Thursday, June 19, 2014

Our Visit To Stout Grove

Alongside the quiet waters of Smith River, just eight miles out of Crescent City, stands one of the most magnificent redwood groves in existence today -- Stout Grove.  It's listed as a "Point of Interest" on our campground's brochure and is described as of the world's most magnificent of the redwood stands. We will see for ourselves. Our visit, including travel time, took about 3 hours.

The eight mile drive along U.S. Highway 199 east from Crescent City took us past the Jedediah Smith Redwoods National and State Park entrance and on through the town of Hiouchi.

We crossed the Smith River and turned, following signs to Stout Grove. Here is some of what we passed along the way.

A tiny covered bridge...

Smith River 
At this point, the paved road gave way to dirt. Six miles of extremely narrow, winding, rough road took us deep into the forest.

It took three times circling the small parking lot to get a parking place. There aren't more than 12 spaces and some people parked their cars along the roadside.

Dogs are not allowed on the trail of Stout Grove
A downed redwood near the entry to the Stout Grove walking loop.
Not the largest stand of redwoods -- not the biggest redwood trees, Stout Grove is special simply because it is the most beautiful.

Nature's most perfect ground cover

The widow of a lumber baron, Mrs. Clara Stout, donated this 44 acres grove to the "Save The Redwoods League" in 1929 to save the trees from being logged and to memorialize her late husband.

 Wayne standing behind waist high ferns and in front of the huge Redwood trunk. 
I've read reviews and talked to people who've offered differing opinions as to why Stout Grove is so special. Some say it's because the grove is in a riverbed where the ground cover resembles a landscaped yard trimmed in giant ferns. Others say it's because there are no small trees mixed into the densely packed redwoods. Then there are those who comment on the almost cathedral-like quiet serenity.

Whatever the reason, Stout Grove is among the most humbling forest I've ever visited.

A closeup of the previous shot
Stout grove is a hiker, walker, photographer and nature lovers paradise. There are no National Park brochures or maps, no visitors center, recycle or trash cans. There's not a gift shop and there's no short film to watch. In a couple of words, Stout Grove is an outdoor minimalist's dream. This is by design as those who care for this beautiful place do not want it to become a tourist destination.

I like to stand near anything that makes me look smaller. 
The trail at Stout Grove is a short loop on flat terrain after a downhill walk from the parking area.  There are two hiking trails that lead off the loop and plenty of other hiking and walking trails nearby.

Howland Hill Road

Leaving Stout Grove, we took Howland Hill Road again, this time going the other direction returning to Crescent City.  This route was also about 6 miles, winding, narrow and dusty -- but oh, so worth it.

More of Howland Hill Road

And still more of Howland Hill Road.  
The only negative think I can report on our visit to Stout Grove was the dust.  The entire area is extremely dry this year and the roads are very dusty.  If we had it to do over, we would save our car's washing until after our visit to Stout Grove.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Sights Of Crescent City

The economy of Crescent City is pretty depressed but it's still easy to fall in love with this place. The people are friendly and welcoming, the weather is perfect in our estimation -- daytime highs in the low 60's -- nightly lows in the low 50's. We are enjoying our time here.

On Saturday, we loaded into the car to see a few more local sights. Getting back to normal after their visit to the vet, Lexie and Ozzie were excited at the prospect of Wayne's question, "wanna go for a ride in the car?" Of course they did.

This is how we spent about 4 hours that day.  First stop...

Castle Island Preserve

A National Wildlife Refuge, Castle Island rises about 335 feet from the Pacific ocean. It is located 1/2 mile off the coast of Crescent City and totals about 14 acres of rock.  Difficult to see in my picture,below, but easily seen from the coastline, a large swath of sloping green meadow grows on the island. Castle Island is off limits to the public. It is one of the most important sea bird sanctuaries on the California coast with as many as 150,000 birds (and forty-one species) nesting and breeding here.
Castle Rock is an important sanctuary for Aleutian Canadian geese and other nesting seabirds.
Sea lions and seals are sunning themselves on the rocks at the base of Castle Rock.

Then on to...

Brother Jonathan Cemetery and Memorial

A small city block near the coastline in Crescent City serves as a cemetery and memorial to the steamship Brother Jonathan.  Buried in this place are the 19 survivors of 224 total people who were aboard when the Brother Jonathan struck an uncharted rock while trying to enter the harbor at Crescent City during a summer storm in 1865.

Wreckage of the Brother Jonathan steamer would not be located for a hundred years.
The steamship sank in water over 250 feet deep.  Gold, camels and china were the main cargo.
Bodies and cargo washed ashore for months afterward. 
And then to...

Saint George Reef Lighthouse

The picture to the right is of Saint George Reef Lighthouse. In the picture below, I've indicated the location of its silhouette in the far coastal distance.

Saint George Reef Lighthouse is one of the world's greatest lighthouses and a marvel of 19th century engineering. It can't be seen in my photograph and that's too bad, but we could see it only through binoculars. The Saint George Reef Lighthouse is perched on the "Dragon Rocks" about 6 miles offshore, a bit north of Crescent City, near the Oregon state line.

