We woke this morning to another cloudy day, with a good chance of rain. The Pacific Ocean outside our window – which had been so beautiful just yesterday – was steely gray, cold, and forbidding. The Little River Inn was a luxury that we both appreciated.
Dinner last night in the parlor of the main lodge was a wonderful experience. Max was well-behaved – a real charmer – and I was able to relax and thoroughly enjoy myself. It was the first dinner out that he was able to accompany me, and I appreciated the warmth of the Inn’s staff, including our waiter, Mark.
A young British family – mom, dad, two boys, and two girls, all under the age of eight – came into the parlor with the video list trying to figure out what to watch together. This morning, as we were getting ready to check out, the two little girls stopped to ask about Max, which gave me an opportunity to ask a little bit about them. They told me their family is from England – “a town near Norwich” – and they are here in the US for four years and will return to England. I assume Dad or Mom has a job that brought them here… too many questions of these two little girls didn’t feel appropriate to me, so I left it at that.
I wanted to take Max to the leash-free beach near Fort Bragg, but it was so cold and raw that I hated to see him get wet and sandy before we spent hours driving up the coast. Using my trusty iPhone, I found the Fort Bragg dog park and we went there instead. There were no other dogs at the park when we arrived, so we began our usual routine – throw and fetch with the tennis ball.
Soon, a couple of dogs and their owner showed up – Cooper, an almost one-year-old black German Shepherd, and Jake, a 15-year-old Jack Russell Terrier came bounding into the park. Cooper and Max were a great match for energy and playfulness. Jake sort of wandered around, chasing after the two bigger dogs occasionally, but never chasing the balls. We stayed until my hands were numb, then said goodbye to the dogs, and their owner, Tracy.
As we drove up the coast, I spotted Camp 2 Ten Mile Road – mentioned to me by my friend Hank yesterday as the road where he lived for a while back in the early 70s. It was fun to think about him being there as a young 20-year-old… After that, it was up, down, and around on that twisting road known as Highway 1.
Yesterday’s drive was so spectacular – sun, vistas, twists an turns that scared the bejesus out of me. Today’s drive was almost a total opposite – at least for the beginning. As I write, I am reminded of the amazing views of California’s rugged north coast as I drove. It certainly rivaled the Big Sur coastline in so many ways, including the precipitous turns.
Winding uphill was OK, but when we would get those warning signs – the big snaky arrow and 20 MPH – I knew we’d be winding downhill around a sharp hairpin and up the other side. At one point, I noticed another type of warning sign: Entering Tsunami Hazard Area. At the bottom of those winding hairpins, we were close to sea level – with the risk of Tsunami and no way to escape it!
I had encountered many 20 MPH signs, some 15 MPH signs, and then this one:
And then we were above the snow line!
And then – WOW! We were at the end of Highway 1, about to reconnect with the 101, when I spotted a sign promoting the famous Drive Through Tree. I turned right, and 1/4 mile away paid my $5 for the privilege of driving into the private park and…
This tree is approximately 2,400 years old, 345 feet high, and 21 feet in diameter. It was carved out in 1932, and according to the woman at the entrance booth, “it’s the original famous tree in all the books.”
Back on the 101, we passed some other attractions without stopping. Another drive-through tree – how many can you drive through in one trip anyway? The One Log House (an approximately 20-foot length of cut down Redwood, hollowed out with a regular house door installed on one end). The Famous Tree House – a still-living redwood with a door and window above it.
And then, we had the opportunity to turn onto the Avenue of the Giants – a 32-mile road through the Humboldt Redwoods. It was that, or speed along the 101 without realizing there were redwoods… We chose the Avenue.
Driving into the redwood forest was the most humbling experience. I feel so insignificant, so inconsequential. It’s so hard to convey the size and scale of them. I couldn’t quite get it myself until a car would come in the other direction – looking like a toy on the road. When we stopped by these giants, I tried to get the car in the photos for scale. Check it out:
The drive through the redwoods was a powerful and moving experience. Imagine these trees as sprouts – two thousand years ago. Imagine all the centuries they have been rooted right there.
Oh yeah, when I got out of the car after driving through the tree? There was a fortune from a fortune cookie on the ground:
You have happy life in front of you.