Sunday, November 16, 2008

Trip to the Land of Red Wood

Left home later than we wanted on Wednesday; Alice sick with a cold and slow. Dinner in Olympia with Robin who was full of a film by a former Evergreen student about ethnic status issues among Israelis: whether sephardic (lower) or ashkenazi (middle) or ashkenazi Israelis who aren’t religious (highest status). He found it fascscinating. Great to see him. He’s looking well.

On through the night to Eugene and stayed at our port in a storm, the New Oregon, across the street from U of O. Alice had stayed here in 1989 with Robin when the Volvo’s fuel system crashed. It was very comfortable and always is a first choice in travel along this corridor for convenience and cost. The Willamette is right outside, making the hotel quiet as well as convenient to the river walk past the university’s experimental and organic gardens.

Alice slept during the early part of our drive from Eugene south. In Grant's Pass, we missed Summer Jo's restaurant (seasonal title was a tipoff), but found good food in a downtown strip mall at Blondie's Bistro, a nicely done big space with Italian specialties, sandwiches, salads. This was lunch, but it looks like a good nighttime place. Drove from Grants Pass, OR along pretty autumn rivers with maple and oak? not sure, but getting into redwood country once in California, traveling along the Smith River.

Fog set in before Jedediah Smith Park, where big redwoods grow. We found out later that we could have taken an alternative route through some of the largest redwood groves, but still saw some big trees and hints of groves. In any event, a blanket of fog set in from the 101 junction above Crescent City, which lasted through to our destination at Requa.

We bought gas in Crescent City, pumped by a nice man, my age or older. Not a new machine for credit cards; most folks doing cash. I said it won’t take as much as a full tank; my husband worries we’ll run out, but not with Wiwaxia’s engine. He said, “he must drive a truck", and laughed. I said because it runs right through and he grinned yes. Stopped in the Safeway, hemming and hawing over a bottle of wine. Only WA wine was St. Michele; so got Cotes Du Rhone to eat with picnic supper from Provisions once in Requa. Jim's prejudice, based on Kenneth Rexroth and other 20th century reports, that Crescent City was hostile to outsiders, did not play out, although Zagat would find little of interest here. It is a very pretty location, and we found a large number of California Sea Lions in the harbor.

Arrived in fog at Requa Inn to a lovely room, and friendly host Dave. Used the downstairs tv with dvd to watch Dae Jang Geum after our supper.
Awoke early to shower and dawn in sw facing windows overlooking the last bend in the Klamath River. The town of Klamath is Yurok land, Yuroks speaking an Algonquin-based language, unique among California Indians according to one book. The literature around the parks and from rangers indicated that Yuroks are active in seeking to remove four hydro dams from the upper Klamath. Toxins have accumulated at dangerously high levels. It's hard to tell whether it’s toxins or diverting water or both causing demise of salmon fishery in Klamath. People know about it here.

We drove toward the mouth of the river, up from our inn to a cliff lookout. There was a ranger with two volunteer naturalists set up to watch for whales, complete with interpretive kits and spyglasses. No whales, but plenty of pelicans, cormorants, a merlin and a log being pulled out to sea at a brisk pace, showing the power of local currents and riptides. We spent about an hour there and learned some lore. A splendid day, great for us all to be outside in the sun (even Alice, though I did have my hat!) after the weeks and weeks of rain. Some poems:

Pelican glides over sea.
After three weeks’ rain,
Klamath’s poison’s diluted.

Sun shafts on red trees through ferns,
nurse log wicks water,
titrates scarce salmon carcass.

Planets peek through fog sunset;
mushroom swells in rain.
Dawn announces Klamath’s mouth.

On the advice of the ranger, we took an old coast route on the south of the Klamath mouth. The washed out bridge has two mossy bear sculptures left with a placque about the destruction of the Yurok village by the flooding (log damage). Some of the road is paved, other is well graded gravel. We stopped to enjoy the sun, Alice somewhat limited with the cold.

Here's a photo of sunset at a beach south of Crescent City, Jim sitting on a picnic table, the tide going out to a minus.

On Friday afternoon, in Redwood National Park and Prairie Creek Redwoods state park. Saw a lot of Roosevelt elk, good bookstore at Prairie Creek visitors center, knowledgeable ranger at Kuchel visitor's center in the Nat'l Park. That center is at a very broad and beautiful beach, at the confluence of the storied Redwood Creek.

After surprisingly good Mexican lunch at Hacienda in Orick, got rejuvenation and wonder at Lady Bird Johnson grove, an area of ancient redwood forest which also was one of the longest walks Alice has been able to take in some time. We hadn't been here in 20 years, but it seems unchanged. The afternoon light shafted through the trees, leaving magical-looking places of light in the forest.

The warm, clear sunny weather continued on this usually overcast coast through to the weekend, and after leaving our very pleasant room at the Requa Inn, closing that day for the season, we drove south to Eureka. This is along a very beautiful part of the redwood coast with enormous lagoons and beautiful views of the ocean. Headed to Jim's great-grandparents' house, where he had often visited as a child. His grandmother Grace was born there in 1907, and Jim's mother lived there for several years up to the age of twelve. The house has had an addition, the barn was fixed and altered, but the house was well taken care of, and we got some pictures. Also saw a number of demonstrators leaving a rally about Proposition 8, the initiative that banned gay marriage. We should have taken Alice's advice and found lunch in Arcata--bad pub food at Lost Coast Brewery in Eureka should be avoided (there be hippogryphs). Made some reclamation or restitution at Eureka Natural Foods Store (not the coop), which also had very good coffee, and headed south.


Bureau of Public Secrets said...

I assume your Rexroth reference was to his autobiography? In any case, you and your readers might enjoy perusing my online Rexroth Archive -- -- which includes a lot of material re the California mountains etc.

M. D. Vaden of Oregon said...

Just stumbled upon your page.

Was Howland Hill Rd. down the middle of Jed Smith redwoods the alternate route you did not have a chance to see?

If so, and if you go back sometime, Boy Scout Tree Trail trailhead from that road provides a very nice hike.



Largest Coast Redwoods

Travels with Wiwaxia said...

Thanks to Mr. Vaden for his insight: through the Jedediah Smith woods was our path not taken. We enjoyed this trip and thought we need to return: a family wedding this fall (2009) might afford this opportunity. BTW, I highly recommend following links to his work: beautiful photography and plenty of great information about trees by someone who clearly (and literally) cares for them.
Trees hover around the edges of my artwork: they foster ecosytem development and dyamics, and their evolution may even have enabled ours. It is no wonder to me that druidic mythology celebrates them.