We were to drive about 85 miles today. Not very far at all because we wanted to check out Old Town in Eureka before we left and we were heading into the Redwoods National Forest on our way north.
Unfortunately we woke to overcast skies and drizzling rain. It cleared up while we had breakfast and we had a nice walk around several of the blocks of the restored Victorian-era Old Town. The buildings have been beautifully done and the entire city of Eureka is a State Historical Landmark. I suspect the place is bustling with tourists in the summer. Eureka is a fishing seaport and is the largest coastal town between San Francisco, CA and Portland, OR. It was a jump off point for the California goldrush – hence the name; ‘Eureka’ means ‘I found it,’ which is the California state motto. But what really put Eureka on the map was timber. When the frigate Frolic sunk off the northern California coast the redwood forests were ‘discovered’. Of course the native peoples knew about the giant trees for thousands of years, but when Europeans saw the massive, tall, very straight trees logging operations and sawmills sprang up all along the coast.
A local artist single-handedly painted these lovely murals. We were told there are more examples of his art around town as well. After we wandered past several blocks of beautiful buildings we headed north on Hwy 101. We stopped for a walk to the ocean at Little River State Park. With all the storms and slides there was tons of debris washed up on the beach. And….the rain began. We drove down a narrow road to see one of the three natural lagoons along this coast just north of Eureka. And….the rain got heavier. We stopped at the Redwoods National Park Visitor’s Center to find out if we needed a pass to go off the highway and explore some of the overlooks or trails. We didn’t, but we were told that the main scenic highway, the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, through the park is closed due to a tree falling across the road.
We pulled into Elk Meadow to see some of the Roosevelt Elk that live in the park and there was one lone guy way in the back. The zoom lens captured him not too badly. And….the rain got heavier still. We were told at the Visitor’s center to take the turn-off to the Newton B. Drury Parkway and drive as far as the Prairie Creek Visitor’s Center because there was a short trail behind the building that took you past some of the huge old growth Redwoods. Right beside the road on the way to the Visitor’s Center were these Elk, three on the left side of the road and one on the right. They didn’t care that it was raining. Even though the rain was falling by the bucketful we decided to walk the short trail we had been told about by the Park Ranger. With the high tree canopy protecting us it wasn’t very wet at all. Of course, we had to take a few more photos of the Elk on the way out.
And… the rain came down even harder, so the only other one of our planned routes or stops that we decided to do was the 4-mile Klamath Beach Road loop. The views of the coast would be spectacular on a sunny day. Today, not so much. This was a WWII hidden radar tracking station. On any other day we would have walked down the trail to inspect the fake house and barns, but we wimped out today. Once we completed the loop we were 10 miles south of Crescent City; our stop for the night. We bypassed all the scenic overlooks or trails we had planned to see and drove into town. By 4:30 we were checked into our hotel and drying out and warming up in our room. We had to plow through the puddles in the parking lot while getting drenched from above to go for dinner in the hotel restaurant but once we returned to our room it was time to turn up the heat and relax.