Friday, October 27, 2017

Road Trip: The Redwoods & Avenue of the Giants

It’s road trip time!  Today, Hailey takes you along the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California to check out the glorious Redwoods! – DivineMrsDiva.com #travel #vacation #plussizetravel #roadtrip #california #northerncalifornia #redwoods #avenueofthegiants #crescentbeachmotel #loletacheesefactory

The next destination on our road trip was the California Redwoods!!  We had two full days to explore and commune with the trees, which wasn't nearly enough time.  But we did manage to see as much as we could and make the most of our time there.  You can check out our first couple days of the trip here.

I've said before how special this trip was to us.  When you travel, it teaches you so much about your traveling companion and yourself.  There was a peace and contentment just exploring new surroundings with Sean.  There was a comfort that I knew was there already, but traveling together accentuated the feeling of belonging I have with this other person.  I was always scared of silence, of not talking or listening or having music on or entertaining someone.  This trip taught me to sit back a little and just be in the quiet.  We were surprisingly comfortable and happy in the silence, just looking at the sights; and we still knew what the other was thinking and feeling.  I didn't need to entertain or be "on" all the time.  This trip just reiterated how happy and solid our marriage is and how in tune we feel with each other.

That alone would have been special enough, but then we met the mighty Redwoods.  There is an energy and wisdom to the trees that is hard to convey with words.  Everything around us felt so special and magical and mysterious.  I never feel like an adventurous person until we go on adventures and I leave wanting more.  So join me on this trek down the Avenue of the Giants!


We chose Crescent City, California as our home base for our two full days in the area.  It was the closest place to conveniently get to the night before in a decent amount of time.  It was a roughly five hour drive from Bend, but we also stopped for a few hours at Crater Lake and stopped for dinner in Grant's Pass.  It was dark when we entered California, but didn't take long for us to start seeing big trees as we followed the winding highway towards the ocean.

Our accommodation for the California leg of the trip was the Crescent Beach Motel.  It is a smaller, older, basic motel just steps from the beach.  While it isn't fancy and the front desk closes at 10pm, it was clean and met our needs.  We loved leaving our window open at night to fall asleep to the sound of the ocean.  The ocean-facing side of the motel is one long porch with Adirondack chairs for each room.  People would leave their towels and newly acquired shells to dry overnight.  Some would sit out on the porch and read.  It was quiet and definitely a place we would stay in the future.  We made sure to walk down to the beach at night and stare at the stars.  There were nit-picky things I didn't like about it.  There was only a room with two beds available for our trip (which is fine because then I have extra space to put my stuff and organize), but one of the beds was so close to the bathroom that I basically had to slide across the bed to get to the bathroom; and there weren't many outlets in the room.  I had to do my hair at the little table by the door.  But those things aren't total deal breakers.  Like I said, we'd still stay here if we were in town.

It’s road trip time!  Today, Hailey takes you along the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California to check out the glorious Redwoods! (Crescent Beach Motel in Crescent City, CA) – DivineMrsDiva.com #travel #vacation #plussizetravel #roadtrip #california #northerncalifornia #redwoods #avenueofthegiants #crescentbeachmotel #loletacheesefactory
The view from our room at Crescent Beach Motel

That being said, Crescent City is a very small, older town with not a whole lot going on.  Next time we visit the Redwoods, we would stay farther south just to have some closer access to the other places we want to go.  The Avenue of the Giants was still a two hour drive from Crescent City, and we had a lot we wanted to see in between.  So our mornings started before the sun was up to guarantee as much daylight as we could.

It’s road trip time!  Today, Hailey takes you along the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California to check out the glorious Redwoods! – DivineMrsDiva.com #travel #vacation #plussizetravel #roadtrip #california #northerncalifornia #redwoods #avenueofthegiants #crescentbeachmotel #loletacheesefactory

The drive south offered multiple overlooks with beautiful views.  We stopped every time we could manage to take in the sights and take as many photos as possible.  This was still before our good camera, so I want to go back and take better photos.  There aren't that many places to stop for food/bathrooms/supplies much of our Northern California journey.  A lot of places closed early and a lot looked really old and run down.  We had a few snacks with us, like bananas and the like, but knew we would need to find some kind of substantial meal in the future.  Your best bet is Eureka, which was a pretty bustling place compared to the rest of our drive.  But we didn't stop here because we had an itinerary to compete with and trees to meet.

