Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Crescent City, California

As we parted ways with Kit and Masha at 8 PM on a Saturday night, we began a motel search. Masha had been concerned about us finding a place to lay down our heads, and understandably so, for it was rather late on a weekend in the summer, the busiest season of the year. 
But we trusted that everything would be okay. It always is. 

At our first stop, the Travelodge, the rooms were completely sold out. And then at the second motel, Penny Saver Inn, there were three rooms available that reserved for the smokers. The owner gave us a tour of these remaining rooms, to see if there were any in which we could somewhat breathe comfortably. When we found the room with the lesser stench, a family with very energetic children was settling in next door. We knew we wouldn't sleep well if we stayed there. Something just didn't feel right about the whole situation there. Despite the owner telling us that these were probably the last rooms in town, we persisted the search. If all else failed, we would return and settle for that place.

Intuition advised us to keep walking northward up the main drag. We thought that perhaps we should check some motels in that area. After America's Best Value and Econo Lodge both declared to us, "No Vacancy," I definitely felt highly doubtful. Were we even directed to go that way, or did we want to think that? Penny Saver just didn't feel right to us though. I began suggesting places to stealth camp, but they were littered with trash and adjacent to bars and loud, drunk people. 
So reluctantly we decided to return to Penny Saver.

Just then, we passed a couple on the street that were clearly locals out for a nightly stroll. We asked them if they knew of any other motels in town or even of a place to camp that would be quiet. The man pointed, "Sure, there's a beach where my friends sometimes stay. Just follow the lights to the end of the road." This sounded so much more pleasant than a smoky motel room and loud neighbors. We followed their directions and slept peacefully at a beautiful beach instead. Now I can see why we were pointed in that direction instead of to Penny Saver.

Instead of smoke, we breathed in the cool ocean air. We heard the crashing of the waves and the calls of the sea lions, much more preferable to us than the commotion of the city. And surrounding us were fresh, dew-covered blackberries for breakfast. Thank God for all these provisions!

Our campsite.

Another view of Battery Point Lighthouse, around where we explored with Kit and Masha the previous day.

Admiring all the colors and subtropical plants of Crescent City, as we 
walked into town to find a motel room for the second night.

At America's Best Value, we checked into a room and met the owner named Linda. 
She asked me to help her with a few questions about her camera, and we ended up talking 
about photography for awhile. Then later, she kindly allowed me to use the guest computer 
with no limit, as long as no one else was waiting in line.

We then went for a walk through town to explore for the rest of the day.

Then we returned to the motel for the night. I worked on my blog for a few hours from the guest computer, while talking with Elliott, who was working behind the desk. He was very interested in our travels and asked for my blog address. He then recommended a few places around the area to visit, one of which we did end up going to a few weeks later. Elliott, just like Linda, could care less how long I occupied the computer. At one point he needed to use the printer for someone's room transaction, and he apologized to me when asking if I could move aside!
If you're reading this, Elliott, hello, and thank you for everything!

Crescent City sure did feel a bit nippy!
We walked by this Walgreen's in amusement at its sign, as we made our way to the movie theater. Freebird treated us to a showing of The Giver, featuring Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges. The plot, the dialogue, the acting... everything was fantastic. This quickly became one of my favorite films.

After lunch at Jack-in-the-Box, we went to the visitors' center. Here we met John, a very funny and interesting man to say the least. We were there to ask for advice on where to go next, and meanwhile I wanted to purchase some Redwood National Park postcards to send to my family. John challenged me to pick out his favorites, so I asked, "If I do, can I get them for free?" It turns out that none of my choices were his favorites, but as a consolation prize, he did give me a fourth postcard for free!

Now we had been strongly recommended by a couple of people that we met along the journey to 
hike the Lost Coast Trail, which is about 140 miles south of Crescent City. We were debating about whether or not we should travel there now or continue heading north into Oregon. When we asked John about the Lost Coast, he was completely pessimistic about it. "It's wet everywhere and you can never dry off! Up...down...up...down... you'll suffer!" He had hiked this trail before and 
had a horrible experience, in his opinion anyway. We have learned to ignore negative 
perspectives when we hear them, and only expect good in everything. 
But we still felt some doubts and would ask around some more.

We then walked over to the Redwoods visitors' center, where we reported to Trevor and the other rangers there about the potential "world's tallest tree" that we had come across a few days prior.

Ewoks have been spotted in the park!

We loaded the photos of the tree onto their computer. The rangers told us that they had never seen that tree or the old sign beside it before, nor did they know of anyone who has. We left with them the pictures and detailed directions on how to find the area. They may be sending someone out to measure the height of the tree, and perhaps we'll hear back from them one day.

