Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Seen and Hugged the Trees, Now What?

We entered Eureka city limits later than I expected. I'm pretty sure with the long drive today, we'd all be opting to stay in the hotel rather than check out the nightlife. To be honest, not one of us are into clubbing. So it was safe to say that we'd probably be checking in, then going out for eats, then quickly return to retire for the night.

As it turns out, our budget hotel is adequate, well more than adequate. It is also full. It has complimentary breakfast and the pool and hot tub are located in the second floor - just a few steps from us at the end of the hallway.

We took a few minutes to freshen up, take the shoes off and air out the feet, then we were ready to go hunting for dinner. We went to check out this little place not far from the city called Samoa Smokehouse. It's one of the only two remaining smokehouse in the US. The place is full of history as well. Next door to its building is a small museum, which we didn't visit. We went to see the place and found that its seating is family style. They have long tables and you share the table with people. That evening they were serving two different dishes ( a chicken dish and potroast). Not only did we not like the food they were serving that night, we also thought that the price was more than we expected to pay.
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It was still early and thought we'd go for a drive. We drove all the way to Arcata then looped on back to Eureka. Arcata is not that far, although we didn't see anything on this drive. The rural scenery on the way was truly entertaining. I've seen a lot of barns in this drive. It was constantly drizzling and a rainbow appeared on our way to Arcata.
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The question of what/where to eat for dinner arose as we were nearing our hotel. The couple with us were thinking of pizza and we want anything but pizza at that time. It's my rule to eat something different when on a trip, not necessarily fancy and expensive, just not something that I can easily get back home.

We weighed our dining options while we drove around Eureka in search for food. We stopped at a few restaurants to check out their menu. In addition to our different tastes in food, the other couple also wanted to just stay at the hotel and have dinner there. The pizza place that they picked was within walking distance to the hotel so we dropped them off there. They would find their way back to the hotel. Us? We were thinking about the soul food cafe that we found online; it good good reviews.
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We opted to take our food and eat with our friends at the hotel. The little cafe made really good soul food. The gumbo was very hot though, yummy but hot.
As we were driving back to the hotel we spotted the Carson Mansion which is regarded as the most grand Victorian home in America and as one of highest execution of American Queen Anne Style architecture so we stopped to take photos.
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Lighting at sunset.
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It is not open for public.

Across from the Carson mansion is what they call the Pink Lady that was said to be the wedding gift from the lumber magnate to his son.
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It was a long day so I took as much shot as I wanted then drove off to join our friends for dinner.

.....to be continued....

Friday, June 22, 2012

Roadside Stops and Attraction

Our plan was to stop at anything interesting. And stop we did....often. Time wasn't a factor at all. We weren't in a hurry to get to Eureka. For us, it's just the place where we would sleep. Our main goal was to enjoy the Avenue of the Giants. Get out and walk under the trees, feel and smell and see and photograph.

We stopped at the LIVING CHIMNEY TREE which as the name says is a living redwood tree that was hollowed out (by fire it seems) inside, the bottom is even cemented and you can look up to see the rays of the sun. This is a free attraction.

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You can see that they even installed a red door, to make it appear like a "home". Maybe a hobbit can live here. Or an ewok, after all around these parts is where they film one of those Star Wars movie.

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Looking up, craning neck.

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You see that it's still living.

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The numbers about Chimney Tree.

The one thing that I was truly looking for was to drive through a tree. I've seen the postcards, I've seen the photos and I want to drive through a living tree too. Thee are a few of them around these parts. There is one in Leggett, but we didn't take the exit to Leggett and opted to stay on the Avenue of the Giants. Thankfully, we found another one nearby.

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The Drive Through Tree in Myers Flat is located along the Avenue of the Giants. For $6 you get to drive through a paved passage through the tree. I noticed some steel cables anchoring the slightly leaning live tree.
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The experience of driving through was fleeting, there was somebody behind us waiting for their turn. On the drive out, we saw that they have tree houses made of redwood trunks. What a bonus for us. We grabbed this chance to stay longer and check out the two tree houses, take photos, and also to stretch out a little before we get cooped up inside the car again.

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Inside the bigger house, they carved a bookcase with books in the interior trunk.

