Payson, Arizona, Part Two

Payson, Arizona, Part Two

The Payson visitor center and Payson Ranger District office loaded us up with so many pamphlets and maps I knew we’d never see it all in the week we had allotted. The following are sights we managed to fit into our schedule from October 6 – 12, 2019.

Pine, Arizona

A 20-minute drive from Payson on scenic route 260 takes drivers along a road with wonderful views of the mountains and forest, past the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park (more about the park later), and into Pine, Arizona. Four Mormon families established Pine in 1879. The 2010 census showed approximately 1,963 residents. This compares to Payson, which had a population of 15,301.

“Open house” signs enticed us to follow the arrows. We weren’t in the market to buy, just playing lookie-loos. A family of elk crossed the road in front of us so we stopped to wait for them to pass. Another car came up behind us. They didn’t have patience for the elk and drove around. We could almost hear the epithets they hurled our way as they zoomed by. Where we live, we stop for deer and wild turkeys on the road. It’s better than running into them and wrecking our vehicle.

The elk made it safely across the road

Strawberry/Pine Fall Festival

After touring the house, we found the main road lined with trucks and cars, and people walking around. “Oh, look. Kettle corn,” we said in unison. The popcorn vendor wasn’t sure what was going on, but the banner across the road advertised The Strawberry/Pine Fall Festival, so we walked down the street, peeked in a few antique and craft stores, and cruised the vendor booths. The limited storage space in the fifth wheel prevents us from buying stuff while traveling. I did splurge on a few bookmarks, though.

Judy Bottler had photo bookmarks for sale at the Strawberry/Pine Fall Festival

Three miles further north is Strawberry, which is even smaller than Pine. They claimed 961 residents in 2010. Many of the houses, cabins, and cottages in both Strawberry and Pine are vacation homes or rentals, which increases the population at times.

Strawberry, Arizona

In Strawberry we stumbled upon the oldest standing schoolhouse in Arizona. District #33 in Strawberry Valley was established in 1884 and still stands in the same place where it was built.

Strawberry School House

Besides a school, the building served as a meeting place, social center, and a church. Closed in June of 1916, by 1961 only the log frame remained.

School bell

On August 15, 1981, the Pine/Strawberry Archaeological and Historical Society dedicated the structure as a Historical Monument after they renovated the school. It is open to the public from May through mid-October on weekends and holidays. https://www.pinestrawhs.org/schoolhouse.html

Furnishings inside the schoolhouse

Driving through Strawberry, Pine, and even Payson, we noted homes hidden among shrubs and trees. This is what Paradise, California, must have looked like before fire wiped out the entire town in November 2018. Only a few residents in these communities had protected their homes from fire. Did most of the occupants not get the memo to create a defensible space zone around their home, or did they choose to ignore it? I could easily see how the entire communities of Strawberry and Pine could go up in smoke. I wish them well and pray it never happens.

Pine View Loop Trail

The Pine View Loop trail wraps around a hill for 2.8 miles. Wandering through piñon and ponderosa pines, and alligator junipers, Jon made it without trekking poles along the up and down trail with occasional switchbacks. This was his longest hike yet after his sciatic pain had disappeared.

Jon ditched his trekking poles for this hike.
This is the bark of an alligator juniper

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park

After thirty years on the State Parks Board priority list and a few approvals by the state legislature to purchase the land, lack of funding delayed natural bridge becoming a state park. The board finally purchased the 160 acres on October 1, 1990, and the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park held its grand opening celebration on June 29, 1991.

Tonto Natural Bridge

Believed to be the largest natural travertine bridge in the world, the 400-foot long tunnel contains turquoise pools fed by a natural spring. The park offers several short trails making this a perfect place to bring young children.

Watch for slippery rock

We managed steep hills and a scramble over huge boulders and rocks along the Anna Mae Trail. The trail ends at the cavern under the bridge.

The trekking poles came in handy on the boulders and slick rock

While working my way over the boulders to reach the opening, I passed a woman sketching on a pad. We spoke a few words and I found a spot to sit and take photos. A few minutes later, the woman, Kathy Mann from Canada, asked if she could use my camera to take a photo of me sitting on the boulder.

