Friday, January 2, 2015

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and More

Somewhere along our journey up the Pacific coast through Redwood National Park, we crossed over into Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. The fog lifted and we enjoyed a beautiful, sunny afternoon.

We took a long break for a few hours to check the map, eat lunch, and nap. Why not rest in the sunshine for awhile? I cracked open the sketchbook once again while Freebird dozed off in the sand.

8/16-21/2014. "Tilios." Dedicated to Freebird and the lovely people of Mount Shasta, CA.

After napping, we continued walking northward until we would reach the 
hiker/biker camp at Gold Bluffs Beach, where we could take showers.

Soon we saw people everywhere. The quietness of nature was broken by the sounds of 
yelling and laughing. We had clearly reached the camping corral, where interestingly enough, 
most of the people who had come to "escape" out into nature were sitting beside their RVs, 
playing with cell phones and other electronic devices and talking loudly with each other. 
At least some people were enjoying the ocean around them.

Gold Bluffs Beach, named so because gold dust was once mined from the area.

After being treated to free showers, we left all the noise and commotion behind 
and ventured on to watch the sunset and find somewhere else to camp.

For a few hours, into sunset, we watched shorebirds and seals feeding on fish and other marine life.

A seal watching us with curiosity as we wave at it. Clearly we were mutually amused with each other.

In the morning we were greeted by this raven as we made our way to Fern Canyon.

And here we are at Fern Canyon, where parts of Jurassic Park 2 were filmed. The walls rise 50 to 80 feet along this narrow stream, completely covered in several varieties of lush ferns, mosses, and other plants accustomed to the wet climate.

We loved this canyon so much that we did a loop and returned for a second round!

Next came a beautiful grassland with gorgeous wildflowers and plump, juicy blackberries.

All of a sudden, we could hear the sound of rushing water to our right. 
A waterfall! Here we rested awhile and prepared some lunch.

Look who we spotted! Some elk, grazing and napping in the sunlight.

We also saw this very timid white egret, who allowed me to snap one picture of it before flying away.

Time for a nap!
Another beautiful sunset, marking the last night of Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.

Our last campsite in the park, with driftwood pieces to block the wind.

We came across this bull elk in the morning, grazing near our camp. He didn't seem to want to bother with us, only looking up at us once before chomping on some more grass. But we figured we better leave him alone, so we quickly took some pictures and gave him some space.

We soon encountered a group of around 30 elk who were eating breakfast along the beach. 
The bull elk wasn't too fond of us being there, and he sounded the alarm. I was a bit concerned 
that he might charge us. We walked as close as we could to the edge of the beach to show him 
that we were just passing by and wanted nothing to do with him and his harem. He understood 
and nudged his ladies and children along to a different area, far away from us.

Freebird sitting in one of several small alcoves we encountered along the beach.

That huge elk herd trampled through here earlier.

Kit and Masha, who we would be meeting very shortly.

We walked up to Kit and Masha as they were sitting on some driftwood, watching dolphins jumping off in the distance. We talked with them for a bit and got to know them a little. Then, without us even asking, they offered us a ride into Crescent City. We did need to return to town to do our usual errands - laundry, showers, and resupply of food - especially after stretching out the redwoods leg of the journey for 9 days! We gladly accepted their offer and walked up the trail with them to where their vehicle was parked. They made room for us in the back seat, and then off we went.

As we set out for Crescent City, Kit and Masha asked if we would mind going with them 
on a side trip, further into the state park to see the "Big Tree." Of course we didn't mind! 
I was having so much fun with them, that I forgot how burnt-out I was on seeing the redwoods. 
I had previously thought that we were done with these giants and that it was time to move on. 
What I didn't realize is that there was still one more experience we needed to have 
in order for that part of the journey to really be complete.

Journeying down the winding road through the forest, none of us really knew exactly where the Big Tree was. We pulled over to look at some park signage, located it on their map, and then drove onward a bit more. Soon enough we saw the sign, "Big Tree," with an arrow pointing straight down a bush-whacked path. We pulled over and parallel parked on the adjacent gravel strip, not realizing that if only we drove further, we would access the paved lot to which the sign was really directing us. Walking up the tourist-created path, it was evident that several others made this "mistake."

