Category Archives: State Park

State Park visited or camped here

Bismarck, ND Part 2 AUG 26, 2020

While in Bismarck we visited nearby Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park. Fort Abraham Lincoln was an infantry and cavalry post from which Lt Col George Custer led the 7th Cavalry to the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876. The fort provided protection for the railroad workers and survey crews from Indian attack. It also provided protection to settlements being established in the area.

Due to increased attacks by the Sioux, Congress authorized a cavalry post to the fort. Lt Col George Custer arrived in 1873 with six companies of the 7th Calvary.

The fort was abandoned in 1891 and local residents disassembled the fort for its nails and wood.  It is said that many old homes in the Bismarck area have lumber and pieces of the old fort in them. In 1907 President Theodore Roosevelt signed the land over to the state of North Dakota for a state park. IMG_20200829_113937

From 1934-38 the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built a visitors center, roads, reconstructed blockhouses and placed cornerstones where fort buildings once stood. All 250 members of this CCC were Great War (World War I) veterans 

Also in the park the CCC replicated Mandan earthen lodges to recreate a Mandan village called “On-a-Slant Village”. IMG_20200829_115539IMG_20200829_124113

The original Mandan Village was established in the late 16th century and was inhabited until 1781.  It consisted of approximately 86 earthen lodges with a population of between 1,000-1,500 and was located where the Heart and Missouri Rivers come together. IMG_20200829_124043IMG_20200829_124132IMG_20200829_124318IMG_20200829_124414IMG_20200829_124454IMG_20200829_124517IMG_20200829_132207

In 1781 a smallpox epidemic killed over three out of every four villagers. After the epidemic the Mandan moved north.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition spent the winter of 1804-05 with friendly Mandan.  They stayed again in 1806 on their return trip. The Sioux eventually drove the Mandan from the area. IMG_20200829_115844

A reproduction of Custer’s house was built in 1989 in time for the state’s centennial celebration. Custer and his wife Libbie lived at Fort Abraham Lincoln from 1873 until Custer died at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876. IMG_20200829_120742IMG_20200829_140706IMG_20200829_140920

We walked to one of three reconstructed blockhouses once used to defend the fort. I waited down below while Bill climbed a staircase followed by a steep ladder to the observation post. It was a beautiful day with great views including the capitol building in the distance, the only tall building in Bismarck. IMG_20200829_133622IMG_20200829_134002IMG_20200829_134019IMG_20200829_133702IMG_20200829_133726

Inside the blockhouse was a nest of baby swallows. We saw the mama bird flying in and out of the building. IMG_20200829_134134

While in the park we traveled down to the river where the Heart and Missouri Rivers converge. IMG_20200829_135445

Next we drove to Keelboat Park along the Missouri River with a 55 foot full scale replica similar to the keelboat used by Lewis and Clark. The Expedition’s keelboat carried a number of plants and animals collected on their journey including live magpies, a prairie dog, a prairie grouse hen, 108 botanical specimens, 68 mineral samples, pronghorn skeletons, insects, mice, and various animal hides. It also included a 45,000 word report to President Thomas Jefferson with descriptions of teepee, Indian myths and customs and other ethnological observations and maps. IMG_20200829_143805IMG_20200829_144111

Also in the park were unusual metal sculptures of Lewis, Clark and Sacajawea painted the colors of traffic lights. IMG_20200829_144411

Another sculptures is called “Thunderbirds”. To the Native Americans the thunderbirds are part of the Great Spirit who lives among us in the clouds. The thunderbirds bring lightning flashes from their eyes and produce thunder by the flapping of their wings. IMG_20200829_143459

We enjoyed our stay in Bismarck. 

Next up: South Dakota! 

Bozeman, Montana July 1, 2020

Leaving our campground in Gardiner, Montana just outside the Yellowstone NP, we headed north to Bozeman, Montana pop 49,000.  It is the fourth largest city in Montana and the home of Montana State University. 

