Redwood National Park

I drove through this Park on my way north to Crescent City on Tuesday afternoon but wanted to study the Park map and figure out my strategy before tackling it. Wednesday I drove south and started exploring the Parks (and I say Parks plural because there are also many State Parks centered around Redwood trees in this area and, in total, they cover a much larger area than the National Park).

First up was the Newton P. Drury Scenic Parkway which runs parallel to “The 101”. It is actually within Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. There were many places to pull off the road and marvel at the tall trees around you.


Here is a two-shot panorama, top to bottom, of a very tall Redwood tree:



Like Sequoias, these can live to be thousands of years old but many can grow to be as much as 380 feet tall, almost 70 feet higher than the tallest Sequoia. And while Sequoia cones are only about the size of a large chicken egg, Redwood cones are even smaller – about the size of a large olive.

I drove further down the Parkway and stopped at the parking area for the “Corkscrew Tree”. I short walk took me past an area of ferns on the way to the tree itself:


Let me sidetrack for a moment while I’m thinking about it – later in the day, while in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park these were the ferns I saw:


As they used to say about TV’s, don’t adjust your set. And no, I didn’t switch to taking black & white photos. The road through this State Park was dirt and gravel and since it has been so long since they have had measurable rain these ferns were covered in gray dust, kicked up by the vehicles driving back and forth on the road.

There is also an area near the coast called Fern Canyon which I’ve been told by several people that I need to see. Well, snakes love to hang out near ferns and I DON’T like to hang out near snakes so I’m unsure whether or not I will attempt it.

Back to the “Corkscrew Tree”: As I approached it I saw two people sitting next to the path at the base of the tree (wearing blue & white).


I thanked them for “volunteering” to be my size reference points. The woman commented that she’d have her agent call me. (I’m pretty sure she said “agent” and not “attorney”…). They were actually a very nice couple from Carson City, Nevada who were here doing some mild hiking and were taking a snack break. Ironically they had also been in Redding on Monday (and had to detour around Hwy. 299 which was closed as a result of the wildfire that started near there Monday afternoon) and they are also staying in Crescent City!

Here is a shot looking up at the tree from where the first photo was taken:


And here are shots from two more angles, looking up, showing the twisted trunks:

Angle One:



Angle Two:



Trinidad Redux

Wednesday morning I drove back down to Trinidad, about an hour south of where I am now staying in Crescent City, California.  When reviewing the photos I took down there on Tuesday I realized I missed something important.

This is a replica of the old lighthouse which used to sit out at the end of Trinidad Head.


I had seen this when I was here on Tuesday (sitting down near the beach – between the photo I took looking right towards the beach and left towards the dock and Bay).  The building is a replica but the bell sitting in front of it is the real deal – a 4,000 pound bell which was kind of like a foghorn, warning ships at sea.  By the way, when I stood on the wooden planks under the bell the top of it (under the white concrete support) was right at my beltline.

We’ll get back to the lighthouse in a minute, but while I’m down by the water let me show you some other things.

This was a large group of kayakers returning to land:


As you can see, conditions by the water were foggy – as they were when I was here Tuesday.

Next – more boats being raised from and lowered to the ocean via a pulley system:

This one was on it’s way down:


This one was getting ready to be brought up about 5 minutes later:


And this one had come up a few minutes earlier but was being pressure washed to get potential aquatic “hitchhikers” off the hull.


As I learned last year, most states out West have an extensive network of boat inspection stations along highways coming in to their state and near rivers and lakes where boating occurs in an attempt to control and eliminate invasive species of plants and animals (mussels seems to be a particular concern this year) from being transported into a water source and contaminating it.

I thought I had more pictures of this pulley system but must confess I had gotten into a lengthy and enjoyable conversation with a fellow traveler while his wife was off entertaining their two young children (who had started making seagull noises non-stop) and was temporarily distracted from my picture-taking responsibilities.

After we went our separate ways I went back up to where the lighthouse replica used to be.  This was taken looking away from the water:


And by turning just a few degrees right (and keeping the metal staircase railing in view) this was the view:


Another example of the marine layer just sitting off the coast but inland being sunny and clear.

Here is the view looking down those stairs to the right, towards the Bay:


That white square is where the replica of the lighthouse used to be.  Just to the left of it is where the bell used to be:


And on the wall left of that concrete slab is a memorial to people lost at sea.

