A wild ride exploring the Lost Coast

Humboldt County Fairgrounds Campground The day dawned brilliant and sunny this morning, without a trace of fog.  But it was COLD and WINDY!  Much too cold to even think of dropping a kayak into the water, so we went with our next plan for a day trip to explore the Lost Coast.  If you look at a map of California, south of Eureka and north of Fort Bragg, you will see a large hump jutting westward into the Pacific. This area is so wild and rugged that in the 1920’s, when they built the Coast Highway in Northern California, the engineers determined that the stretch of coastline through the King Range was entirely too rugged for a road.  This huge expanse of wild land was isolated and became known as the “Lost Coast”.

Lost CoastWe read about the “Lost Coast Loop” in our favorite local publication “101 Things to Do in Humboldt County”.  What the wonderful write-up didn’t include was the rugged nature of the narrow roads leading to our destinations.  In addition to the 100 mile loop, we also wanted to explore Shelter Cove, an isolated paradise that boasted a tea house, an RV park, a lighthouse, and a community of 900 rugged souls.  It is the jump-off point for magnificent wilderness hiking on the California Coast Trail through the King Range, and famous for sea cave kayaking along the wild coast.

clean as a whistle company town of scotiaWe started our day with a simple drive south on Highway 101, stopping in to check out the perfectly pristine company town of Scotia. Even though it is steeped in logging history, (the first company bunkhouse was built in 1884), the town also has a bright future thanks to the ecologically minded folks who are part of the “Town of Scotia Company, LLC” who now actually own the town. Driving through in the morning sun was like stepping back in time to the 50’s, with perfect little houses, clean yards and streets, and well maintained buildings.  This isn’t always the case in this part of California, with the other extreme including a lifetime’s worth of trash as yard art.

wild ride to Shelter Cove We skipped the amazing “Avenue of the Giants”, since we drove that road last fall, and continued on to the town of Redway. While the write-up in the magazine was glowing, the town itself didn’t seem to sparkle enough to warrant a stop before we headed out west on Redway Road to find Shelter Cove. The map showed 21 miles ahead, with what appeared to be a very winding road.  I must say, there wasn’t a word about this being a scary road for RV’s, with an RV park at the final destination, but as adventurous as Mo and I are with the MoHo, we wouldn’t attempt a trip down this incredibly narrow and steep road to the Lost Coast.

the tidepools at sheltered Cove Once at Shelter Cove, the ocean was gorgeous, the skies were crystal clear, and the wind was howling.  We took photos of the 1886 Cape Mendocino Lighthouse, relocated here from the Cape in 1998.  A pictorial history of the relocation is displayed on signs around the lighthouse.  Cape Mendocino is the westernmost point on the coast of  California. It has been a landmark since the 16th century when the Manila Galleons would reach the coast here following the prevailing westerlies all the way across the Pacific, then make their way down the coast all the way to Acapulco, Mexico.

Lost coast (13) We found a small curved bay below the cliffs with seals romping in the surf, somewhat protected from the wind.  We checked out the RV Park and had some great fish and chips at the Shelter Cove RV Campstore and Deli, and laughed at the tee shirts that said “I drove to Shelter Cove RV Park and survived”. 

After our great lunch, we drove around the town toward the Black Sand Beach.  The area is filled with some truly lovely homes, and with a population of 900 people, we wondered just how often those people managed to drive back to town.  It took us an hour and a half to drive that 21 miles to Redway, and that isn’t exactly a destination city. Black Sand Beach was gorgeous, with black volcanic perfectly smoothed pebbles along the upper reaches grading to fine black volcanic sand at the water’s edge.  The wind was still howling, so Mo stayed in the car with Abby while I walked down to the beach for photos.

