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.

02-14-2021 Valentine’s Day by Humboldt Bay

We woke on Sunday morning to a somewhat dreary day brightened by our bright tiny red and pink lights in the window, a box of See’s Chocolates, and shared Valentines.

Deborah said she slept well on her first night on the make-down bed, and in no time had everything back together and tucked away for the day.  Mo and I have been skipping breakfast lately, but Deborah was forewarned and brought along her own favorite breakfast, an homemade egg-bake that she cuts into squares and heats in the microwave. She even brought enough to share for when I decided that waiting until 12 to eat was a bit more than I wanted to wait.

We took our time getting out of the house since the day was gray and rainy and we didn’t have a lot planned.  I originally thought we might try to visit the historic Samoa Cookhouse for a Sunday brunch. However, the restaurant was not only closed for indoor seating, it was indefinitely closed.  The website didn’t reflect that, but I called the phone number and the sad message said they weren’t sure when they would open again.

We also planned to drive and walk around Old Town Eureka, but when we left around 10, we altered our route to follow the bridge across Humboldt Bay toward Samoa.  In spite of the restaurant being closed, it was nice to see the old historic buildings, check out the exterior of the museum, and take a few photos. The Samoa Cookhouse is the last lumber camp style cookhouse in the Pacific Northwest.

Originally it was a dining facility for the employees working the mills for the Vance Lumber Company and opened in 1893.The cookhouse opened to the public in the 1960s and serves “lumber camp style”, or family style, meals at long communal tables. The building also houses a museum with artifacts and images that focus on logging and “maritime industry” history. The building is large enough to seat five hundred workers and to make cleaning the floors more efficient there were holes drilled into the floor with a grate to act as drainage for water rather than mopping.

Mo and I had been to the beach along the Samoa peninsula in the past but had never traveled as far south as the Samoa Dunes Recreation Area.  The road is paved as far as the Coast Guard facility, but beyond that it is rough sand with lots of potholes.  The day was chilly and windy, so we were surprised to find quite a few cars and trucks parked at the various access points to the wild ocean to the west of the road.

The dunes are a popular area for OHV riders, with an unloading ramp, restrooms, tables, cooking grills and a scenic overlook, easy access to 140 acres of “open” terrain, containing numerous trails and the beach strand. There is an additional 75-acre riding area that extends about 1 mile north of the park. The rest of the beach and dunes along the peninsula are closed to vehicle use, except by special permit from the county.

On this chilly day we didn’t see any riders but we were excited to discover that we could drive the Tracker right up the dunes overlooking the entrance to Humboldt Bay from the Pacific ocean.  It was cold and windy, so we didn’t stay outside very long, although Mattie didn’t seem to mind too much.  She loves time on the sand and with the beach fairly open and empty she was able to run a bit.

We were thrilled at the huge waves coming into the bay, with water breaking over the jetty at times and waves at least 12 feet high. 

On our return trip from the dunes, we stopped to visit the Woodley Island Marina. There is an excellent seafood restaurant at the marina, and it appeared to be open, but we weren’t the least bit interested.  After two meals of fish and chips the previous day, if we decided to eat out again it wouldn’t be seafood.  We were hoping to find some fresh crab but didn’t want live crabs since cleaning and cooking them in the MoHo wasn’t easy.  We found several signs for live crab, but none of the boats in the marina had cleaned, cooked crab for sale.  Deb remembered times on the Oregon coast when she was able to buy fresh clean cooked crab right from the boats.  No matter, we weren’t hungry anyway.

Driving back across the bay we turned south to enter the section of Eureka that is called Old Town and is on the National Historic Register. 

The Carson Mansion at the northern pert of the Historic District is highly recognizable and is considered one of the best examples of Victorian architecture in the United States.  The Carson Mansion can only be seen from the outside since there are no public tours allowed.  It is now owned by an elite private club called the Ingomar Club. Sad that this beautiful historic place doesn’t do tours unlike some of the other famous mansions in the United States.

Across the street from the big green house is another mansion, sometimes called the Pink Lady.  The pink mansion was a gift by William Carson for his son Milton.  The mansion is currently a guest house and was for sale for 1.5 million back in 2020.  Not sure of the current status. 

There are carriage rides available in Old Town Eureka, but on this cold and rainy day they didn’t appeal to us.  I did notice that the couple inside the carriage were wearing masks, and heard just a bit of the guide’s conversation about the mansions as he passed us on the street.