Before Eureka on your way south, there is a town called Klamath.  You can find one of the Redwoods you can drive your car through here.  I believe it is $5 for the privilege of driving up to take your photo at the tree.  We didn't do this because we just didn't feel it was for us but, if you are looking to do it, the sign for the place sneaks up on you and you might miss your turn off.  Pay attention.  A little ways after Klamath is the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway.  This road runs parallel to the highway, through Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.  I would highly recommend taking this road every time you come this way.  Driving through these majestic trees is a privilege and an honor and glorious on its own.  However, there are many spots to park along the side of the road to explore trails, hike, and take photos.  We stopped at multiple points along the parkway to go for walks and take photos during our two days amongst the trees.

It’s road trip time!  Today, Hailey takes you along the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California to check out the glorious Redwoods! – DivineMrsDiva.com #travel #vacation #plussizetravel #roadtrip #california #northerncalifornia #redwoods #avenueofthegiants #crescentbeachmotel #loletacheesefactory
It’s road trip time!  Today, Hailey takes you along the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California to check out the glorious Redwoods! – DivineMrsDiva.com #travel #vacation #plussizetravel #roadtrip #california #northerncalifornia #redwoods #avenueofthegiants #crescentbeachmotel #loletacheesefactory
It’s road trip time!  Today, Hailey takes you along the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California to check out the glorious Redwoods! – DivineMrsDiva.com #travel #vacation #plussizetravel #roadtrip #california #northerncalifornia #redwoods #avenueofthegiants #crescentbeachmotel #loletacheesefactory
Sean standing in a hollow tree
It’s road trip time!  Today, Hailey takes you along the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California to check out the glorious Redwoods! – DivineMrsDiva.com #travel #vacation #plussizetravel #roadtrip #california #northerncalifornia #redwoods #avenueofthegiants #crescentbeachmotel #loletacheesefactory
It’s road trip time!  Today, Hailey takes you along the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California to check out the glorious Redwoods! – DivineMrsDiva.com #travel #vacation #plussizetravel #roadtrip #california #northerncalifornia #redwoods #avenueofthegiants #crescentbeachmotel #loletacheesefactory
It all looks like Endor.
It’s road trip time!  Today, Hailey takes you along the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California to check out the glorious Redwoods! – DivineMrsDiva.com #travel #vacation #plussizetravel #roadtrip #california #northerncalifornia #redwoods #avenueofthegiants #crescentbeachmotel #loletacheesefactory

There are many "Trees of Note" all over the Redwood forests.  These trees have names and signs that tell you their height, circumference, diameter, age, and crown spread.  It was fun to visit various "special" trees but, if you are anything like us, they all are incredibly special and amazing.  The first "Tree of Note" we came upon was Big Tree, towards the southern end of the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway.  We stopped to meet Big Tree, a statuesque ancient of 1,500 or so years old, with a height of 304 feet and a circumference of 68 feet.  Farther south before you get back on the highway, make sure to take a look at the Elk Meadow to see if you spot any elk.  We saw one female elk on the side of the road the first day.  It was mating season, so I was hoping to see larger groups.  The second day, we drove back into the Elk Meadow Picnic Area (a little farther south down the highway after Newton B. Drury) and happened upon a male and seven females.  That will be in the next post, but don't give up hope!  I was so happy that we were able to sit and watch them for a while.

It’s road trip time!  Today, Hailey takes you along the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California to check out the glorious Redwoods! – DivineMrsDiva.com #travel #vacation #plussizetravel #roadtrip #california #northerncalifornia #redwoods #avenueofthegiants #crescentbeachmotel #loletacheesefactory
"Big Tree"
It’s road trip time!  Today, Hailey takes you along the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California to check out the glorious Redwoods! – DivineMrsDiva.com #travel #vacation #plussizetravel #roadtrip #california #northerncalifornia #redwoods #avenueofthegiants #crescentbeachmotel #loletacheesefactory

We continued south along the coast, through Eureka, past the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and took a detour to Loleta to hit up the Loleta Cheese Factory!  It's a small building with friendly staff and a beautiful flower-lined courtyard in case you want to sit down and eat your cheese right away.  I take meticulous notes when I travel so I don't have to search my brain when it comes time to write about it all, but for some reason I never wrote down the cheeses we bought.  I know we bought four because everything we sampled tasted delicious.  Smoked Cheddar, Herb Garden Havarti, and Habanero White Cheddar were probably on the list.  We also bought some jalapeno jelly and extra crackers in the gift shop.  After fueling up the car, we continued south to the Avenue of the Giants, a 31-mile scenic drive winding through so many gorgeous trees!  It runs parallel to and across the highway at various points.  The northern entrance is in Scotia, while the southern entrance is in Myers Flat.  As mentioned, there are points along the way where you can get back on the highway if you choose.