Bozeman was named for John Bozeman who brought the first wagon train of settlers to this area and founded the town in 1864. He blazed the trail which later became known as Bozeman Trail which was the way west for many settlers and miners. The area was a sacred hunting area to Native Americans and there were constant attacks on the settlers. When John Bozeman was killed by the Sioux, his trail remained unused for nine years because of repeated attacks. Today the Bozeman area is one of the state’s prime agriculturally productive regions.

After an easy 90 minute drive we pulled into what turned out to be our least favorite campground this year. We are not picky and do not have high expectations, but this campground was situated between an interstate highway and a railroad track. If the constant traffic noise didn’t keep you awake, the train whistles would. Added to that was an almost nonexistent Verizon signal and a high price. We told ourselves it was only for six nights and could tolerate it that long.

When I was looking for geocaches in the area, I found one located at the Little Bear School House and Museum. The one room school house is made from logs, built in 1912 and was used until 1950. In 1998 it was opened as a museum with authentic desks, ink wells, writing slates, teacher’s desk, black boards and learning materials from the early 20th century. There were also antique lunch boxes and fountain pen collections and an antique merry go round. As a former teacher I was really looking forward to the visit. It was located ten miles outside of Bozeman. IMG_20200701_120011IMG_20200701_120530

We arrived to find it closed due to the pandemic. I had checked before we left and their Facebook page said it was open. Come on people, it is not that hard to update a website’s information. We tried to look in the windows but the bright sunlight and thick screens prevented us from seeing much. These pictures were taken through the windows. IMG_20200701_120250IMG_20200701_120308

The wooden walkway leading to the front door had the names of students who had attended the school. IMG_20200701_120024

On Sunday we drove thirty miles to Missouri Headwaters State Park where the Gallatin, Jefferson and Madison Rivers converge to form the Missouri River, the longest river in North America. IMG_20200704_140556

It flows 2,341 miles before entering the Mississippi River north of St Louis, Missouri. The Mississippi River is the second longest at 2,141 miles. If you add the lengths of the Missouri and Ohio Rivers to the Mississippi, it would makes the Mississippi River the third longest river system in the world. 

In 1805, Lewis and Clark camped at the Missouri River headwaters for three days and thought their exploration of the Missouri River to its source as one of the major goals of their expedition. Lewis and Clark agreed to named the three rivers:

  • the Jefferson River after President Thomas Jefferson,
  • the Madison River after Secretary of State James Madison, and
  • the Gallatin River after Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin. IMG_20200704_142636

Sacagawea, the Shoshone woman who traveled with Lewis and Clark, had roots in this area. At the age of twelve, while camped here with her people, she was kidnapped by another tribe and taken to what is now North Dakota as a slave. Charbonneau, a fur trader, purchased her. Charbonneau was hired for the Lewis and Clark Expedition as an interpreter. He brought along Sacagawea with her infant son. Her presence helped convince the Native Americans of the group’s peaceful intentions. Later Sacagawea helped them find the Shoshones where she was reunited with her brother. The Shoshone agreed to sell them the horses they desperately needed to cross the mountains. The Shoshone asked for payment in guns which they needed to fight their enemies. IMG_20200704_144927

During the Civil War entrepreneurs started a small town here in hopes of establishing a major transportation center with steamships connecting with stage lines. This never took hold and the area became a ghost town before becoming a state park in 1951.  Here stands the remnants of the Gallatin City hotel, about 1862. IMG_20200704_140753

Over the centuries the three forks of the Missouri River was a natural crossroads and meeting place for many different Indian nations to come together. Later traveling bands of hunters used the area to meet, trade and camp. Today we saw it as a popular place for people to tube down the water, pandemic or no pandemic! IMG_20200704_143028IMG_20200704_151315

Next up was the nearby Madison Buffalo Jump State Park. This is an extremely small state park accessed on a gravel road. Neither state park we visited today was manned by any park rangers. We just put our entrance fee in an envelope in a box and continued on. IMG_20200704_153934

