February 5, 2018
I left MacKerricher State Park on Friday but not without buying a long sleeved gray t-shirt with a whale skeleton on it. Score! I hadn’t realized that Mackerricher had a whale skeleton but I can attest that it is a super nice one. I mean, I guess it is a nice one as these things go; it is very skeleton, so whale. My only basis for comparison is the blue whale skeleton at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC. I spent many happy hours there as a child and then later as a parent, which is about the time period they put a bar in underneath it, an innovation I, as a parent, most heartily applauded. Sadly there is no bar at MacKerricher and onward must onward and thus on Friday I finished Route 1.
I drove California’s Route 1, the Pacific Coast Highway, basically from start to finish with only a few breaks, mostly where it is closed so out of my control. Yeah! I thought about getting a tattoo but probably not although it is a good idea. Anyway, the end of Route One takes you from Fort Bragg into the woods: the REDwoods. It is indeed a somewhat hairy drive if you are towing a trailer. I tell you, I am glad Amelia is so small. I honestly don’t know how the hell you would drive it with one of those mammoth fifth wheels. Yet people do it. But then they do many foolish things. I just go ridiculously slowly and earn the undying enmity of those who follow me and it all works out okay.
At the end of Route One is the DRIVE THROUGH TREE. I was excited by this because somewhere I have a picture of my Great Aunt Claire mugging for the camera in front of it, probably from sometime in the 40s. Actually, I have learned now that there are TWO drive through trees, which seems crazy but I guess it’s always good to have a backup. I sort of wish I had waited to find the second one rather than attempting the first, because the driveway down to it was worse than all of Route One combined and is probably why I found half my dishes on the floor when I camped. Nothing got broke, except me, and that’s because while the Drive Through Tree is a little, uh, underwhelming (also they won’t let you drive through it if you have a big truck and camper, geeze, I had to walk, it’s unamerican) the gift shoppe is STELLAR. They have all the tacky shit you could want and I want most of it, let’s be honest. I had somehow not quite realized that I have now ventured into Bigfoot territory so there was lots of Bigfoot paraphernalia. I love Bigfoot. I have loved the whole idea of Bigfoot since I was a child so actually being in Bigfoot country is awesome. So far though to my sorrow I have not seen Bigfoot but there is time! Bigfoot country is large.
Friday afternoon I made a very stupid error and drove through Humbold Redwoods State Park without stopping. I should have camped there but I had decided on an RV park that had great ratings and was just on the other side of the park. Camping at the state parks loses its appeal when they have no hookups and yet are only $10 cheaper than the private RV parks, if that. However, the private park website forgot to mention that they are closed from November to March. Nothing like pulling up to a completely closed RV park in Bigfoot country as it is getting dark to put the fear of cryptozoology into your heart. I backtracked to the one with less good reviews and it was in fact pretty much a shithole, bah. They also had a gift shoppe and a very nice chainsaw Bigfoot but otherwise, nope to the nopeth. In the morning I went back to the closed park, where the gift shop was now open and got some more Bigfoot stuff. Life is not complete without Bigfoot! Also they had an Immortal Tree with an axe in it showing you how they tried to cut it down in 1908 but instead it. . . got the axe stuck on it? And there is a wooden fish stuck above the axe commemorating a flood, which is scarier honestly because that was HIGH and the ocean is FAR. The redwoods in general reminded me of WNC. I drove 6 miles of the Avenue of the Giants and stopped a couple times to be all, huh, trees. Extremely large trees, granted, and it was beautiful but I was not overcome. I suppose I am lacking in some tree appreciation gene or 17 years of Western NC has spoiled me for forests.
I followed 101 back to the coast. I like me some Pacific vistas and the drive is nice. I was hoping to stop in Arcata, about which I have heard good things, but the freeway doesn’t go into it and neither did I. Instead I came to Trinidad, which I like a LOT. It is another California beach town in that real estate is completely insane but it is also very laid back and seems, somehow, real. There’s a good semi hippie grocery store and I heard a lady about my age complaining to her grown son that she was too high to shop, while another lady was exulting over being able to buy poison sugar soda because her kids were out of town. In other words, this town is teeming with potential Friends of Felicity. And they had Haraszthy Vineyards wine on sale and I am here to tell you, if you spot a bottle with a bear on it, buy that sucker immediately and then get another one for me. They are GOOD plus, hey, bear on the label and unpronounceable name. Trinidad also has a beach and a harbor where there are supposed to be otters. I went to the beach – there were people wearing parkas and hats and gloves and naked children frolicking in the surf which to me is sort of Northern California in a nutshell – but somehow I missed the pier and the harbor and the otters. I’m going back momentarily to find them, though.* Otters! Otters! And maybe another bottle of Harastzhy red blend.
The park where I am staying is fancy. It’s also another one of those parks that lie like rugs on their websites – winter rates! it says, $40! – but it’s $50 and they blame it on taxes. This is the same tactic that the truly awful RV park in the redwoods used: “This IS our winter rate.” Funny how it’s the same as your summer rate. Ah California, don’t ever change. On second thought, yeah, change. I saw a coffee cup in the gift shop at the Drive Through Tree that was cut in half. It said California! So Expensive I Could Only Afford Half A Cup! I almost bought it, but, ironically, I decided it was too expensive. At least this place is super nice. A little too nice, actually, I get nervous when surrounded by such luxury. I have a lawn and a deck that looks out over a limpid reflecting pool. There is an art gallery – I haven’t been able to bring myself to go look yet, I just can’t, I saw the prints in the bathroom – and a reflexology clinic. The RVs here are all evolving rapidly into trailers and thence into houses and the book exchange is run by someone with a taste for goth roms. And it is utterly silent and yet, weirdly, there are a lot of young people here. Go figure!
Yesterday I went for a long hike at Patrick’s Point State Park, which is basically across the road and saw my first banana slug. I also saw some seals from above! It was extremely beautiful and a nice hike. Then I came home and made some art! I have been having a blast making cyanotypes this last week and the ones I made yesterday turned out quite well, so I am pleased and feel all artsy and shit. Tomorrow, if all goes according to plan, I am leaving California. Good bye! It’s been real! I like you a lot and I might move here if you will just offer me a place to live that I can afford. Oh and thank you for the $2 scratchoff win! Yay California and onward to Oregon!
- Update! no pier, no otters. Boo. The pier is being renovated, the existing pier is off limits to everyone but fisherpeople and for some weird reason all the wind in Northern California is concentrated right there on the edge of Trinidad, so it was freezing and windy and there was not an otter in sight.