Northwest California road diary: October 3 - 7

    Monday, October 3

9:30 AM leave Oakland.
Steady rain from Sonoma County north, but not heavy.
Too much for some, though; drive past car upside down on guard rail; many CHP, fire engines, etc.
11:30 reach Hopland (pop 750), have lunch at Bluebird Cafe, founded 1930, a favorite with us.
No traffic light here, you just walk across Highway 101 at a crosswalk; praying to survive, optional.
Besides cafe, there is a hotel (now defunct), grocery, brewpub, and thriving cannabis dispensary, the Mendocann.
Major road-building east of Willits, new highway to bypass town.
Much fall color; yellow & green leaves on maple trees beside highway.
Reach Trinidad at 4:30, check in to Trinidad Bay B&B, a very nice small place.
Dinner across the street at the Eatery; very good: chantrelle salad, halibut & golden-raisin couscous, clam chowder.

    Tuesday, October 4

Wakened by heavy rain at dawn; turn over, go back to sleep.
Get up at 7, bundle up, turn on wall heater, make coffee.
Radar shows squall came through an hour ago, but none after.
After B&B breakfast, walk down to Trinidad Head, a rocky fist that extends into the ocean.
A hiking trail encircles it with several spurs to overlook points above the bay and the ocean.
We hike up to an observatory (one of over 800) that measures earth movement of a millimeter or more, for geologic and seismic studies.
Return to the B&B, then head for lunch; fish & chips at the Eatery in a quantity to sate Godzilla.
After waddling back to the car we drive up to Patrick's Point State Park and take the Rim Trail to several dramatic viewpoints.
Return to car; have taken 174 photos so far today.
On way back to B&B, make reservations at Larrupin' Cafe for dinner, in hopes that the fish & chips will have worn off by 6:30.
They have, and we like the quirky but elegant place.
We were warned by friends they serve large portions and to avoid adding an appetizer (the LC serves an appetizer plate with every dinner, but you can add your own from the menu).
I have the mesquite-grilled salmon with jasmine rice and salad; Joan has the tofu kebabs. Both very good.

    Wednesday, October 5

Rain again just after dawn, stops by 9.
Drive north on 101 from Trinidad; reach coast at Big Lagoon.
No horizon in sight, gray sea and sky blend seamlessly.
Take Bald Hills Road through heavily forested area; wonder who named it.
Stop at Lady Bird Johnson Grove of redwoods. It has stopped raining, but runoff from trees is so heavy that we need an umbrella and slickers.
Take a few photos despite the thick precipitation; dramatic mist views of immensely tall trees.
Return down BH Road to Redwood Creek trailhead; hike a ways in, then out; hungry.
Drive to Orick and funky Palm Cafe for basic lunch; but friendly staff.
Then up to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park; Elk Prairie has as many whales in it as elk, which is to say none.
Hike down to old 19th century wagon road and along it a ways; interesting feeling that this was the coast 'highway' a century ago.
Back to room - no time for nap, spend quarter hour cleaning wet dirt off shoes.
Proceed down 'Scenic Drive' to restaurant for dinner.
Twisty cliff-hugging road is falling into sea, one-lane in places and very rough where patched; we will *not* go back this way after dark.
Moonstone Grill OK, not up to Eatery or Larrupin' Cafe, but breathtaking view of sunset over Moonstone Beach.
Return via 101 - unsigned entrance, hard to find, miss it and have to turn around on narrow Scenic Drive above cliffs in dark. Whee!
As much adventure as we want on this trip. Get back to B&B in one piece, go to bed.

    Thursday, October 6

Hike around Trinidad beach trails; then pack and drive south on 101.
Stop at Arcata, to view town and the recommended Brio Bakery/cafe on the plaza.
First observation: a tiny Smart Car marked Arcata Police.
We park our relatively enormous Civic and walk to town center plaza.
It is like living in the sixties again.
The plaza is Hippieville, but mellower and happier-looking than People's Park today.
Find Cafe Brio, stop for coffee and sandwich.
We are (almost) the only people in there without nose rings and tattoos, except for a guy in a suit at the bar.
One young woman has bright blue dreadlocks down to her waist, and a macrame handbag of the same color.
Desserts very intense: chocolate, lemon. Stoner food. (Don't ask me how I know this.)
Billy Holliday on the sound system. Place has a cheerful vibe.
We buy a couple of scones for tomorrow and walk through town.
Pass the "Big Fish Vapor Lab Private Social Club".
Also the Happy Harvest store, whose motto in the window is
"Thank you for pot smoking".
Thence south to Samoa, view the cookhouse and logging and maritime history museums.
Into Eureka, check in to BW Humboldt Bay Inn, walk to Old Town.
Visit my favorite bookstore, Eureka Books, buy several.
Go to gas station, fill up, drive by the old Eureka Inn up the hill.
It is open again after a hiatus; must check reviews on TripAdvisor.
They are mixed; the place is back in business but evidently still has some work to do.
(We used to stay there until it got too run down; then the owner tried to stiff the IRS on taxes and they seized the place.)
Taxi service here is called "Cab Louie".
Dinner at Sea Grill on E Street; excellent as always.
Crab cocktail, clam chowder, grilled ahi, mmmm...

    Friday, October 7

Up early, hit the continental breakfast bar.
Head home around 9.
Decide to detour via the Avenue of the Giants (the old 101 highway section through redwoods);
less efficient but much more pleasant than the freeway.
Able to slow down at once to 30-40 MPH. Ahh..
Dappled sunlight filters through incredibly high branches.
(No ewoks on scooters, though.)
Pause at Garden Club Grove and drink in the peace. Can see how groves could be considered sacred.
Return to highway much refreshed.
Plan to stop at Garberville for coffee.
Drive into town. It's scruffy and down at heel.
Keep going to Benbow Lake state park; much construction going on, there and at hotel.
Find a flat rock, pull out the Arcata pumpkin scones, dine al fresco under trees.
A sign says "Benbow Dam Removal Project"; bye bye, Benbow Lake.
Proceed down 101 to Ukiah for a quick lunch; footling amongst the redwoods has taken time, however enjoyably.
From there, basically a tiring freeway grind for 4-5 hours.
"And to Oakland then, where ne'er from Eureka arrived more happy men."
- apologies to Shakespeare
A good vacation, but also good to be back.

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