly fields of grazing cows.  We took our time descending, stopping often for photos.


At the bottom of the grade we stopped near the black sand beaches at a viewpoint for Shiprock.  I think this one looks more like a ship than the one in New Mexico.

The sun was gorgeous, but the wind was definitely chilly.

After passing through Petrolia I thought to check the map on Google Maps.  Because Mo and I had driven this route in the past, it didn’t occur to us to remember to put the California Gazetteer in the Tracker for the trip. Just south of town we came to an intersection for the road toward Honeydew or another road heading west called Lighthouse Road.  With no map, no internet, and no clue where we were heading, we decided to explore.  If it was called Lighthouse Road maybe it would lead to a lighthouse or at least to a beach, right?

After seven questionable miles, some through flooded and wet zones, we emerged at a wonderful campground with camp tables for picnicking right  on the beach.  We were at the outlet of the Mattole River and the Lost Coast Trailhead.  It was a delightful spot, with plenty of full color brochures of our location and a wonderful map to use as we continued our explorations of the remote roads leading back to Highway 101.

After lunch we walked over the dunes to the wild empty beach.  Mattie could run crazy free in the sand and Deborah was thrilled at the magnificence of the wild storm-induced surf


The roads through this part of California are narrow and winding and nowhere along the route is there a cell phone signal.  Even with the printed map, it was hard to gauge just how long it would take us to get from point to point.  The scenery along the way was often spectacular as we drove from dark forests to high ridges and back down again. 

As we got closer to Highway 101 there were more and more residences and farms tucked into the forest, often surrounded by very long, very tall, very expensive wooden fences.  Although Humboldt County prided itself for being the marihuana capital of the world, I would imagine that may have changed some.  We did see evidence of many grows, both small and corporate.  The climate of this area has always been among the best for growing good weed.  

It was late in the afternoon when we arrived back on Highway 101 and continued north toward the southern entrance of the Avenue of the Giants.  Being so late in the day, traffic along the byway was light, and we had no competition for parking at the roadside mileage stops.  We found a printed map of the Avenue, with mile markers listed for each interpretive stop.

We drove quite a distance to find the Bolling Grove, especially noted for its plethora of beautiful gnarled burls on the grove redwoods.  We all remembered milepost 10.5 but not one of us could remember that we were in the Bolling Grove parking area.  That became somewhat important a bit later during our visit when Deb needed to make a 911 phone call to let rescue workers know where we were located.

We thought we were the only ones in the grove until Deb saw a man lying in the creek.  I was walking toward where I had seen Deborah go into the woods but I couldn’t manage the trail to get down to the water.  Deb found a route through the thick undergrowth climbing over the huge downed redwood logs to get down to the water to the couple.

Here is her story in her words.

“When I first saw them, same vantage point Mom took this pic from, the woman was trying to help him crawl out of the creek. The creek was so loud it was hard to hear them. She said he had broken his leg but while on the phone with emergency services he told me he broke his finger. I said you broke your finger, incredulous, he said again and I heard femur. I ran back up and Mom and Mo gave me Mattie’s little wool blanket to cover him while we waited. EMT’s were there pretty quick and were going to hoist him up with a rope. I showed them the easier way around the trees how I got down there. Then two more times as more EMT’s arrived. They were able to get him in the basket and carry him out but it took a bit. They think he fractured his hip. He only had light long sleeved shirt on and was soaked when I found them. Mom said he was pretty gray as they loaded him into the ambulance but his wife said they told her he would be OK. Still don’t know if he was trying to cross over on one of the logs or fell in the rushing water. He had on good hiking boots so that was a good thing.”

It was just a truly lucky thing that we were at that grove and that Deborah’s phone actually had a signal.  My phone and Mo’s phone and the wife’s phone had no signal and there was no one else around. The wife was afraid to leave her husband alone to try to climb out to find a place where her phone would work.  I suppose if we hadn’t been there she would have eventually have had to leave him but I am glad she didn’t.

After that bit of excitement that turned out OK, we were all a bit shaken, and Deborah’s adrenaline was running very high.  We had planned to have dinner in Fortuna at the Eel River Brewing Company and Pub, and were glad that Fortuna was only about half an hour north from our location in the park. Deb had read the reviews and the online menu and we were all a bit excited to have a real meal in a real restaurant.

The pub was empty except for a few folks waiting for tables in the outside tented dining area and we settled in for a short wait.  Once at our table, we noticed that most of the customers were the kinds of people you would expect to find in a popular pub.  There were lots of good looking strapping young men drinking beer and eating simple food.  We ordered a Philly cheesesteak sandwich that advertised peppers onions and cheese on their own special beef, a mac and cheese that was glowingly described and a simple french dip for Mo.  We waited a very long time for our food, happy that we had ordered an appetizer of yummy onion rings.

Sad to say, the food was so bad that we considered it nearly inedible.  Such a disappointment!  The mac and cheese  and the french fries were cold, and there were no peppers or onions to speak of in Deb’s philly cheesesteak. The smoky flavor of the meat in her french dip didn’t appeal to Mo.  However, the amber beer was excellent and the red wine that Mo and Deborah had was OK! 

