Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Avenue of the Giants

This morning we watched as many of the park visitors hooked up their RV's and left.  Hmmm, this park is getting more and more spacious every hour.

Today our plan was to travel the 30+ miles of the Avenue of the Giants, which is really the old Highway 101, and follows the South Fork of the Eel River.  The Eel River is about 200 miles in length, with the South Fork comprising half of that total.  In both 1955 and 1964, the river flooded.  Figures for 1955 are just guesses, but in 1964, the South Fork of the River was putting out 200,000 cubic feet per second instead of its normal of 2,000 cu ft per sec.

We got onto the highway 101 and started south, back-tracking some of our path of yesterday.  Our goal was to go at least to Garberville, but decided after we took off to go to Leggett, which is in Mendocino County.  There are so many groves of Redwood Trees in this area...they are huge, magnificent trees, growing taller than the Sequoias, but the girth of the trunks is not as large as the Sequoia.  Anyway, we took 96 pictures today...picking out the better ones is not easy.  And after awhile, if you seen one redwood, you seen them all syndrome starts setting in.

Our first stop, before we decided to head all the way to Leggett, was at Redway, which boarders with a portion of Humboldt Redwoods State Park...well, a portion of the park. You see, the park has one large main section, and most the Avenue of the Giants are within the park.  But there are a few areas north and south of this main area which stand alone from the main area.  Anyway, we found a nice grove to have our first visit with the Coastal Redwoods.
This grove was so peaceful, shared by us and two or three other cars.
We did not walk through the grove, just sat there and enjoyed it...well, once Marcia got off the phone from talking to her brother Mike.  While I took pictures, Skruffy rolled down the back windows...which "had" nice sun blocking screens attached to them.  They were rolled down into the door/window well, and it took some doing before I got them out.  Yes, the back windows have locks, and they were locked...but my arm just brushed against the lock and they become unlocked....and skruffy loves to roll them down as she tries looking out the window.
 These forest lands are pretty much untouched. 
 They are just so wonderful to enjoy.
And yes, these trees are very, very tall.
As we started toward Garberville, we happened upon this mule dear along side the road.  We went past, stopped, I snapped the shot, and it did not even phase it.

By the time we got to Garberville, I decided to go ahead and head to Leggett, which we had gone through on our way to the RV park yesterday.  I just had to share some of the "tourist traps" that have sprung up along the highway.
First we came across "The Legend of Bigfoot".  Of course, there was a huge Bigfoot hoax in the area in the late 1950's, which did not come to light as a true hoax for many decades until the descendants of the two men, one a newspaper man with the Humboldt Times, came out and said that the two men were in on the hoax. 
The one-log house, built, or should I say "carved out" in the late 1940's, has traveled the county and has been on display for nearly 60 years, and for a dozen years or so, has been right there outside of Leggett near Richardson's Grove, along with all the trappings of food, drinks, gifts, etc., as shown below.

Then there is the "Grandfather Tree" sitting right next to the One-log house.  The tree is said to be 1800 years old, 265' high, with a diameter of 24'.  As you can see below, it is a magnificent tree standing there.
For us, the only tourist trap we decided to do with with the "drive through tree".  Below is a picture of the car which drove through right before us.
When we drove through, my intention was to get out and snap a picture...but once we were in, it was so tight there is no way I could get the door open.  At times I thought one or both side mirrors were going to hit the inner walls of the tree...but we got through it ok.  Below is a picture from the other side with people walking through it.  In total, it cost us $5, and it was worth the $5, but there were two other trees within our driving areas that we did not take them up on their offer.  Each one will cost you $5.  Once is enough.
On our way north again to catch the Avenue of Giants, we came across another grove of trees.  There are so many of them along Highway 101 and along the Avenue of Giants.  This one we had to ourselves, so I got the GoGo Scooter out and we enjoyed it.
 We started our tour with Skruffy claiming the first tree as her new home...
 Bubba, not to be out done, claimed the second and larger one for himself.
 Marcia had to inspect Bubba's new dwellings....and told him that she did not think it would do, he could not keep the squirrels from coming in one entrance while he guarded the other.
Then they found this wonderful field of three leaf clovers. We told them that if they found a four leaf clover, that it would mean an extra Pup-Peroni treat...but to no avail.
 We then went off to explore the peaceful grove...and peaceful it was.  Now, if we could just hide our motor home in there, perhaps we would stay a bit longer.
On the we back to where we could pick up the Avenue of the Giants, we decided to visit Richardson Grove State Park, which is part of the Humbolt Redwoods State Park system, for a visit to their visitor's center, and a pit stop. 
 And just to show that there are more than Redwoods, this pretty tree below is not a Redwood, and it is a nice looking tree.
There is also river access here, and they charge for day use if you stay more than an hour.  The visitor's center and the bathrooms can definitely be done in less than an hour....but if volunteer Bob is working, it might go longer because Bob is a talker, and a real nice, friendly guy.

Then we finally made it to the southern most portion of the Avenue of the Giants.  The first thing we came across was more tourist trap type stuff, with what they call The Living Chimney Tree.
Well, now we thought all we were going to see all day is tourist trap after tourist trap....but to be honest, this was the last tourist trap until we got to the RV park at the other end of the Avenue.

So why is it called the Avenue of the Giants?  Well, they say a picture tells a thousand words....


 As you can see....the road goes right through the Redwood Forests.  The larger highway 101 is always nearby, normally to the west, but the Avenue of the Giants is more leisurely, definitely prettier, and there are many flocks of birds flying by from the local residents who don't appreciate the many slower moving tourist cars and RV's. I think today we hit a new record...one car had five simultaneous birds hanging out the windows as the horn, and the car, blew right by us.
 Along the Avenue there are many, many different groves.
This one above is dedicated to Col. Raynal C. Bolling, who was the first American Officer of high rank to fall in the World War I.  What caught my eye was where he was born....in Hot Springs Arkansas in 1877.  Wow, I drive 2000+ miles from Arkansas to run into a monument to a guy who was born in Hot Springs, only an hours drive from where I worked for the past 21 years.
Anyway, there are many pictures of the trees, from many different angles.  What you need to do is to make the drive and see them for yourself...because they are way too big to capture in a camera.
And to capture the feeling of the sun sneaking through these giant monsters seeking you out as you are comforted in the glory of that which abounds around you.  And the smell....oh what a unexplainable wonderful smell of the trees, the forest land, nature in general.

Finally we made it back to the RV park, then forgot that we still needed to call the RV park near Crater Lake to finalize our reservation for over the 4th of July...so we headed down the road a bit more until we picked up a Verizon cell, made the call, and headed back.  It just so happened that at our RV park is the one final tourist attraction spot.  The "Tree Car" and the "Immortal Tree".  So here we ended the day...right where we started it.
 Above is the tree car, below the sign for the Immortal Tree. Essentially they imply that it has survived so much hardship...that it is immortal.  What they don't tell you is that other trees in the area also went through the floods, have been hit by lightening, fires, the loggers axes, etc. etc.

 Below you can see how big it is compared to this guy who was giving the term "Tree Hugger" a whole new meaning.  The fish on the tree is where the flood for 1954 got to.  The river is not too far away, and it is hard to imagine the water getting that high when you see how low the water is running in the river today, and how far below the road level the river normally runs.
 But it is an impressive tree.
 And, of course, Skruffy had to get into one last shot before going home.
Tomorrow we head further north.  Not sure where we will stay, but our goal is to get near Crater Lake by Saturday where we will stay for a week.

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