Travel decisions and Grizzly Creek State Park

CG near Juneau As we were driving over the winding mountain roads on Saturday, there was plenty of time to talk about all sorts of things.  Among the conversations was the one often repeated, “So, we have at least ten good years of travel, right? When are we going to do the AlCan?”.  When Mo bought the first MoHo back in 2005 she was already urging me to think about retiring so that we could take that famous road.  Mo has some great photos of her first trip north in 1974 in a little Scout with some built in boxes on top to carry supplies.  She scanned all the faded, slightly scratchy slides a few years ago, and we look at them and laugh at the stories about mosquitoes while thinking about that future trip someday in the MoHo.

The result of these conversations was a decision.  We are embarking north around June 15th.  Tunnel Mtn CG_BanffOne of the quandaries of this time of year for traveling is how much we love where we live in the summer.  Not many places in the world prettier than Crater Lake and Recreation Creek in July, but Alaska is waiting and we aren’t getting any younger.  I certainly don’t want to go there in the spring or fall, although I have heard some folks say that the road is actually better when it is frozen.  Nah, I’ll take the mosquitoes and the cloudy skies over dealing with serious cold weather in the MoHo.  I have read enough horror stories over the last few weeks of folks dealing with all the cold in the southern part of this country this year to know better. I am excited, to say the least.  It is an epic trip, one for the bucket list, and I don’t want to miss it.

In the mean time, we will enjoy this week in what turned out to be foggy California and prepare for a hopefully warmer foray down to sunny Arizona in March for three weeks of desert time. 

morning in Grizzly Creek SP California On our way here, we stopped overnight at a sweet little state park along Highway 36.  In the gloomy evening, with fog dripping from the redwoods and no one around, it didn’t seem like much.  With morning, however, in spite of the gloomy skies, the park revealed some of it’s delights. 

Grizzly Creek State Park is located along the Van Duzen River on a place that has been used for rest for more than 150 years.  Before that it was a lodging spot for the local tribes, rich with salmon, berries, and shelter. And yes, lots of poison oak, my particular bane of traveling in California.  In 1946 it was established as a state park, and the amenities reflect this heritage.  I didn’t see evidence of the CCC, but the visitor center is an old shingle building with a lot of character and the fire pits are old stone structures that speak of a long history of happy families and the days of car camping.

morning fishin on the foggy Van Duzen River We had the entire park to ourselves on this Sunday morning, except for one lone fisherman who walked in from the highway to catch some of the salmon that still run on this river.  Encouraging. There was one lone employee in the park office, and he said this park isn’t likely on the list of California park closures because it stands alone in the area.  We discussed the ridiculously high California State Park camping rates and laughed about how silly it was.  They keep trying to increase revenue and instead, most RV’rs avoid them like the plague because of the high cost.  He then told us about the Van Duzen County Park just 4 miles down the road that looked very much the same, with river frontage and nice sites for $25.00 a night.  No wonder the state park was empty. When we left, we passed the park, but missed the turn, so didn’t try to turn around on the narrow winding road to check it out.  I guess that is why we have internet.  I’ll go research it for the next time we come this way.

these old campfire ovens are in the picnic day area I was still glad we stayed there, just to contribute our fair share to the economy of California and the state park system.  I wish California would recognize that these state parks are the true legacy of the state and assign lottery funds to support them the way Oregon has done.  I don’t know of any state that has better state parks than Oregon.

The hushed forest was lovely, and I even found a vanilla leaf in bloom at the base of a huge redwood. 

Vanilla leaf in bloom on February 6thThis morning we are in the Humboldt County Fairgrounds, at Fernwood.  As Laurie said, it’s flat, especially where we are parked on the pavement at the edge of the park, just outside the fence, with our water and electric pedestal in easy reach.  The camp host suggested this spot and it is perfect.  There is a dump on the fair property and we are getting a few more channels on the TV this morning.  Fox comes in the best, so we watched the game yesterday and enjoyed a quiet day in the MoHo since the fog never lifted the entire day.