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Familiar sighting around these parts are wood carvings.

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One of the many stops we made to take photos, of us and of course the trees.

When we thought we were done with sightseeing and on the way straight to Eureka, we passed by CONFUSION HILL. Hubby immediately took a U turn. We were all "treed" out by this time and were all unwilling to stop again. But he persisted and said we were on a roadtrip and this is our chance to check out this place. We may never pass this way again. Carpe Diem!

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Confusion Hill is this place's version to Santa Cruz's Mystery Spot. We were there just to look. We all had experienced Mystery Spot.

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I think they were closed when we were there. The attraction that is, but the gift shop was definitely open.

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We were a day early for the start of the train ride. I have taken a train ride through the redwoods, in Santa Cruz, and that experience is amazing as well.

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The shoe house.
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This wood carving is amazing. Info on pic below.
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The sign says: This one-of-a-kind carving was created from a dead redwood tree. A complex of scaffolding was built around it. Then it took one man 3 months with a chainsaw to carve it. It is 44" tall including the sign. There are many taller totem poles, but they were cut down and carved, then set back upright. So this is the world's tallest free-standing redwood chainsaw carving.

We used the facilities here and also browsed their merchandise. I came out with a little souvenir too.

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Found it very interesting to see roadway sighting of a police car, that looked like it was abandoned roadside.

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When we thought we were done again, we passed by what looks like a gift shop/visitor center. This is where I took this photo - SOOC. You cannot imagine how verdant it is. It's this green. Well, they have lots of rain here. As a matter of fact, the drizzle was our constant companion on this day.

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We found out here that they have auto tour. I did not inquire about it, we were actually at the end of the 31 miles, so no use for us.

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I had to photograph the French broom blooms. I remember them fondly from our Oregon road trip in May a few years ago. It was like deja vu. Roadside filled with redwoods and interspersed with yellow French broom.

....to be continued...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Date with the Giants

Last month we went on a road trip to Eureka, which is in northern part of California, some 4-5 hours drive. We thought it's high time to pay a visit to the other parts of the state that we haven't seen yet, plus I've been dying to see the redwood trees up there. Not that we lack redwood trees down here. Still neat to check out new places.

We decided to do the road trip with another couple who happens to be our dear friends. They haven't been to this part of the state either and while I took over the mapping of our itinerary, R, the male friend, was more thorough with the area. He was more interested in the weather. It seemed that the forecast called for rain and gloom in late May. It wasn't a surprise to me, although in some parts it was. I didn't really pay too much attention to the fact that the more northern you go the cooler the temp is. Anyway, I was still excited to go despite the impending rain and fog. Hey, fog isn't a foreign concept to us who lives in the Bay Area. It is our constant companion year-round.

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Did the unthinkable, I slept the first hour of the road trip and we left at 10 am, so early for a nap, but just the same I found myself sliding into dreamland. How did I know I was out for an hour at least? I missed Santa Rosa, which is an hour's drive from home, and where we had the road trip last February. When I awoke we were nearing Willits.

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Highway 101 is pretty scenic. While this part of Highway 101 leaves the coastal scene, the landscape changes into rugged redwood forests and wineries.

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The Eel River was our constant companion through most of our drive.

AVENUE OF THE GIANTS

The main reason for this road trip was to see and drive through the Avenue of the Giants. Because I can't fully describe the magnitude and the magnificence of this place I'd borrow the words that were on the website to describe this spectacular place:

This world-famous scenic drive is a 31-mile portion of old Highway 101, which parallels Freeway 101 with its 51,222 acres of redwood groves. It is by far the most outstanding display of these giant trees in the entire 500 mile redwood belt and is accessible to all with convenient services provided along the way. The Avenue of the Giants is surrounded by Humboldt Redwoods State Park which has the largest remaining stand of virgin redwoods in the world.

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Throughout the 31 miles lie small towns that are quaint and charming. They offer accommodations, dining, and attractions. There is no dearth of lodging around here.

We stopped often and got out, hugged some tree, walked under them, explored their hollowed out trunks while the entire tree is still alive, drove through a live tree and of course photographed everything.

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Road is flanked by wall of verdant evergreens.
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.....to be continued.....