Starting two thousand years ago and used as recently as two hundred years ago, the Madison Buffalo Jump was used to kill buffalo. Before Indians acquired horses, they sometimes stampeded large herds of buffalo off this high limestone cliff and Indians waiting at the base killed them with spears. This was most often done in the fall of the year when buffalo cows were prime and the tribes were gathering food and supplies for the winter. Highly skilled young men trained for speed and endurance wore buffalo, antelope or wolf skins to lure the buffalo to the cliff. They would excite or frighten them into a stampede over the edge. Buffalo bones are still buried at the base of the cliff. We thought about hiking to the top of the cliff but gathering storm clouds convinced us otherwise. IMG_20200704_154915IMG_20200704_154336

Another day we visited the American Computer and Robotics Museum in Bozeman. Known as the oldest continually operating museum of its kind in the world and labeled by a Harvard professor as “Inch for inch, the best museum in the world”, and given that Bill is a computer engineer, you know we just had to visit! It is a museum of the history of computers, communications, artificial intelligence and robotics. IMG_20200701_143958MVIMG_20200701_140730IMG_20200701_141708r

With that said, I have to step aside and let Bill take over from here with this part of the blog!

The museum has many real items like one of Isaac Newton’s original book 1687, Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica.  On loan is a Enigma Machine which the Germans believed was impossible to break but Alan Turing and his team in England developed technology to decrypt most of the German war messages during the war.



Alan Turing (1912-1954) ideas were used to create the modern computers and conceived of the field of “Artificial Intelligence”.


John von Neumann (1903 -1957) was a mathematician regarded as the one of the greatest mathematician in modern history. He made major contributions to many fields. His concept of data and program stored in the computer memory space has become the de facto standard for most computers that exist today (called the von Neumann architecture).

Here are some of the many early personal computers of the 1980’s. IMG_20200701_141847IMG_20200701_141857IMG_20200701_141904IMG_20200701_142027

One of my favorite devices is the Curta four function hand held, mechanical calculator (about the size of a soup can.) Developed in the 1930 was built until electronic calculators in the 1970s displaced them. IMG_20200701_132910

Next up: Montana’s capitol area Helena and Butte city.

Grand Junction, CO AUG 9, 2019

We left Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and headed north to Grand Junction, Colorado, pop 59,000. We dropped from 9,400 ft to 4,600 ft and boy did it get hot!! During our time in Grand Junction the temperatures hovered in the low to mid 90’s. We sure did miss those mountain temperatures! 

On the way to Grand Junction we passed interesting sand formations. 20190808_12342420190808_12544820190808_12552020190808_125525

We stayed five nights at the James Robb State Park, a very nice Colorado state park, but there was absolutely no shade and it was HOT! 

One day we crossed the Colorado River and made the short drive to the Colorado National Monument, designated a National Monument in 1911. IMG_20190812_154419IMG_5022

The Monument is 32 square miles of rugged canyon terrain with towering red sandstone monoliths that rise 2,000 feet above the Grand Valley. The colors come from the minerals in the rocks as well as the kinds of lichens and chemical compounds that coat the rocks. IMG_5035

We stopped by the Visitors Center where unfortunately the movie was broken, but we did enjoy their exhibits. It was interesting to read that the Colorado National Monument Area was formed in part by strong earthquakes along the Redlands Fault 40 to 70 million years ago that lifted the layers of sedimentary and metamorphic rocks above the Grand Valley. Erosion has carved the steep walls and flat bottomed canyons. IMG_5028

We drove the 23 mile Rim Rock Drive with breathtaking scenery, tunnels, hairpin curves and eighteen overlooks. The road was begun in 1931 with most of it being done by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) between 1933 and 1942. Construction was halted during WWII and finally completed in 1950.  Due to its cultural significance the road is on the National Register of Historic Places. The road was carved out of solid rock without the benefit of heavy equipment like bulldozers or backhoes. After blasting rock apart they removed rubble by hand or guided horses pulling small dump carts on rails.  About 39,000 cubic yards of rock were removed EVERY MILE to make way for the road bed! During construction of one of the tunnels nine men were killed when a huge slab of overhanging rock gave way. IMG_5030IMG_5032IMG_5038

We especially liked the 450 foot tall Independence Monument where every Fourth of July there is a tradition of climbers ascending the Monument to raise the American flag.