It’s road trip time!  Today, Hailey takes you along the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California to check out the glorious Redwoods! (Loleta Cheese Factory) – DivineMrsDiva.com #travel #vacation #plussizetravel #roadtrip #california #northerncalifornia #redwoods #avenueofthegiants #crescentbeachmotel #loletacheesefactory
The courtyard at Loleta Cheese Factory
It’s road trip time!  Today, Hailey takes you along the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California to check out the glorious Redwoods! – DivineMrsDiva.com #travel #vacation #plussizetravel #roadtrip #california #northerncalifornia #redwoods #avenueofthegiants #crescentbeachmotel #loletacheesefactory
It’s road trip time!  Today, Hailey takes you along the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California to check out the glorious Redwoods! – DivineMrsDiva.com #travel #vacation #plussizetravel #roadtrip #california #northerncalifornia #redwoods #avenueofthegiants #crescentbeachmotel #loletacheesefactory

We stopped at the Humboldt Redwoods Interpretive Center, which is roughly in the middle of the Avenue of the Giants.  The center contains artifacts and lots of information about the surrounding trees and area.  The only restroom is in a separate building right outside.  I had to potty so bad at this point that I didn't have a choice but to use it.  It was grade A disgusting.  Mud and whatever else was all over the floor.  I can't remember if the sink worked or not.  I am not someone who uses a public restroom if I can help it, so this was just so nasty to me.  Make sure you bring lots of wet wipes and hand sanitizer because YUCK!  I washed up and vented to Sean about the gross bathroom and then we continued on south down the Avenue.  There are lots of trails for walking, various groves and picnic areas, and side roads to explore.  We stopped at one of the groves to take advantage of the picnic tables, snacking on our newly acquired cheese and crackers.  The silence of the forest, even this close to roads, was so tranquil.  We took photos and admired the lovely way the sunlight would stream down through the trees.  After snack time, we walked along one of the nearby paths and took photos for a while.

