A Travellerspoint blog

Day 201 - Gift Shops & Beaches (Photo's Added)

We continued driving up the Oregon Coast, reaching Florence, about half way up. Along the way, we spent some time beach combing, took in a sand dune overlook, and bought Myrtlewood stuff at gift shops...

rain 48 °F

Again with the slow internet connection, but that's not why I'm again falling behind on the blog, more just plain laziness (or writing burnout?) Either way, same affect...

Tonight I sorted and repacked all the rocks & stuff I collected while beachcombing. Maybe got a handful of agates, but mostly quartz. That's OK, but not sure what I'll do with it. I think Mom would like to bury me under a pile of rocks. However she got into the spirit a bit and made the big killing of all the beach combing - she found a dime!

Also when we got up this morning at the Harris Beach campground, we got really lucky for a change. For the last several weeks, I've been trying to get a nice picture of a Steller Blue Jay, which are quite common in the Pacific. So far however, my efforts were pretty unsuccessful. So imagine my surprise when just outside the RV door, maybe 4 feet from me and my camera, was this fellow who even stayed relatively still and maybe even posed a little bit! Maybe the birds are finally reading the blog (just kidding of course, but I actually had to zoom out to get all of him...)

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It was quite cold and rainy today, even hailed a bit. At least there was no snow on Hwy 101 as the radio said there was further east on I5. Maybe we should have stayed south a couple weeks longer? I did take Mom down to the beach, but it was so wet and windy, she refused to get out of the RV, that is until she found it surrounded by seagulls, then she couldn't resist using up some of our excess bread to warm them up a bit. I braved the elements a bit to enjoy the beach a bit more and took a few more Oregon coast shots. (This was about 10 AM, so you can see how dark the storm makes it look.)

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Also, notice the creek running into the Pacific Ocean in this shot, also at Harris Beach State Park.

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And of course, the windy weather can create some fantastic surf shots - so bad weather can be good (although Mom may not agree with me).

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A little bit farther up Hwy 101 we drove over the Thomas Creek bridge, which is the highest in OR. I decided to try to get a better shot of the bridge, so turned around (driving back over the bridge to the parking lot to the south of it) and tried hiking down part of the coast trail, not too successful as every shot I tried was screened by trees. Mom didn't know why I was gone so long, so started out to look for me. Fortunately, she just walked as far as the second parking lot - she didn't try going down any of the trails. I've decided I need to be more explicit about how long she should wait before starting to worry - e.g. If I'm not back by 1 PM... Maybe there's some trip fatigue setting in, she didn't seem to worry as much when I took off on a hike earlier in the trip (Idaho seems to come to mind, but maybe she did and I've just forgotten.)

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As long as I'd hiked down so far to try to see the bridge better, I took advantage of the position to get more shots of the coastline and the beach at the bottom of Thomas Creek.

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A little bit further north of Thomas Creek, we passed a small cascading waterfalls at Reinhart Creek. My waterfall shots were too screened by underbrush and trees to bother to upload, but the coastline shot came out pretty nice. Also I'm beginning to see a pattern as we get further into Oregon where there is a lot more underbrush along the coast, more like WA then CA. You can also see the odd weather we had today, mostly overcast and raining, but occasional sun breaks such as here.

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I seem to be posting a lot of shots of the coastline here, but of course that's what the big attraction is - the coastline! So one more, the turnout was for "Spruce Island", which was a different larger rock then the one I liked. However it was my camera, so I took a picture of the one I liked (which may or may not be Spruce Island, but probably isn't).

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Turns out the SW Oregon coast is good for growing Myrtlewood trees (bushes in other areas?) These are popular for woodworking as it is a very hard wood and can have a beautiful grain. Of course, I had to buy a couple of items at some of the ever present gift shops.

I spent so long at the beaches and the weather was so unpleasant that we skipped the lighthouses and sightseeing in 'quaint coastal towns'. We had to stop for the Oregon Sand Dunes however, even if only briefly. Mom collected some sand for her friend while I took a picture of an old familiar friend. Well not to mislead you, but I mean Western Skunk Cabbage. This grew in abundance across the road from my previous home up in Lynnwood, WA. It is fairly common in wet, marshy areas - now in Oregon we are beginning to see it fairly often.