Construction of this lighthouse was a direct result of the sinking of Brother Jonathan. Building cost $700,000 and took ten years to complete.

It was the most expensive lighthouse of the 19th century.
We were standing at a viewing point across the street from the Brother Jonathan Memorial.
Saint George Lighthouse was called "the rock" and it was the most dangerous service location of all lighthouses. Four lighthouse keepers died and many others were injured during crew transfers from the huge boom that had to be used to offload people and supplies. The lighthouse was decommissioned in May 1975.

From there we saw...

Battery Point Lighthouse

Perhaps the most scenic lighthouse setting, in my view.  Visitors can access the island and go inside the lighthouse -- but only at low tide. The walkway is underwater at other times.

As the photo shows, except at low tide, the walkway is under water.
And then to...

Crescent City Harbor

Left to right, the next picture captures a Coast Guard Cutter, Battery Point Lighthouse, Crescent City downtown and a floating section of dock that serves as a platform for seals and sea lions.

Tough to see in the picture, but at least one dead mammal is on the platform.
A group of buzzards stand on the opposite end. 

And then to the local municipal marina.


The marina at Crescent City Harbor was almost completely destroyed by the 2011 tsunami that resulted from the earthquake off the coast of Japan.  Rebuilding is almost complete now. We're told by local fishermen that monthly marina slip costs have more than doubled.  

By the time we finished looking around the marina, it was lunchtime, so we headed to a harbor favorite:

Chart Room Restaurant

Waterfront dining in Crescent City is best at this "locals favorite" where a wait to be seated is almost always required.  The Chart Room is open for all three meals and the local folks especially like the big seafood breakfasts including cod and eggs, crab and/or shrimp omelettes.

Seafood combo. Cod, prawns, scallops, fries, slaw and garlic bread - $12.99 (fried or broiled)

To offset the mouthwatering effect of lunch picture, I offer the next one:

Life Cycle

Seeing all the seemingly healthy sea lions and seals, I rarely think of how they might die.  But they do and when it happens, there's another group of wildlife that tends to the cleanup.

A sea lion carcass is cleaned away by local citizens.

Staying on

Today marks the beginning of our third week here in Crescent City. We stopped in for an overnight, stayed a week, then a second and now a third.  Village Camper Inn RV Park is convenient, well designed, quiet and reasonably priced. Perfect weather is tough to leave too. It's on our short list of "favorite" campgrounds.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Ozzie and Lexie: Daily Double For Dentals

Ozzie's little tooth.
Ozzie lost a tooth Sunday. It happened when I presented him with a raw carrot treat. In a moment the carrot bite and tooth lay together on the kitchen floor. I was horrified. The tiny tooth came out intact -- roots and all, covered in calculus.

Feelings of guilt overwhelmed me as I held the little guy and tried to look into his mouth... without success.

Lexie has had two dental cleanings since her adoption but Ozzie's had none. Our wrong but well-intentioned logic was that he, being a "chewer", kept the tarter at bay. Lexie does not chew and so tarter builds quickly on her teeth.  Last November she had a second cleaning in three years, bring her tooth loss total to eleven, including one surgical removal. She has no center teeth across the front on top.

Lexie and Ozzie (not the day of the dentals) 
Wayne and I talked about whether we could wait until we reach a larger city or even until fall when we'll be at Auburn University's small animal teaching hospital again. Both dogs have been there multiple times. But no, we just couldn't wait. Ozzie might be in pain or have infection that could cause even more damage.  We had to act here and now.

Early next morning I was on the phone prepared to call  every local veterinarian office -- there are three within two miles of our campground.  In the end, I'd make just one call... to All Creatures Animal Hospital & Bird Clinic where Dr. Dennis Wood, his wife and staff have built a highly regarded, hospital accredited practice.  Dr. Wood is a co-founder of the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center and is involved in California's Large Whale Disentanglement Network. That, in itself, didn't convince us to go there, but I was impressed with this man's devotion to animals. Just as important, the receptionist was helpful with information and scheduled us to come in that very afternoon.

Dr. Wood and the staff at All Creatures Animal Hospital and Bird Clinic.
I made a list of other health issues to have addressed by the vet since we'd be paying for "new patient full evaluation" anyway - $45 per dog. (No multiple pet discounts -- aarrgg.) Allergies are bothering both dogs and we need a prescription for our often-used eye drops. We'd take care of these and have their anal glands expressed too -- an extra $15 each but worth it.

On examination, Ozzie's dental is most urgent as Dr. Wood saw at least one abscess. Lexie's tarter had returned in just six months and should be removed. We agreed. Both were given antibiotics and we would return early Thursday morning. The dental work will run somewhere between $465 - $859 per dog, depending on lots of scenarios. Once more, I've made a promise to be diligent in tooth brushing for them as soon a their mouths can take it.

