Hiking the Elk River Trail

I love starting a hike when we are the only car in the parking lot.

Our map. We didn’t make it terribly far on this trail. There was so much to do today!

Red Alders on the trail.

This sign is the reason I know the above are red alders. I really appreciated the signage on this trail.

Here’s a picture of an interpretive sign with a banana slug adding something extra to observe.

No salmon spawning today.

Matt on the trail.

Investigating in a big tree.

Disappearing into a big tree.

Climbing up into a big tree.

While my anemic lens cover retraction is mostly annoying, I kind of like how it all lined up here for this photo. (Also, am I even looking at the screen before I take the picture anymore? I really need to concentrate on taking a good photo.)

Our turnaround point.

This trail winds through a ghost town. This sign leads you off the trail to the site of the caretaker’s cottage. There’s a foundation, and the yew trees, but not much else.

I love this photo!

What a great hike! I’m glad there was a general hue and cry in the past and this site was preserved.

Avenue of the Giants

Having finished our hike, we headed south for the Avenue of the Giants. Also known as the World-Famous Avenue of the Giants.

The Avenue of the Giants is a scenic-type drive which used to be Highway 101, but now lives on as State Route 254. We started at the north end of the drive, which seems to be the backward way to do the drive. I assume most people are driving north from San Francisco.

This is where we started.

I liked a few things about the Avenue of the Giants. First of all, though we were there in peak season (albeit on a weekday) it was not at all crowded. Secondly, it had a variety of short hikes or wanderings you could pull off the road to take part in. This could easily be a full day trip. Third, the trees are amazing and the road is narrow, so it’s a very fun drive. And last but not least there are kitschy tourist opportunities galore. I love me a roadside tourist attraction.

A big tree. How big, do you ask?

This big!

Here we are inside a tree.

And here’s Matt inside a tree.

This was a clever monument to two preservationists. The marker celebrating their efforts to preserve the redwoods was located far off the main road, so to see it, you had to walk through the redwoods they preserved.

More tall trees.

More of Matt in trees.

Hark! We found the sign. The sign says: Laura Perrott Mahan 1867–1937, James P. Mahan 1867–1937. Pioneers in the Save-the-Redwoods League. The California State Park Commission has dedicated to their memory this site where on Nov-19-1924 Mr. and Mrs. Mahan discovered that logging had begun and led the moment that resulted in the saving of this grove.

No matter how he stretches, Matt cannot reach the high water mark from 1964.

Some history of early preservationists.

Some information about the people who were there first.

Including a closeup of the photo. I love the grin on “child’s” face.

We drove through a tree! This is not us, because we were in our car. But unless your car is small, it’s wise to have a guide through the tree. We scraped the passenger side mirror. Not too badly. Before we left, we ran through the tree and that was even more fun.

That same site had some tree houses for children to play in.

Which gave us an opportunity to pose.

Also the children could step through a tree.

The view from inside.

The Avenue of Giants was a great way to see the redwoods and to get my fill of tourist trap stuff. Having now hiked and hit a major tourist marker, we moved on to our next activity: the Humbolt County Fair!

Back to Eureka

After our kayak trip, we ate and then started the 90-minute drive back to Eureka. We got tired at the halfway point, so pulled off to have a nap on the beach.

Here’s the building where we are staying. I love the mural on the side. Much more than I loved our room.

The building is partially artist’s studios and there are also four rooms to stay in. I had fun wandering through the halls and I think at least one artist lived in her studio full time.

Our half-day Kayak trip

Due to the fact we were staying 90 minutes away from the place we thought we were staying, we cancelled one other planned activity, but we decided to still do the half-day kayak trip.

This meant getting out the door at six a.m. and retracing our tracks from where we had been. But we did it.

We were picked up at a gas station and taken to our launch point. First, we picked out jackets and life jackets. Matt is excited.

(I have no idea what that black shape in the upper right corner of the picture is.)

We kayaked for a spell. It was the first time either of us had done so. Aside from our guide, our group consisted of a father and daughter who had experience kayaking in bays. The woman was from Portland.

The day was nice and the river was low, so it was a leisurely trip. Halfway in, we got out to do a short walk through the redwoods.

Our guide grew up on the Smith River, which is the only free-flowing river in California. He showed us the rock where he got married that summer, and the house he grew up in, which overlooked the river. The next day, he was starting back as an eighth grade English teacher.

He was a great guide and gave us lots of good information about the trees.

It was very cool how the redwoods loomed.

This platform was built to protect the tree’s root structure. It’s fairly shallow.

Since Redwoods don’t have a tap root, they can keep growing even when their center rots out. Hence the ability to drive through trees.

Or stand inside a still-growing tree.

