A few days among the giant redwoods sounded like a good idea before we concluded our 2014 Pacific Northwest adventure. We settled in at The Ancient Redwoods RV Park where the Immortal Tree stands. The tree survived a lightning strike that removed approximately 50 feet from its height in 1908 and a flood in 1964, two recent life-threatening events that have occurred during its 950 – 1,000 years.
We drove around the next day and chanced upon one of those roads that made us ask, “I wonder where that goes.” Over bumpy terrain we traveled, up hills and down hills, through small settlements in the middle of what looked like nowhere until we arrived at Shelter Cove.
Cape Mendocino Lighthouse located at Mal Coombs Park in Cape Mendocino attracted our attention. First lit on December 1, 1868, the US Coast Guard abandoned the building at its original location in 1948 when it installed a new beacon light on higher ground. For the next 50 years, salt spray, punishing winds and torrential rains deteriorated the lighthouse until a group of citizens gained control, restored, and installed it at Mal Coombs Park.
Near the lighthouse stands a statue and marker honoring Mario Machi, a founder of Shelter Cove along with his brothers Tony and Babe. The marker states he survived the Bataan Death March and three years of captivity in World War II. How wonderful that the man was so loved the town saw fit to honor him.
Not far from the lighthouse, we found tide pools to explore.
The clear water made it easy to spot sea life among the shallow waters.
I almost missed seeing the crab among the pebbles, shells, and bones.
This was our first experience seeing a chiton shell. Our marine biologist friend later told us chitons are common. Thanks, Ray for educating us.
Another first for us was the turban snails with their colorful purple and blue shells, definitely my favorite.
A mile or so up the road along the coast we stopped for a photo op, catching a little wave action and capturing flowers nestled in the grass.
Humboldt Redwoods State Park
We never tire of walking among the California redwood trees and the Humboldt Redwoods State Park did not disappoint. The 53,000-acre park includes 17,000 acres of old-growth coast redwoods, the tallest known tree species in the world. They average in height from 150 – 250 feet tall and can exceed 350 feet, with a diameter of 20 feet or more. The bark on a mature tree can be one foot thick.
Rather than a taproot like most trees, the root system of a redwood is shallow and extends up to 100 feet outward connecting with the root systems of other trees. I once heard on a podcast that trees communicate with each other and share resources through their root systems. If one tree needs nutrients to survive, the other trees will pitch in. The trees also possess a natural resistance to fire, disease, and insects, which contributes to their long life.
The trees can live several 100 years or even more than 2,000 years. Consequently, they are the oldest tree species in the world. High winds and flooding are the trees’ enemies.
A tree can reproduce when one of its seeds germinate (a rare occurrence) or when a new tree sprouts from the root of a parent or from burls. Seedlings that survive can grow more than 1 foot per year.
Besides the old-growth forest, the park contains 250 campsites for tents and RVs 24 feet in length or shorter, 100 miles of hiking, biking, and riding trails, and the scenic 32-mile Avenue of the Giants. Driving along the Avenue of the Giants at times is like driving through a tunnel lined with the magnificent trees.
Thanks to Henry Fairfield Osborn, John C. Merriam, and Madison Grant, who formed Save the Redwoods League in 1918. Without their perseverance and fundraising, the trees may not have survived the loggers’ axes.
On our way back to our temporary home, we stopped at the Dyerville Overlook near Garberville. We would have expected more water running in the Eel River during May. A little research revealed dams and diversions limit the amount of water that flows at this location. They also maintain sufficient water to sustain fish populations during the dry season and prevent the type of flooding that occurred in 1955 that destroyed the Dyerville settlement and the one in 1964 which wiped out four other communities.
The bridge once carried Northwestern Pacific Railroad traffic between Eureka and San Francisco. Sadly, the railroad suffered the same fate as the communities destroyed by the floods. The graffiti painted train engine shown in our Eureka, California, blog post may have once rolled over the bridge in its heyday.
We started this series with the tulips in Washington, and end with a couple more flowers of a different varieties.
Fifth Wheel Dreams
Throughout our travels on this trip, we continued to find fault with our little trailer and dreamed of the Cougar fifth wheel we saw in Washington. Along our route we stopped in at a dealer in Oregon and another one in Petaluma, California. After perusing the pamphlets and climbing in and out the various styles and sizes, we made our choice. One month later, we were the proud owners of a new truck and fifth wheel, enjoying the outdoors on a shakedown cruise.
Since then we have checked out the new models of all brands at the annual RV show at our local fairgrounds and during our travels. To date we have yet to find another model or size that would suit us any better. After five years we are satisfied with our purchase. Now if we can get back on the road to enjoy it, we would be super happy campers. Soon. Hopefully, soon.
10 thoughts on “The California Lost Coast and Humboldt Redwoods State Park”
Two people in my critique group, Janie Hodges and Elaine Schmitz, have both set stories in Shelter Cove. Your gorgeous pictures are giving me a much better appreciation for their descriptions!
Thanks, Lani. There’s so much more to the area than I could show with photos in the limited time we were there. As usual I want to go back. So many places to explore and so little time.
I love coming upon a road and driving on it to see where it goes. You hit the jackpot with that road! The ocean and a lighthouse! The Redwoods are such amazing living things. Congratulations on your new fifth wheel! I hope you enjoy it as much as we have enjoyed ours!
Thank you for your comment. Glad you enjoyed the photos.
We have a vacation home in Shelter Cove. It’s heaven.
How lovely. I’d like to spend more time there someday. Thanks for your comment.
Hello there, Linda. Redwoods are amazing. I hadn’t known that some are over 2,000 years old. That’s incredible. See you —
Thanks for your comment, Neil. They are definitely magnificent organisms.
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Thank you. Your opinion means a lot to me.