The replica and bell was at this location for many years and apparently have been moved to reinforce the supporting platforms.

Here is a photo taken from the center of the platform where the lighthouse replica once stood:


It is virtually identical to a shot I posted from Tuesday, though I had taken a few steps forward to eliminate the two wooden posts.

Wednesday I learned that the old lighthouse has been replaced by a new, automated light source which is on the other side of Trinidad Head, a huge rock which juts out into the ocean between the dock and Bay to the left and the beach which was further to the right (north).  That was the location of the original lighthouse but it was damaged by the highest recorded wave to ever hit the California coast back in 1914.  The lighthouse was later automated and a more powerful light source was constructed.



Bigfoot Country

As I’ve been traveling around extreme northern California I have seen many businesses with “Bigfoot” included in their name, as well as gift shops and tourist traps selling trinkets and souvenirs.


Evidently this part of the world is known for “Bigfoot” sightings.

I used to have a cat named Bigfoot, which is the only one I’ve ever seen.  Personally, given what I’ve learned about this area – I think it’s the marijuana talking….

Water Hazards

No photo.

Anyone who has played golf is probably aware of that term – something you want to avoid when you are enjoying a round of golf.  Well, near the ocean there are water hazards which can do much more than add strokes to your score…. they can take years off your life.

The most innocent is High Tide.  There are signs many places warning visitors who may not be familiar with the rhythms of the ocean to be mindful of incoming tides which can leave them trapped against a cliff with no possibility of escape.

Next on the list – “sneaker waves”.  I had never heard this term before but these are random waves much larger and more powerful than ones preceding them.  A cute term, perhaps, but this is the warning written on the official Redwood National Park map:

“Very large, powerful “sneaker” waves can occur at any time.  They will probably pull you into the water and survival is unlikely.  Never turn your back on the ocean.”

Ok, now you have my attention….

I have not seen surfers since I was in southern California, largely because much the coastline is extremely rocky.  If you get sucked out into the water you will likely be battered about the rocks, both above and below the surface.  There are even warning signs advising people who aren’t trained lifeguards to resist the temptation to try and rescue a stranded swimmer because they may not survive the attempt.

Last on the list – tsunami’s.  I stopped at the Visitor Center in downtown Crescent City Wednesday morning and saw a sign with a summary of the March 28, 1964 tsunami which struck the city.  That tsunami, triggered by a series of powerful earthquakes up near Alaska, sent waves racing towards the coast of California at 500 miles per hour.  Those waves (several waves of waves, actually) struck the unsuspecting community a little before midnight and destroyed 29 city blocks.  11 people lost their lives.  Crescent City also experienced a much milder tsunami a few years ago after the earthquakes which triggered the major tsunami’s in Japan.

I’ve seen tsunami signs all up and down the coast while I’ve been in California and they tell you when you are going into a tsunami zone (low elevation, close to the water) and when you are leaving it (getting back to higher ground).  The rule of thumb is – be mindful of where you are and what your options are, especially if you feel what might have been an earthquake.  The potential of deadly tsunami waves could follow soon thereafter.

More seals!

Wednesday I spent the day driving south, then north in and around Redwood National Park in extreme northwestern California.  As I was driving north around 4 o’clock local time I took a scenic road out towards the ocean and stopped at an overlook called Flint Ridge.  Napping down by the water was another large group of seals.  I was closer to them than the ones I posted photos of yesterday, and I also wasn’t as high off the ground, so these pictures turned out a little better:




Every now and then this one would raise his head and look at me like “What are you lookin’ at, pal??”


And in this group there was a very noticeable brown one, unlike any I had seen at previous seal sightings.




Quite the life of leisure….



Battery Point Light – Redux

Wednesday evening I went back to this historic lighthouse in Crescent City, CA.  I had driven back here in the morning but still couldn’t walk out to it but in the early evening the isthmus was dry enough that I was comfortable I wouldn’t get my feet wet.


And here is the view looking back towards the mainland from the little islet the lighthouse sits atop:


As I was walking back to my car I overheard a woman pointing something out to her young child.  These were in little pools of water left behind by the retreating tide:



When I got home and was telling my Airbnb host about my big day he told me that this lighthouse is now more of a museum than an active lighthouse.  A more modern, automated lightsource has been constructed further out to sea, visible on a clear day but there was still coastal fog so I couldn’t see very far out towards the ocean.