Heading into Northern California on US-101, we were really impressed with how beautiful the region was. The hills along the winding road soon were filled with progressively taller forests, eventually transitioning into groves of coastal redwoods. We spent a night in Myers Flat to quickly explore the Avenue of the Giants, knowing we were going to be spending a full day at our next stop in Redwood National Park. While checking out the visitor center at Humboldt State Park, we noticed the campground next door.
When we walked in to take a look, we realized that it was the same place that our friends Lee and Tracy had hosted at back in 2015.
The next day, we drove up to Klamath and set up on a riverfront site at Klamath River RV Park. We decided to do a little exploring, so we drove down towards the ocean. One of the first things we saw was the entrance to the old US-101 bridge over the Klamath, which was washed out in 1964.
The span featured these concrete grizzly bears on the railings, similar to the gold bears on the new span farther upriver. Why are the bears on the new span gold? Well it seems that back in the 1950’s, several friends were at a local bar discussing how the town needed to be spruced up. They set out that night sweeping up the streets and washing windows on the businesses. To top it all off, someone suggested they coat the bears on what is now the old bridge with some gold paint that he had in his shed. When the California Department of Transportation saw them the next day, they sent workers with turpentine to remove the golden hue. This went on back and forth several times until the state finally gave in and left the grizzlies as the townsfolk wanted them to be.
When the new bridge was built, the highway department adorned the approaches with these bedazzled bruins as a tribute to the Golden Bear Club of Klamath. 😊
The other point of interest on our drive that afternoon was the old World War II era early warning radar station along the coast.
The trail down to the facility was not maintained, so we couldn’t get any closer.Disguised to look like a farmhouse and barn, the structures actually housed radar equipment, a generator, and two 50 caliber anti-aircraft guns. This particular station is the last of 65 such stations that once were located up and down the entire coast. If they detected any military boats or aircraft that didn’t belong, they sent out a warning. Having not heard of these defenses before, we wondered aloud, ” What sort of things like this exist today that we don’t know about?”
We drove to the national park visitor center in Crescent City the next day to get our bearings. We had business to take care of that required good wifi, so we knew our time would be limited in the park. We made good use of the local library’s wifi, and checked outtown before heading out to see the big trees.
Battery Point lighthouse sits just off the mainland. There is a trail out to it that is accessible only at low tide.
From there, we drove up into a grove of trees northeast of town.
The height on the coastal redwoods can get quite a bit taller than sequoias, even though they aren’t as old or as big around.
Even after they’ve fallen, they are gigantic!
They are so rot resistant, large trees take root in them and grow to impressive heights before the nurse log has a chance to decay.
After spending nearly a month exploring California, we arrived in Oregon on Tuesday, May 23rd. Our first stop was in Port Orford. We drove out to Cape Blanco to check out the lighthouse and the westernmost point in the contiguous United States.
The wind was blowing so hard, we had trouble holding our footing! It was incredible!
On Wednesday, we arrived at Carl G. Washburne State Park north of Florence, Oregon.
This is our campsite for the month of June, as we will be interpretive hosts just south of here at…
…Heceta Head Lighthouse! This sentinel has held a special place in our hearts since we visited it during a special nighttime tour back in 1996. We will be giving tours until the end of June, when we will be moving on to a different adventure. Our internet is non-existent at our campsite, but we do get service in the day use and at the lighthouse. If we are slow to respond to comments, that’s why. Please stay tuned as we explore the central Oregon coast over the next month!