Something we did discover about Eureka and the surrounding area is that people are diligent about wearing masks.  Nearly everyone we passed on the trail the previous night was masked and even street people in town were wearing masks.  A refreshing sight for sure.

Photo from our 2011 visit to the same store Deborah visited on this trip, with blue skies

We drove down to the main part of Old Town to explore some of the few shops that were open.  In addition to requiring masks, the shops only allowed a very few people inside the store at once.  The proprietors were diligent about enforcing the rule, and once inside everyone kept a respectful distance.  Deborah found some lovely pottery mugs to commemorate her visit and we ran back to the Tracker in the rain where Mo and Mattie were patiently waiting for us.

During previous visits to Eureka, Mo and I discovered the North Coast Co-Op.  I knew Deb would love checking out the wonderful huge natural food store.  I also wanted to share the beautiful murals that are on the east side of the building with her. We wandered in the store for a time, and Deb bought a bunch of cheeses and other goodies before we left. 

The day was so very dark and wet and dreary that even driving around to find the murals and art installations that are scattered all around the town wasn’t much fun.

Instead we returned to the MoHo for a rousing game of Hand and Foot for Deborah and I while Mo watched the news.  The mirror casting app worked just fine during the day with fewer people around in their rigs sucking up the airwaves.

We enjoyed a great supper of homemade enchiladas and salad before settling in to watch a silly but fun Brit Box show called Death in Paradise.  It is a bit “cheesy” to use Deborah’s word, but she loved it as much as we do.  For us it is an easy escape, with a delightful Caribbean vibe and music, sunshine and palm trees in the midst of a murder mystery with a somewhat goofy but endearing Investigator.  The show kept us entertained at various times throughout the trip.  Deb wasn’t sure her partner Bob would be interested, but asked if maybe we could watch an episode now and then during our Sunday visiting times back home.

02-13-2021 Three People Traveling in the MoHo

Once again we headed for a coast, but this time instead of the Oregon Coast our destination was the Northern California coast.  For the first time in the 13 years we have been traveling in this MoHo (not counting the two prior years in the baby MoHo) we had a guest traveling with us.

My eldest daughter Deborah often visits on Sunday mornings.  She only lives an hour away and comes to spend some time with us and with her son who lives across the street from us.  Especially in this time of COVID she and her son are part of our “bubble” and the visits provide a sweet interlude.  On one such visit, as we were talking about our upcoming travels, we came to a great idea.  Deb has been working from home, has had her first vaccination, and has lots of leave accumulated that she needed to use.  In moments, we decided that a joint trip in the MoHo would be a great way for her to use her leave.

It was in 2013, three years after purchasing the MoHo, that Mo and I had the large sofabed replaced with a comfy dining booth with seats that make down into a reasonably comfortable bed.  In all that time, except for when it was first installed, we have never used the bed.  Mo and I tested it before this trip to be sure we remembered how to convert the booth to a bed and packed a large cushy sleeping bag for Deborah. 

On this Saturday morning we woke to rain, but we had been following the weather and knew this would be the case.  Predictions for our six days on the road indicated rough weather for most of the trip.  Undaunted, we didn’t even consider trying to reschedule.  Changing dates is easy for us as retired folks, but not so easy for my working girl.  Besides, we were all excited for the trip.  Deborah works hard, has a partner who is disabled, so doesn’t get away very often. 

The predictions for the weekend included rain and snow over some of the passes, including sections of Highway 199 that is our route to the coast from Grants Pass.  The predictions were just a bit off, thank goodness, with temperatures on our route remaining in the low 40’s and no snow except on the mountains around us.

For Deborah, the winding road along the cliffs bordering the Smith River was thrilling, with waterfalls cascading down the mountainsides at every turn, and the Smith at the highest level we had seen yet in our years of traveling this route.

When we began the trip, I prayed to the travel angels to be with us and let it be a memorable time for Deborah with no glitches.  The first day out lived up to every expectation in spite of the rain.  As we approached Jedediah Smith State Park the rain stopped and there were a few moments of sunshine peeking through the clouds.  It was Deborah’s first visit to the redwoods.

