Preparing to leave Richardson's Grove the next morning, we saw about twenty types of moths had been attracted to the bathroom light overnight. It was a good chance to examine some of these interesting insects up close. Since we were in the redwoods, it seemed like logical to drive out along the Avenue of the Giants, a road through some tremendously old growth groves. The floors in these vast cathedral-like spaces were dotted with redwood sorrel, douglas iris, and trilliums. We stopped midway through the auto tour at the Humboldt Redwood Visitor Center. They had interactive exhibits showing the native flora and fauna and the history of the area. One interesting chapter in that history was the saga of Charles Kellog, a man who could uncannily imitate birdsong, put out fires with his voice alone, and who was a passionate proponent of protecting California's forests. He even built an old-timey RV out of a log and drove it around the country to show people how amazing the redwoods were. Out in front of the visitor center were three trees: a giant sequoia, a California redwood, and a dawn redwood, which is now only found in a remote, tiny part of China,
and they waved goodbye in the breeze as we drove on.
We stopped again in the small town of Scotia, at a cafe with wi-fi, where we had some delicious and inexpensive baja tacos. The cafe had a definite aura of community, from the round lady cooking behind the counter, to her son waiting and bussing tables, to the loudly chatting foursome in the booth behind us. On the way out of town, we picked up some wonderfully sweet cherries from a roadside stand, and munched contentedly as we drove down the highway.
Eventually, we made it to Redwood National & State Park. Selecting a campsite in the aptly-named Elk Prairie campground, we then made the bikes ready for a spin. Passing again the Roosevelt elk and their gawkers, we rode up to Cal Barrel Road. (Since this was a national park, we couldn't take Rascal on trail, but it was perfectly okay to take him on a fire road.) Being conscientous hikers, we picked up all the litter we passed.
The park had been having real problems with corvids (crows, ravens, and jays). These birds, attracted by human food, have been invading deep wood habitats where
Dawn redwood, CA redwood & Giant Sequoia
they do not normally go, which spells trouble for the spotted murrelet. This little bird nests only in old growth forests, and its chicks and eggs look like a delicious appetizer to corvids. By picking up litter, we were helping to protect the murrelet.
We also saw some of Julia's favorite invertebrates. Can you guess what it was? Here's a hint: it's large, yellow, and slow. Yes, we saw banana slugs! ...You're laughing at us, aren't you. Look, here's the deal: Jessie is a whiz at animal spotting, Julia... not so much. The one animal she can reliably spot more often than Jessica is the banana slug. (Besides, banana is fun to spell.)
The campsite we stayed in, unlike most of our prior ones, was not surrounded by trees, but instead on a grassy lawn type area. It was beautiful, but also mosquito-y. Departing the next morn, we took a long scenic drive through the park. If you've never been to redwoods, put it on your list of things to do before you die. They evoke feelings of awe and wonder like nothing else.
Passing over the bridge to Klamath, we spotted some golden bears. These weren't
Believe it or not these are a type of pine cone.
some exotic variant species of black bear, but rather statues on the bridge. A little farther up, and we found a nice campground in the Six Rivers National Forest/Smith River National Recreation Area called Panther Flats. We saw no panthers, but stayed in a woody campground, amongst pines and oaks, by a river that ran so cold and clear that you could see straight to the bottom of even the deepest parts.
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