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Day 152/3, 10/11 Dec 2008: The Avenue of the Giants

December 19, 2008 by  
Filed under California, Go green, North America, Trip reports, USA

Avenue of the GiantsOne of the greatest places we have seen on this trip, was dark and cold… Views were very limited, but that was exactly the main attraction as we were cycling on the Avenue of the Giants, a 50 km (31mile) long road through the Humboldt Redwood State Park in Northern California.

Only about 4-5% of the original giant trees (Redwoods and Giant Sequoias) are left after the logging activities, and this place is one of the best to enjoy the grandeur of the trees.

Treehugger IvanaAfter cycling through thousands of kilometres of forests and nature, we had not expected to be so impressed anymore, but just cycling and walking between these Giants, some over 100 meter high and thousands of years old, made us feel humble and small. It also gave hope that maybe nature can be saved if humans try to do their best as well…

Soon more stories about Northern California, for now I just wanted to share some images of the road, the trees, the villages and the odd tourist attractions. It is hard to put the Giants into perspective, the light is always wrong (or absent) and no photo will ever do justice to the feeling of being there.

Ivana parked at the Avenue of the Giants Ivana cycles through a treeIvana's new wooden houses Ivana's new wooden house

Avenue of the Giants

Small woman. big trees

Ivana & fallen giant treeRedwood palace & jail, Miranda

Ivana cycling in the woods

Bird of prey

Day 147-150, 5-8 December 2008: Entering California: From Brookings via Trinidad to Eureka: fog, trees, waves & people…

December 12, 2008 by  
Filed under California, North America, Trip reports, USA

5 December: Brookings, Oregon to Klamath, California, 73km

South on the foggy Redwood Highway, CaliforniaEntering California is like entering another country: there is a checkpoint signs. This is to prevent ‘strange’ fruits entering the State, but when we arrived in the early morning, nobody was on duty in our lane, so we could enter without delay. It was a pleasant day, even getting hot at some point.

Only at the end of the day, just when were about to climb up a large (360m/1200ft) hill, the infamous sea fog came rolling in. We climbed slowly and soon we were above the clouds where it was still nice and sunny. But what goes up must go down, and so we downhilled towards the thick blanket.

Ivana really hated it and panicked when the vision limited to just a few meters. My point of view was that if we were to go the maximum speed (30MPH or about 48km/h), then no car should touch us, but she was too afraid and went down slowly.

We went back to sea level, but could hardly see the water through the thick fog and so we ended up stopping in Klamath. We asked a friendly passing woman if she knew a place to camp and she invited us to her trailer, where we saw the biggest mess we both had ever seen in any place that’s supposed to be fit for living…

20081205-_MG_1604Clothes everywhere (both inside and outside), kids sleeping in the livingroom, a sleeping/grumbling man, kids playing Xbox games and foodremains from Thanksgiving (8 days before) were everywhere. A bunch of semi-wild cats made the perfect picture complete and we were happy we had our tent to stay in and our pasta to cook.

Ivana had never heard of the politically incorrect description TrailerTrash, but here it was. What surprised her most that these apparently poor and likely uneducated people still had so much luxury: a huge trailer to live in with electricity and water, heaps of clothes, a big truck, Xbox and other gadgets. When comparing this to all those people we had witnessed in Africa and Asia and even Argentina, the contrast was sharp.

6th December: Klamath to Trinidad, 76km (+800m up and down)

Ivana and Big Tree, Redwood national park, CaliforniaWe quickly made our way out and up another few big hills entering the first of several Redwood parks, famous for their big Redwood and Giant Sequoia trees. We had gotten off busy Highway 101 and were cycling on the Newton B Drury Scenic Parkway, surrounded with green giants.

We stopped to admire the Corkscrew Tree and ‘Big Tree’, a coast redwood tree, 304 feet (91m) tall and 21 feet (6.3m) in diameter. The sheer size of these age-old trees made us feel humble and forget the steep climbing though the cool forest.

7th/8th December: Trinidad to Eureka via McKinleyville (18+30km)

Ivana in the Coffee shop, Trinidad[/caption]

We had arrived in Trinidad just before dark, where we got hosted by Carol. When we rode through the nice little town the next day, we understood why it was her favorite place to be. Just before we entered the small but busy coffeeshop a cyclist came up to us, asked a few questions about our trip and then stuffed a $20 bill in my hand before cycling away.

We were a bit flabbergasted, but had head from other cyclists that this is not uncommon in California and we celebrated with some hot chocolate and pastries in the wonderfully alternative coffeeshop.

Trinindad & Coastline, CaliforniaWe had already arranged the next place to stay, which was CouchCycler Louise’s house, only 16km away. It was a great sunny day and she came our way to pick us up, reaching us when we were just outside Trinidad. We had a relaxed and pleasant ride towards McKinleyville, where we helped her finish off a huge crab, tasty!

She drove us to the Hmong Celebration of Happy New Year, in nearby Samoa (see some people and read some backgrounders about the Hmong here on 1000 Americans) and cycled with us to Arcata the next day, through flat fields and over quiet country roads.

Harry & Lenny enjoying open WiFi in ArcataWhile Ivana roamed the numerous small shops I opened Lenny on a park bench and used one of the open networks to answer some emails. It is so nice to be able to quickly slide the laptop out of the Ortliebs and work anywhere, anytime…

Carson Mansion - Ingomar Club, Eureka, CaliforniaIt was only an hour to get to Eureka, where we were awaited by yet another great Couchsurfing host: Beth and her cat Dub. Eureka contains some classic Victorian mansions including the Ingomar Club, formerly known as the Carson Mansion, named after the first of many logging millionaires, responsible for leaving less than 5% of the original redwoods & Sequoias… Many of these are along the famous ‘Avenue of the Giants’, which was our destination for the next few days…Evening waves on California Coast

Victorian Mansion in Eureka, California