Side View Of Independence Monument



We also liked the Grand View overlook with the Kissing Couple formation.  Do you see them kissing? 20190809_101228

These interesting formations, shaped by erosion, are called Coke Ovens. 20190809_10433520190809_10294520190809_102929IMG_5070_stitch

Also we liked the mummy in the side of the cliff. Do you see it? IMG_5074IMG_5078IMG_5079IMG_5082IMG_508620190809_10432520190809_11260120190809_11273420190809_11280720190809_114338IMG_20190809_114733IMG_20190809_114813

On Saturday Bill attended the Grand Junction Amateur Radio Hamfest. It was a very small Hamfest but Bill always enjoys meeting and talking with other amateur radio enthusiasts. IMG_20190810_093249IMG_20190810_090230

Next stop: Dillon, CO and cooler weather!

Ridgway, CO July 28, 2019

After a wonderful time in Rico and Telluride we headed north on the San Juan Skyway to Ridgway State Park. Even though we were going north, we were dropping from 9,000 feet to just under 7,000 feet which meant warmer temperatures. We sure were going to miss the cool temperatures!

Ridgway State Park is located in Ridgway (yes, it doesn’t have an e). Ridgway, Colorado has a population of around 1,000 and an elevation of 6,985.  Beginning in 1891 it was a railroad town until part of the rail line was abandoned in 1953 and then completely abandoned due to a reservoir being built. The original location of the dam for the reservoir would have placed Ridgway underwater. A 1975 decision to put the dam further downstream saved the town, earning it the nickname “The Town That Refused to Die”. Ridgway has the only stop light in Ouray County. 

The Grammy Awards trophy is handcrafted by Billings Artworks in Ridgway. The trophies are hand cast in an alloy called grammium and then hand filed, ground and polished before being plated in 24k gold.

Ridgway and the surrounding area was the setting for John Wayne’s “True Grit” and “How the West Was Won”. In fact more than 100 films have been made in southwestern Colorado. 

Actor Dennis Weaver, from Gunsmoke and McCloud fame had a home in Ridgway and died there in 2006. Weaver was committed to preserving the environment and commissioned an architect to design and build his home from recycled materials such as old automobile tires and discarded cans. The Dennis Weaver Memorial Park in Ridgway is a sixty acre wildlife preserve with several walking trails. 

Ridgway State Park has three campgrounds and our campsite was located in the Pa-Co-Chu-Puk section with full hookups. 

We stopped by the park’s Visitors Center where they had a large display of animals native to the area. IMG_20190727_140437IMG_4836

The highlight of our stay here was the drive we took on the US Highway 550, also called “The Million Dollar Highway”.  I thought it was called this because of the million dollar views but research says the reason is disputed. Some say it is because it took a million dollars to build it in the late 1880’s, while others say it is because the fill dirt contains a million dollars in gold ore. Another idea is that people say you couldn’t pay them a million dollars to drive it during bad winter weather. Regardless of the reason, it is known as one of the most scenic drives in America but is also known as one of the 25 most dangerous roads in America. IMG_4729

US Highway 550 runs from New Mexico and ends/starts at Montrose  Colorado but the most scenic, and dangerous part runs 25 miles between Ouray and Silverton that goes over Red Mountain Pass, elevation 11,018. And that is the part we drove!

The road is cut into the side of a mountain with steep drop offs, narrow lanes, hair pin curves and no guardrails. It takes 100% of the driver’s concentration while passengers hold their breath as they look over the side. Along with 8% grades there are 153 curves! IMG_4742IMG_4778IMG_4755IMG_4811

We first passed through Ouray, known as the “Switzerland of America” and the “Outdoor Recreation Capital of Colorado”. It is a picturesque mountain town at the base of the San Juan Mountains with one main street and no traffic lights. IMG_4715IMG_4707IMG_4710IMG_4717

We stopped by Cascade Falls Park with a lovely waterfall. IMG_4833

Red Mountain Pass at 11,018 feet is one of Colorado’s highest paved passes. IMG_4777