the sands are truly black  By the time we got back to Redway, it was close to 3:30.  Even though the Lost Coast Loop was estimated to be a 3 hour drive, we weren’t about to miss it.  We had no idea our little foray to Shelter Cove would take up this much of the day. The first part of the route meandered through thick dark redwoods in the Rockefeller Grove, part of Humboldt Redwood State Park.  There were places where the trees were so close to the road we were sure that the MoHo wouldn’t have fit through, but then later we saw a couple of trucks winding their way around, so I suppose it might have made it.

wild ride to PetroliaOnce more we started up switchbacks and grades that were mind boggeldy steep. This part of California is wilder and more rugged than anything I have traveled, including some of the back roads in the Sierra’s.  Offshore of Cape Mendocino lies the Mendocino Triple Junction, a geologic triple junction where three tectonic plates come together. This explains the extreme complexity of the King Range and the wild ups and downs and arounds required to traverse the landscape.

time for a break from the road! I don’t think we have traveled so many ups that required downs, over and over again, anywhere.  Finally we reached the community of Honeydew, with a couple of houses situated along the Mattole River. The road followed the river through the gorgeous Mattole River Valley for 15 more miles before we reached Petrolia.  Petrolia is a place that lives in mythic proportions in my earth scientist soul, since it is the heart of the Triple Junction, and when I watch California earthquakes, Petrolia is always there, popping and shaking, and possibly predicting the big subduction quake that will eventually come.

Petrolia has an estimated population of 300-500 people and is also known for it’s ecologically minded residents and proximity to the Lost Coast Wilderness Area, one of the largest wilderness areas and the longest stretch of undeveloped coastline in the continental United States. Travel magazines have called this area “too lovely to be believed, perhaps too beautiful to last”.  I would agree with it’s recognition as the top “still wild” place in California.

sure glad we didn't have the motorhome! The Mattole River flows through Petrolia and is one of only a handful of undammed rivers left in the country. Petrolia is five miles (8 km) from the Pacific Ocean, where there is located the start of a 25-mile (40 km) section of beach protected by the King Range National Conservation Area and Sinkyone Wilderness State Park, and the Punta Gorda lighthouse, one requiring a rugged three mile hike to even see. The Mattole River is home to a variety of California wildlife, including otters, Roosevelt elk,  black-tailed deer, steelhead trout,  more than 250 bird species, and an endangered salmon that was the subject of Totem Salmon, a book about the community’s attempts over two decades to preserve the Mattole salmon. It is also one of the few remaining areas with virgin old-growth stands of Douglas fir in California.

1171854946_400bdfcb50_b As sunset approached, we wound our way down to a long stretch of road that paralleled the beach and stopped for a photo of Shiprock before climbing a grade that had to be more than 16 percent. There wasn’t a grade sign in sight, and in the dim evening light, a photo wouldn’t have come close to showing just how wild it was. This photo of  Sugar Loaf, at the westernmost edge of Cape Mendocino nearby, was taken from the internet with kudos to the Flickr photographer since I it wasn’t light enough for us to photograph as we passed.

in the middle of nowhere, the gorgeous Mattole River ValleyBy the time we reached Cape Town, just a ranch house in a small river valley leading to the sea, and climbed up another wild grade, the darkness was thickening.  The road followed a high ridge for a long time before dropping like a rock into the town of Ferndale.  It was a surprise to realize that we were just half a mile from the fairgrounds and home.  Mo did the driving to Shelter Cove and I drove the Lost Coast Loop.  I have to say that Mo is probably the better passenger in these conditions.  She didn’t whimper once.

Here’s an article by someone with more time than I have to write about this amazing trip. I would highly recommend it for an view of a wild part of California few people ever see.  I would also say whatever you do, don’t take a motorhome on this road, ever!  Funny thing, as Mo and I were getting close to Ferndale, we saw an older  Class C motorhome headed back the way we had come.  We still wonder if he had a clue of what he was getting into, and it was already dark!  There was no other destination on that road before the 20 percent grade down to the beach.sunset at Cape Mendocino, wildest place I have been to on the California coast

For more of our photos of this day exploring the Lost Coast, click 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.

