Greetings to all,
Well, here we are - on the road again - exploring the wonders,
sights, and sounds of this great land. Our objective this year is to finish California and start on southern Oregon. Leaving Bisbee May 10 and after a quick visit with Fred's nephew, Nick, just outside of Phoenix, we headed west to Blythe, CA and turned north for Needles across the Mojave desert (you might remember it was here we lost the front siding on our travel trailer several years ago). In Needles we took I-40 and US 58 to Bakersfield and a much too brief visit with Suzi's Aunt Thelma. From Bisbee to Bakersfield we traveled through less populated desert areas. The
winter rains produced a delightful display of purple and blue wildflowers along the roadway and in the washes. The hillsides were covered with Mesquite trees festooned in yellow blossoms, while, in the distance taller mountains still wore a mantle of white from recent snows. It was all beautiful but oddly untamed.
Those untamed sights were in stark contrast to the drive from Bakersfield to starting the Mendocino National Forest in Red Bluff, California. We avoided the Interstate in favor of US and State routes. We passed by mile after mile of orchard, vineyard, and field, all lush green and growing, separated by an occasional field of black and white cows and sprawling communities. Here we found gasoline prices ranged from $2.49 to $2.26. Not particularly desirable but better than the $3.09 to $2.79 price tag we saw in the desert. One would think with gas prices so high, folks in California would drive more conservatively but n-o-o-o. These folks drive as if the devil himself was on their tail - or are we getting old?
We soon learned the beautiful Mendocino National Forest held a huge major problem - accessibility. A wet winter and even wetter spring had left about 30% of the developed campground inaccessible to us. Who would have thought, by mid-May, access to campgrounds would be limited by flooded creeks and 7 to10 foot snowbanks!!! Well, like other challenges we have had to work with, we came up with a work-around which was to start Six Rivers National Forest a little earlier then scheduled.
That took us to the coast for the last week of May and some time just north of Eureka in a tiny community called Trinidad. (Settled in 1775 by Europeans you would never guess the town was that old - and a former whaling processing station). Fred loves the ocean and was a very happy camper. Temperatures had been cool (although locals were complaining of 70-plus degree
"heat wave" the other day), foggy and damp but the sun came out for the Memorial Day weekend. But nothing, not wind, drizzle, or fog, kept us off the area's beaches.
The beaches in northern California are so much more interesting then many others elsewhere. Massive chunks of black Franciscan rock, most larger than the houses overlooking the blue-green water of the Pacific Ocean, dot the shore. Some of the smaller rocks are covered with barnacles and other sea-life and wrapped in seaweed. If close to shore the largest rocks are topped with conifers and shrubs. The ones well away from the shore have a white "icing" dripping down their side from what resting seabirds
left behind. Sea lions and a variety of seabirds call the whole area home and provide hours of fun viewing.
One things Fred found distressing was what he thought was the "dirty" sand. Upon closer inspection it became apparent the sand is composed of darkly colored material. According to our Roadside Geology book, this dark material is Franciscan rock, a rock from the deep interior of an oceanic trench. On some beaches, all we could find was the dull black of Franciscan rock. On other beaches, the sand's texture ranges from very fine in shades of black to flat, round pebbles in shades of mustard yellow, sage, brick red, white, and dull black. Some of these beaches are littered with drift-wood while others are devoid of anything to attract beachcombers.
We are always looking for some fun and unusual places for you to visit. Near Eureka we found one such place, the Samoa Cookhouse. It is the last cookhouse still in operation in the West. What is a "cookhouse"? Think of what a restaurant might be like if it was in your kitchen and served 50 or so lumberjacks. The menu is, of course, whatever the cook prepared. And, the portions are more than ample. We stopped in for lunch and had tossed green salad, split-pea soup, three-bean salad, beef pot roast (brisket cut), boiled red skin potatoes, sweet baby carrots, and baked beans. Chocolate cake with a rich fudge icing was for dessert. All was served in bowls or on platters and we spooned our portions. It seemed our server's only goal was to bring us and our fellow diners more of this yummy fare. There are no individual tables, just large red and white checker cloth-covered conference room size tables with ten assorted, mismatched, hard
wooden chairs. It was so much fun. We hope if you can, you'll try a meal at this eatery.
Weather and just getting back into the swing of things gave us a reasonably relaxing month. June won't be so laid back. We continue with our work on the Six Rivers but also start working on the Klamath, Trinity, and Shasta National Forests and survey some four dozen campgrounds in these forests. Hopefully, we'll be able to catch the missing Mendocino campgrounds along the way. And of course, we will continue to look for new and interesting things to do, see, and tell you about.
By the way, if you happen to be in the Ennis, MT area be sure to stop by the newly opened (tentative Grand Opening June 17th) Reel Decoy Restaurant and say hello to the new owners, Dahlia, John, and Tyler.
Until next month,
Suzi and Fred