After years of drought, it was great to set out this morning into the fog and rain! The redwoods of northern California are magical in the mist and filled with unique and kitschy places from drive-through trees to the 49-foot tall statue of Paul Bunyan and his ox, Babe, outside the Trees of Mystery! That’s where we met with Moro the wolf to see if she had found Chubblet the lion or not!
Moro came along with us, sniffing out the window for any scent of Chubblet on the storm-washed breezes. We paused at the plaque for Fort Ter-Wer, which was meant to bring peace between the Native Americans and settlers but got destroyed in a flood in 1861, before continuing south into Humboldt County!
As we left this fountain of dairy innovations and headed up the winding road toward the aptly named Lost Coast, Moro caught a familiar scent on the wind and leapt from the window, howling back that she would catch up with us once she found Chubblet!
By now, the clouds had parted, and we were crawling over crumbling pavement through flowering pastures and along steep cliffs! With few signs of civilization beyond fences, there was little to do but enjoy the scenery and the Decembrists as we headed toward the very remote final Humboldt County landmark!
Petrolia is a tiny community in the middle of nowhere. There’s a church, a store, a phone booth, some homes, and a whole lot of wild blackberries for picking! Despite its remoteness and the lack of things to do, it has a lot of charm to it. We took some time to stretch our legs while learning about the First Drilled Commercial Oil Wells in California, initiated by the Union Mattole Oil Company in 1865!
From there, we continued our quest eastward, over the winding and hidden mountain roads leading back from the Lost Coast into the magnificent Humboldt Redwoods State Park. The drive took hours, but the trees were exquisite, especially when we pulled in to the Avenue of the Giants!
Driving down this famous road of redwoods is a rite of passage for many American road-trippers, and for that reason, the Avenue of the Giants is lined with redwood-themed attractions and tourist traps, like the “Immortal Tree,” a huge survivor of a lightning strike, forest fire, logging (marked by an ax), and a flood (marked by a metal fish). It’s also conveniently located next to an RV park!
Further down the road is the Eternal Tree House, where we stopped for grilled cheese sandwiches. I’d expected to see a house high up in the redwoods, but instead it was a hollowed out stump! Looking down, I almost got knocked flat on my face by something whooshing down from above: it was my old pal, Terry Theflyingsquirrel!
Terry had been running around California discovering new types of trees for the last three years, and he’s taken a shining to the redwoods of the north! In fact, at this very minute, he was scoping out new places to live! He’d also expected something else when he saw the sign for the Eternal Tree House. This giant stump lost its head to loggers in the 1800s and was hollowed out in the 1910s by master wood splitter, Harry McLeod. It was a gift shop in the 50’s, but today, it’s just an empty room, big enough for a whole family of flying squirrels!
It wasn’t Terry’s cup of tree, though. He wanted something higher, something that wasn’t going to be full of tourists every day, so he hopped in the car to head up the road to the famous Redwood National Park!
We started our search at the beautiful all-natural, eco-friendly residences at Lady Bird Johnson Grove, one of the park’s most popular redwood groves! The park was officially established in 1968, and Richard Nixon, of all presidents, named this grove in honor of environmentalist and former first lady, “Lady Bird” Johnson!
We were greeted at the entrance by Ms. Maduro, a sluggish cousin of Mr. Foster, whom I met back in 2012! She slowly handed us some real estate pamphlets and invited us to take a stroll down the trail to the place where the park’s original dedication ceremony took place!
The trees here were enormous! They were not nearly as red as the ones in Muir Woods National Monument, but they were still very impressive! There was more than enough space here for a flying squirrel to find a home!
At the heart of the trail, the plaque dedicating this grove to “Lady Bird” Johnson still delivers her words to us visitors of the future. She sums up the experience of walking in the redwoods perfectly: “…all our problems seemed to fall into perspective and I think every one of us walked out more serene and happier.”
That was the plan anyway, because we were determined to find Terry a nice home along this trail. As we walked, we happened upon a bat napping on a stump and asked him if he had any recommendations.
He called himself Fwatty, which sounded a whole lot like my brother’s name, and even more coincidentally, a new space had opened up in his home tree! He took us there straightaway!
Many of these ancient redwoods have been hollowed out by forest fires, but they are so resilient that they keep on growing. Fwatty showed us a massive apartment complex inside one of the trees that suited Terry just fine! Terry signed the lease right then and there. Our quest had been a success!
With Terry settling comfortably into his new home, I turned my attention to the angle of the sun. There was still one final historical landmark to see, and there was not much time to see it before the coming of night!
Once more onto the beach, dear friends!