Among Ancient Giants

Trip Start Nov 17, 2011
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Trip End Dec 14, 2011


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Flag of United States  , California
Friday, November 25, 2011

We have seen a lot and traveled more than a few miles since I last updated this blog, but I will try to bring you up to speed on our adventures.

We began to explore the redwoods by snooping around Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. We found an old 4x4 road going off into the forest and followed that for a while, while the overcast sky allowed the sun to poke thru occasionally and held off the rain. Not knowing what all the area truly offered, we returned to Crescent City to visit the local NPS visitor center for more info. After grabbing a map of the surrounding state and national parks, we were educated on nearby campgrounds, scenic drives and other to-do's. After a quick stop along the coast to make lunch (we saw a number of the incredible-looking endangered California Brown Pelicans), we drove to a county park a few miles outside the city where we decided to camp the night. However, when the rains began, we felt car-camping was the order of the day. We tucked the Xterra amongst a large, thick stand of Coast Redwood trees, and enjoyed looking straight up to the trees disappearing into the sky. Let me tell you, deep in these tick forests, the dense canopy causes the forest floor to get dark about 4pm. As such, we called in an early night.

The next day we started at sunrise and quickly headede back to Jed Smith S.P. Where we followed the Howland Hills scenic drive - a gorgeous some-paved, some-4x4 road that meanedered thru some of the most dense, old growth redwood forest left in the world. The roadway returned us to Crescent city just as it began to rain... Okay, it was more like a torrential downpour. We stopped at a local harbour-side restaurant and enjoyed some local, fresh seafood, as well as catching a glimpse of some big, fat sea lions! Feeling recharged, we hit the road in the rain and drove south of the Klamath river to follow the Coastal Drive Loop. While there were fewer big redwood trees, it was neat to see the untouched coastal environments. As the afternoon wore on, we decided to find another campgriund, this time in Prairie Creek Redwood S.P. As ligt faded in the thick forest, so we drifted off to sleep in the rain.

By the next morning, the rains had not even let up, so we made some ichi-ban soup for breakfast, broke camp, and hit the road. As we left the campground, we had a great sighting of the local Roosevelt Elk... Two impressive bulls surrounded by a number of cow Elk. We drove partway along the Baldhills scenic drive to a trailhead, but the continual downpour made us hesitate about a hike. As such, we hoped back on hwy-101 and followed it south past Orick, CA., thru Eureka, CA., and into Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Here we picked up another scenic drive, the Avenue of the Giants, and continued along at a leisurly pace. Winding our way amongst old growth trees thicker than my Xterra is wide, the dark groves were often filled with fog and incredibly dark... They had an almost spooky feel to them. Night came quickly and we were forced to find a nearby campground in the dark, wgile the rains continued to pound down.

We awoke to a morning without rain (finally!) and were on the road quickly. We stopped at a nearby area which enabled us to literally drive thru an old hollowed out redwood tree. The sun poked out quickly as Maria and I both took time to scamper around another hollowed out tree - this one a tree house, of sorts. With that, we felt satisfied with our Redwood experience and again began racking up the miles to make our Thanksgiving dinner date. As we approached San Francisco, the clouds broke, and the sun poked through, just as we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge. Wow! We were awe-struck... The movies really don't give this struxture justice. After winding our way thru the hilly streets of San Francisco, CA., we eventually ended up in Los Altos, just in time to joing my old friends, the Cave family, for Turkey Dinner. Kelly, Chris, and Jenny were all nice enough to invite us to spend the evening with them. We feasted on turkey, mash potatoes, stuffing... The whole 9-yards. With bellies filled to the point of discomfort, we enjoyed a fun ol' game of Taboo, before calling in a night.

Waking early on Black Friday, Maria said our goodbyes and thank-yous and backtracked to San Fran to explore the city a little more. We snooped around and walked over the Golden Gate Bridge (even more impressive on foot), enjoyed the nearby park (except for the large number of rude, ignorant, and unfriendly types walking around the area) and then drove across the city to another restaurant on our Triple D (Diners Drive-ins and Dives) quest. Pier 23 is a cool little seafood place right -as the name suggests- on te edge of pier 23, overlooking the water. Maria enjoyed fish tacos, I had a crabmeat pasta and we shared the best calamaria I've ever tasted! Cooked perfectly, it was not chewy or tough, at all. While the service was alright (nothing memorable or outstanding) the food made up for that fact. As the sky began to darken, we jumped on the freeway and made our way to Merced, CA., to spend the night.

Today, we will make our way to Yosemite National Park for a few days, before we return to SF for a tour of Alcatraz in Tuesday. So enough is enough... Ciao for now!
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