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There was a nice overlook for the Oregon Dunes, but it required climbing a lot of steps, so Mom waited in the RV while I got this shot. It was raining, but also windy - if you look closely you might be able to see the blowing sand? Note that this is only a very small portion of the dunes - we drove through them for miles, both today and again tomorrow. These are the largest area of sand dunes in the U.S. and extend over about 40 to 50 miles long and as much as 2.5 miles inland.

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We are camping in Honeyman State Park, in the sand dunes and just south of Florence - about 1/2 up the Oregon Coast (Hwy 101). Our plan is to drive on to my Uncle Bills in Salem, arriving either Friday night or sometime on Saturday. We'll visit their until Monday morning, then drive north again - probably along the coast.

I will someday get this caught up - but almost positive some of it will be after we get home... Lots of great pictures (or at least pictures) to upload yet...

Logistics:

Miles Driven - 154, Cumulative - 19,012
Camped at Honeyman State Park in the Oregon Dunes!

Posted by jl98584 22:09 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (3)

Day 200 - We Make It to Oregon (Photo's Added)

After collecting more river rocks, we drove north through more redwood forests, saw elk, beaches, fog, rain and sunshine - then finally cross the border to Oregon!

rain 52 °F

This morning I again headed down to Agate Beach to see what I could find. It was raining slightly and the other campers didn't seem to be up yet, so I was able to find some nice agates that had washed up with the tide changes. Nicer to look before the beach has been picked over by the early birds! We also picked up a brochure about Patrick's Point State Park from the Ranger station and found out that there is a recreated Yurok village and native garden, although these are more for the summer season. Also, while this SP is in the heart of northern California's Redwood country, it doesn't have very many redwoods in it. Just one of those unique local ecosystems mother nature can create.

After stowing my rocks, we continued up the coast on Hwy 101. The road turned slightly inland for a few miles and was an interesting mix of clear sky and fog. We thought the sight of the fog mixing in the tree's was cool, so I pulled over to take a picture (not sure what the highway patrol thinks of tourists pulling over like this, but we haven't gotten in trouble for it yet, so guess we're not too far over the line.) There were also a couple of Turkey Vultures hanging out, so I tried to catch one in the shot.

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A few miles further we drove through Redwood National Park. A sign said there was Elk viewing off a side road, so I decided to take a look. Water was all over the road but another car drove across while I was debating what to do and it didn't look too deep - so I went on through also. Probably gave the RV's undercarriage a bit of a wash. There was a large parking area, interpretive signs, and a few elk - one bull and four or five females. Although the signs warned to stay back (which we did) as they are wild animals and can attack, they pretty much ignored us.

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These three cows were about 50 to 100 feet to the left of the bull and the other cow, funny, the grass doesn't look greener over here?

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While there weren't that many elk by the eld overlook, when we got back on Hwy 101 we passed a large herd of about 40 elk by an old, abandoned house. Of course, there wasn't any fancy parking lot nor interpretive signs, but I pulled over and got a few shots, we got back on the road quickly however since the park service really trys to discourage tourists from stopping along the road to see elk. I guess the Elk don't always hang out where the park service tells them to either...

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We did stop at a beach in Redwood National Park that Mom had remembered camping at years ago with my brother and his family. However overnight camping is no longer allowed there due to too many problems (campers fighting, etc.). This is unfortunate as it really was a lovely beach. For some reason, I didn't take any pictures there except for the sign - which I find interesting...

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Hmm, sort of takes some of the fun out of a day at the beach? Of course, losing a loved one to a 'sneaker wave' wouldn't be much fun, so I suppose a little warning (or common sense) might be in order.