Photo taken by Kathy Mann with my camera

Without thinking, I handed over my Sony and turned my back. After several minutes, I turned around to see if she was still there. She said, “Just a few more.”

I’m used to taking photos, not modeling for them, but if I could help an artist in her work, I was glad to do it. I sent the photos to her a few days later and hope to one day see her creation. Her paintings emote a sense of calm and peace. If you are interested in seeing her work, go to kathymannfineart.com.

Waterfall Trail is about 300 feet long and ends at a waterfall wall. A walk down approximately 120 steps takes visitors to an extremely narrow and short space to view water flowing out of the side of the cliff. More than five people created a huge crowd, making it difficult to maneuver. Kids will most likely enjoy the cool spray from the falls on a hot day. For us, it was a disappointment.

“But, I want to stay here where it’s cool.”

The short trails to the third and fourth overlooks provided additional views of the bridge. At the fourth overlook, Jon pointed out the hole in the walkway where you can look through the grates to see the water from the bridge top. It wasn’t that spectacular, but at least it was something different.

The backside of the Tonto Bridge, or is it the front?
The Gowan Trail was closed to hikers
Through the grate at the top of the bridge

Mogollon Rim

Mogollon Rim (pronounced mōgə-yōn, mo-go-yawn, or muggy-on, depending on your source) is a 200-mile geological formation composed primarily of limestone and sandstone. It runs across Arizona from northern Yavapai County in the west to the New Mexico border in the east and forms the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau in Arizona. Piñon pines, junipers, and ponderosa forests abound on the plateau.

Mogollon Rim

North of Strawberry is Arizona Forest Road (FR) 300, a dirt and gravel road that skirts the Rim for 43.3 miles from State Route 87 to State Route 260. FR 300 intersects with the General Crook Trail, a historic wagon route used in the 1870s and 1880s to provide logistical support for General George Crook in the U.S. Army’s war against the Apaches. Since we started our day too late to drive the entire route, we settled on checking out a few spots on the west end to get a feel for what the road had to offer.

A little bit of fall

Land south of the Mogollon has an elevation between 4,000 and 5,000 feet while the plateau rises to 8,000 feet.

We saw plenty of trees with their tops loped off

The forest is the last place I’d expect to see a typewriter. But there it was as if someone staged it just for me to come take a photo.

This typewriter has seen better days

Another day we drove out to the east end where parts of the rim are visible from the highway without driving on dirt roads. The visitor’s center had already closed for the season so we snapped a few pics and climbed back in the truck.

The valley below Mogollon Rim

We stopped in at The Tonto Creek State Fish Hatchery located 21 miles east of Payson off Route 260 on Tonto Creek Road. Although the visitor center had already closed for the season, the building was open.

Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery

Displays inside gave information about how the fish eggs are imported from other hatcheries and grown at this facility. The Work Projects Administration (WPA) originally built the hatchery in the early 1930s for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

I think they need a new life ring

The hatchery’s expertise is hatching and growing trout eggs to three-inch fingerlings and nine-inch catchable fish. Once matured, approximately 165,000 rainbow trout, 400,000 brook and cutthroat trout, and 150,000 Apache trout are stocked in Arizona waters.

Stream at the watershed

That wraps up our time in Payson, Arizona. For those who can’t take the Phoenix heat in the summer, Payson seems to be a good place to cool off and enjoy the Rim Country great outdoors.

As our time in Payson ended, we turned our focus on Phoenix and visits with family and friends.

Safe Travels

Payson, Arizona, Part One

We left the nearly 100-degree temperatures in Gila Bend for cooler weather in Payson, Arizona, on October 6, 2019. When our escort led us to the rear of Payson Campground and RV Resort, we cheered. Another week without freeway noise sounded good to us. The dusty roads and campsites surrounded by tall hedges and trees made us feel like we were in a National Forest campground.