At first we weren’t going to take our food home.  It was obvious from the fact that we didn’t eat much that we weren’t exactly happy, and Deb indicated to the waitress.  The waitress avoided us as best she could and we made no more complaints.  In the end, we finished our drinks and asked for boxes.  We agreed that thinking we might get good food in a pub that catered to a young working type male might leave something to be desired.  Still, I am glad we took the food with us because with a bit of reworking it tasted just fine the next day.

Our day on the lost coast was almost a complete success.

02-15-2021 President’s Day in Victorian Ferndale

As we were planning our trip, we kept a close eye on the weather.  In spite of the predictions for rain throughout the trip, there was a small weather window for Tuesday, the 16th.  A slight chance of sunshine and only partly cloudy skies were predicted on several weather websites.

We talked about the options of visiting the tiny town of Ferndale on Tuesday rather than Monday.  Walking around a Victorian themed town in the rain might not be nearly as delightful as enjoying it during that sunny weather window. We were also a bit concerned that our visit to Ferndale coincided with President’s Day in addition to being on a Monday when small town shops are often closed.   

However, we had bigger plans that would require sunny weather much more than a simple day in Ferndale.  The Lost Coast backway was an experience that Mo and I have shared a couple of times and we wanted to share it with Deborah.  We woke up to another very gloomy day Monday morning and prepared to follow our original plan for a slow easy day moving and visiting the little town.

We took our time with an easy morning, sharing coffee, playing one more hand of Hand and Foot.  Around ten we packed up the MoHo, hooked up the car and prepared for our very short travel day. 

It was a short 21 mile jaunt from our park in Eureka to our next camping location near Ferndale. Between Eureka and Ferndale is the tiny historic hamlet of Loleta, once the location of the Loleta Cheese Factory.  As we planned the trip, knowing Deborah was a cheese lover, we included a cheese factory visit.  Sadly, that was not to be.  The cheese factory succumbed to bankruptcy just last fall.  The wonderful aged white cheddar is no more.

Mo and I have camped at the Humboldt County Fairgrounds in Ferndale in the past.  When we were last there the park was nearly empty but due to the wet grass the park host put us on the pavement.  This time, when we arrived, the park looked partially full and the wet grass sites were soft and there was a lot of mud.

The caretaker was an extremely friendly, talkative, jokester full of pithy comments who finally decided that the campground was much too soft for us and instead helped us settle in along the midway area of the fairgrounds.  We were behind a gate, although it was never locked so that wasn’t a problem.  He assured us the “homeless types” were not a problem here because he made sure they weren’t encouraged.  He also assured us the the police drove through repeatedly throughout the night so we shouldn’t be worried.  It hadn’t occurred to us to be worried but we smiled and nodded and said Thank You.  He also was completely unconcerned about taking our money and said he would get back to us for that part in the next couple of days.

This photo was taken on our sunny Tuesday, not the day we arrived in the rain.

We settled in, unhooked the Tracker and let Mattie have a nice little run on the thick very wet grass.  Our friendly camp host also called around to some of the local restaurants to check if there was inside or outside seating available.  Deb wanted to treat us to a nice dinner out while we were on this trip and our fish and chips luxury from Crescent City wasn’t enough to satisfy her.  We decided to save the eating out day for Tuesday, when we knew we would be tired from a long day exploring the Lost Coast.

The trip to town was walkable, but not on this day in the gloom, and probably not for me.  When we arrived in Ferndale, I decided it would be best for me to try using my walker instead of sticks.  It was an excellent choice.  Sometimes standing around gives me a lot more trouble than walking and I had the option of not being in a rush and being able to sit down while Deborah browsed to her heart’s content.

Ferndale is a truly charming place, and even in the pandemic it was lovely to visit.  The architecture is beautiful enough from the outside that indoor shopping wasn’t needed to enjoy the town.  However, a few shops were open where we meandered and perused the lovely offerings.  One store we especially enjoyed has delightful linens, soaps and lotions, art and jewelry.  It was a shop Mo and I had visited in the past and it was nice to see it thriving in spite of Covid.

After browsing the main street of the charming town, we decided to visit the cemetery.  I managed to walk the distance without having to reload the walker and Mo drove there to meet us as we arrived.  I think the Ferndale cemetery is one of the most charming we have visited.  Only one I remember that comes close is the beautiful cemetery on the hills around Natchez, Mississippi.

Mo stayed with Mattie when we discovered a sign saying no dogs were allowed.  She took her for a nice walk and by the time Deb and I returned she and Mattie were on their way to the car as well.

After walking the cemetery, where I was most grateful for my little red walker on those hills, we discussed exploring the beach just five miles west of town.  Not surprising that all three of us were happy to give up more explorations and return to the warm and cozy MoHo. Deb and I played cards and Mo again watched news as we whiled away the chilly afternoon all snugged up and happy.

Dinner was precooked ribs I brought from home and a big salad.  I thought of my friend Jeanne who loves my ribs. I know that if Jeanne comes west from her Vermont home to visit, those ribs are an absolute must! We shared a bottle of Druid’s Fluid, a lovely red blend from our local Troon’s Vineyard that Deb brought along on the trip to celebrate Valentine’s Day and chocolate.  It was just as good with our ribs!

It was a perfect day even with the gloomy weather and we were excited to read weather reports that indicated our Tuesday day of explorations would be lit by brilliant sunshine and no rain.