We stayed at my employer’s vacation home in Petrolia, CA for our anniversary weekend. After a day spent hiking on the beach, we spent a full day relaxing at the house, picking organic apples and plums in the backyard, reading in the hammocks, and checking out the river.
This just reinforced my desire to own an orchard. Sigh.
The Mattole River runs through Petrolia to the ocean, and it was conveniently located right behind our house. Our original hope was to kayak down the river. Once we discovered a lack of kayak rental places, we decided we could just float in some tubes. But when we learned the temperatures would only be in the 60’s, we figured that wouldn’t be too fun. I’m glad we didn’t attempt either. The water was so shallow that we could walk across the river, stand on a dried up riverbed in the middle, and walk straight to the ocean. (We didn’t actually attempt to walk to the ocean, but I’m pretty sure it would’ve been possible.) A neighbor told us that this was the lowest she’s seen the river in 40 years. Crazy!
On Monday morning, we left Petrolia to head back home, with plans to stop and see some exciting things (like the Redwood Forest) on the way back. This was also our chance to see the crazy roads we drove on back on Friday night. During our drive into town, it was so foggy and dark that we couldn’t see a single thing. So imagine our surprise when we discovered we were driving just a few feet from the ocean for quite a while! I hadn’t even thought to be worried about plunging into the ocean in the dark!
We were also surprised to discover that we were surrounded by cattle ranches! On the ocean! I guess the advertising is true; California cows are happy cows.
We left the coast and headed up into the windy King Range roads. It turns out that we really were driving on a narrow road on top of a mountain! We remembered driving over a cattle grate on our way down. Apparently the road runs through someone’s ranch, so cows are just running free along the road. I’m so glad that we didn’t hit a cow in the dark. We came pretty close to hitting a few in broad daylight.
After an hour or so of winding through the mountains, we stopped for lunch in Eureka. About 30 minutes north of town, this happened:
But if we were going to get a flat tire anywhere, I’m glad it was here. We weren’t in the middle of nowhere; we weren’t in fog; it wasn’t dark. We ended up having to go back to Eureka to get a new tire, putting ourselves about 2 hours behind schedule for our exciting day. Bummer.
Still, we pressed on. We had places to go and things to see! Our original plan was to visit the Redwood National Park (as a part of our goal to visit all the National Parks) and hike the Lady Bird Johnson Grove trail. Of course, once we got there, we read that it wasn’t a good place to see really big trees because it is a harsh environment for redwoods. No thanks. We wanted to see the big trees!
So we scrapped that plan and headed up to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, an old growth forest that is home to some of the biggest redwoods. This place was awesome. We drove a few miles through incredibly tall trees (in some places there was barely enough space to fit our car between the trees) before doing a short, flat hike through Stout Grove. If you’re visiting the Redwoods on a time crunch (like us), come here. It’s incredible.
We definitely didn’t have enough time to see all we wanted to see in the Redwoods, but we’re already making plans to visit again (we want to find the Grove of the Titans!) in the near future. But we had to hit the road to head up the coast.
We stopped for dinner in at Zola’s Pizzeria in Brookings, Oregon, where we ate our body weight in cheese sticks and pizza. I cannot tell you how much I love pizza.
We stopped to watch the sunset somewhere in southern Oregon, and then I entered panic mode as we continued driving for 3 1/2 hours in total darkness. I’m sure all those scenic byways we drove on were beautiful. Hopefully we’ll check them out in daylight someday!
And so concludes our third anniversary celebration. Here’s to many, many more!
(You can read part 1 of our anniversary getaway here.)