The "Skunk" and "Trees of Mystery"

Day 3 Map Day 3 - Fort Bragg to "Trees Of Mystery!" - "Hi there, friend! Welcome to the Trees of Mystery!..."

Wednesday, March 31st, 1999 - 9:00 The bluffs across from our motel

The morning dawns sunny and clear and once again we're off!

Dee Dee on the bluffsToday, we're supposed to cover about two-hundred and fifty odd miles up to just shy (about thirty miles) of the Oregon border and to stay at the "Trees of Mystery's" fabulous "Motel Trees!"

Okay, "fabulous" is way pushing it. It's just a pretty ordinary motel, nothing special, except that the "Trees of Mystery" are across the street from it. The empty coast

Anywho, that's our destination for the day and we plan to take a leisurely drive to it. We head north out of Fort Bragg on the 1 (not like there's another option) and tool on up the coast. It proves to be a very empty coastline. The occasional home or campground, but mostly just empty meadows and beach. The scenery is beautiful and apart from the occasional mad logging-truckers roaring around us on various narrow twisty bits (and they are all quite mad, I assure you) it's just a nice relaxing drive.

We climb - and clouds begin to appear

Eventually, the road starts to climb again and curves into the mountains. Very quickly we find ourselves deep in redwood forest again. And what to our wondering eyes should appear, but snow, still coating the tops of the surrounding mountains - and as we climb higher, the sides of the road!

Unfortunately, as we get further inland, the clouds reappear yet again. We'll be hit by rain a couple of times today, but mostly it's just gray. The rest stop

We take a brief break at a little rest stop along the way. It's pretty much a small bare spot surrounded by the big trees, the bulletin-board deeply covered by moss and ferns, and everything drips with cool moisture. This is my favorite kind of biome, maybe because I'm from dry Southern California, but like I keep saying, if I had the option, I'd move here in a second. Dee Dee in the forest

Soon we're reaching the top of the pass and not long after descending into the town of Leggett, where the 1 meets up with the 101 for the first time since the Bay area. Now we're on a road that I've driven several times before - the Redwood Highway.

Noon sees us in Scotia, a heavy-duty logging town where we stop and pick up some lunch from the store. Then it's back on the road again, still heading north.

Nearing Eureka, I notice a sign for "Ferndale," and secretly make a note of it for the trip back. Soon we're in the "big city" (a whole 27,000 people) of Eureka.

Eureka is a lumbering and harbor city, built so low to the waters of Humboldt Bay that I could swear sometimes the surface of the 101 was below the surface of the sea. But we're still heading north and soon are passing by the campus of the "College of the Redwoods" at the northern end of town.

Now we return to land empty of very many people, but loaded with trees and mountains and lagoons and just darn pretty scenery. And we're climbing again.

About two that afternoon we hit the summit - a whole 1,485 feet - and Dee Dee points out a "Beware of Elk" sign (okay, it's just the silhouette of an elk, that's pretty much what it means). I shrug - you see those kind of signs all the time - but a few minutes later as we're tooling along a ridge between two mountains, Dee Dee shouts "look" and I do - then quickly pull over to the side of the highway. Miss Ann Elk...

Hey, there really are elk. A whole herd of them, grazing along side the road, quite unconcerned as I slowly pull up parallel to them so we can get a picture. I don't think I've seen elk since a long ago trip to Yellowstone.

Paul and Babe at 'Trees of Mystery'

Half-an-hour later, we're going through the tiny town of Klamath - a hole in the wall, without the wall - and are nearly to our destination, the "Trees of Mystery." And then, there it is, the big tacky statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe, the mildly tacky looking gift shop, the Forest Café, and the 50's-modern Motel Trees, our destination.

We pull up, check in to the motel, and check out the gift shop across street. Actually, they have some kinda cool items - mixed in with the usual touristy stuff. We spend quite a while there, then hunger calls, and we head off to dinner.

As far as restaurants go, there was nothing (viable) in Klamath, so we head up the road to Crescent City. Heck, what's another twenty miles? Anywho, just a couple of miles past Trees of Mystery and - Boom! - the 101 stops being deep in the forest and becomes right on the coastline (admittedly with lots of redwoods) again. And speaking of "agains," it's raining again, rather hard.

Crescent City is within spitting distance of the Oregon border (assuming you can spit about ten miles) and really barely qualifies as a town with it's 4,000-odd people. It mostly seems to be the harbor filled with pleasure boats and a collection of shops on both sides of the 101 catering to the tourist trade. Well in this case, this is a good thing, because it gives us a fair number of restaurants to choose from. We pick a Chinese restaurant (the "Tea Garden Cafe" - which I recommend if you're ever in Crescent City) and have a very nice - and very filling - meal, while the rain pours down outside.

Satiated, we head back to the Motel Trees, watch a little TV, and fall asleep.

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