Last we left Tahoe en route to Auburn to get more RV repairs done. It’s always something.
This time we booked a pet-friendly AirBnB ahead of time for two nights. We had some little interior things that needed fixing (shower door, leaky toilet pieces, a siphon vent under the bathroom sink that we couldn’t replace due to the geometry of said sink) as well as the rear back corner on the outside, which just straight up separated. Sigh.
That turned out to be a bigger job that would take 40 hours and at least $4,000 (and a month to wait around for them to schedule it in; it’s high season for RV repair), so we told them to just tape it up and send us on our way.
Auburn is a funky little place that feels like a small town but still manages to be fully populated, like much of California. Those Cali-style bungalows are here and there; but overall we weren’t there long enough to get a good sense of the place. We caught a showing of Oceans 8 and enjoyed the short but visceral experience of living in a real house for 2 days.
Berry’s Rancheria, Oroville, CA
Our next stop was Oroville, CA at the Berry Creek Rancheria RV Park at the Gold Country Casino. As we’re headed to Crescent City, we decided to break the drive up into a couple smaller chunks.
While I still have little to no understanding about what exactly is appealing about casinos themselves, the RV parks so far are always clean, orderly, and easy to get around.
This park is newer; all the trees are saplings (so, no shade for you in that 90-degree summer heat!) and the facilities were in great shape — especially the swimming pool! As noobs to the site, we were given 2 free $10 cards with which to hit the slot machines and gamble.
Grateful for the A/C more than anything, we took our $10 cards and stumbled around the casino floor, also happy that there was more division between smoking and non-smoking areas than the last one we stayed at.
I had more fun looking at all the different slot machine names and themes than actually playing them; I decided to gamble my free money on the machines with the best names, so I obviously started with this one:
Long story short, we walked away with $5.74 in cash outs from our free $20. We took it straight to the all you can eat buffet and each housed all the brown fried foods and sweet desserts we could handle for $8.50 per person. Cha-chinggggg!
We took an afternoon excursion up to Paradise, too, which was the place that inspired our desire to explore the west a bit more. Travis started randomly looking for houses for sale in Paradise, CA while we were living in Brooklyn, mainly because of the name.
Turns out you can buy some pretty lovely mountain homes with porches and wood burning fireplaces there; the flip side is there’s not a lot going on there. We enjoyed our afternoon, including a stop at the Gold Nugget Museum, but probably won’t be continuing our Craigslist property searches.
For dinner we drove to nearby Chico and ate ate the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company — what a bitchin’ facility. It’s a massive compound; we stuck to the brew pub and sat on the patio with the misters, eating Vampire Fries (read: fries with a f**kload of garlic) and drinking IPA. Shibby!
Richardson’s Grove, Garberville, CA
And with that, we left Oroville for Humboldt County. At Richardson’s Grove RV Park — directly across from Grandfather Tree and the One Log House, we got a massive swath of lawn under a tree to park our rig. Yes, we could see the gas station and traffic passing by but we’re in a damn Redwood Grove, who cares? PS apparently this entire RV park and lot is for sale on Zillow for a cool 3 mil, in case anyone was thinking about nabbing it.
This section of the 101 follows the south fork of the Eel River for a while. Water levels aren’t that high at the moment, so all the stretches of river are blue, clear, shallow, and look perfect for sitting next to or fishing on.
We rolled in on a Friday afternoon and after setting up immediately walked across the street to Grandfather Tree and the One Log House and the newly opened dispensary. Apparently legalization of marijuana in the state has not been great for a lot of people in Humboldt County. Doesn’t surprise me that the black market for pot was a better deal for growers in this area.
Afterward, we drove to Confusion Hill. Like the Winchester Mystery House and the Santa Cruz Mystery Spot, it features a house built with the steep slope of a hill so that you experience seemingly wacky things with gravity — water running uphill, walking on walls, hanging sideways from a metal bar, optical illusions with height. But add in a bunch of Sasquatch memorabilia and some insanely tall Redwood trees.
After Confusion Hill we continued to the “World’s Famous Tree House.” It’s a small room inside the base of a Redwood tree right off the side of the road, with, of course, an attached gift shop.
The tree was hit by lightning, which burned out the interior of the base of the tree while the tree has kept growing (most Redwoods and Sequoias have lived through fires of some kind — oftentimes this is why they have no branches on the bottom half).
From there we motored over to the swimming hole at Standish Hickey State Park. We hadn’t planned on going but decided to check it out but hunger pangs hadn’t quite set in yet. The walk down to the river was steep but worthwhile.
Dinner was at the Peg House, a lovely open air patio (covered with an old parachute to block the sun) with amazing cheeseburgers. PS the Humboldt County Dry Cider is outstanding, too.
Saturday we hiked half of the Bull Creek trail in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Once again, we were slack jawed the entire time by the trees. These are some of the oldest growing trees in the world and we loved feeling tiny and insignificant in their presence.
The trail follows a stream the entire way but, I have to say, this is the first time we had a really poor experience with signage.
We started from the Rockefeller Loop trail; a short, easy circle (though not marked from the road. At all. We got specific directions from the visitor’s center.). The first sign we saw shows an arrow for Bull Creek trailhead .5 miles. After that, you see a fork — the sign says Burlington and has an arrow to the right. Well, we weren’t going to Burlington but never saw another labeled trail that made sense. So we looped around again, turned right to go to Burlington and saw, two signs later, a sign for the Bull Creek trail.
According to the State Park’s website, there’s a trailhead for Bull Creek South at the Blue Slide Day Use area, and a seasonal footbridge that takes you across the river and back down south on the same trail.
We couldn’t find the trailhead or footbridge to save our lives — the day use main sign mentions the trailhead but it’s not labeled anywhere by signage. You’d think a foot bridge would be easy to spot but guess again. We spent enough time missing our mark due to poorly or non-existent trail markings that we ended up hitching a ride back (with a couple who also was lost because of the lack of signage) to where we started so as not to waste any more of our day; walking back the same way would have been fine but we still had Eureka to see!
And so, on to Eureka we went to walk about the historic side of town and piddle around the shops and waterfront. We snagged a bite to eat at the Cafe Waterfront before heading back to camp.
Sunday we drove to Shelter Cove, a somewhat harrowing, steep drive up and down the mountain to the coast. There’s only one way in and out if you’re driving and it’s no joke. We were engine braking in 1st gear most the way down. We stopped at the General Store on the way in and met a fellow with a twin engine Cessna and vacation home there; dude just flies in and out with his wife when he comes to visit. NBD.
We hit up Black Sands Beach first, which was mostly made up of black pebbles with white striations of all sizes. There’s plenty of signage about NOT getting near the water. The impression that is given is that if you get near the water you’ll probably die.
There’s extremely strong rip tides and intermittent wave patterns here; we were told every year people get swept out to sea. Fortunately the tide was well out when we got there; we had plenty of space to safely boob around, collect rocks and driftwood, and watch the surf from a distance.
Then, we drove to the Cape Mendocino lighthouse and putzed around the tide pools – one of my all time favorite activities. Thanks to the awesome new binoculars my lovely husband got for me I could also easily see all the harbor seals and sea lions basking in the sun like the whiskered, floppy, blubbery bags of muscle fiber that they are.
We spent our afternoon derping around the river skipping rocks and basking in the sun.
Next up: Crescent City!