After that, it was back in the water. I enjoyed kayaking and would like to do it again someday.

Northern California Bound

Here we are, ready to go! Matt looks a little more ready than I do.

We stopped for a quick picture in front of this Coast Guard light house station.

Our next stop was the John Dellenback Dunes Trail.

Matt wanted to hike all the way to the beach and back but 1)hiking on sand is not my favorite thing and 2)the sign said to allow five hours (FIVE HOURS!) to do this and I was already hungry for lunch.

We did a loop instead.

Thanks to a hot tip from the Oregonian, we stopped for fish and chips at the Bandon Bait Shop.

It was a full-on bait shop that also offered food. Someone had collected a variety of those plastic figures that move when the sun hits them.

The Oregonian did not steer us wrong. This was an excellent plate of fish and chips. It also came with ketchup, which I gave to Matt. He gave me his tarter sauce.

Then a good meal called for a good dessert.

This was the place where I was thinking about getting fudge, but then noticed the workers loading dry powder into a fudge “machine.” I chose ice cream instead. I can make real fudge at home.

Onward to California!

In fun vacation planning news, we planned our vacation around Crescent City, where we were staying. A week before we left, I discovered that though we had made a reservation for a place in what I thought was Crescent City, we had actually made a reservation for a place in Eureka.

Both of us are terrible vacation planners. The trip to Eurika added another 90 minutes of driving and turned a short day’s drive into a long day’s drive.

Weird Al at Edgefield

“Weird Al is going to be in town next week,” I said to Matt while perusing the entertainment section of the newspaper.

“I know, we’re going,” said Matt.


It wasn’t properly listed on the calendars, so it wasn’t on my radar, but I did dimly recall a text message chain in the colder months of the year making plans to go.

So my first Edgefield concert was Weird Al.

The line was long when we got there.

So long that I got to spend a lot of time contemplating what these structures were. Here’s what a website listing about the Poor Farm says:

By 1914, the Poor Farm was a success on paper. It housed 302 residents and managed a herd of Holstein dairy cows, 100 Duroc hogs (that ate the leftovers from the dining room), 420 Plymouth Rock hens, and 225 chickens. The crops, vegetables, fruit, hay, grain, eggs, and twenty-seven acres of potatoes were shared with the county jail (which provided some trustees to work in the fields), a hospital, and a juvenile home.


My first read was that it was maybe a jail, but upon re-reading I see the food was shared with those locations, not that they were located there. So I have no idea.

Update! I emailed the McMenamins Historian and Caitlin Popp wrote back saying:

Caitlin here from the McMenamins History Department! The structure that you were looking at on the Edgefield property was a minimum security jail. It was opened in the 1960s, was still open when McMenamins took over the property and didn’t close until 2006. Currently it is storage as well as artist studios.

So my initial thought was right! Also, how interesting that there was a jail operating for a time when McMenamins was running their hotel.

Back to the concert.

We secured our seats. When you get to the concert after work, you get to sit behind a tree. Also note that that man in the blue shirt is probably on the quest for the Passport. That’s a shirt from Centrailia they give you for getting that stamp. I’ve got the same one.

Waiting for the concert.

There wasn’t an opening act listed, but the 40-piece orchestra played three pieces, which was a nice treat.

We got “Word Crimes” early on.

Also early on, I was thrilled when Weird Al sang “One More Minute” which is from the 1985 album Dare to be Stupid and which, with it’s 50s styling, is my favorite Weird Al song.

The distance, the twilight and the tree got in the way of my usual slightly blurry, ultra-zoomed concert photos. This was my best shot. It was interesting that they had the orchestra, plus the drummer behind a wall, which I assume is for acoustic purposes. Someone has that job!

The crowd was the most multigenerational I’ve seen at a concert—everyone from grandparents to small children. He has been making music long enough to have reached multiple generations and I enjoyed seeing when different people had their peak Weird Al moment. Mine was in 1985, but there were a ton of people there who were all in on Amish Paradise from 1996.

Observation: people just wear whatever to a Weird Al concert. I saw two people in cosplay, and a few in Weird Al t-shirts, but most people looked like, they were wearing whatever they had put on that morning.

Another observation: Weird Al Yankovic can sing! I forget, because mostly he’s brilliant with lyrics and I’m paying attention to that, but this concert highlighted the man’s range.

This was a fun first experience at Edgefield.

Requiem: Quinn Cup

Quinn was a student at The Emerson School and one year for Christmas she* gave me this mug.

I’ve always liked it because of the light handle and the shape. Plus, it has my initial on it.

Today though, the Quinn Cup came to it’s end. Alas. Now I need to find another go-to mug.

*Really, her mother gave me this mug. Quinn wasn’t much of a fan. But her mother liked me.