Wine’ing it up to the Coastal Redwoods.

First night out on the road.

We had been home for too long and needed to get out and play. So a few months ago I looked up to the top of California and started booking some campgrounds. Now I know it’s a bummer to have to do this but for certain areas it is necessary. The one consoling factor is that there are three CA state parks up in the redwoods that will honor the geezer pass and give you 50% off the exorbitant CA Park fees.

On top of this I had joined Harvest Hosts to see if it would work for me. Basically I paid an annual fee, $70 or so, and they will then provide a list of wineries and other establishments that will allow you to park on their land for the night, gratis. Well you’re meant to buy some of their product and I’ve always spent way more than a nights camping fee when visiting.

It would work for this trip as it’s two nights for us to get from LA up to the Oregon border. One of the few Hosts in the Bay Area is Four Fools Winery near Rodeo on San Pablo Bay NE of San Francisco. I had read the reviews and we were happy to arrive around 4 pm and get shown to a site overlooking the bay. Neat.

Owner, Mark, stopped  by to chat.

Seemed like a popular spot for a bit of Saturday afternoon fun and we paid our $10 tasting fee for 6 wines. Now we had fun and it was a great location to wind down after driving 380 miles to get out of Los Angeles. The wines were palatable but we were only enticed to buy one bottle as a momento. We were surprised when Mark, the owner, stopped by for a chat. Loved to hear of the history and why he was here having fun with the rest of us.

Winery is behind us under the tree.

Now they had a food truck on site but by the time Rose & I got hungry they were packing up to go, necessitating a walk into town.

Our view over San Pablo Bay.
Stanley, pub owner, & Rose.

A local tells of of a place, Ricky’s corner, nearby. It must have been the only place within walking distance and I was surprised when they said it would take 45 minutes to fill our To Go order.

We wander outside and Rose says there’s bar up the street. Really? Looks like a real dingy place but I know better and follow her in. Not too bad and I feel out of place ordering wine in a beer dive. As the bar tender pours the wine I strike up a chat and he tells me he is the owner, Stanley, and that the place is hanging on by it’s last legs. Used to be the place in the 40″s & 50’s when the sailors frequented and he shows me a photo of his mother-in-law, the then owner, in her hey day. He goes on to say she is now 102, still frequents the pub, but had a fall and is home recuperating. Rose & I both got a real chuckle over the icon we had stumbled upon.
Stanley & his wife Sally.
Next day we left in a light rain and headed north on the 101. As of writing diesel is $7.00 or higher and we stopped wherever the price was right as it got higher till you reached the Oregon border. Outside of Redway we headed inland to our next host, Briceland. Andrew was our host and he got us all together for a 4:30pm tasting. Now I was wondering how you could grow vines up in the pot hills of Humbolt County but I was truly impressed by his knowledge of winemaking especially with what grape grows best in what climate. All of his wines were impressive and we purchased half a case so as to waive the tasting fee. Drank a Malbec straight off of the bat and loved it.
Briceland wine tasting.
Our host Andrew directing RV parking.

Having some time to spare Rose & I took a walk further up the road wary that we were in the hills of pot country and paid special attention to stay on the road and not to wander inquisitively onto private property. Saw plenty to remind us we were’t in LA any more.

Hidden in Humboldt
Seems normal to just leave your car there.
Humboldt county’ism.
Wine tasting on the lawn.
Andrew doing his schpleil.
Three RV’s at Briceland.

Next day, which was a Monday we continued on north and made a brief stop at the refuge just before Eureka.

Humboldt Bay Wild Life Refuge.
The wetlands.

Plenty of noisy birds but the attraction was the lone otter foraging on something below. He would dive down, forage, surface and chow down whatever he had found. Almost like a feeding frenzy.

Otter munching on something.

First night in the wilds was at Jedediah State park. Now there was an incident getting there in that Google had a different idea as to where the park, or more specifically, the campground was. I soon found myself heading up a narrow, winding, dirt road that was not intended for RV’s and I was desperate for a place to turn around. None, so I had to keep going and might I say, pray? At last a turnout which also appears to be the top of the gradient but I was thankful, turned and headed back down to our campsite.

Site #27 in Jedediah State Park.

The sites were amongst these giant redwoods which while magical shut out all sunlight and made for a cave like experience.

Next day was hike day and I strutted off confidently to the bottom of the campground near the river. No footbridge across? Asked some locals and was informed that the bridge was seasonal and had not been erected yet. Shit. Is the a plan B? I want to be on the other side of the Smith river and it was either 1 mile to the left or 3 miles to the right. OK, have to walk along the road to the left to cross.

There’s meant to be a foot bridge here.
We make it, find the Hiouchi trailhead only to be told that the Mill Creek trail, which was my ultimate destination, was closed up ahead. Oh well, lets see how far we can get.
Hiouchi Trailhead.
Along the Smith River.
Oleander flower?

It’s a great trail and we eventually get to where we wanted to be on the other side of the river. I should put a map in here.

Other side of the Smith River where the footbridge should be.

We nose around but can’t even cross Mill Creek without getting our feet wet and I don’t need that right now. Finally turn around and retrace our footsteps back to camp.

Tree growing out of a tree.
That’s actually a tree stump we have just walked through.

Back at the highway bridge over the river, which has construction on it, we have to sweet talk our way past the workers and promise not to trip over their cables & machines.

Road construction and we walked over to get to Hiouchi.

Next day was a bike day and we ride the 3 odd miles to the right and again cross the Smith along the Howland road where all the tourists also go.

Crossing the Smith River.
Stashed our bikes to hike around the Stout Grove of redwoods.
Angled redwoods.
Amazing how straight they are.
Tree rings.
Fallen giants.
It was a fun dirt road with many opportunities to stop and gawk. A place I will look back on and ask “Why didn’t I spend more time here?”
Riding Howland road.
Top of the hill turnaround.
This “top” is also where I had driven the RV up from the other, steeper, side. Happy to be on my bike as we turn-around and gravitate back through the giants to camp.

Back on the highway Rose spots a roadside cafe and we stop for lunch, a special lunch, as today is June the 8th and it was 31 years ago that we were wed in Mullinavat, Co Kilkenny, Ireland!

Late anniversary lunch at the Hiouchi Cafe.
By the time we had finish it had closed for the day.
Categories Trips

4 thoughts on “Wine’ing it up to the Coastal Redwoods.”

    1. Thanks Mark. The redwoods are tall and ramrod straight. It’s one thing seeing one or two together but here they are all over the place.

  1. This trip is right up our alley! We love the redwood forests of California. You and Rose look so beautiful! (btw, that awesome photo you took of the pink flower is a Rhododendron). I learned I loved them when taking John to Oregon for college back in the day.

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