Campsite at Payson Campground and RV Resort

Green Valley Park and Lakes

One of the highlights of Payson is the Green Valley Park and Lakes. The 45-acre property is home to the Rim Country Museum, the reproduction of the Zane Grey Cabin, and the Haught Family Cabin. Anglers are welcome to fish the well-stocked lake, sailors with non-gas powered vessels are invited to glide across the calm waters, and bird lovers will enjoy the waterfowl that live in the area or visit during their migration.

Green Valley Park Lake

Walkers, runners, and parents with children in strollers find the 1-mile concrete trail around the large lake and the amphitheater a great place to enjoy a bit of exercise. Children even have access to a playground.

Green Valley Park

The amphitheater is used for the 4th of July and Memorial Day events, summer concerts, and as we found out during our visit, the Annual Beeline Cruise-In Car Show.

Green Valley Park amphitheater

When we heard about the car show, we didn’t expect much. Cars had arrived from Phoenix and other Arizona locations as well as from neighboring states. Someone made an announcement over the PA system that this year’s event was the largest ever. They had slots for 225 cars but ended up with over 240. Fortunately, the group was able to accommodate everyone who arrived. Jon and I spent about two hours gawking at the classic cars and snapping photos.

If you’re not interested in photos of classic cars, just roll on down the page.

The Halloween Roadster
Ah, there’s the boy that made the music play, skulls rattle, and dog bark.
Delivery sedan
Mad Max car
Chevy Apache stepside pickup
Family picnic time
1948 Chevrolet Fleetmaster Country Club Convertible
At the Carhop
My first car was a white two-door 1970 Datsun 510 with a black vinyl top. I wanted the butterscotch color, but it wasn’t in stock. Fifteen years later when I could afford the aftermarket paint job it was time for a new car.
1980s icon Bob’s Big Boy
Jon owned a blue 1963 Volkswagen bug with a ragtop moon roof.
Payson’s first firetruck. The museum is taking donations for a restoration project.
Jon also owned a Metro after he crashed his 1955 Chevy
I don’t think this Jeep spends much time 4-wheeling

Taking photos with someone proves that photographers put their own personal spin on their photos. Jon took pics of the cars with their hoods up, showing off the power plant and/or the wheels and tires, while I took pics of quirky autos like the Mad Max, the Halloween Roadster, and Carhop.

Rim Country Museum and Zane Grey Cabin Tours

 The Rim Country Museum and Zane Grey Cabin are only viewed through a docent-led tour. Sadly, no photos are allowed inside the museum or cabin, and the museum’s website does not contain any photos. Only people lucky enough to travel to Payson and take the tours get to see the wonderful displays and artifacts inside. It is a small space, and I understand they need to limit how many people enter the museum. However, it would be nice if they shared their images so more people can enjoy the exhibits. Perhaps someday they can record a tour or take photos to post on their website.

The first National Forest Ranger building. Through the door and window are displays of objects used years ago.

The displays included artifacts and stories about ancient civilizations that populated the Rim Country, continued with early settlers, the June 1990 Dude Fire that took the lives of six firefighters and destroyed the original Zane Grey cabin, and a feud deadlier than the Hatfield-McCoy feud. The Pleasant Valley War (also known as Tonto Basin Feud, Tonto Basin War, or Tewksbury-Graham Feud) racked up an estimated death toll of 35 – 50 from 1882-1892, while 13 people died during the Hatfield-McCoy feud. For those interested in learning more, Wikipedia has detailed information on the conflict, and Zane Grey based his novel entitled To The Last Man: A Story of the Pleasant Valley War on the war.

Reproduction of Zane Grey’s Cabin

Through architectural plans, the historical society was able to recreate the Zane Grey hunting cabin. The structure contained one large room that served more like a meeting room than a place to sleep and cook. In fact, there were no facilities for cooking and sleeping. The hunters must have cooked and slept outside in tents.

Zane Grey Cabin replica

The docent-led tour of the Zane Grey Cabin included historical background of the author ‘s life, his time in Rim Country, and his career as an author. Grey’s books line the shelves and his typewriter sits prominently on the desk. Apparently, years after Grey’s death, his wife was cleaning out and giving away belongings. She gifted the typewriter to a young man who worked for her. He kept the typewriter safe for many years until one day he arrived and donated it to the museum.