We also asked Trevor for another opinion about the Lost Coast. Experiences aside, he stated that hunting season was approaching very soon in that area. Hearing that bit of information alone, we nearly dismissed the whole idea of going south. So Oregon, here we come?


That evening, we wandered over to an art gallery. We could hear thunder in the distance, and it was beginning to sprinkle. A man who passed us on the crosswalk invited us in to his apartment for coffee. He was worried about us getting caught in a potentially dangerous storm. We thanked him kindly for his concern and told him that we were going to look at some artwork.

Barbara had closed the gallery's doors at 6 PM, just a couple of minutes before we arrived. We peered through the glass, admiring what we could see, and then turned to leave. Barbara raced to the door and called out to us, "Aren't you going to come in?" She let us place our packs in her office, and we talked with her for quite awhile. In no hurry to go anywhere, she permitted us to look through the gallery. "Take your time." I have no idea how long we were there, but it must have been for over a half hour. Barbara knew that backpackers wouldn't be purchasing any artwork, but she allowed us the experience to admire the pieces. Moreover, she was completely thrilled to chat with us and learn more about us. The gallery closure meant nothing to her. To her, people come first.

As we walked along the harbor, we met some feral cats.
After wandering for awhile, we were hungry for some dinner. We asked around for some recommendations, and then we found ourselves at a Hawaiian BBQ restaurant, greeted by 
some images of surfers whom Freebird knows. Learning that Freebird is from Hawaii and that
he can speak some Pidgin, the waiter and owner opened up to us more.

After dinner we strolled along the bay into the night.

The following morning, Freebird received the intuition for us to hike the Lost Coast Trail. This completely negated the words of warning that we had heard from John and Trevor.
So it was agreed upon that we would hitch out of Crescent City that day.

We looked one last time at Battery Point Lighthouse while watching the sea gull frenzy all about us.

On the way into town, we visited Rumiano cheese store and factory out of curiosity. 
We had already purchased some cheese at Safeway, but we thought we 
might as well stop at a place that we walked past so often.

We met some kind ladies working at the register, who were packing up cheese for shipments around the country. We learned from them that Rumiano is the only family-run cheese factory left in California (dating back 4 generations), and that the company treats their employees well. While they rang up orders for the customers, I devoured so many samples. I'm certain that these women were aware of this the whole time, and they didn't even mind. 

It turns out that their cheese was at a lower price than at the Safeway, so we purchased some. We also found San Francisco's well-known It's-It ice cream sandwiches here, far cheaper than anywhere else we've purchased them. Of course we had to grab a few of those for the road as well!

A bicycle parked outside of the library. We began meeting more bikers along this coastal route.
Outside the Redwoods visitors' center, a man pointed out this strawberry tree to us, full of edible fruit. Neither of us had seen such a tree before. Those fruits were delicious!

Rather than go straight over to the highway to stick out the thumb, we walked along the harbor. 
Soon the sea lions were calling from off in the distance and beckoning us to find them, so the hitching would have to wait! But where were these sea lions? It took awhile until we came across them.

...And we've found them! Sea lions and an elephant seal! These guys used to rest and sun themselves on the shore beside the restaurants until the customers disturbed them a little too much. To give everyone a little more peace, the city provided these creatures some rafts in the water.

We tried to eat at the restaurant beside the sea lions... but they were closed.

This place was open. We were a little hungry, but we decided we could wait. It was time to leave anyway. We had been wandering around all day and still hadn't left town! We made it over to the highway at 5 PM and waited for a ride to come along to whisk us along to the Lost Coast, at a time when most hitchhikers wouldn't be beginning to travel a huge distance of 140 miles! There was so much uncertainty as to where we would end up. Would we even make it to the trail that night?
We shrugged it off and trusted that we would be fine, no matter where we would be by sunset.

Grateful for all the beautiful experiences of Crescent City, which we would've never traded even to leave town earlier that day, we stood on the side of the road with our thumbs out, packs resting on the ground beside us. The people shyly rushed past with a combination of fright and amusement of us vagrants. A few were waving us on and wishing us "luck." That's the typical experience every time we hitch. Someone will come along eventually, giving everyone involved the meeting and interaction  and lesson that's most needed at the time. 

Cars continued speeding by, then along came a funny and eccentric woman who wasn't afraid to share a ride and an experience with us. She and her crazy antics would kick off a 
very memorable and unforgettable venture to the Lost Coast Trail.

1 comment: