Directly across the highway from Trees of Mystery sits the Forest Cafe, a whimsical little restaurant with a woodland theme. Our seating area had been arranged to create the illusion of being at the bottom of a pond.
Of course we had to drive the Elantra through a giant tree at some point. We chose the one in Klamath.
Just past Klamath we left the highway for the Newton B Drury Scenic Parkway, stopping here and there to admire the massive trees.
Stranger for scale:
We detoured out to the Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trailhead near Orick in Redwood National Park, walked as far as the big pedestrian bridge, and realized that none of us were feeling another hike. We were already behind schedule as it was. We had planned to spend Thursday night on the other side of San Francisco, but that clearly wasn’t going to happen. We aborted the Lady Bird Grove hike and continued on.
Still in dinosaur country.
We made a brief return to the highway…
…before turning onto the Avenue of the Giants, a long scenic byway that winds through Humboldt Redwoods State Park.
Day 8 for that wool top, btw. Any doubts I had about merino’s famed ability to stay clean and fresh over long periods of use were laid to rest on this trip. The hype is true!
Fallen tree, Elizabeth for scale:
There are a lot of touristy novelty stops along Avenue of the Giants, but nearly all of them were closed when we came through.
We made it almost, but not quite, to San Francisco that day. We spent the night at some unmemorable chain hotel in Santa Rosa whose name I don’t recall, and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge around 10am the next morning.
I liked San Francisco a little better than I’d liked Seattle. They both struck me as once-beautiful cities in lovely settings that had been mercilessly hijacked by the corporate economy. And granted, I saw very little of either city. But the impression I got of Seattle was that everyone but the wealthy had been chased out, whereas in San Francisco I at least saw normal-looking people out doing normal-person things.
Oh…Elizabeth says it was the Rodeway Inn in Santa Rosa. She forgets nothing.
Anyway, we began our brief tour of SanFran at Ghirardelli Square, a historical bayside chocolate factory that has been mostly repurposed as a shopping center. It reminded me of the Pearl Brewery in San Antonio, but with chocolate instead of beer.
We had some amaaaaaazing ice cream sundaes at the Ghirardelli Chocolate Experience, and watched some of the old chocolate-making equipment do its thing.
Looked around the Square a bit more, and then walked out to the municipal pier for a better view of the bay.
if you want to see a stark example of the social inequality built into the modern corporate economy, look no further than San Francisco’s public pier. Set against a backdrop of immense wealth…
…the municipal pier is literally rotting away for lack of funds to maintain it.
Alcatraz Island in the near background:
Private wealth, public poverty.
We returned to the car and drove down via Lombard St…
…to a beach parking lot so we could walk out to see the Wave Organ.
The tide was too low to reach the concrete pipes that play the organ, but the structure itself is fascinating.
About that time we all decided that we had seen enough of San Francisco and were ready to move on. Alas, moving on was easier said than done in the thickening afternoon traffic. We spent hours struggling free of the city before we finally escaped into the foothills.
And just like that, I felt like I was finally back in my home state. It even smelled like California, that familiar dusty scent of tall dry grass and coastal sunshine. We rolled down the windows and let the breeze blow through the car, and nostalgia for a California that no longer exists ached in my chest.
To be continued!