Another amazing little perk is free, fast WiFi.  I’m not sure how it happened, but I plugged in my booster that I bought in Desert Hot Springs, and up came a connection to Frontier with no password requirement.  The guy who sold me this little gadget told me that I could pick up connections up to two miles away in some areas. I know its unsecured, so am careful, but it’s great to be connected.  I am trying to complete my stories of my cruise and get them posted, ( by the actual date so they only show up in the January archives), uploading photos, and cruising the internet with abandon.  Gotta love it.

Today we planned to kayak the Eel River Estuary, but looking out at the drippy, cold fog, we have decided to go exploring instead.  The Co-Op in Eureka has some great goodies, and we haven’t yet seen Fortuna.  Of course, the organic white cheddar cheese and home made roasted pineapple salsa awaits at the Loleta Cheese Factory.  I guess sometimes it’s a good thing to return to places we have enjoyed previously.

The rest of the photos of the park are here.

Off to the coast

Jeremy loves a road trip in the MoHo and settles in immediately to his spot on the dash

heading for the coast over 299.  Jeremy loves being back in the MoHo

I barely had time to get my land legs back before Mo looked at me and said, “How about a trip to the coast?”  Of course, Mo has been home patiently feeding the fire while I was off gallivanting around the Caribbean and she was ready to get out of the house and do something different.  A trip to the California coast actually sounded wonderful, with warm temperatures and plenty of water for kayaking.  We decided to go to the area we visited last fall, a bit unusual for us to return to a previously visited site when so many await, but it’s actually the closest place to Redding that looked good to us.

The Shasta Trinity Mountains in northern California are wild and rugged.

Shasta-Trinity mountainsWhile I finished out my work week, Mo researched our route and checked out the available campgrounds.  This trip we hoped to be a bit more thrifty and make use of some of the great local county campgrounds. The Humboldt County Fairgrounds at Ferndale looked like a great choice so that is our major destination.  Our planned route this time takes us across the Shasta Trinity mountains via Highway 299, turning south at Highway 3 near Hayfork, and connecting up to Highway 36 heading west toward Grizzly Creek State Park along the way to Ferndale. It’s about 160 miles from home to Redding where we pick up the MoHo, and then another 180 miles or so to the coast.

The view from the summit of looking south toward the Mad River drainageSouth Mountain along Highway 36 is gorgeous.

This morning we woke up at 5:30 with great plans to be on the road by 7.  We already loaded up the kayaks and the baby car with MoHo supplies and were ready to go right on time.  With the MoHo in storage in Redding, we have to bring everything home with us, wash and repack it all up, and then tuck everything into the baby car for the 3 hour trip back.  It’s a bit of a squeeze, with clothes, bedding, all the throw rugs that I brought home to wash, the comforter cover, the kayak paddles, walking sticks, the kayak bag of life vests and equipment, extra water for the MoHo till we get to a campground, the charger just in case she doesn’t start, the dog and the cat and the cat cage, and oh yes, me and Mo.  We don’t even bother with a cat box, since Jeremy usually settles down pretty well when he knows we are heading for a big trip and waits until we get to the MoHo where his box is waiting.  Good kitty.

Out of Redding RV storage and ready to go It’s really funny to watch the animals the night before a big trip when we are packing up.  Abby sticks to Mo’s leg like glue, no matter where she is going.  Jeremy walks around and meows loudly, and keeps looking expectantly at all the stacks of stuff.  I actually think he knows where we are going.  I can only surmise that Jeremy loves going on these trips so much because his humans and his dog are going to be 100 percent completely accessible and no farther than 12 feet away at any given time.  In his dotage, he has become a very needy cat and hates to be alone. So, proudly, right at 7 am we jumped into the car, cat and dog and humans, and traveled east toward the rising sun.  About 25 minutes into the trip, almost to Klamath Falls, I turned to Mo and said, “You have the MoHo keys, right?”.  She looked at me and with a gasp, pulled the car over and whipped it around to head back west to get the forgotten keys.  You have to know Mo to know just how rarely this kind of thing happens.  I have no idea what made me think  of it at that moment, but we were both really glad it wasn’t three hours later in Redding when it came to mind.