We saw avalanche signs and could see damage to trees that happened during an avalanche. IMG_4766IMG_4765

Along the way we saw waterfalls such as Bear Creek Falls, tunnels and evidence of once active mining in the area. IMG_4730IMG_4720IMG_4827IMG_4762IMG_4764

This area was used by gold and silver miners in the 1870’s.  It produced four million ounces of gold, 21 million ounces of silver and twelve million tons of lead, zinc and copper. It helped fuel the industrial revolution and supplied raw materials to support America’s involvement in two World Wars. 20190728_122602IMG_4822IMG_4770IMG_4824

Our turn around point was Silverton, a former silver mining camp. With a population of 630, its main source of income today is tourism, like Ouray. IMG_4781IMG_20190728_13484520190728_125802IMG_4785IMG_4786

We drove a dirt road that took us to a nice spot overlooking the town and the Christ of the Mines Shrine. 20190728_115943IMG_4791

After lunch at a little barbecue restaurant we headed back home. The road wasn’t quite as scary going the other direction, but we still had the hairpin turns and the occasional steep drop offs. It was the lack of guardrails that made it very unsettling.

Another day we drove a short distance from our campsite to the Dallas Divide Summit, elevation 8,970 ft, to take pictures of the mountains. So beautiful! IMG_4843IMG_4846IMG_4847

One evening we had visitors stop by our campsite. IMG_4854

Next stop: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Valley of Fire State Park, NV APR 15, 2019

Four years ago we visited Valley of Fire State Park and it is one of many places we have always wanted to revisit. We had a choice of two routes from where we were staying. One took us through the crazy Las Vegas traffic and the other route took us through the peaceful Lake Mead National Recreation Area. I think you can guess which route we took. IMG_20190416_105637IMG_20190416_105731

Valley of Fire is Nevada’s first and largest state park and gets its name from the red sandstone formations. These formations were formed by great shifting sand dunes during the dinosaur age 150 million years ago.  When the sun hits the rock formations they appear to be on fire. There are also rock formations of limestone, shale and conglomerates. IMG_20190416_112914IMG_20190416_112927IMG_20190416_113737IMG_20190416_115948

Many movies have been filmed in Valley of Fire including “Viva Las Vegas”, “Total Recall” and “Transformers” as well as tv shows and commercials. On this formation “Star Trek:Generations” filmed the death of Captain Kirk.IMG_20190416_145636IMG_20190416_145645

It was a less than perfect day to visit the park but we were on a tight schedule. It was cloudy which made for less than ideal picture taking to showcase the beautiful colors, but also extremely windy and downright cold. I am usually not one to bundle up much when hiking, but even I put on a jacket. IMG_20190416_123109IMG_20190416_134105

We had read about a hike called “Fire Wave” and was said to be the most popular hike in the park. We had missed it on our last visit and wanted to do it this time. The hike wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. IMG_20190416_123518It seems during the entire time we were either trudging uphill or downhill through sand or walking across rocks. I really don’t do well with rocks. You can see in the pictures people on the rocks we had to walk across on the trail. IMG_20190416_125438IMG_20190416_125445IMG_20190416_130543IMG_20190416_131429IMG_20190416_131432

We reached the destination which was supposed to be rock formations that looked like waves. I guess I built up an image of something spectacular because the real thing was a bit of a letdown. IMG_20190416_131405IMG_20190416_131413Maybe it was the cloudy skies, the cold and the wind. By the time we trudged back across the rocks and sand, the wind had picked up even more and it was cold. We had planned on doing three hikes but by the time we got back to the car we pretty much looked at each other and said one hike is enough today. Let’s save something for next time. The thought of getting back out of the car into the wind and cold just wasn’t appealing. IMG_20190416_144013

Despite the clouds we did enjoy driving around the park looking at the beautiful red formations. Not even clouds, wind and cold could change that amazing experience. IMG_20190416_144242IMG_20190416_144222