Anyway, we continued north and passed Crescent City. Since we'd been in CA for a month already, I was bound and determined to get to Oregon today or else, so just stopped at the overlook and took a couple of pictures. I thought eight months would be more than enough time to see the country - now I'm beginning to think the trip has been more of a 'scratch the surface' look - I can't say we saw Crescent City just because I took a couple of pictures from an overlook! At any rate, here are what I have:

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A little farther north, just before the Oregon border - we drove through an area with some tourism (summer mostly I suppose). What really caught my eye was this gift shop (closed unfortunately). I have a new plan - maybe I'll build a new home along these lines (without the parking lot of course. Sometimes you see old Navy boats for sale.)

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And - believe it or not - we actually made it to Oregon! We've stopped for pictures and updating the map at most of the state lines we cross (if the highway allows for it), but I don't usually upload the shots as they seem rather repetive. However this is such a milestone for us since Oregon is the last state before we get back to home turf - it seems a couple of 'you were there' shots would be fitting.

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And of course, our trip map (This might also provide some clarification for those who weren't sure what I meant by 'circumnavigation of the US')...

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About ten miles into Oregon we found a Harris Beach State Park with camping. I have to say, we really like the Oregon State Parks! The prices are reasonable (less than CA, fancy that) plus they have hookups at several! RV friendly State Park Assessment: CA state parks were nice, OR's are better.

I hiked down to one of the beaches that isn't accessable by car and took some pictures of the rock formations here - quite impressive. We'll drive down together to the other beach (with easier access for Mom) in the morning - she is usually not up for evening activities so I figured I'd hit the hard one tonight while she rests. Hope you enjoy the shots as much as I enjoyed taking them.

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I also uploaded more pictures from the week we spent at my brothers, so it may take me a couple of days to get them all labeled and saved. We're only about a week from home, but looks like I'll be working on the blog for a few days after we get back to get it all caught up!

Logistics:

Miles Driven - 87, Cumulative - 18,858
Camped at Harris Beach State Park

Provisions - Gas $33.00 for 9.432 gallons at 128,745

Posted by jl98584 22:18 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

Day 199 - Redwoods, Ferndale and Agate Beach (Photo's Added)

We drove through Giant Redwoods, visited Victorian Buildings in Ferndale, bought Cheese in Lolita, and collected rocks at Agate Beach - not bad for a trip that's "winding down"?

rain 58 °F

This morning we drove the "Avenue of the Giants" through old growth Redwood Tree's in Humbolt State Park, CA. The last few miles were closed due to a washout, but we were able to drive through most of the 32 miles distance - quite spectacular.

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There are several places you can pull over, the individual tree's aren't labeled at the ones I stopped at so I guess we didn't see any of the 'biggest' or 'tallest' trees, but each grove was named after somebody or other and the tree's were really big.

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The redwoods form a very thick canopy, so the forest floor stays fairly dark. Mom read the park brochure while I was driving and learned that there are very few deer in the old growth forests. It's not that the deer mind the dark so much, but the plants they like to eat (grasses) don't grow very well in the dark. Here are a couple of shots looking up at the tops of the redwoods.

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While grasses don't grow very well in the shade, a few other plants do. We saw a shade of Indian Paintbrush that was very unusual - more magenta (Indian Paintbrush is usually red). This sub-species is fairly common in the redwoods up here for some reason.

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We also saw a fair amount of Trillium, which seems to grow well in the shade. In fact, I had to use my flash to take this - even though it was broad daylight (well, overcast broad daylight).

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Some of the larger redwoods are quite old of course. At the Visitor's Center for the park headquarters, they had a cross section of a downed tree with this plaque (I figured you wouldn't really want to count the tree rings, so just took a closeup of the plaque):

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Inside the visitor's center were a lot of displays and information about the history of the forest and how little of the old growth forest was left after white settlers started clearing it for wood products or land for orchards. About 1917 a man named Charles Kellogg decided to try to raise awareness of these majestic tree's and try to protect them. He was able to get a 22 foot long section from a large tree that had fallen down and carved it into a truck body by hand. He toured the country with this and was instrumental in helping get the remaining old growth forest set aside as a park. The vehicle, called the "Travel-log" is now on display in the museum.

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There were very few people on "The Avenue of the Giants" today, probably due to the time of year and also the washout - maybe people had heard about it and just stayed away. But since most of the road was open, I'm glad we took the time. Of course, I probably stopped a little more than I should have, so we're not making too much progress heading north...

