The sun is starting to show some promise here along the river. Some much needed sun I might add and as the ladies continue their slumber I think back on a weekend that started this past Wednesday. A truly glorious way to start the weekend by walking out of the office midweek and kissing it all goodbye for four complete days – a double weekend as it were.
We traveled a great distance this weekend and all in one day while Mother Nature cooperated along every mile of Highway 101’s beauty. Our trip to Arcata in Humboldt County was our first college trip with our youngest daughter and the drive alone would have sold me on Humboldt State University.
Here in Petaluma we sit just north of San Francisco. The Golden Gate Bridge is thirty-five miles south or so, but to our north there is a country I have not seen since my luggage consisted of two quarts of beer and a sleeping bag. Times have certainly changed but the scenery is amazing.
Many years ago I applied, interviewed and was accepted onto the town’s Board of Zoning Appeals Board where we’d sit each month and listen to the towns people’s requests for variances on their property, and cases involving urban sprawl which is so prolific in South Carolina you wouldn’t even imagine unless your luggage consisted of the normal 3000 sqft home and all the necessities that come along with it. Membership on this board widened my eyes to who wins and loses and I am truly thankful to now be living in a place where I can be among the true evergreen and redwood giants inside an hour’s time with the Pacific Ocean only moments away. I am also thankful to no longer be associated with the men who disguise themselves as do-gooders when they know right well they are as crooked as the many tree branches which create their arbor which have stood long before the population explosion of the south. I rant and it feels good.
Screw “good” – it felt incredible to jockey along HWY 101 the other day with the other motorists heading north. The last recognized site oddly enough was Francis Ford Coppola’s winery in Geyserville, and at 70MPH we had nothing but great memories with Bonnie’s girlfriends who came out and visited and took us up into this North Country in the back of a rented limousine.
Today I was the driver and it was as if we rolled through a 300 mile long post card. I can’t tell you how many times we motioned to Logan, listening to her music in the backseat, to look at this and look at that. Highway 101 is also known as Redwood Highway in this part of northern California and with the freeway ending north of Cloverdale near the Mendocino County line, it narrows to an expressway through the Russian River canyon and eventually into a two-lane road just south of Hopland. We stopped in Hopland for coffees, a quick stretch and marveled at how peaceful this little town is. Notable establishments in this town of 800 include the Hopland Sho-Ka-Wah Casino, the Mendocino Brewing Company, Hopland Brewing Company, and Fetzer Vineyards. You didn’t think I was driving with blinders on, did you? It seemed the further we climbed the vistas were that much more expansive until we reached the next one, and so on. The road conditions were idyllic and my hat goes off to the incredible engineering feat that is Redwood Highway.
We rolled through Willits, and climbed to Rattlesnake summit with the Eel River by our side. Towns like Laytonville, Cummings, Leggett and Piercy preceded what is known as Confusion Hill where funky little signs with “question marks” invited us to pull over and check things out. We believed they were confused and we had pedal to the medal while these majestic redwoods were within reach while we continued our ascent into Humboldt County where the highway introduces you to Richardson Grove State Park and then Humboldt Redwoods State Park; California’s third largest State Park and the site of the largest remaining Redwood growth forest in the world! This is one field trip I’ll never forget. I can only imagine what the next surprise will be … the next thirty miles are reserved (or preserved) as an area known as the Avenue of the Giants for the huge, centuries-old redwood tress which parallels the highway for the next stretch into southern Humboldt County. We continued our travels through Fortuna and Eureka and onto the Michael J. Burns Freeway. Mr. Burns was the State Senator and a proponent of California’s Highways – so thank you Mr. Burns for a wonderful and scenic drive.
We arrived at Humboldt State University with time to learn they received quite a bit of snow and rain the day before. “Timing”, as they say, is everything. The campus is unbelievable with 2000 acres of redwood trees while the tides of the Pacific Ocean spill into its front yard. Our tour guide, Julia was an energetic young lady who took us all of such a walking tour it can now be confirmed there’s neither one elevator nor escalator on the entire grounds! We did some walking, we did some driving, and we left with smiles on our faces only to realize … we were about to do it again. The list of agendas for our following Friday required our presence back home, so back in the car we climbed for our drive home with the sun on our shoulders for the majority.
Thank you California!
Now it’s time to deliver the first cup of coffee of the new day to my bride who patiently waits.
Enjoy your day wherever you are.