Thursday, January 3, 2008

Ukiah, California

We’re staying in a pretty seedy park tonight, but it does have electricity! This is always a bonus after we’ve been camping without. We enjoyed our time in Redwood NP, but the laundry piled up. We have a small washer/dryer combination—by that I mean, the washer and the dryer are the same. It washes the clothes, then drains the water, then turns into a dryer. This is quite a boon to our traveling since we’ve always traveled without in the past, but the loads must be very small—say, three shirts and some underwear. So, I’m now trying to get at four loads, but we don’t need all of them right now, fortunately.

Today was wet and rainy. It was raining like the big storm that passed through Portland in early December when everything flooded. The park where we’re staying advertised itself as “internet friendly.” I suppose if you have never met a person, then you’re initial reaction would be one of friendliness. Right? So I figure “internet friendly” means, we don’t have internet, so how can we hate it? Okay. Now I know what that means. One must read between the lines at all times. In case I haven’t made myself clear, the park that advertised itself to be “internet friendly” does not have internet. Hm. Okay. I’m beyond that now. I’d feel better about it if there wasn’t a lake next to the front door, but when you’re traveling in a trailer, these things happen.

We aren’t staying here long. It’s just a place to stop before we head into San Francisco tomorrow. We won’t be staying in San Fran, or even doing any sight-seeing there. Those of you who know us well know that we hate cities. San Francisco is on our way to San Simeon. We’ve been traveling south on Hwy 101 (aka the Redwood Highway) for quite some time now—since we got to Winchester Bay. Tomorrow, we will take the turn off for California Hwy 1, which is a scenic byway that takes us through Monterey, Carmel, and Moro Bay. After we’ve done the tours at San Simeon, we will head east toward Death Valley. So, for not having anything to say, I’ve gone on quite enough. Take care all.

Lady Bird Johnson Grove

For a half-hour today, the redwoods replaced Vietnam, the moon, and the bomb as the focus of that vast, powerful thing called The Presidency . . . The event: President Nixon’s combined birthday party for former President Johnson and dedication of a grove to Lady Bird Johnson.” ~Don Carlton, reporter for The Times Standard, August 1969

I was in the 9th grade when those words were written, and I don’t remember when this happened. But there were a number of quotes and pictures of Lady Bird Johnson, whose “First Lady Platform” included highway beautification. To quote her: “Left to exist as it is, in its own seasonal rhythms and cycles, the wild land is truly an incalculable resource.” Lady Bird Johnson from Memories of the Wilderness. Does anybody remember her real name?

We hiked the Lady Bird Johnson Grove trail this morning. We didn’t think the trees on this trail were any more impressive than the Oregon Coastal Redwoods in terms of their size, but they were impressive by their sheer numbers. We also got a good look at the burls that help them reproduce and some of the hollowed out trees that have been burned repeatedly by fire and continue to live. It was a pleasant, flat, one-mile hike.

On our way there, we noticed some deer in the meadow where we have seen the bull elk. Upon looking further, we noticed that there were elk lying in the meadow so that only their antlers were visible above the brush. Pretty cool! Check out the pictures. It was a unique view of them and I couldn’t resist taking dozens of shots.

Things are going well so far. No mechanical problems and the trailer is very comfortable. We’ve had good fortune with the weather here, which ordinarily is very rainy this time of year. We’ve had sunshine and clouds, but no rain while we’ve been here. Tomorrow we will move on through Eureka and down toward San Francisco. The plan at this point is to follow Hwy 101 down until we reach California Hwy 1 which will take us to San Simeon. We’ve both seen Tour #1 of the Hearst Castle, and we’d like to see the remaining two tours that will take us through the remainder of the structure. I am dying to see the kitchen. We hope all goes well with all of you. Take care.

Prairie Creek State Park

We camped in Prairie Creek State Park, which is a part of Redwood National Park. We’re in the Elk Prairie Campground, which is in the middle of the 50-mile stretch of park. Today we’re wanting to hike in the Lady Bird Johnson Grove, which, according to my book is a photography “hot spot.” Cool! I like that! We chose this campground because we hoped to see some of the Roosevelt Elk that hang around in the meadow. The elk must have gotten the word because there was a greeting team of two when we arrived. Their antlers are in full bloom, and they are magnificent. The elk were completely calm about our arrival and comfortable with the other campers that we can see. Those two ate and ate and ate the grass in the meadow and then laid down for a rest for a couple of hours before moving on. We got our bikes down and rode around a little bit. We ventured into the part of the campground that is closed, figuring it was fine to ride our bikes there. I’m sure it was, but nevertheless, we came upon a really huge elk. I forget how the east and west thing works insofar as counting points on their antlers. This guy had 10 points on his pair. So in the west, I think that makes him a five-point elk, while in the east, he is a 10-point elk. If any of you are hunters, I would appreciate your setting me straight on this. He didn’t seem in any mood to move along so we could ride past, and so we decided to give him the right of way. We went the other direction. Later, he wandered into the meadow where we are camped and I was able to get some pictures of him. All-in-all, we saw five yesterday evening. They are all bulls, however, and we are told that the cows are hanging out some place else. We didn’t see any of them.

The ranger came by and we were able to purchase a couple of bundles of fire wood. Mike gave it a mighty effort getting the fire started. The wood was wet, and we didn’t have any Boy Scout juice to give it a push. We ended up standing next to a smoking, smoldering pile. We figure we got our exercise running laps around the fire pit trying to avoid the smoke. Our eyes were burning, and so we thought the rest of us was warm also. Later, even our eyes were cold, and so we went inside.

We’ve seen some more huge redwoods, a giant sequoia and some more myrtlewood trees. So far, it’s been a very enjoyable stay. I’m not able to get internet access here, and so I’m writing this in a word document to be cut and pasted later along with the elk pictures. Oh yes. I started keeping notes of things I wanted to tell you because I’ve realized that after I sit down here, I get a case of writer’s block. And so the one thing I have written down from yesterday is about the “First Chance Liquor Store” we saw after we crossed the border into California. If you turn around and read the other side of the sign as you are leaving California, it says “Last Chance Liquor Store.” Pretty humorous.
Okay, I must stop here and take the cat for a walk. George got out of the trailer for the first time yesterday, and we had quite a time walking.