After we finally left the redwoods, Mom wanted to take a side trip through Ferndale. This is a small town just south of Eureka that is known for having a lot of Victorian architecture. We enjoyed being tourists and just strolling through the downtown area, it was quite nice.

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And a couple of old Hotels, might be fun to stay in these some other time:

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We also found some stores of interest (here is Mom at the Merchantile) and ate at a 1950's style ice cream parlor/hamburger joint.

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Quite a few of the private homes are also in Victorian style and have been maintained very well (or nicely restored). The big yellow one is a Bed & Breakfast, but the rest are just nice homes.

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...and one very impressive hedge (wouldn't you like to train this one? ...and I'm sorry I didn't get the light better...)

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Once we finally left Ferndale, Mom also wanted to drive to Lolita where she'd heard they make really good cheese. I thought she had rocks in her head, when we got to Lolita there wasn't much of anything there. It did have a large brick food processing plant that looks like it had been closed down for decades, and when we turned up that street - lo and behold - right across the street was a small wood building for "Lolita Cheese". They had plenty of varieties and samples and we indulged (both in the samples and buying cheese).

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Finally, we made it to Eureka about 4:30 PM.

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Mom had picked out a State Park from the Atlas that looked like it had camping, called Fort Humbolt. It was established by the U.S. Army in 1853 to try to keep the peace between the local Native American's and white settlers. Once the Civil War broke out, the Army turned the Fort over to a volunteer CA militia - which promptly removed all the Native Americans to reservations.

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She thought if we stayed there tonight, we could do some sightseeing around Eureka in the morning. However it wasn't quite in the cards as she'd hoped - there was no camping at Fort Humbolt and I was hesitant to stay in another RV park tonight. It was still early enough I thought we could make it to the next state park on the list (with camping) - which was 30 miles north of Eureka. We agreed to skip Eureka and just head to Patrick's Point.

At Patrick's Point State Park is a beach called Agate Beach where you can pick up agates (clever naming?)

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We are camped here for the night nice and cozy. I made it to the beach (nasty walk & climb, bottom section washed out over the winter) with about 1 hour of daylight left. I'm not as picky as a couple of other rockhounds that were on the beach. They showed me what they were looking for and I tried to find some agates also, but I decided I wanted to pick up other rocks as well. My criteria is if I like it (or it looks pretty to me), pick it up. So I picked up a whole lot of quartz, some river rocks, and some agates. Too much fun, may try to spend a little more time out there in the morning. Don't know where we'll put the rocks, maybe on my bunk?

Surprisingly, there is a (slow) internet signal out here at the beach - which has not been the norm on the Northern CA Coast. Who knew CA had so many rural areas?

Logistics:

Miles Driven - 116, Cumulative - 18,751
Camped at Patriots Point State Park

Provisions Obtained - Gas $46.45 for 12.356 at 128,629

Posted by jl98584 20:39 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

Day 198 - North Past Ft Bragg (Photo's Added)

We finished Hwy 1 and started up Hwy 101 - rugged, winding and steep, but very beautiful driving.

sunny 57 °F

Last night we stayed only about a mile from the Lighthouse at Point Arena. I felt we needed to make tracks so didn't drive out to see it up close - but we had a decent view from the beach nearby. I can't help noticing how different the west coast lighthouses are from the east coast. Sometimes it's because of the terrain, west coast lighthouses often seem to be up on bluffs, so don't also need a tall base for the light. This one has a tall base, but it's not especially pretty, so maybe they went for lower cost?

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Very beautiful driving today, I stopped occasionally for coastline scenery.

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We stopped in Elk/Greenwood to go to a post office and ended up staying for breakfast (well, brunch by the clock anyway). Very small town (208 people), but claims two names! It seems there were two Greenwood brothers who went on to found towns after helping rescue the Donner party. The mail kept getting messed up between the two Greenwoods, so the Post Office decided to call this place "Elk" at least for mail. The townsfolks continue to use Greenwood also however, so it's either Elk or Greenwood or both.