The Haught Cabin

The Haught cabin is also on the premises at Green Valley Park and Lakes. Imagine living in a 10’ by 18’ dirt-floor cabin without windows with five children and a mother-in-law. That is what Sarah Haught did after she and her husband Henry arrived in the Arizona Territory from Oklahoma in 1897. Territorial settlers sure were hardy folk.

Haught Cabin
The cabin is staged inside as if only one person lived there, not eight. Did hammocks hang from the walls?

When the nearby spring dried up, they took apart their little cabin and moved it to Little Green Valley where they settled next. Years later, Henry and Sarah’s daughter continued the family tradition by living in the log cabin with her husband Henry Garrels and their 5 sons. When Larry Hammon acquired the property in 1999, he contacted the Rim Country Museum to see if they were interested in relocating the structure. Again, the cabin was dismantled and then rebuilt where it now stands next to the museum.

Restaurants

While in Payson, one must eat, so we tried out a few local restaurants. We stopped in for lunch at Miss Fitz 260 Café. I had a cheeseburger with potato salad (with bacon, yum), and Jon chose chicken fried steak. We both enjoyed our meals with Arnold Palmers.

We felt privileged that Duza’s Kitchen had room for us at lunch. The comments about Mensur Duzic, the owner and executive chef, and her restaurant in Phoenix were glowing, and previous customers promised a drive to Payson for her food. The turkey, bacon, and avocado sandwich on Asiago bread was delicious.

Duza’s Kitchen
Mensur Duzic is the woman on the left

Fargo’s Steakhouse was the perfect setting for celebrating the one-year anniversary of my surgery and Jon’s pain-free back and recovery from Bell’s Palsy. The menu offered so many choices that they are sure to please everyone’s palate. We enjoyed good food, great service, and best of all, spending our special day together.

Fargo’s Steakhouse has much more than steak

That’s enough for now. Stay tuned for next week’s post when we venture outside the city limits.

Safe Travels

Respite in Gila Bend, Arizona

Peace and quiet and wide-open spaces are what we needed after the big city sights and sounds of San Diego. Although temperatures approached 100 degrees, Gila Bend KOA seemed like the perfect spot to get away from the ants that invaded our coach and the roar of the freeway outside our bedroom window.

The Ranch House at Gila Bend KOA

We checked in at Gila Bend KOA on October 3, 2019, for a three-night stay. This RV park has been our go-to campground whenever we pass through the Sonoran Desert. Each year we arrive anxious to see what improvements the owner Scott Swanson has made since the previous year. A major street resurfacing project was underway when we arrived, closing off the main road. Our escort led the way along an alternate route to our site. This was the best site we have ever had at this campground.

Our campsite at Gila Bend KOA

A new gate at the entrance prevents people from entering that do not belong. Unless I missed it during our last visit, the Solitary Confinement shelter was a great addition for folks who want to enjoy a little solitude.

Step right in for your solitary confinement

Chairs have been placed inside the two cubicle-like spaces with a view of the usually dry creek lined with palo verde trees. Don’t even think about talking while cocooned in solitary,  it’s not allowed. And pets and loved ones must stay at home.

View from the Solitary Confinement

Patio and fireplace behind the Ranch House

Although Gila Bend boasts a Dollar General, Family Dollar, and a Carniceria, for shopping we prefer to drive to Buckeye for our groceries. The Butcher & The Farmer Marketplace had everything we needed under one roof.

The Butcher & The Farmer Marketplace in Buckeye has everything you need

We took Old US 80 to Buckeye, a scenic route that winds through farmland, around lava flows, and past The Co-op Grill.

They went thataway

Operating farms and dairies and smaller ranchettes also lined the road. Dotted here and there were a few properties that appeared abandoned.

Acres of cotton fields
A cotton blossom

The highlight of the drive is the Historic Gillespie Dam Bridge and Interpretive Plaza. Unfortunately, someone had removed the interpretive part of the plaza leaving only the sign supports. Never fear, Wikipedia to the rescue to fill in the details of the artifact’s history.