As we made our way home through the Lake Mead National Recreation Area we drove through some pretty heavy rain showers. We were very thankful the rain held off until we were on the way home. IMG_20190416_144255

Next up: A busy few days in Las Vegas


Oceano, CA OCT 20, 2018

We really enjoyed our stay in Oceano at a campground located near the huge Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area.  This area is a 1,500 acre coastal sand dune and is the only state park in California where you can drive vehicles on the beach. IMG_20181022_151710IMG_20181022_15190920181023_182641

Nearby were horses and agricultural fields. IMG_20181022_151459IMG_20181022_162457

While staying in Oceano we drove up to see Bill’s cousin Joey in nearby Santa Maria. Joey is a retired Colonel in the Air Force who recently opened a Chic Fil A restaurant.  We certainly enjoyed seeing him and his wonderful new restaurant. IMG_20181018_145312

Oceano and nearby Pismo Beach are beautiful areas with gorgeous ocean views. We even got in some geocaching! IMG_20181023_153539IMG_20181023_153639IMG_20181023_154012IMG_20181023_154217-EFFECTSIMG_20181023_154251IMG_20181023_154315IMG_20181023_15442920181023_155045IMG_20181023_16112820181023_161633-EFFECTS

Next up:  Santa Barbara and Ventura


Westport State Beach, CA OCT 1, 2018

We left the beautiful redwoods and headed south down US Route 101 towards coastal State Route 1. California SR 1 is 659 miles long, it is the longest state route and is usually designated as the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). The closer we got to the coast the steeper and curvier the road became with one switchback after another. The worst part were the steep climbs right after sharp banking curves. It was a wild, amazingly beautiful drive along the California coast.

We arrived at the Westport Union Landing State Beach for a four night stay with amazing views of the ocean. We went to sleep each night listening to the sound of waves crashing on the beach. Such a beautiful, peaceful place. I could have stayed for months. IMG_20181002_120003

But California state parks are pricey. They charge an additional fee for the tow car on top of the high price for camping, and the sites do not have any hookups. This park did not even have a dump station. The price of $35 a night plus an additional $10 per night for the tow car for dry camping is pretty ridiculous. Yes, it is California! IMG_20181002_120136-EFFECTSIMG_20181002_120145IMG_20181002_185025-EFFECTSIMG_20181002_185622

On Friday we left Westport and continued the wild ride further south on SR 1 to a large vista point near Manchester where we had read overnight camping was permitted. With no signs prohibiting overnight camping, we decided to stay for the night. IMG_20181004_134135IMG_20181005_185141-EFFECTS

With the good days come the occasional bad, frustrating days. (Cue the ominous music here). Bill went outside to do his usual safety check and found a screw in one of our four back tires. Normally not a huge problem. But this threw us into a bit of a frenzy because we were on SR 1 in the middle of nowhere. Over three hours from the nearest tire dealer. Late on a Friday with the weekend looming. If the tire went flat and they had to tow the RV to a tire dealer, we weren’t sure how they would ever tow an RV along the steep, winding road to a large town with services. Bill has a tire monitor on each tire that lets us know if one of the tires has a problem. The monitor was not showing any air loss in that tire. We didn’t even know how long the screw had been in the tire. We regrouped, talked it over and decided to abandon our plans heading down SR 1.  Instead we would backtrack seventeen miles to State Route 128 and then take a shortcut on State Route 253 to get back to US 101. If we were going to have a tire go flat, it would be better to be on US 101 a major highway instead of SR 1. We slept that night with one ear on the tire monitor listening for the beep beep beep signaling air loss.

The next morning the tire was still holding air. We decided I would drive the tow car in case a problem arose. We headed out early because we didn’t want to take a chance on being stranded on the side of the road late in the evening. We started out on the three plus hour drive for help.

To be continued.