enough already!! Sue has had it with the curves, the 10 percent grades, and the narrow roads!With an extra hour behind us, the rest of the trip to Redding was uneventful, with open roads and good weather all the way.  The mountains are especially open and bare for this time of year, and the lack of snow pack is surprising considering the huge snowfall we had in December.  Once in Redding, the sun was warm and the thermometer read a balmy 71 degrees.  We slid the MoHo out of her berth as she rumbled to life without a whimper and in a short time we were loaded, hooked up, and on the road west.

I drove from Klamath and Mo drew driving duty this time over the mountains.  Mo is a great driver, but after many miles of narrow roads with long steep canyons dropping off on the passenger side, and 10 percent grades, I was getting a bit testy.  I am a great companion most of the time, but not so much after several hours of being tossed about by rough, winding, bumpy, nasty roads.  The scenery was gorgeous, but the road, not so much!  Every time we end up on a road like this we are grateful for our short 26 feet. 

Jeremy isn't too happy with the curvesThe original plan included a stop at Hayfork in the County Fairgrounds Campground for the night, but we arrived at Hayfork at 2:30 and our next stop was only 80 miles away, so on we rambled.  It was a bit of a rough 80 miles, however, and Highway 36 might not really deserve the handle of highway at all.  The day had been sunny and gorgeous, but as we dropped down toward the river, the coastal fog enveloped us.  We reached Grizzly Creek State Park around 5 pm, and the deep forest of redwoods was fairly dark and gloomy.  The entire campground was empty except for a single tent camper, with no one around.  Instead, there were instructions to self register and pay in cash or check.  California State Parks are an endangered species, with the budget of the state threatening to shut them down at any moment. The rate is $35 a night with a $2 discount for seniors.  For that price you get no hookups, one lone working bathroom, and no camp hosts around.  We wouldn’t spend any real time here, although it looks like it might be a pretty park with the river flowing past and the lovely forest.  Since we thought we were going to spend two nights on the road, we figured we could mentally divide it by two and figure it wasn’t too bad.

uhoh.  Now we are dropping down into fog.It’s incredibly dark out there, but not terribly cold in spite of the overcast skies.  The highway is fairly close, but not terribly busy.  It will be a very early night snugged in to read a bit and then get a good nights sleep before our arrival in Ferndale tomorrow.





Home from the Caribbean

Blues Day 2 I have been home from the 2011 Legendary Blues Cruise on the Holland America Eurodam to the Eastern Caribbean for a few days now.  My land legs have finally returned, and the ground is no longer rocking and rolling.  My daughter and I wore wrist bands on the ship and never got sea sick, but the swaying earth didn’t subside for several days after we landed.  This wasn’t your ordinary cruise, and that photo of my feet propped up on the verandah was carefully posed.  The cruise was all about the Blues, with only three days in port and the rest of the time filled with music, parties of all sorts, including Mardis Gras costume night and a wig party.  The bands played till the wee hours of the morning, and then got together on deck after the formal performances to jam until daylight.  It was an experience, to say the least. 

I haven’t yet really settled in, since I went back to work immediately upon my return.  I have 294 blog posts in my google reader list, and something tells me I might never actually catch up on all that everyone is doing.  Eventually I will post the stories and photos of our days on the water, but that might take a bit of time to sort out.  Usually when I am on a trip I have the time to blog, but on this one with my daughter, I barely touched the computer the entire time.  I have finally labeled and uploaded my photos, and with the daily activity sheets from the ship I should manage to recreate what happened from the amazing blur of activity.  I really do owe some good cruise stories to E squared and Mui who kept me so entertained with their recent cruise blog posts.

Mo and I are planning to leave on Saturday morning and pick up the MoHo for another trip to the California coast with our kayaks, and I am looking forward to some warm temperatures and relaxation!  In the mean time, I just thought it would be nice to pop up in the blog world and say, “hey, I’m baaaaaack.”