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Mendocino County has a nice little overlook for the coastline. To me, it seems like the rocks in Northern California have a lot more seaweed on them. If I remember right (which is always questionable) in S. CA they were more baren? In any case, there are a few Harbor Seals who like to hang out here also.

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We stopped briefly at the Big River near Mendocino. I took a few pictures and Mom collected some sand.

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Mendocino looked like a lovely little town but for some reason neither Mom nor I felt much like stopping there. I thought I'd take a picture anyway as a reference of someplace I might like to go back to someday?

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In Fort Bragg, we actually saw a regular supermarket - first one in several days! This was my 'keep moving' day however, so I didn't stop for much sightseeing. For some reason, we've been feeling a need to get home lately - however it doesn't seem to affect me from stopping at beaches and overlooks.

Shortly after Fort Bragg Hwy 1 turned inland. It looked like a short hop to Hwy 101 on our atlas. In reality, it was a very winding, steep and narrow road over the coastal mountains!

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We made it just fine, but I had to drive pretty slow. Fortunately there were very few cars out on that stretch of road today so I didn't have to pull over very often. It was a very beautiful drive but I only found one overlook that wasn't completely screened by trees.

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After a long, long time - we got to Leggett - which I think has maybe a gas station, store and post office? But it does have a drive through redwood tree! This is called the Chandler Tree, it is 315 feet tall, has a diameter of 21 feet at the base and is estimated to be 2400 years old. Our RV was too big to drive through, but we enjoyed watching cars squeeze through and took pictures just the same - very impressive tree.

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Mom remembered a place a little farther north on Hwy 101 called Benbow Lake State Recreational Area which sounded like it would be fun to camp at. When we got there however, it was closed for the season (seems strange since it was such a nice day out today, not as windy as the last couple of days anyway). While the State campground was closed, a private Golf Course/RV Resort at the same exit was open. They looked a little too fancy for my wallet, but Mom convinced me to stop in and ask. To my surprise, their winter rates were quite reasonable (or at least in line with most other RV campgrounds) - so we're camped comfortably for the night, with wi-fi, electricity, water, etc. etc. etc.

Hope to make it to the Oregon border tomorrow - if I can restrain myself from stopping for every pretty tree we pass... It's supposed to rain pretty solidly for the next week or so however, so maybe we'll make better time than we think.

Logistics:

Miles Driven - 105, Cumulative - 18,635
Camped at Benbow Valley RV Resort & Golf Course

Provisions Obtained - Gas $36.61 for 10.103 gallons at 128,478
Redwood brick a brack at Chandler Tree Gift Store

Posted by jl98584 21:32 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (2)

Day 197 - Russian River & Fort Ross (Photo's Added)

We're not making very much progress, but are really enjoying the coast along Northern California's Hwy 1! We visited Jenner, where the Russion River ends and then Fort Ross, the Russian Settlement from the early 1800's.

sunny 60 °F

The wind blew hard all night. This morning, it was cold as well as windy, so I decided not to play in the surf at Bodega Bay afterall. We did enjoy walking along the beach, but were well bundled up of course! Before leaving the Bodega Bay area, I stocked up on gas and groceries as well as more brochures at their visitor's center. They had a flier for a Saltwater Taffy shop, which sounded like fun so of course I checked it out (chomp, chomp).

Soon we were driving north again but past beach after beach of well marked, spectacular and rugged CA coast. It seems Sonoma County really likes to show off their beaches - and they didn't charge for the drive nor for the parking! I tried not to stop at each one but you might enjoy a couple of my rocky surf pictures from this stretch...

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Slowly we moved north and drove down a curvy stretch of road (OK, it's all curvy around here - steep too, probably am getting terrible mileage). This led us to a bridge across the Russian River - very special place where a large river empties into the Pacific Ocean. There is also a very small community here, under 200 people I think, called Jenner.

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Also turns out to be a Harbor Seal rookery. We found parking at a nice overlook and took some pictures, then decided to turn around and head back across the river to a side road that would actually take us down to the beach. First though I stopped at the visitors center and met Pat, a volunteer who explained what some of the wildlife was (not just Cormorants, but Pelagic Cormorants)...

