After leaving Point Arena, we headed towards Humboldt Redwoods State Park for our campground in the evening. Along the way, we passed through Fort Bragg and stopped there for Starbucks (well, to use the restroom, and I felt compelled to buy something in return) and a walk on the beach to take in the picturesque views, feel the warm sand engulf our feet and toes, and breathe in the fresh air, getting a walking break from sitting in the car. We both felt we could have spent more time in Fort Bragg and would like to if the opportunity presents itself in the future (and we have felt this way in several places we’ve passed through and/or stopped briefly in throughout our travels since). Aaron presented a great way to describe what we’re doing: We’re experiencing a sampler platter of many places on this road trip, similar to tasting samples of beer at a restaurant or brewery. It’s impossible to visit, explore, and stay everywhere, so we pick and choose what our sampling will consist of and acknowledge that we get to experience places we spend a short time in, in some way. A great benefit of having personally experienced these “tastings” is that we are accumulating a running list of places we’d like to return to and spend more time in for future travels!
We took the Ave of the Giants route along the way to our campground, which features Coastal Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) trees, primarily found in this area of Northern California. Along this 31-mile route, there are 8 official stops to take in the views of and follow walking paths surrounded by these Redwoods. We stopped at all of them in this early evening and the following morning on our way out, though we did not take all, full walking paths due to our hiking that preceded. Overall, these trees, which are the tallest living trees on Earth, were breathtaking, and their sizes evoked our feelings of awe standing amongst and underneath them. We took so many photos, but here are some of our favorites.
We arrived at our campground and set up our tent, air mattress, and camping chairs in almost darkness. This was my first tutorial from Aaron on our trip of how to set up our tent and use our camp stove properly, both practical skills for me to learn and help me earn my keep around our campsites. 😉 We had a short-lived debacle with fitting our air mattress into the tent, as Aaron hadn’t precisely measured it with this tent, as we’ve used another larger tent in the past with the air mattress, and inflated, it started busting our tent at its seams. Taking on our adaptable attitude for our travels, I said I would be fine with sleeping in a sleeping bag inside the tent without a mattress pad underneath for cushioning (since we had planned on using the air mattress and didn’t bring mattress pads anyway). After all, we had just slept on the carpet/hard ground on our last night in our Sacramento house since we’d given away our mattresses prior to our final walk-through with our landlord. Being the handy, problem-solver that Aaron is, he persisted in figuring it out and somehow finagled our tent to accommodate it (though with less space inside the already tight quarters in the 2-person backpacking tent, which was noticeable to him, but I didn’t know any different; it was fine, as again, we’re married, not two friends awkwardly very close together for the night). We were comfortable with how late we’d arrived to this campground given that we took a leisurely pace in wrapping up our farmstay experience and driving here, stopping along the way to see Fort Bragg and most of the Ave of the Giants stops. We wore our headlamps to prepare our dinner with our camp stove, which was my first ever dehydrated meal of Jambalaya, and got out our utensils and ingredients for a salad. For those of you who know us well, we are continuing our weekly Friday night dinner dates, except now, it’s dinner with whatever practical ingredients we can put together with the resources we have!
I have been fortunate and grateful that each campground Aaron has scoped out for us has had shower and bathroom facilities available. With that being said, waking up cold in the middle of the night, realizing I couldn’t hold my need to “go” until morning, and going through the process of wiggling my way out of my internal sheet and sleeping bag, finding my headlamp and clothes, putting them on, opening the tent zippers, putting my shoes on, and getting outside is enough while half awake, was quite the necessary process; so outside with my headlamp on nearby the tent like a cavewoman had to do for this night (and I felt gross about it until I could get properly cleaned up in the morning). I’ve since adapted to make this process easier for myself by strategically placing my midnight adventure items in the tent and sleeping in my clothes; I’m learning how to be a “smarter” camper!
After our warm oatmeal breakfast, thanks to our camp stove’s ability to boil us hot water, we embarked upon our morning workout: A scenic hike featuring the Coastal Redwoods, of course, near our campground!