The interpretive Plaza lacked information signs

The concrete gravity dam on the Gila River was constructed during the 1920s for irrigation purposes. In 1927, the steel truss bridge opened to traffic and incorporated into the highway system as Route 80.

View of Gillespie Bridge

It carried US 80 traffic until 1956 when the bridge was decommissioned. On May 5, 1981, the bridge earned its spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

The bridge across waters

It carried US 80 traffic until 1956 when the bridge was decommissioned. On May 5, 1981, the bridge earned its spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

The ramp to the overlook

Following extreme rainfall in 1993, a portion of the dam failed, remnants of which can be seen from the road.

Gillespie Dam

Driving through Buckeye we noticed the school looked like it had been recently renovated. Across the street stood a two- and three-story brick building that housed the city offices and chamber of commerce. It all seemed too fancy for such a small town until I learned the population approached 69,000 people, about 10 times what I thought, and was the fastest-growing town in the US during 2017.

Buckeye city offices
An homage to the cotton industry
Garden behind the city offices

Before we left Gila Bend for cooler climes in Payson, Arizona, we drove east on Interstate 8 to see if any progress had been made at Big Horn Station since our visit in February 2018. Our post, dated March 3, 2018, titled Gila Bend and Ajo, Arizona,  here provides more detail of the historic property.

Not much improvement happening at Big Horn Station

Refreshed from our respite in Gila Bend, it was time to move on. Payson, here we come. But before we go, here is a sunset photo.

Can there ever be too many sunsets?

Safe Travels

Quincy and Graeagle in Plumas County, California

Exploring new territory is our favorite type of adventure and Plumas County in California was a place we had yet to explore. So, on October 4, 2014, we headed north from Yosemite along State Route 49 to Interstate 80, and then north on State Route 89. We had often passed State Route 89 near Truckee, when driving to and from Reno, Nevada, and wondered what lay beyond the thick forest. We were about to find out.

We selected Pioneer RV Park in Quincy as base camp for four nights.

Campsite at Pioneer RV Park in Quincy, California

James H. Bradley, one of the organizers of Plumas County, donated land for the county seat that would become Quincy. Bradley had named his farm in Illinois after John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) and decided that name was just fine for the new town in California. In 1858, the town was formally recognized. The estimated population for Plumas County in 2018 was 18,800, of which about 1,900 people lived in Quincy.

We began our exploration at Buck’s Lake on the Oroville-Bucks Lake Road. Surrounded by the Bucks Lake Wilderness and Recreation area, residences, and resorts, visitors can enjoy fishing, camping, hiking, and water sports during the spring and summer months.

Old fishing cabins surround Buck’s Lake

When winter descends on the valley that sits at 5,200’ elevation, the snowmobiles and snowshoes came out to play. Several campgrounds accommodate both tents and RVs in Plumas National Forest or in private campgrounds. Only a small number of full hookup sites are available.

Buck’s Lake
Buck’s Lake Dam

Our next stop was Thompson Lake where the trees showed off their yellow and gold fall colors.

Thompson Lake

We hiked around Gansner Park where the green grass and shade from the tall pines made for a pleasant stroll. Overall, the park was in good order, except for the tennis courts. It looked like they had been abandoned for several seasons.

Gansner Park
Abandoned tennis courts at Gansner Park

The next day we headed out to the Cascade Trailhead. The Spanish Creek flows next to the trail and leads to five small falls. The trail was originally built to transport water for hydraulic mining and used as a supply road for the Western Pacific Railroad. Fall had surely made its way into the canyon.

Fall marches on
Cascade Trail
Spanish Creek
One of five short falls
Angel wings or a heart?
Spanish Creek
More fall colors
Purple daisies look more like it’s spring

The Union Pacific railroad runs through the canyon. I had seen the tunnel high up on the canyon wall.

Union Pacific train tunnel

Then the roar and thunder of a freight train grew in intensity and soon there it was chugging away and disappearing into the tunnel.