 

 

 

 

Traveling from Fort Bragg to the Russian River

Fort Bragg to Forestville (5) When we left Fort Bragg yesterday, it was raining hard.  Our route followed Highway 1 along the coast for several miles before we turned inland at the Navarre River on Highway 128. Gasoline was just 2.99 a gallon on the south end of Fort Bragg, so we put another 75 in the MoHo and hooked up the baby car right there in the gas station.  We are both amazed at how quickly we can hook up that car.  The Stow Master hitch works great if we hit it every now and then with a bit of silicone.  I can just slide it onto the ball without any effort at all. 

I checked our route on Google Maps, on the iPhone, and with Garmin Girl, all set for the fastest, not the shortest route.  I didn’t say anything about avoiding highways.  All three of them sent us over 128, but not a single one gave us a clue what we were in for.  The first part of the road was narrow, following the Navarre River through huge old redwood forests, damp and dark in the misty rain.  After a few miles we emerged into the Anderson Valley, and official wine country.  Picturesque small towns dotted the landscape every few miles and even in the rain the vineyards were beautiful in their fall colors. 

Fort Bragg to Forestville (21) Once we began ascending the mountains of the coast range however, the road got more and more narrow, and more winding even than Highway 1 was a few days ago.  The last five miles before we reached 101 were probably the most harrowing so far on this trip.  Mo handled it with aplomb, I wore my wristbands, and Jeremy only got sick once.

If we had known the route was this bad, we would have taken the more direct route straight south on Highway 1 along the coastline all the way to Jenner.  Ah well, neither of us had been on this route before, so it was ok.  Of course, Garmin Girl was still programmed for “shortest route”, so she took us along the even rougher “Westside Road” to get us into Forestville rather than going farther south on 101 and taking a major road back west.  By the time we got to the campground in the dark pouring rain, Mo’s opinion of Garmin Girl was diminishing.

Fort Bragg to Forestville (4) This trip was an opportunity for us to check out as many Camp Club USA parks as possible, and we only came this far south to try out this park.  The web site looks great, but if you look at Street View on Google, it’s another story entirely.  When we arrived at the River Bend RV Resort, the office was closed (it was barely 2 in the afternoon) and there were some very vague instructions about “finding a site”. We had a reservation, and had no clue where to go because the park is very tight, convoluted, and completely full of old trailers, rv’s, campers, all surrounded by old cars and trucks. 

River Bend RV Park (6) While I stood around looking helpless, the owner showed up saying, “Oh, I was just making a map for you”.  He charged me the half price fee of 24 bucks a day, and then said, “Wi-Fi is free for one hour a day, otherwise there is a 6.00 charge” . What?? It didn’t say THAT on the internet.  He proceeded to give me a huge spiel about the high cost of real estate in Sonoma County and how he didn’t let anyone else stay in his park for a measly 24.00, and didn’t I realize that there were 150 wineries within a fifteen minute drive and he wasn’t about to pay for free Wi-Fi for people who just abused it by downloading movies.  Hmmm. It was also interesting reading the “rules”.  My favorite was the one warning about going in the river intoxicated, and another one referred to no loud partying after 10PM.  Interesting clientele, I think.

Our site was right on the river, a bit away from all the permanent residents, so that was a relief. I think we are the only people in the park who aren’t permanent.  I decided to do some laundry, going back and forth in the rain, dealing with the dryers that quit when the power went out from all the rain, but of course the timers didn’t quit and I lost 4 bucks.  Froggi Donna, another blogger, asked recently what we love and what we hate about RV’ing and last night I through that what I dislike most is the dang laundry thing. 