It’s road trip time!  Today, Hailey takes you along the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California to check out the glorious Redwoods! (Avenue of the Giants) – DivineMrsDiva.com #travel #vacation #plussizetravel #roadtrip #california #northerncalifornia #redwoods #avenueofthegiants #crescentbeachmotel #loletacheesefactory
This tree fell in 2006.  This cut is from about 70 feet above the base and points to dates in the rings for specific events.  The beginning ring at the center is from 912 A.D.
It’s road trip time!  Today, Hailey takes you along the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California to check out the glorious Redwoods! (Avenue of the Giants) – DivineMrsDiva.com #travel #vacation #plussizetravel #roadtrip #california #northerncalifornia #redwoods #avenueofthegiants #crescentbeachmotel #loletacheesefactory
It’s road trip time!  Today, Hailey takes you along the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California to check out the glorious Redwoods! (Avenue of the Giants) – DivineMrsDiva.com #travel #vacation #plussizetravel #roadtrip #california #northerncalifornia #redwoods #avenueofthegiants #crescentbeachmotel #loletacheesefactory
Touching history.  The center is from 912 A.D.
It’s road trip time!  Today, Hailey takes you along the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California to check out the glorious Redwoods! (Avenue of the Giants) – DivineMrsDiva.com #travel #vacation #plussizetravel #roadtrip #california #northerncalifornia #redwoods #avenueofthegiants #crescentbeachmotel #loletacheesefactory
The view looking straight up from our picnic spot.
It’s road trip time!  Today, Hailey takes you along the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California to check out the glorious Redwoods! (Avenue of the Giants) – DivineMrsDiva.com #travel #vacation #plussizetravel #roadtrip #california #northerncalifornia #redwoods #avenueofthegiants #crescentbeachmotel #loletacheesefactory
It’s road trip time!  Today, Hailey takes you along the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California to check out the glorious Redwoods! (Avenue of the Giants) – DivineMrsDiva.com #travel #vacation #plussizetravel #roadtrip #california #northerncalifornia #redwoods #avenueofthegiants #crescentbeachmotel #loletacheesefactory
It’s road trip time!  Today, Hailey takes you along the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California to check out the glorious Redwoods! (Avenue of the Giants) – DivineMrsDiva.com #travel #vacation #plussizetravel #roadtrip #california #northerncalifornia #redwoods #avenueofthegiants #crescentbeachmotel #loletacheesefactory
It’s road trip time!  Today, Hailey takes you along the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California to check out the glorious Redwoods! (Avenue of the Giants) – DivineMrsDiva.com #travel #vacation #plussizetravel #roadtrip #california #northerncalifornia #redwoods #avenueofthegiants #crescentbeachmotel #loletacheesefactory
It’s road trip time!  Today, Hailey takes you along the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California to check out the glorious Redwoods! (Avenue of the Giants) – DivineMrsDiva.com #travel #vacation #plussizetravel #roadtrip #california #northerncalifornia #redwoods #avenueofthegiants #crescentbeachmotel #loletacheesefactory
It’s road trip time!  Today, Hailey takes you along the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California to check out the glorious Redwoods! (Avenue of the Giants) – DivineMrsDiva.com #travel #vacation #plussizetravel #roadtrip #california #northerncalifornia #redwoods #avenueofthegiants #crescentbeachmotel #loletacheesefactory
It’s road trip time!  Today, Hailey takes you along the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California to check out the glorious Redwoods! (Avenue of the Giants) – DivineMrsDiva.com #travel #vacation #plussizetravel #roadtrip #california #northerncalifornia #redwoods #avenueofthegiants #crescentbeachmotel #loletacheesefactory
It’s road trip time!  Today, Hailey takes you along the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California to check out the glorious Redwoods! (Avenue of the Giants) – DivineMrsDiva.com #travel #vacation #plussizetravel #roadtrip #california #northerncalifornia #redwoods #avenueofthegiants #crescentbeachmotel #loletacheesefactory

We continued our journey to the south entrance of the Avenue and then turned around and came back through.  I didn't want to waste any time being away from the trees if I didn't have to.  I would recommend this road over the highway any day.  We stopped at Founder's Grove, the most-visited grove in the Humboldt Redwoods, to check out Founder's Tree.  This particular tree is 346 feet high, with a 40 foot circumference.  The height to the lower limb is 190 feet!  The Dyerville Giant, a fallen 350+ foot tree, is also in this grove.

It’s road trip time!  Today, Hailey takes you along the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California to check out the glorious Redwoods! (Avenue of the Giants) – DivineMrsDiva.com #travel #vacation #plussizetravel #roadtrip #california #northerncalifornia #redwoods #avenueofthegiants #crescentbeachmotel #loletacheesefactory
It’s road trip time!  Today, Hailey takes you along the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California to check out the glorious Redwoods! (Avenue of the Giants) – DivineMrsDiva.com #travel #vacation #plussizetravel #roadtrip #california #northerncalifornia #redwoods #avenueofthegiants #crescentbeachmotel #loletacheesefactory
It’s road trip time!  Today, Hailey takes you along the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California to check out the glorious Redwoods! (Avenue of the Giants) – DivineMrsDiva.com #travel #vacation #plussizetravel #roadtrip #california #northerncalifornia #redwoods #avenueofthegiants #crescentbeachmotel #loletacheesefactory
It’s road trip time!  Today, Hailey takes you along the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California to check out the glorious Redwoods! (Avenue of the Giants) – DivineMrsDiva.com #travel #vacation #plussizetravel #roadtrip #california #northerncalifornia #redwoods #avenueofthegiants #crescentbeachmotel #loletacheesefactory