Union Pacific train was right on time

We moved our base camp to Movin’ West RV Park in Graeagle to explore another area of Plumas County. Once a company mill town, recreation now drives Graeagle’s economy. With a championship 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, nearby Plumas County National Forest and lakes basin and the Plumas Eureka State Park, visitors have plenty of activities to enjoy during their stay.

The Plumas Eureka State Park museum was closed when we arrived, which should have disappointed us. Instead, we managed to learn about the artifacts while wandering around the exterior grounds and examining the old gold-mining equipment and buildings. Although it would have been nice to have a docent tell us the history of the place, we were able to grab enough information from reading the signs, which told each object’s story.

Welcome to Plumas Eureka State Park
No one home at the museum
Mohawk stamp mill
Trestle
Stone wheel
Metal Wheel
This Huntington Mill was used to crushed gold-bearing ore for processing
Replica assay office
JT inspecting the antique mining equipment

Fall had definitely descended upon the Madora Lake Loop Trail.

Madora Lake Loop Trail
Hmm, does he want to go through there or not?

We finished our exploration of Plumas County at the Plumas National Forest Lakes Basin Recreation Area. The lush forest, crystal blue lakes, and fall-inspired scenery was the perfect setting to close out our adventures. We selected the loop trail that skirted Big Bear Lake and passed by Little Bear Lake, Cub Lake, and Silver Lake.

Big Bear Lake
Big Bear Lake
Little Bear Lake
Silver Lake
Standing among the undergrowth
Put down the camera and come on
Bear Lake and Long Lake Trail
Jeffrey Pine
Time for a break
Decaying log

Putting together these past posts has made me homesick for the thick forests, alpine lakes, and trails. I want to lace up my shoes, sling my camera around my neck, and walk the trails exploring new territory.

Jon’s back has been pain free for almost a week as I write this post. Now comes the slow process of avoiding another flare up and regaining strength and stamina. However long that takes, I have hope that one day soon we will once again climb mountains and sit along an alpine lakeshore eating our lunch.

Safe Travels

 

2014 Carlon Falls and Yosemite

Our 2014 adventures continued with a trip to Yosemite National Park for a few days in September. Our son and his better half met us there for some hiking and fishing. Yosemite, like most of the nation’s parks, requires reservations several months in advance. Luckily, Yosemite Lakes RV Resort had space for us. Although it was only 5.5 miles from the entrance, it was another 19 minutes to reach the valley.

View from our campsite at Yosemite Lakes RV Resort

Carlon Falls

We chose the Carlon Falls hike as our first activity. The trail to the falls is 2.8 miles roundtrip from the trailhead and travels through Yosemite National Park Wilderness. Six years after the August 2013 Rim Fire, the park’s website still warns of danger trekking through the burn area. Loose and falling rocks, and trees weakened from the fire and drought, could cause injury or even death to unsuspecting hikers.

Approaching the Yosemite National Park Wilderness gate on the Carlon Falls trail

In 2014, we found the trail well marked as we passed through burned-out logs and fire scared tree trunks and then we entered a lush green forest and underbrush. The south fork of the Tuolumne River meandered through the rocks and vegetation as it made its way toward the main river.

One year after the 2013 fire, these little seedlings had sprouted among the charcoal debris. I wonder if they survived the remaining drought and harsh conditions.

Little sprouts vying for survival in the ashes

The trail seemed to disappear just short of the falls, blocked by huge boulders.

The holes in the granite reveal a powerful river compared to what we saw.
Kevin navigates the boulders with ease
No, this isn’t an ad for Arrowhead water, just a cute pick of Bailey
JT sizes up a fish he saw

I wasn’t quite as quick to scramble over the impediments as the others, especially with my pack strapped to my back and a camera slung around my neck. I’m not so sure it was worth it given our visit was in the fall during the middle of what turned out to be a seven-year drought.

Carlon Falls

Images of the falls online show a wall of water rushing over the granite wall and mist rising from the pool. During our visit, it was not such a spectacular sight due to the drought, but it was peaceful back there. With birds flitting among the trees, squirrels scampering about, and the water tumbling over the granite wall and gently splashing into the pond, it was the perfect respite after the boulders.