River Bend RV Park (3)I decided to read the “101 Things to Do Sonoma” for some ideas about the area.  Unlike the Mendocino publication which was full of great information, this one had page after page of wineries and restaurants.  I guess if you are in Sonoma, you are supposed to go wine tasting and then eat.  Ha.  Mo and I both love wine, but the wine tasting thing sometimes just seems way too expensive and pretentious for either of us.  I’d rather go kayaking and buy my wine at Trader Joe’s or Costco.  Maybe a nice wine tour would be a fun thing to do another time, but not this time.

We settled in after supper and listened to the hard rain, drowning out most of the heavy traffic noise from the highway nearby.

Northern California Coast

Eureka to Fort Bragg (15) We have been here in the fog, but even so, the town of Eureka seems rather drab.  There are a lot of interesting people walking around, people who look like they have been in the same mode since the 60’s. Last night we decided to take an evening tour of the local co-op.  North Coast Co-op has a huge mural on the street side facade, and is bigger than most major grocery stores.  I love natural food stores, and while it wasn’t Trader Joe’s, it was bigger than some and filled with amazing stuff.  Mo is at a loss in this environment, so I walked around explaining some of the lingo to her and some of the reasons for buying this or that instead of the everyday brands you get in a regular grocery store. 

The produce was fantastic, and if our refrigerator wasn’t full I would have hauled tons of colorful stuff home.  We can’t eat enough to support all the temptations so gorgeously displayed. We managed to get out of the store with some great looking green tea from China and two bottles of “Our Daily Red”, an organic red table wine with no sulfites.  Keeps the migraines away for me.  I love a good red wine, but will certainly settle for a daily red glass of this good stuff full of antioxidants and other good things.  It was a fun way to spend a dark rainy evening in Eureka.

Eureka to Fort BraggToday we are going to try out the Samoa Cookhouse, the last surviving lumber camp style cookhouse in the west, built in 1893.  The meals are all served family style and breakfast today will be French toast, sausage, and who knows what else.  There is a lumberjack museum with the cookhouse that should be entertaining.  Another treat will be breakfast company, with some soil scientist friends of mine located at the Arcata Soil Survey Office who have agreed to meet us there this morning.  Looking forward to it.

Later:

Eureka to Fort Bragg (6) Our breakfast was wonderful, and visiting with Sue Azman made it even more so.  I’m not sure if Mo enjoyed all the soil survey talk as much as I did, but we all had a good time talking about kayaking the coast.  Sue is an avid sea kayaker and we had fun talking kayaks and possible trips.  Back to camp in plenty of time to button up and we actually left the park at 12:01.  Gas in Eureka was a whopping 3.35 per gallon, and we knew that in Fort Bragg it was only 2.99, so we only put 50 bucks in the MoHo to get us on down the road.  Again, our travel day was a short 130 miles or so.  BUT!  What a trip it was!!

 

Eureka to Fort Bragg (30) We traveled south on 101 for some distance before turning off on the alternate highway that travels 32 miles through the redwoods, called the Avenue of the Giants.  It was a leisurely, meandering drive through huge trees and narrow roads, but with no traffic at all.  Stopping at several of the auto tour sites for photos, and some short walks in the forest was refreshing.  Once more, Abby wasn’t welcome on the trails, even on a leash, so Mo stayed in the MoHo so I could walk through the forest a bit and take pictures.  I had been enjoying the subtle light on a pale yellow vine that seemed to be in many of the trees and wanted to photograph it.  Closer inspection revealed the bane of my California soil survey life, poison oak!  It was creeping at least 40 feet high into the trees, and covering the forest floor, mixed with the ferns and oxalis.  Poison oak is ubiquitous in the Mother Lode where I worked, but I had no idea it was so prevalent in this high precipitation redwood forest.  Ugh!  I am extremely allergic and had to do a couple of hospital visits while working in California.  It was one of the main reasons I was so glad to finally retire and get back home to Oregon.