After our coin-operated showers in private stalls (this was my first experience showering at a campground; I took too much stuff in there with me this first time, and I’ve since consolidated upon realizing what I really need in there with me and what I don’t), we packed up camp and our car and got back on the road. We finished up Ave of the Giants and stopped for ice to feed our cooler.
I was really looking forward to visiting Eureka and Arcata for the first time, especially since Airgas, where I most recently was employed, has a retail location in that area that was a far away, coastal store I had always heard about but never saw for myself, so I was curious. We spent a couple of hours hanging out in Because Coffee, a small, local, hipster cafe with a chess table and many comfy, but visibly worn, chairs and couches (it reminded me of Naked Coffee Lounge in Sacramento actually). It is here where we began realizing and having conversations about the time it takes to check and participate in social media, read and respond to emails, connect with my students, prepare blog posts, take care of business that still needed to be wrapped up (e.g. new phone plan, taking Aaron’s jeep off of our insurance/the road, etc). It’s a balance we’ve been working on over the course of our journey so far and are gradually figuring out a rhythm for in our life on the road. Essentially, these things take time, more than I can typically estimate accurately, and it’s finding the best time to do them so it doesn’t interfere with time we could be experiencing what is around us at a given time. That, and I need more time for it than Aaron does, and he can get impatient and/or bored waiting for me when it’s taking longer than anticipated initially, so it’s him finding other things to do while I’m working on these items, which I enjoy and are important to me, and me providing a more realistic time estimate. I digress. I came to the realization that these couple of hours spent in the coffee shop, or at least a part of that time, could have been spent maximizing our limited time to explore Old Town Eureka, and later, Arcata, on foot instead. So it’s also figuring out what tasks are of highest priority or desire and focusing on those now and others later, such as when we’ve wrapped up our day at our accommodation and have WIFI available before bed (which is also a challenge because most of our days, we’re constantly engaging in what’s around us or driving, so we’re often happily fulfilled and pooped by the time we get into bed at the end of our days).
After our time in the coffee shop, we walked along the pier in Old Town Eureka, selected some chocolates from Old Town Coffee & Chocolates, and purchased provisions from one of the two local Co-Ops.
Both areas of Eureka and Arcata were cute, walkable, and had an eclectic people-watching scene! Unfortunately, I felt rushed to experience both cities and wanted to spend more time in each to experience more, as we felt we needed to get back on the road to get to our campground for the evening, and this was looming as time transitioned from the afternoon to late afternoon to early evening.
Similar to the evening prior, we arrived at Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park close to dark. We set up our tent and its contents and prepared dinner, which was tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and vinegar and sprinkled with salt and pepper and a dehydrated meal of Lasagne (again, thank you, camping stove)!
We later roasted marshmallows, over a fire Aaron started for us, to squeeze in-between graham cracker and chocolate squares for smores at the campfire (thank you, Eureka Co-Op provisions!) before cleaning up and heading into our tent for the night. It’s been nice, as we’ve been camping, to also spend some time reading our books while sitting in our camping chairs, enjoying the warmth of our campfire, or lying down inside our tent in the minutes before falling asleep.
In the morning, we set off for another hike near the campground to kick off our day.
After our campground showers, we set off for Crescent City to do our first load of laundry of our trip before encountering our first state border crossing into Oregon!
At this point in our travels, Aaron had gotten his camping fix temporarily and I was ready to arrange for an indoor AirBnB reservation after 4 nights in alternative types of accommodations, primarily outdoors and with varying types of bathroom and shower situations, which I felt I’d earned! It was over the past several days that I’d developed a mindfulness of truly appreciating the everyday conveniences of warm, readily available showers and “normal” toilets we have in everyday life in our homes, workplaces, and local businesses. I’m sure this is a small taste of what I’m going to eventually experience throughout our abroad travels, especially when we’re visiting third world countries for longer stretches of time, but it’s a start.
Until Next Time,