John posing for a pic at the trunk of a huge redwood tree
Can you spot Sissy in this pic?
Our campsite at Hidden Springs Campground
Sissy stoking the fire and cooking pork chops with her special marinade
John taking a plunge from a fallen redwood at the river
Monday morning and time to pack up and head north. Before that however, we met Dave from Charlottesville, Virginia. Dave was between jobs and taking a vacation with his family across the country. He had just come south from the Redwoods of California and made it a point to convince us to stop at the Avenue of the Giants on our way north. He said the trees were huge and the drive through them was breathtaking.
We´d fueled the truck the day before so that wasn´t a problem. We headed north on Highway 101, and traffic began thinning the farther out of San Francisco we got. It was actually a pleasant ride through the wine country of northern California. We would´ve stopped for tasting, but it was too early in the morning for wine.
Highway 101 was an excellent road north and a little inland from our trip just south of San Francisco. Grapes were growing everywhere on the sides of the hills and valleys. Where there weren´t grapes, there were apples and strawberries except for the high peaks. Once through wine country, we started getting into the forest and the Avenue of the Giants beginning at Phillipsville, California. The Avenue of the Giants runs for 32 miles and is inside the Humboldt Redwoods State Park. The exit is approximately 30 miles south of Eureka, California.
Humboldt Redwoods State Park encompasses over 52,000 acres and includes 17,000 acres of old growth coast redwood trees. After traveling about 250 miles from San Francisco, we opted to park ourselves in the Hidden Springs Campground which was about halfway through the park. We´re glad we stopped there too, because the park ranger informed us the next two campgrounds were full to capacity.
We parked our rig in site 71 and proceeded to change out of our jeans because the temperature was approaching 90 degrees; quite a difference from San Fransisco and the bay area. John wanted to take a hike down to the river just across the road from the campground so he got into his bathing suit (Sissy knew what he wanted to do) and she opted for shorts and a t-shirt. Down to the river it was, and when I say down I mean it. Hidden Springs campground is located on the side of a mountain, and the roads there were at least 10-15 percent grade.
The walk down wasn´t that bad even though it felt like about 5 miles. John said it would be good for us to get some exercise (remember what Tom said?), but we still felt pain in our thighs going down. We also dreaded the walk back uphill after stopping at the river, but that was later and it was time for a dip. The river was nice and shallow except for an area where a huge redwood had fallen down. Campers and their families were enjoying the afternoon swimming and just sitting along the banks taking pics and enjoying the scenery. Redwood trees were everywhere along the river on boths sides, and the river was moving very slow.
Before Sissy knew it, John was shedding his t-shirt and sandals and heading in to get wet. Once ankle deep, he returned to get his sandals back on due to the rocky bottom. Then it was to the deep part of the river so he could get completely in. Eyeballing some kids and their parents walking up the fallen redwood, John decided to take the dive himself. The tree was a little slippery, but John´s sandals grabbed a hold of it like Sissy´s grabs a hold of John while on the bike (tight). Then it was an Olympic Swan Jump off the log and into the river. Whoops! Sissy forgot to take a picture so he had to do it again. The other campers were yelling at him to get farther out on the tree (it went up the farther you walked out), but John opted to remain in the middle for his jump. At last, Sissy snapped the pic.
We saw hundreds of little, 1-inch long fish we called minnows, but the kid on the log saw some that were at least 18 inches (or so he said). Not having our poles with us, and realizing the walk back up the mountain to our trailer wasn´t worth it, we didn´t go fishing. We did however, have an excellent afternoon at the riverbank enjoying the sights and taking in the cool breeze off the water. Speaking of water, the river was surprisingly warm. It must´ve been due to the warm temperature and slow moving water.
Ok, it was time for the long hike back up the mountain. We found a short cut which shaved about 1/4 mile off our walk and that was good. Our legs hurt real bad when we finally reached our campsite. But, dinner was next so it didn´t play on our minds much. John started a fire in the fire pit as Sissy prepared the pork chops in her special marinade (it´s a secret). Sissy wanted to boil the water for the macaroni and cheese, but John said to put the pot on the fire and boil it there. It worked! Dinner was fabulous, and then it was time to roast some marsh mellows over the fire before hitting the sack. We were pooped, mostly due to the walk down and back up the mountain.
The next morning it was up about 0430 for coffee and pee breaks. We´d left the windows open all night and the cool temperature caught us off guard. Luckily we had sleeping bags and blankets to stay warm, but getting up at that time of the morning was cold. Showers, getting dressed and more coffee were next before hitting the road again. We wanted to get out of California on this day, but we left our options open.
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