Eureka to Fort Bragg (86) At the terminus of the Avenue of the Giants, it wasn’t far to our turn west from 101 to Fort Bragg. Although Highway 1 is famous as one of the most beautiful scenic byways in the country, this part of “one” crossed the last of the coastal ranges via an incredibly curvy and steep road before arriving at the ocean cliffs a few miles north of Fort Bragg.  I think this may have been the curviest road we have driven in the MoHo, and I’m glad Mo was the one doing the driving.  Jeremy wasn’t too happy about the curves either, and he insisted on riding on the dash board, twisting and turning and trying to get comfortable.  I tend to get car sick when it’s bad like this, but on this trip I remembered to bring my “sea bands”, wrist bands with knobs that create pressure on meridian points on the wrist.  I was starting to get queasy when I put them on, and was afraid they wouldn’t work, but they did!  Amazing little tool, these wrist bands.  On the way down the hill we saw a flare and then a rolled over car with several people trying to turn it back upright.  It all seemed a bit strange because there must have been eight people there and only 2 cars, the rollover and another car.  Hmmm.  Which car had that many people in it?  They all looked a bit sheepish, and a bit strange.  We didn’t stop.

Eureka to Fort Bragg (94) At the bottom of the hill, a pickup in front of us pulled over and a poor girl jumped out and got sick right there.  I realized then that I wasn’t sick at all!  Not a bit.  Thank you wrist bands!  The last few miles of the route followed curving cliffs along the Pacific.  The fog had lifted, and the clouds were heavy but not raining.  On the horizon of the ocean, the light caught in a brilliant band among all the grays of sky and water.

We arrived at the Pomo RV Park and Campground around 4:30, and settled in to our very private, very quiet spot at the upper end of the campground.  Here again we have good TV, good Wi-Fi, and power and water.  All this excitement for a whopping 40. per night!  No discounts here except Good Sam, which we don’t have.  This park is also on the Camp Club USA list, but there are so many restrictions that we probably won’t manage a visit here when we could get a discount.  Camping sites on this part of the coast are few and far between, and most consist of a parking lot surrounded by ugly stuff.  Even the state parks are all 35 per night and don’t have the amenities.  Tomorrow we will drive around a bit and see what is here.  The prediction is for hard rain tonight and tomorrow but sun on Monday.  Perfect!  We can check everything out and plan for another kayak adventure Monday morning.  Again, we are staying 3 nights.  First night to settle in, then two days to explore before we move on to the next horizon. 

Of course I took a gazillion photos, and even managed to delete a good number of them.  You can see them linked here.

Foggy Days in Eureka

Eureka fog (4) Early this morning we woke to see the park lights muted by fog.  As the light came slowly, the fog didn’t lift at all.  Kayaking anywhere around Humboldt Bay requires working with the tides, and high tide was coming in today around 11am.  If we were to get out on the water and back without getting stranded on a mudflat, we needed to be out by 10 at the latest.  At ten, the fog was a thick as ever.  I know we could have gone anyway, but somehow boating unknown waters when you can’t see anything anyway isn’t very enticing.  On to Plan B.

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We got a great free publication from the RV manager called  “101 Things to Do Humboldt”. The best part for us was the centerfold map of Humboldt Bay with all the boat launching sites and descriptions of kayaking options.  Still, in the fog, the description of nearby Ferndale sounded much more inviting.  Visiting Ferndale is like visiting the past.  The entire Main Street has been designated a national Register Historic District due to the finely preserved commercial and residential buildings.  Rich bottom land and plentiful grass supports a still thriving dairy industry, which has sustained the community since the late 1800’s.  The ornate “Painted Ladies” were once called “Butterfat Palaces”. 

11_04_20101 There is a fascinating mix of shops, including a real drugstore, the oldest continuously operating drugstore in California. We ambled through town, taking our time looking at “stuff”, some of it beautiful art, and some of it just a bunch of “stuff”.  The only temptation for me came with the yarn shop.  Knitters know that this hobby isn’t about knitting as much as it is about yarn!  I managed to get out of there without buying a gorgeous hank of hand dyed mohair that really called to me.  I have two bins of “stash” including some truly gorgeous wool, silk, mohair, and other amazing yarns, so I practiced self-control and didn’t buy any.