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That was Pat, of course, and these are the Pelagic Cormorants...

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...and this is the end of the Russian River, where it empties into the Pacific Ocean. I'm not sure why, but I found this quite fascinating.

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If you look closely on the far side of the river, just to the right of the rocks is the group of seals. They haven't started having pups yet but will shortly.

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In addition to lounging on the beach keeping warm, there were several seals in the surf. They seemed to be just playing, but also could have been taking advantage of fish caught up in the surf for an easy meal.

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However even before you get out to the beach, you encounter this warning sign - much more explicit then most! I wasn't even tempted to challenge these waves.

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Well maybe playing in the surf is out but a little beach combing is always in order?

A couple of hours later, we finally headed north again - 10 more miles to Fort Ross. The ranger at the main gate saw Mom's handicapped hanger and let us in for only $3! She also directed us to another road that allowed us to park almost at the Fort's gate, much easier for Mom then the main parking lot 1/2 mile back. Actually, there's no way Mom could have made it from the main parking lot, so we were both glad they had the special handicapped access.

Fort Ross was built by the Russians in 1812 to provide food for their Alaskan settlements. It was also used as a base to hunt seals. However, it was never as profitable or successful as the Russians hoped and they sold it to John Sutter in 1841 for $30,000. Since it was built out of wood and was located in a very rugged and wet climate, most of the structures did not survive long. The Rotchev House is the only original structure remaining today (although substantially restored of course). There are a number of writen descriptions of the fort as well as sketches and some photographs from the late 1800's so that the replica buildings and stockade are pretty realistic.

Hwy 1 actually ran through the Fort at one point, it has been rerouted to the east. The state has also aquired much more land around the Fort and built a separate Visitor's Center & Museum to the North. So if you haven't visited Fort Ross in a long time (or have never visited it), it's definitely worth a look. The museum provides a lot more background information on the Russia America Company and the experience of the Russians at the Fort.

This is the main gate as currently used (the west facing gate)

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On the far right of the stockade is one of the two blockhouses built for defense.

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Through this, you can see the restored Rotchev House, which was built about 1836.

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The building that probably gets the most attention is the Chapel.

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While the Fort was active, there were nine buildings within the stockade as well as numerous outbuildings. Only six are within the stockade today, including the Rotchev House and five replica's of original buildings including the Chapel, the officials quarters and the Kuskov House. The latter two can be seen at the far end of the compound below.

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Both of these buildings are furnished with period appropriate items that make them seem to come alive. You almost expect the occupants to walk in at any moment and resume their daily routines.

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The small, sandy cove outside the fort was not used as a port, large vessels had to land in Drakes Bay 10 miles to the south. However small kayaks and boats used the cove. From these shots you can get an idea just how close it was to the Fort from the cove, much more convenient for transporting things then a 10 mile trek overland. However, this is much too small and not nearly protected enough to be used by serious sailing ships during the 1800's (or today for that matter).

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It was still not quite 4:30 when we left Fort Ross, so I figured maybe I'd better try to make some miles north today. I passed up the first campground Mom found, Salt Point, and headed for one a little farther up the road in Manchester. When we got there, there was a KOA on the same road as the State Park. It looked like the park was a little closer to the ocean, but I went ahead and stopped at the KOA first to get Propane. They guy was really nice and noticed that, yet again, my tire was nearly flat. He didn't have the reversing type of air nozzle I need so called his friend to borrow his nozzle. Then he cut us a really good deal on their campground fee, so I decided to go ahead and stay here for the night - besides we can also get a little laundry done and get everything charged up really good. There is no cell phone service again out here (seems to be a constant along the rugged coast up here), so am taking advantage of the KOA's wireless internet to get some work done on blog.

Some things don't work out well, some things just do. Can't say enough good things about the Manchester KOA - if you're ever in this neck of the woods, check them out!

Logistics:

Miles Driven - 84, Cumulative - 18,550
Camped at Manchester KOA

Provisions Procured: Gas $51 (Ugh!) for 13.424 gallons at 128,360
Salt Water Taffy, some groceries

Posted by jl98584 20:51 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

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