By this time, it was starting to get darker under the canopy of the trees and we still wanted to find Giant Tree, so we got back in the car and made our way along the Avenue looking for the turn off.  We couldn't find the road and passed it a few times before finally turning off the Avenue heading down a small road to the Giant Tree.  We had no idea what to expect and had no cell service this whole time, so there was no looking up information or using GPS.  I am glad I printed maps and information out ahead of time.  I love going old school on trips because technology cannot always be trusted to perform correctly.  In looking up information about this area for the post, I am seeing other posts and websites saying this road is paved.  Maybe it is now, but it wasn't then.   We crept slowly down a narrow, unpaved road for five miles as we continued to lose light.  It was scary thinking another car was coming the opposite way, but it was also creepy thinking about who else could be along this road.  It felt like we were driving forever and almost turned around a couple times.  At some point there was a small clearing and some picnic tables with some signage and maps.  Sean parked to go take a look at the map, but I was thoroughly creeped out by the two ne'er-do-wells and kidnapper van parked in the same area.  Like someone could murder you out there and leave you for dead and I don't know that anyone would find the body.  It was that level of creepy for me.  I trust nature more than I do human beings.

Eventually, we came upon a few cars, some people filming who knows what (there was a guy with a video camera, a young woman, and an old man in a lab coat), and found a small parking lot with signage for Giant Tree.  I highly recommend this place in the day time, but just note that it gets hella dark and hella creepy pretty fast.  We parked and made our way across a small wooden bridge, over a creek, and down a dirt path to find the Giant Tree.  By this time it was pretty dark under the trees, even slightly inside the forest.  We took a few photos and marveled at the giant.  Giant Tree comes in at a whopping 363 feet tall, with a 53 foot circumference, and a 62 foot crown spread.  Pretty impressive!  We made our way back down the path and stopped at the downed Flat Iron Tree, though it was too dark to take photos at this point.  We listened to the complete stillness in the forest, with occasional snaps of twigs or crunching of leaves that immediately made me think there was a serial killer on the loose.  I don't do well in the dark.

It’s road trip time!  Today, Hailey takes you along the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California to check out the glorious Redwoods! (Avenue of the Giants) – DivineMrsDiva.com #travel #vacation #plussizetravel #roadtrip #california #northerncalifornia #redwoods #avenueofthegiants #crescentbeachmotel #loletacheesefactory
It’s road trip time!  Today, Hailey takes you along the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California to check out the glorious Redwoods! (Avenue of the Giants) – DivineMrsDiva.com #travel #vacation #plussizetravel #roadtrip #california #northerncalifornia #redwoods #avenueofthegiants #crescentbeachmotel #loletacheesefactory
It’s road trip time!  Today, Hailey takes you along the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California to check out the glorious Redwoods! (Avenue of the Giants) – DivineMrsDiva.com #travel #vacation #plussizetravel #roadtrip #california #northerncalifornia #redwoods #avenueofthegiants #crescentbeachmotel #loletacheesefactory

After getting back in the car, we headed back the way we came along the narrow, dirt road.  A couple bats swooped down in the darkness.  It was quite the adventure!  It took a little while to make it back to the main road, having to dodge a few cars on the way.  I was so happy when we got back to a paved path!  Heading back towards civilization, we started to look for a place to eat dinner.  Most places seemed to close really early, like 5PM, so we were happy when we came to Fortuna and the Eel River Brewing Company.  It is "America's first certified organic brewery", which seemed like a good bet.    It was a super busy place with a pretty outdoor area for dining outside.  I know I had the Philly Cheesesteak, but I have no idea what else we had.  It was tasty and the service was friendly.  We were so exhausted though, getting a bit cranky from the long day.  It was nice to just sit and eat and enjoy.

It was full on dark by this time and we made the two hour drive back to Crescent City listening to The Black Tapes podcast.  It is a podcast about paranormal happenings and creeped us out more.  Somewhere near a beach with no street lamps or light source, we pulled over on the side of the road in the pitch darkness to bask in the beauty of SO MANY STARS!!  The Milky Way was so distinct out there!  I don't even know if I have ever seen this level of dark and stars before.  A few cars passed on the road, headlights lighting up a van down the way that we hadn't seen when we parked.  Then we started thinking cars would drive by slower.  The darkness and creepy podcast combined to spook us so bad!  We were laughing at being spooked, but also fully aware that someone could kidnap and murder us and leave us among the dunes at any moment.  We reluctantly said goodbye to the stars and made our way back to our hotel where we immediately crashed for the night.


Have you been to the Redwoods?  What is the most magical place you've ever visited?  What are the top three places on your road trip wish list?


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