We parked the MoHo and took the Tracker on the park roads.  The campground had recently opened and the day use area was easily accessible.  The Smith River was running high and wild and people were fishing along the bank. The park road meanders beyond the river to a place where we know there is a very large tree and a little bit of a wide place in the road to park. 

We stopped, the sun came out again, and we enjoyed taking photos of the huge tree that seems to draw us each time we visit this area.  I have photos of Nickie and Jimmy and Erin and Mui at this same tree.  I used the opportunity to teach Deborah how to do vertical panoramas with her phone the same way Erin taught me at exactly the same location.

Leaving the park, we continued on the Redwood Highway toward Crescent City, with the mist making the redwoods even more mysterious. 

Once again the travel angels were with us, bringing out a bit of sunshine and letting up on the rain as we parked at our favorite Chart Room to order fish and chips to go.  The dining room was open for inside dining, since numbers in Del Norte county are down.  Deb and I looked inside and it felt claustrophobic even though people were spaced well. 

Sticking to our “to go” plan, we ordered our fish and took it back to the comfy warm MoHo for a perfectly fabulous lunch.  The servings are huge and we knew that there would be plenty for our early lunch and for dinner once again when we got settled into our park in Eureka.

Leaving Crescent City, we traveled along the coastal highway 101 through misty rain.  At a location about 20 miles south of town there was a traffic stop due to a huge slide that was being repaired. 

As we were parked waiting for our turn to pass, we saw large amounts of mountainside continuing to slide toward the road. UhOh.  We were lucky to get through, and learned later in the afternoon that Highway 101 had been closed at that slide after we passed.  Thank you again, Travel Angels!!

Checking the map, we decided to take a short alternate route south for about ten miles that meanders through the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.  For reasons I cannot explain, in all our trips south on this route, Mo and I have never stopped at this state park.  It was gorgeous with huge groves of trees that seemed even taller due to the steep slopes on either side of the road.  We parked at the closed visitor center where Mo took Mattie for a walk in the meadows and Deborah and I ventured onto a short trail where dogs weren’t allowed.

For Deborah, it was even more fascinating to be up close to the big trees in the beautiful groves along the trail. I had the camera and the phone, but Deb was the one snapping away with her phone.  I think she had more than 1000 photos when we returned at the end of the trip.  It isn’t easy getting good shots in the dark woods, but between the two of us we managed a few good ones.

The rain held off again for our short hike, and only started up when we got back on the road.  By the time we reached Eureka, the rain stopped long enough for us to enjoy an easy setup at Shoreline RV Park, right on the edge of town close to Highway 101.

I think Deborah got a kick out of watching Mo and I do the unhook/setup thing since she hadn’t experienced it before this trip.  We take it for granted and are pretty quick at the shared process after so many years traveling together.

Mo and I have stayed at this park in the past.  It is convenient and close to town for exploring areas around Eureka, but not particularly exciting, with sites spaced fairly close together. Still, it was for only 2 nights and the main purpose of staying at this park was to have close proximity to Eureka and Samoa.

The biggest surprise of the evening happened when Deb and I decided to take Mattie for a walk and after crossing under the highway on a paved pathway found ourselves on the beautiful Eureka Waterfront Trail.  Completed in 2018 and meandering along the salt marshes of Humboldt Bay the trail was a complete surprise.  Reading about the concept and construction of the trail was wonderful.  The project is beautiful and a great accomplishment for the city of Eureka.

There were many interpretive signs along the paved path and long boardwalk.  We also enjoyed the creative benches scattered along the way, although it was too dark to get good photos of any of them

We walked much farther than we planned and it was dark when we returned to the MoHo.  Mo was getting a bit worried about what happened to us, and it hadn’t occurred to me to take a phone with me to explain why we were gone so long. After all, we were just taking the dog for a short potty break when we started out.

After our left-over fish dinner we settled in to watch a little bit of TV.  Seems as though the park now uses some kind of cable box for TV that requires plugging in a bunch of stuff to the TV. Ours is installed behind the wall and we have no easy access to the back of the TV without removing screws and such.  Instead we once again decided to try the mirror casting capability of the phone.  That wasn’t very successful at this park because there were so many rigs so close to us that the phone kept trying to cast to several tv’s that weren’t ours.  Funny stuff! 

It only took a few minutes to shuffle things around a bit for Deborah to make down her bed. We settled in for the night listening to the rain on the roof of the rig, a wonderfully soothing sound for all of us.