Monday, June 13, 2005

Humboldt County Re-Visited

Started out last Tuesday by going to Sacramento County Family Court with my friend Lisa over a guardianship issue she was having with her 16-year old stepdaughter. I thought it was going to be a long, drawn-out occasion, knowing how court can go, but it was real quick. Done and out in about 30 minutes. Soon after, I was on my way to Humboldt County.

I left Sacramento about 10:30am. I wasn't planning on hard driving, so I figured I'd make it up to Eureka by about 5pm. 6-1/2 hours for 340 miles of driving is pretty good in my book. My brother says 4-1/2 is all it should take, but that's driving a bit fast for my blood. My little Ford Focus can go 90mph, it's just not a good idea to drive in that fast for long. Besides, I like to stop here and there, grab a cup of coffee, hit a roadside stand, look around... whatever. I'm on VACATION!

The drive was lovely, as usual. Northbound Highway 101 in California is so pretty, after you get out of the San Francisco Bay area. Rolling hills, little towns, farms and fields all the way up to Humboldt County, where it begins getting into the redwoods. At that point, the character of the trip changes to mountainous, evergreen covered hills with rivers and streams winding through just about every canyon you see. Most days the mountain tops are covered with low-lying clouds and fog, masking the trees and mountain tops from the rest of the sunny day.

I rolled into McKinleyville, about 15 miles north of Eureka, and got to my brother's place at about 5:10pm, just about when I thought I would. He bar-b-qued up some steaks, and I visited with him and his wife and kids for the evening before I went down to the Motel 6 to get some sleep. What with them having a new baby, I didn't want to be in the way by sleeping at the house, although my brother did offer.

Next day Jack and I took a drive north up Highway 101 to look for a place called Fern Canyon, where Steven Speilberg filmed some scenes for Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World. In that less than memorable movie, there's a scene where dozens of tiny little predators are chasing a guy down this stream, strewn with trees and logs, and the guy gets eaten after he leaps a log to try to hide. That was filmed in Fern Canyon. And I can see why.

Here you see vertical 30-50 foot walls, covered with ferns and several inches of thick moss, with huge trees that have fallen down inside. These photos are taken in order, walking deeper into the canyon. The trees on the left are a actually a long ways apart. In the middle photo, my brother is standing next to the base of the far tree from the first photo, and you can get a feeling of the scale. The photo on the right is past those fallen trees, looking back. It difficult to get a sense of the scale in photographs, but trust me, it was very impressive.

On the way out of the park, we could see several deer and elk in the fields, but as we rounded a corner of the dirt road, we saw several elk and deer right in front of us! One poor guy was missing 1/2 his rack of antlers, but all of them still had their antler fuzz.

Next day Jack took me to the "South Jetty" in Eureka, where we went fishing. I'd never fished in the ocean before, and for the most part, the fishing we did was remarkable similar to fishing anywhere else, except that the ocean swells and currents were hard to get used to. There is so much movement that it's hard to tell when you're getting a bite. Jack did manage to land a red-tail perch.

Thursday I packed up and headed home, but decided to make a quick run down the Avenue of the Giants. If you are ever up that way, it's well worth the time to take the drive and see the incredible Redwoods. Again, the scale and scope is hard to do justice with photos, but you can judge for yourself.

All in all, I had a grand time. I really have fallen for far northern California. I can myself visiting here often.

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