Northern Coastal California

Alan with Founders Tree-346 ft., 40 ft. circumference
Driving along Hwy. 101 as we entered the state, the coastline was hidden by heavy fog.  Occasional thinning of the fog allowed us glimpses of a rocky, beautiful coast.  As the highway turns inland, we were soon within the Redwood National and State Park.  Trees towered over the roadway on both sides creating a tunnel affect.

South Of Eureka, the highway divides into the new and the old 101 for 31 miles.  The old highway is known as the Avenue of the Giants, and passes through a number of redwood groves, which are part of the Humboldt Redwood State Park.  We stopped at the Founders Tree Grove.  Even though there were a number of other visitors, it was peaceful, like being inside a cathedral. People’s voices were soft and reverent, as we walked along the short hike.  Many organizations and individuals have donated funds for purchasing a single tree or a grove.  The Save-the-Redwoods League has worked to preserve 200,000 acres of redwood forest.

Arriving at Caspar Headlands Beach, we found a packed campground and soon
Competitor entering the chilly waters
discovered why.  The following day, entrants would be competing in the 2013 Triton X Open.  This is a free diving, spearfishing competition for fish and abalone.  With water temperatures at 54 degrees and air temperatures at 56 degrees, the divers were wearing heavy full body wet suits.  Competitors can swim or kayak out into the bay, but no motorized vessels are allowed.  Beginning at 6:30 A.M. with the weigh-in at 2P.M., by the time we wandered down to the beach at 9 A.M., some of the earlier divers were returning with their catch.

Mendocino waterfront and Main Street
Moving to the south, we traveled into the vibrant art community of Mendocino.  Unknowingly, we happened to come into the area on the final day of a weeklong plein air event.  This first Mendocino Art Center Open Paint Out, was considered the highlight of an active year of offerings.  With 78 participants, this was a big deal.  The final day consisted of a 2-hour quick draw, with artists painting along Main Street and the picturesque cove.  We were able to walk along the cliff watching the artists create their works of art.  A complete collection of the pieces painted by the artists during the week was on display at the Art Center for viewing and for sale.

Originally, we had plans to go into San Francisco to bike over the Golden Gate Bridge,
Point Reyes Lighthouse
and to enjoy watching some of the American Cup.  Alan decided that biking over the bridge was not really something he was going to be able to do, unless he was blindfolded, which probably wouldn’t work well either.  We opted instead to visit Point Reyes National Seashore, at the recommendation of our friends, Bill and Catherine, who live in nearby San Rafael.

The National Seashore has a mixture of recreational and commercial use.  Cattle ranching since the 1850’s and oyster farming were in existence prior to the formation of the nature preserve and are still in operation.  Miles of beaches and trails are available in the park, and on a clear day the view from the lighthouse is phenomenal.  When winds are under 40mph, visitors are allowed to take the 300 steps down to the lighthouse. 

We are now headed inland, to Yosemite.
Sea lion at Point Reyes

Harbor seals along the coast

Point Arena Lighthouse

Yard art in Mendocino

Plein air artist in Mendocino

Point Cabrilla Lighthouse
Redwoods dwarfing our rig
Beaches at Point Reyes
View from Point Reyes
Alan with our friends, Catherine and Bill
You can get a sore neck looking at these beauties. They can be nearly 380 feet tall, live up to 2000 years, have bark 12 inches thick and have a diameter of up to 22 feet at the base.  They live along the Pacific Coast of California and in SW Oregon.
Along Hwy. 101
En route to Point Reyes
Drakes Bay and Pacific oysters (both were yummy!)
More Harbor Seals (and seagulls)

View near Point Arena Lighthouse

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