April 22, 2017 - The Hwy 101 rock slide has pretty much shut down Humboldt County because no one could get here from the South and unless you are coming to Humbolt County on purpose anyone heading South on Hwy 101 had to take Hwy 36 East to the I5 (a five-hour detour!).
We got some work done first thing in the morning, and after lunch at The Historic Benbow Inn, we were in explorer mode, after all, Humboldt County boasts that there are 101 things to do here. With map in hand, we went in search of an open winery and discovered a road called Ave of the Giants. Redwoods canopied most of the road. It was like going back in time or transporting into a fairytale.
The first winery we came to was Riverbend Winery. It was closed, of course, but luckily, we happened to catch the owner, and he opened up the tasting room and let us try his wines while he talked our ears off. He was an amusing ex-aeronautical engineer and a locale adept character with emphasis on the character part. We had a great time and bought some handcrafted chocolate made in Eureka and two bottles of his wine and then continued exploring on the Avenue of the Giants.
We parked in one of the park's visitors centers and took off into the redwoods forest. Even though we had walked among the redwoods yesterday at the Mystery Trees, this was different. It's was like seeing lions in the zoo and seeing lions in the wild. These trees had been through fires and severe storms but yet they stand. There are not enough words in the Thesaurus to explain how extraordinary this experience was. No two trees were alike, and each told their stories of survival among the elements and the stupidity of man. Experiencing the majesty of the Redwoods reiterated that to be strong one must have the tenacity to persevere.
April 23, 2017 - We stalled and lollygagged all we could because the locals warned us of the hard trek before us and we were not looking forward to it but, we have to get to San Francisco by Monday because our flight back home to Knoxville is Tuesday morning. I worked on my blog post and took more pictures of the Benbow Inn - which by the way, we are ready to move in here permanently. We are just trying to figure out how we can trick Chris and Beau (our sons) to relocate here too.
I was fascinated by the all the different mosses we spotted on this trip - Mount Hood in Oregon to Humboldt County, CA. We "expertly" named or rather nick-named three types of mosses. Carpet moss we found in the mountains east of Portland toward Mount Hood. Stringy moss hangs on the non-Redwood trees in Northern California. My favorite, however, is poodle moss which we sighted in Humboldt County, CA (which also happens to be the Golden Triangle of Marijuana farms.)
So here we go toward the I5 and Red Bluff and hopefully, we'll be able to make it to Sonoma or Napa. Traveling north on the 101 for about 45 minutes, we stop in Rio Dell to fill up with gas, get some snacks and use the restrooms one last time because the word in the hood is there is absolutely nothing for the next 3 hours.
Initially, Highway 36 is beautiful, and we love it. You go from a charming village with well-kept cottages to giant redwood tree canopies. The redwoods were right next to the road that follows the Van Duzen River. Then redwoods became fewer, and the mountain ranges became steeper with one hairpin turn after another as we enter Shasta-Trinity National Forest.
The diverse terrain is fascinating. Dense, thick evergreens filled ridge after ridge followed by an entirely charred hillside. Over the next mountain range, the pines disappeared, and non-evergreen trees made an appearance. One tree we passed looked like a giant feather.
Finally, after 3 hours of hairpin turns on a barely two lane road the highway widens and eases. The mountain sides became vibrant green covered with grasses, bushes and wild ferns and the closer we get to Red Bluff the bushes began to thin, and the hilltops are lush pastures.
We reach Interstate 5 in Red Bluff and head south where everything flattened out. A glance to the right and our recent conquest (the mountains) looms in the distance, and tall Palm trees are popping up now and then. Thanks to my fantastic travel buddy and husband, who has driven every mile of this entire trip, we make it to our bed and breakfast in Napa Valley.