June 27th, 2010 by nick
The immortal redwoods of Humboldt County, CA! Your majestic beauty and hushed surroundings are only outdone by your seemingly limitless height. Your splendor and awe-inspiring groves is a long anticipated stop on our tour and today we would finally get to partake in your grandeur. But first, LAUNDRY DAY!!
After leaving Eureka, we stopped in the small town of Fortuna, about 15 miles south on 101, to get what would likely be our last chance to use a washing machine. This stretch on 101, till the famous Avenue of the Giants, is mostly flat highway which made for fast riding but little scenery.
We found a place to dunk our skunk-wear once in town:
After a bite at a pretty good Thai restaurant (Hong’s Thai, on Main; good even for Portland standards!) we returned to 101, biking through the tiny logging town of Scotia 11 miles south. Apparently this town has the largest redwood mill in the world. I’ll buy that.
Another 7 miles or so and we turned off 101 and onto Highway 254 (Avenue of the Giants), which we would continue on for the rest of today and half of tomorrow. The highway runs 32 miles, and our plan was to camp inside the Redwoods that nite. Despite what the most recent edition of the popular “Bicycling the Pacific Coast” book says, there are no stores on this highway. We found this to be true with a lot of things Vicky and Tom (the book’s author’s) mention unfortunately. Come on guys! Pay riders who do this damn thing every year to send you updates already! Enough digressing, let’s get to the awesomeness:
Once on the highway, the scenery gets strikingly breathtaking in no time at all.
After a quick hiking jaunt into a grove (it’s so quiet in this forest, one must really experience it first hand), we get back on the road. All along the Ave of Giants (and 101 south of here to where we will turn west to Highway 1 at Leggett) you are constantly followed by the companionship of Eel river as it winds it’s away in and out of view just off the road:
As nite started to fall, we setup camp at the heart of the highway at Burlington Campground. We shared a site with a friendly Canadian couple who, it will be revealed, are quite the pace setters with us. This site had to be one of the most gorgeous on the entire trip. Waking up and unzipping your tent to the surroundings of 100 foot high redwoods is simply breathtaking.
Now, I know what you’re saying: it wouldn’t be a complete national park without a fair share of “tinsel” and tourist fare, would it? All throughout this highway, you are periodically bombarded with odd monuments, MULTIPLE houses carved from trees, trees you can drive your car though, wood sculptures, trinkets and any excuse to make a buck.
Mid-way through the next day (day 18), we were back on 101 and the ever present worry on our mind was the nearly 2,000 foot ascent through Garberville, over Leggett hill, and the eventual 2,000 descent back to the coastline on Highway 1 (day 19).
We’d be camping tonite at the Standish-Hickey State Rec Area, perched some 800 feet above sea level (the climb the next day ain’t really that hard after all!), so we stopped at the nearest grocery store on the way in Garberville. I close this post with what I believe to be the most impressive dairy isle mural I’ve yet to see in my life (complete, in 5 panels):
While I was photographing the “Pizza” portion, a cashier came up to me and said: “No, that’s not right! You gotta frame it with the chilled wine to get the full effect!” I was happy to oblige her:
Reaching our camp site, a friendly conversation with the Canadian couple (were they FOLLOWING us?) led to why Mary and I were on the road and the film in general. They said they’d be delighted to attend our screening in San Francisco and would be passing through the same time we were. Alright Canucks, the race is on!
So far we’ve traveled 792 miles and the best part of the whole trip is just to start tomorrow, over Leggett hill.