Ferndale (13) In another specialty shop, the owner spent some time laughing with us about how hard it is to decorate a very tall tree when you are very short, and then proceeded to give us the history of the store.  Almost every single shopkeeper asked us from where we hailed.  It was leisurely and fun and I only spent a small amount on a bottle of yummy orange blossom hand lotion. 

Ferndale (34) After wandering the downtown area, we ambled up the hill to the cemetery, one of the most amazing cemeteries I have seen since New Orleans.  It’s on a hill overlooking the town and some of the plots date back to the 1890’s.  The view toward the ocean overlooking the town was beautiful.

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By this time, Abby had been waiting in the car long enough so we decided to drive west to the Centerville beach area.  With the fog lifting a bit, we thought a bit about trying to put the boats in the slough, but the tide was already going out and our timing would be off.  The trip out to the beach meanders along a small road that passes dairies and farmhouses, even a very old abandoned Victorian is total disrepair, a perfect haunted house. 

The beach was open and empty, no other cars or people in sight, and the wind wasn’t blowing hard either, just a nice ocean breeze.  The sun lifted a bit and we got in a great beach walk, which Abby loved as well.  Back to the car, the narrow road led up the hill into nowhere, so of course we had to go check it out.  On the GPS I could see we were near the ocean, but the little car icon was cruising through no man’s land, no road supposedly there at all.  Google Maps on the phone could see some semblance of road, but of course reception was spotty or non existent. 

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We traveled on anyway, up and down and around, until we came upon a BLM parking area and a sign for the Guthrie Creek Trailhead.  Yay!  Abby could go with us, and there wasn’t a soul in sight, and no cars parked at the trailhead.  It seems now that with a couple of pricey kayaks on the top of the car we are a bit reluctant to leave it parked in the middle of nowhere.  We figured we were safe enough here, and headed down the trail.  Sure enough, as soon as we set out a man appeared coming up the trail.  We couldn’t figure out where he came from, but he was nice and we visited a bit while he told us he was “camping” on some property he had nearby.  Hmmm.  At least he didn’t have a car to carry off the boats!  We have a bolt cutter proof bike cable and plan to at least lock the two boats together on the racks so someone would have a heck of a time getting them down.

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The trail was perfect, not too steep, wide and mowed with beautiful views of the ocean and Guthrie Creek below us. The fog was coming in again and the wind was pretty stiff once beyond the protection of the hills at the view overlook area, so we turned back.  It would be good hike to go all the way down to the beach.  Again, with the high surf and sneaker waves around we thought it might not be a day to actually go down to the closed in beach.

Ferndale (78) We topped off the afternoon with a side trip to the Loleta Cheese Factory.  In Oregon, Tillamook cheese is quite famous, and they have tours of the factory and cheese tasting.  Oregon also has Bandon cheese, in my opinion, even better than Tillamook.  The Loleta Cheese Factory was a real treat, different in that much more of the cheese making process here is by hand.  It is a small, family run business that produces medal winning cheeses and 34 varieties made in small batches using traditional recipes to maintain the old flavors.  I didn’t know until today that the kind of cheese depends on the culture added when the cheese is first made.

Our side trip to taste cheese and watch it made seemed like a great thing to do in an area that owed it’s history and economy to the dairy industry. We arrived late in the afternoon and the cheese makers were just emptying the last vat of cheese, but the young woman at the counter explained the whole process to us while we snacked on tiny tidbits of the tastiest cheese I have tried yet.  Especially wonderful was the organic all natural white cheddar, aged about a year and a half so far, with no hormones or antibiotics fed to the cows.  It turned out to be a lovely day seeing new things and new places.

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