This really wasn't a mistake though. If we didn't make that choice, 
we surely would have missed seeing the best redwood tree ever.

Following the trail from the "Big Tree" sign, we walked right up to a massive redwood tree. 
Freebird asked a man there, "Is this the Big Tree?" The man laughed and said, "You can say that!" 
He then walked away, still chuckling. What was that all about?

Soon we saw just why he was laughing. I posed with what Kit dubbed, "Mr. Big Tree." He looked like he had been touched and rubbed so much that he had become rather polished! Meanwhile, we watched other tourists coming and going, most of them giggling at the spectacle.

We did eventually find the way to the "Big Tree" that we were searching for in the first place.

We did a loop back to the car, while watching Kit and Masha on their photo shoot. 
Kit had me laughing hysterically with every word that came out of his mouth, 
especially with the long list of silly pet names he would give Masha.

Kit and Masha are pictured here with Mr. Big Tree. We had to visit our well-endowed redwood friend one more time before leaving Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. We climbed into the car, satisfied, knowing for sure that we were now done with the redwoods and we could leave them behind with so many fond memories to cherish forever. Now that was a happy ending!

As we drove up the coast, Masha pulled out all kinds of snacks and shared them with us. She and Kit then suggested yet another side trip, to view where the Klamath River meets the Pacific Ocean. 

As I mentioned before, Freebird and I considered floating the Klamath, if a boat was provided. 
That never happened, but we were fortunate to swim in the river and to have so many vantage points of it on the way to Redwood National Park. Now we welcomed the opportunity to see its junction with the ocean, to finalize our experiences of this mighty river with such a breathtaking view.

Getting a little chilled from the ocean breezes, we climbed back in the car with Kit and Masha 
and went to Crescent City. Though we reached our destination, we we continued to share 
experiences with them. In the town we traded the great outdoors for a local casino called 
"The Great Indoors," to treat Kit and Masha to some dinner.

After leaving the noisiness and crazy, colorful slot machines of the casino behind, 
we went for a peaceful walk in the harbor around Battery Point Lighthouse, only hearing 
the crashing of the waves, calls of the sea gulls, Kit and Freebird's constant jokes, 
the persistent foghorn, and our imitations of that fog horn.

Sea gulls tearing apart some squid.

Kit, Masha, and Freebird.

Freebird jumping from foot to foot.
Ok... now do that!

What a wonderful past few days it has been! From Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park to meeting Kit and Masha to all the places we visited along the way to Crescent City! Kit and Masha are definitely one of our most memorable rides along the whole journey. I'm so grateful to have met them, who welcomed us with open arms to share in their vacation with them. Not many people entertain "strangers" for a whole day like that. When it happens, it's such a beautiful experience. We met Kit and Masha at 10 in the morning on the beach, and 10 hours later, at 8 PM, they dropped us off at the Safeway parking lot in Crescent City. They were leaving town to stay at a campsite, and then they would soon be returning to their home near Lake Tahoe.

As they were leaving, we were beginning our search for a motel rather late. And it was a busy Saturday night. Who knew if there would be any available rooms. Masha expressed concern for us. We assured her that all would be fine. Things always work out somehow. She gave us their number and said that if we couldn't find a place, that we could call them. They would return to pick us up if we were stranded. Then we parted ways with Kit and Masha, thankful for everything.

We began our search, walking from motel to motel. It was a very difficult situation at first. We 
began to doubt if we would find anywhere to sleep that night. But... you won't hear the story yet! 
That'll have to wait until the next post!


  1. Enjoyed your blog as always Stephanie! My life in NJ is very different than yours but I feel so very inspired and impressed by the life you and Freebird live. Thanks for your posts and the beautiful photos.

  2. Sooooo enjoyed this post!!! Sounds like u guys had a blast with Masha n Kit!!!! Loved the pic of the rock formations.....posted a similar story just the other day!!!