Fishing

Fishing is not allowed in the Park, but at the Carlon Falls parking and picnic area, there is access to the south fork of the Tuolumne River. The gang grabbed their gear, baited up, and stood back to wait for the fish to come and take a taste of whatever goodies covered up the hook.

Fishing is not my thing. I just can’t bring myself to hurt the rainbow-striped critters, so off I trotted up and down the stream looking for interesting artifacts to photograph. Here are a few things that caught my eye.

Obviously, the water runs deep enough at times to erode the soil from these tree roots
A granite wall keeps the water in check
Layers upon layers upon layers of graffiti, modern-day petroglyphs, on the bridge support
Raindrops cling to branches after a short rain
Poisonous or edible? I’ll leave it for the bears.
Lichen growing on a downed tree limb
A bridge over peaceful waters
Watch your step across the reflecting pool
Let’s see. One, two, three, . . . Perhaps 30 years old?

When I returned from my photo walk, the gang had caught enough trout for a small dinner feast. I may not like to fish, but I sure do like to eat them.

Yum, dinner!

Yosemite

Tunnel View Overlook

On June 30, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill creating the Yosemite Grant, which was turned over to California to operate. The area surrounding the grant became Yosemite National Park in 1890.

From left, Jon Todd (my hubby), Bailey Bishop (Kevin’s better half), and Kevin Todd (my son)

Seeing damage caused by overgrazing and other commercial activities in and near the park, John Muir, among many other conservationists, lobbied President Theodore Roosevelt to have the federal government take control of the grant and expand and protect the park. Three years later, Roosevelt signed the bill that accomplished the conservationist’s goal.

Site of meeting between Muir and Roosevelt
Jon, Bailey, and Kevin with El Capitan in the background
Half Dome, of course

With limited time to visit Yosemite, we selected a one-way bus ride to Glacier Point and a hike down the mountain on Four Mile Trail. I was concerned my knees might falter on the 3,200′ downhill slope.

We joined the crowds along the paths and overlooks around the visitor’s center to marvel at the breathtaking views.

View from Glacier Point overlook
Half Dome in the shadows
The ancient art of marking up an object with petroglyphs and pictographs lives on in modern times
“Come on, everybody, here we go.”
Rear of Half Dome
“Look at this great pic I took.”
Way down in the valley there are roads and vehicles and buildings. At this distance, they fade into the scenery.
Never can take too many pictures of Half Dome
Nevada Falls
Gnarly tree stump
“Yes, dear. You’re so strong and handsome.”
Four Mile Trail continues around the giant granite slab
A fern finds a perch
First sign of fall

My knees held up during the hike thanks to the switchbacks that eased the descent. We all were glad to come to the end, visit the restroom, and head back to our vehicle. I’d sure like to try hiking up the trail someday.

Safe Travels

The California Lost Coast and Humboldt Redwoods State Park

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.

Immortal Tree

Lost Coast

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.

Mal Coombs Park

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.

Cape Mendocino Lighthouse

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.

Beloved founder and resident Mario Machi

Not far from the lighthouse, we found tide pools to explore.

Crashing waves not far from tide pools

The clear water made it easy to spot sea life among the shallow waters.

Clear, clear water

I almost missed seeing the crab among the pebbles, shells, and bones.

Hey, what you looking at?

This was our first experience seeing a chiton shell. Our marine biologist friend later told us chitons are common. Thanks, Ray for educating us.

Chiton shell

Another first for us was the turban snails with their colorful purple and blue shells, definitely my favorite.

Turban Snails

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.

Coastline
Bouquet of 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.

Searching for the top

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.

Jon and Linda standing by a root

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.

There’s the top

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.

Hey, here I am.

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.

Giant ferns for a giant tree

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.

Have a seat, or maybe not.

Dyerville Overlook

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.

Abandoned railroad bridge

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.

Yum, yum, gettin’ me some nectar
Purple flower

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.

We gained elbow room in our new trailer.

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.

Safe Travels

Eureka, California, Here We Come

We continue our 2014 Pacific Northwest Tour with a quick stop in Eureka, California. A hurried walk through town, taking photos of iconic Victorian homes, and more photos at the marina on Woodley Island was about all we could fit into the few hours we had to explore.

View of Carson Mansion with a raptor in the sky

The Ingomar Club, or Carson Mansion, and the Pink Lady are the first images that appear when conducting an online search for Eureka, California. So excuse me while I add my contributions to the plethora of shots that already grace the internet.

Carson Mansion and Ingomar Club

The Ingomar Club, a private social club in Eureka, has the distinction of owning the Carson Mansion. Their mission is the restoration and preservation of the mansion and the grounds. They offer fine dining and social experiences for its members. Initiation fees and membership dues are not posted on their website. If I have to call or fill out an application, I suspect their fees and dues are out of reach for my budget.

Based on the exterior, I must conclude that Ingomar Club has lived up to its mission in preserving the property. The maintenance of the high standard lumberman William Carson established in 1885 when he built the home is evident. The 19th Century Victorian architecture with all the nooks-and-grannies and decorative wood adornments must need constant care and upkeep.

I desperately wanted to peek inside. Alas, that is not possible. This is a private establishment. Members only. Not open to the public. No tours. Stand over there across the street, take your photos, and “see ya” was the message.

The Pink Lady

The Pink Lady, a Queen Anne Victorian home built in 1889 by William and Sarah Carson as a wedding present to their son Milton, is another story. After the Milton Carson family sold the home it passed through several owners. In 2014 when I took the photos, an architect used it for his office.

Since then, new owners have renovated the home as a vacation rental. It can accommodate up to 10 guests in its 4 bedrooms with 6 beds and 2.5 baths. The full baths feature claw-foot tubs. The modern kitchen includes the necessary amenities and essentials. On redwoodcoastvacationrentals.com, they advertise that you just may get a chance to dine at the Carson Mansion. What was that? Dinner at the Carson Mansion?

“Hey, Jon. Pack the bags. We’re driving to Eureka.”

“Okay, okay, Linda. Calm down already.”

Sorry, I got carried away.

Anyway, both buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The architects for both the Carson Mansion and The Pink Lady were Samuel and Joseph Cather Newsom, Newsom and Newsom Architects of San Francisco. Wait a minute. California Governor Gavin Newsom grew up in San Francisco. Could he be related? Wikipedia says no.

Unable to obtain accommodations at The Pink Lady? I imagine Carter House, Carter Cottage, and Bell Cottage have equally impressive digs for a night or two.

Carter House Inn
Bell Cottage and Carter Cottage

When visiting, don’t forget to take a stroll around Historic Downtown Eureka for more examples of Victorian-era buildings.

Oberon Grill still in business as of August 2019

Eureka boasts not one but two bookstores for a population of approximately 27,000. They probably enjoy business from students attending Humboldt State University, which is only eight miles away.

The Booklegger looks like a place to step in and browse the aisles
Eureka Books is also a thriving enterprise

I couldn’t pass up a photo of this rusted hunk of a train engine splattered with graffiti. It’s not the usual iconic photos of Eureka. I wondered if a group was planning on reviving the abandoned railroad or turn it into a museum at some point. A quick search on the internet did not reveal any plans to do unless I missed something.

Abandoned rolling stock

When a drive over to Woodley Island Marina to see Table Bluff Lighthouse is a must. Although the lighthouse stands only 35 feet tall, ships 20 miles away could see the light. This was because of the bluff’s height. The original structure was built in 1892 and the light was deactivated in 1975. The tower was moved to Woodley Island Marina in 1987.

Table Bluff Lighthouse no longer sits on a bluff

Another local iconic photo is of the sculpture The Fisherman by Dick Crane. It resides at the marina on Woodley Island.

The Fisherman by Dick Crane

As always, I wished we would have had more time to explore Eureka and Humboldt County. I find it frustrating that there is so much to see and so little time in which to see it all.

We make one more stop on our way home. Stay tuned for the Lost Coast and Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

Safe Travels