In June, our California friend, Lisa, came to visit again (what a sport!), but this time she flew into SFO so she too could see the redwood forests.
It was to be a short trip, only four days, half of which would be driving, but we would make the best of it. I drove the 6 hours from Trinidad to San Francisco, listening to dozens of podcasts on subjects from Rome to Chiggers, and drinking copious coffee. I left early so I would have time to take a detour from highway 101 to the 1 along the coast, via a death defying road outside of Leggett, California. The road was so winding and slow that by the time I got to the 1, I was only barely on schedule, and after having to stop outside of San Francisco to buy and set up a toll pass, I was way behind. Arriving almost an hour late to pick her up from the airport… so much for leaving early!
We headed into town to stay at the Mosser hotel at @$120 a night after taxes for both of us. After a terrifying debacle involving parking the giant F350 in a parking garage (to save ourselves from paying $60 for valet,) I was finally free of the truck.
Lisa already had a plan for us which was nice. We found the Mission Street bus and headed out from downtown to a “bean to bar” chocolate place, Dandelion Chocolate, where she had a desert sample platter and I had a cocoa bean fruit smoothie – which tasted a lot like lychee. This was followed by dinner at a nearby Mexican restaurant, where we were able to share a giant plate for a decent price with food left over. SF is only as expensive as you make it I guess!
The Road to Trinindad
We left early the next morning and found that our parking garage experience had saved us about $35! Worth it. We would spend the day stopping at tourists attractions and driving the Avenue of the Giants. It was perfect weather for wandering around forest trails and exploring fallen trees and hollowed out logs. The forest is dark, wet, magical, and seemingly endless, with the avenue itself has numerous places to pull off the road and wander into the forest.
On one of the trails we pulled over for to walk, we were surprised by a random nude photo shoot happening on a giant fallen tree, an unexpected surprise! haha. We averted our eyes, laughed and kept walking. Oh, Humboldt County… If you pull over at all the stops, you’ll be there all day (and possibly run into more nudy photo shoots).. and then some, so we skipped a few places, and by the end of the avenue I was exhausted from two days of driving, and no proper lunch. We booked it the rest of the way to the campsite in Trinidad for a big dinner and some good sleep.
We also stopped at the ‘One Log House‘ along the way, a must see for RVers! It’s basically a travel trailer carved out of a giant redwood tree, complete with a kitchen, two beds, a living room and bathroom. For just a dollar you can take a private tour and have your own little photo shoot.
We also stopped at Chimney Tree and the Solar Living Center with “Tree Through Cars”, off grid Airbnb cabins, a great community garden, and huge eco gift shop.
Redwoods State and National Parks
After a good night’s rest we headed out again the next morning, this time north. We stopped to see the ocean, walking around tide pools and sea caves at Harry A. Merlo State Recreation Area, a free to visit beach and lagoon.
We continued north to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, where we saw wild Elk lounging about next to the road. We had lunch at the “Trees of Mystery” tourist trap – where an enthusiastic guy trapped in a Paul Bunyan statue chatted with people from 30 feet up, stopped at Klamath drive through tree (though didn’t drive through due to the size of the truck) and eventually made our all the way to Crescent City and Jedadiah Smith State Park, where we found a dirt road that went off into the forest, our favorite way to see nature, and hiked a beautiful loop trail. Ferns, banana slugs, giant trees, old bridges, boardwalks, and benches; It was by far my favorite trail in the redwoods; find it on Walker Road outside Crescent City.
We didn’t miss any opportunity for some great bean to bar chocolate. We found a place along the drive to and from San Fransisco, as well as bought some Dick Taylor chocolate in Trinidad, as we didn’t have time to visit the factory in nearby Eureka – worth a try for sure!
Sherlock went with us on the drive back to San Francisco. This time we just took the 101 and it was obviously a much smoother trip, though still exhausting. We arrived in SF early so we could get lunch at a vegan cafe Lisa was interested in, Seed and Salt and on the way to the airport I decided to take a detour to see a cathedral, however not knowing the city at all, I ended up on all the steepest streets – kind of terrifying in a 4 ton truck to be stopped at such angles. I felt like the brakes would give out on me after the 4th stop light going down a never ending hill – but it was also hilarious at the same time. We drove down streets like that for a while before google got us somewhere sensible to get back to the airport. After dropping her off, me and Sherlock were stuck in such awful traffic out of the city that we decided to stop and take in a view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the north side.
Once we escaped traffic, about 50 miles north of San Francisco, me and Sherlock kept sane with more podcasts and drove into the night, arriving home after midnight and ready for a good meal! A very busy 4 days, that took me 4 months to write about (kick me).