Redcrest, CA SEPT 27, 2018

While in Eureka on the California coast we ran the heat in the mornings and evenings and usually wore a jacket.  We left Eureka and headed inland. Remember when we talked about how chilly it was on the Oregon coast but if we had moved just an hour inland we would have been too hot? We followed U. S. Highway 101 south as it curved inland away from the coast. Our destination was Redcrest to spend several days seeing the majestic redwood trees. When we were outside preparing to leave Eureka we had on jackets. By the time we moved inland and reached Redcrest it was 88 degrees. Whew! What a difference. Time to switch from heat to AC. (Yes, we know our family and friends in Florida are laughing at our complaining about 88 degrees!)

We were last here in May, 2014 and pulled into the same RV park as before in tiny Redcrest, pop 112. It is a nice park but has absolutely no Verizon service.

Here we traded the beauty of the Pacific coastline with the magnificence of the redwoods.  And magnificent they are! IMG_4225

We spent our time driving along a road called “The Avenue of the Giants“ and hiked several trails in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California’s third largest park and containing Rockefeller Forest, the world’s largest remaining contiguous old-growth forest of coast redwoods. 20180928_163540

Our first hike was on the Greig-French-Bell Trail.  This trail is located in the fog prone northern edge of the park and therefore has a lush ground cover. This particular area is so visually striking it is often used as the setting for movies and TV commercials. IMG_20180928_124855IMG_4232IMG_4235IMG_4243

The most well known landmark on the trail is the Girdled Tree where in 1901 the bark was mostly removed and sent to San Francisco so the people there could see what redwoods looked like. IMG_4241

We hiked for well over an hour along the many meandering paths along the trail. Of the trails we hiked it was the least well marked and most overgrown. This was also a great time of year to visit the park since none of the trails were crowded. This is the very end of their tourist season. IMG_4252


This is not a trail, it is a large fallen tree!

Next up was the most famous trail in the park, Founders Grove. It is described as an ancient forest and one of the greatest forests on earth. 20180928_144757IMG_4253

One highlight was the Dyerville Giant, a redwood that once stood here for as long as 1,600 years. At the time it was taller, larger and older than any other tree around it.  It was 370 feet tall which is two feet taller than Niagara Falls, was seventeen feet in diameter, fifty-two feet in circumference and weighed over one million pounds. When it fell in 1991 it registered on the seismograph and the locals said it sounded like a train wreck. 20180928_150211IMG_4257IMG_20180928_154426-EFFECTSIMG_20180928_160237

Along this trail we also walked the Mahan Plaque Loop. IMG_4254IMG_20180928_145322IMG_20180928_145527IMG_20180928_152639


Some giant redwood trees shatter when they fall


Our final trail was the Rockefeller Loop Trail. This forest grove is dark and very dense. It had started to lightly rain while we were walking on this trail and we hardly felt any raindrops thanks to the redwoods being our natural umbrellas. IMG_4271IMG_4270IMG_4272IMG_4276IMG_4279IMG_4284IMG_4286IMG_4291IMG_4297

We had a wonderful time among these majestic giants. But now it is time to return to the coast. IMG_20180929_114041

Interesting facts:

  • Due to climate change and other factors, Coast Redwoods now only grow naturally in a narrow 40 miles wide and 450 mile long strip from southern Oregon to southern Monterey County in California.
  • Initially, J.D. Rockefeller did not want the forest named after his family, he donated millions of dollars to save these trees. Until 1951 it was known as the Bull Creek-Dyerville Forest. IMG_4267IMG_4268IMG_4277
  • Redwoods are so immense they live simultaneously in three climatic zones. The base, the stem and the crown are in three separate zones.
  • Redwoods need great amounts of moisture. This area of California has 65 inches per year average rainfall plus moisture from summer fog.
  • A very large redwood can release up to 500 gallons of water into the air each day. The redwoods are being affected by the ongoing California drought.
  • It may take 400 years or more for a decaying tree to become integrated into the forest floor.
  • Redwood roots grow only a few feet down into the soil but can grow laterally a hundred feet or more. Their roots can intertwine, helping each other stand up.
  • Redwoods live a long time because they have few enemies. They have a thick fire resistant bark and lack resin.
  • The scientific name for Coast Redwood is Sequoia sempervirens which means “ever living”.

UPDATED: Eureka, CA SEPT 21, 2018

California here we come!  We left Brookings, Oregon and crossed over into California.  Once we entered the state we had to stop at a California Agricultural Checkpoint.  We expected this and had not stocked up on fruits and vegetables ahead of time. They only asked if we had citrus fruits or mangos, which we didn’t so they waved us on. 20180921_084154

Our first stop was a six night stay in Eureka.  We were last here in May, 2014. Eureka has a population of around 27,000.  It has a rich history mainly based on the California Gold Rush in the mid to late 1800’s.  As thousands of people poured into the area in search of gold, their need for housing and the numerous redwood forests in the area provided a prosperous economy for northern California.  Lumber was manufactured and shipped from the region so the area became rich through lumber and shipping. Many people in Eureka became wealthy which can be seen in the many large Victorian style homes. As you may have guessed, Eureka received its name from the Greek word “Eureka” which means “I have found it” and was first used by the Greek mathematician Archimedes.  The gold rushers would say “Eureka!” when they discovered gold and the name stuck for the town.

One day we decided to drive along the California area known as the Lost Coast.  It was a bright sunny day when we left home. We stopped for lunch and by the time we reached the coast and stopped at Centerville Beach a short time later, this is what we found.  Plagued by the sea mist yet again! IMG_4207IMG_4212

The Lost Coast was given this name because of depopulation in the 1930’s.  Because of the steepness and geographical challenges of the coastal mountains, this stretch of the coastline was too costly for the state to build highways or county roads through the area.  Therefore it is the most undeveloped and remote portion of the California coast. Just the kind of area we enjoy visiting! Without any major highways the small communities in this area are isolated from the rest of California. IMG_4172

In Eureka we were reminded once again how expensive food and fuel (thirty cents a gallon) is in California!  Ouch! We still pay deposits on cans and bottles but it is only five cents compared to ten cents in Oregon.  California has a plastic bag ban so we must remember to take our own bags in all the stores.

Next stop:  Redcrest to see the redwoods

UPDATED: Brookings, OR SEPT 14, 2018

After five months along the Oregon and Washington coast, we headed south to Brookings, our final stop in Oregon.  Even though we waited until almost noon to leave, there was still a heavy fog/sea mist hovering over the area. The drive from Bandon to Brookings is a very scenic and beautiful drive but because of the fog we were unable to see any of the coastline.  We passed over the Isaac Lee Patterson Bridge, over the Rogue River. 20180914_141347Oregon sure has some beautiful bridges! The picture doesn’t show the heavy fog which could be seen just by looking to the right toward the water.

We spent a week in Brookings at Harris Beach State Park, one of the most popular Oregon state parks.  We were last here in May, 2014. Due to its relatively mild climate and the fact that it gets more sun than any other Oregon coastal town because of its south facing position, Brookings is often referred to as “The Banana Belt of Oregon”.  Flowers bloom all year and 90% of the country’s Easter lilies are grown here. It is also home to many myrtle trees and coastal redwoods. IMG_4167IMG_20180921_094946-EFFECTS

One day we drove back up the coast along the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor which parallels the Oregon Coast Trail, a 362 mile hiking trail along the entire coast of Oregon.  We stopped at several scenic overlooks including Arch Rock. IMG_4143IMG_4144IMG_4145IMG_4149IMG_4151IMG_4154

We wanted a picture of the Thomas Creek Bridge since it is the highest in Oregon but the bridge was having major construction.  We did find a path which was described as leading to a bridge vista point. A sign said the trail was severely eroded and caution was needed so I stayed behind while Bill walked down to get a picture .  Unfortunately trees have blocked much of the view. IMG_4165

While in Brookings we did a little more weekly shopping to take advantage of Oregon’s no sales tax.  We have enjoyed not paying sales tax but their ten cent deposit on all cans and bottles has been a bit of a pain.  This view in town shows the sea mist wafting through the area creating a smoky looking haze. 20180917_131143

Most evenings the fog prevented us from viewing good sunsets but we did manage to catch one. IMG_4114IMG_4120IMG_4122

Next up:  Eureka, CA