Wellness Small Breed Complete Health
On Tuesday I began a new dog food research project. Dr. Wood suggested we consider one of the many dental blends available these days (and he sells at least one of those brands), but I ruled out all of them. Independent research concludes that the dental blends are, in fact, of little benefit in plaque removal and may actually be harmful to a dog's overall health.

In the end, Wayne and I concluded our current dog food contains a good balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates along with other ingredients we feel are best for Lexie and Ozzie.

We found some excellent dog food choices in our research.  We believe it is good to change dog foods occasionally and there are plenty 5-star choices to offer as alternatives.

Many dog food resources were used but the most help was from the Dog Food Advisor.

On Wednesday evening, Lexie and Ozzie ate later than usual, enjoyed a few extra treats and went to sleep completely unaware they wouldn't have breakfast or even a drink of water the following morning -- ahead of the dental cleanings that were in store.

At 8:30 Thursday morning we dropped them at the clinic and missed them terribly until time to go back in early afternoon.  Lexie had an uneventful cleaning but did require one tooth be removed which was quite disappointing. Ozzie's dental report wasn't nearly so good -- or simple.  Ozzie has periodontal disease, nine teeth had to be extracted, including canines and molars. Dr. Wood explained all the work he had done including the treatment applied to both dogs' teeth that would hold the plaque at bay until we could get the brushing treatment underway. It will take about 2 weeks for them to heal. We purchased several dental cleaning products, some prescription -- some not, to aid in the dental hygiene program. The antibiotics will continue, too, for another week.

In the end, the cost associated with this daily double dental reached $1,600.  A large part of the expense could have easily been avoided by getting our dogs accustomed to daily tooth brushing -- which we will do. To start, I am stroking their mouths and lips to get them used to the feel of my fingers.

Next will be to get my finger into the mouth and along the teeth.  Slow but sure.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Crescent City. And It Ain't New Orleans, Y'all.

Nice as Trinidad, California was, we moved along after a few days. We've been driving and sightseeing for quite awhile now and it's time to settle down for house cleaning, rig washing, shopping, relaxing and mail call. For this we like a city with conveniences beyond what's available at Trinidad; specifically... Walmart.

And so, we picked up where we left off on U.S. 101 which is becoming quite beautiful now after more than 700 hot, dry miles from southern California.

Close to the coastline here, the fog hangs low. 

Daytime temperatures for the next week in this region are low to mid 60's and nights about 10 degrees cooler.  Some of our northward ride takes us along the coast and among the California redwoods.

Lady Bird Johnson Grove and Redwoods National and State Parks are along our U.S. 101 route today. 

Upon seeing an "Elk Warning" sign, I grabbed the camera just in time to catch a shot of this group on the roadside. 

Our destination: Crescent City, about 20 miles south of the Oregon state line. Crescent City, California is named for the crescent shape of the stretch of beach here.  The Redwoods National Park is headquartered here and it is home to one of the oldest lighthouses on the California coast: Battery Point. That will be covered in a later post when we've had time to visit it.

The selection of Village Camper Inn RV Park in Crescent City as an overnight stop just happened to be a lucky draw. It's a very nice, quiet place with both wooded and full sun campsites, only five minutes from the coast.

The gargantuan redwood tree on the other side of our site is one of the prettiest I've ever seen. 
We like Village Camper Inn RV Park and our site here so much, in fact, that we've decided to make it home for the next two weeks. 

Part of the Crescent City beach area. 
Seems there's plenty to do in this area and we'll try to get around to everything that interests us, but our first stop is to see the municipal marina area that was heavily damaged by the Tsunami of 2011. Looks like many repairs are complete now including the really nice-looking floating docks. 

Probably the best seal picture I've gotten 
We learned some new stuff here too.  A General Petroleum Company tanker, S.S. Emidio was the first California coast casualty of the Japanese submarine force in WWII. On December 20, 1941, the tanker was attacked about 200 miles north of San Francisco. Five crewmen were killed.  The S.S. Emidio drifted north to this area where it broke up on the rocks. Several parts of the ship's bow were salvaged and are on display in a city park here.

As for the weather, it is perfect.  Every day's forecast is about the same... sunny and clear with low 60's in the daytime, low 50's at night. This will be hard to beat.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Trinidad, California: Where Tall Trees Meet Sparkling Seas

Our quest to find cooler temperatures as we departed the San Francisco Bay area ended at the tiny coastal village of Trinidad. This is one of the smallest and oldest cities in California. A rugged coastline, spectacular sea views and beautiful tall, lush forests are the main attractions... along with a population of 396, mainly fishing families, who call this place home.

Temperatures were pleasant, terrain turning deeper green. We began seeing redwood trees along this route.
This photo, taken through the tinted coach window, does not show the beautiful green of the forest.

Trinidad is about 30 miles north of Eureka along the Redwood National Park. There are five campgrounds along the coastal road here and three others in the nearby state park. We selected Sounds of the Sea RV Park and find it to be a good choice. Anytime we're outside the coach we hear the loud, long, continuous bark of seals coming up from across the road on the rocks below.

Seals serenading all who will listen.  

Patrick's Point

Patrick's Point California State Park is less than 1/2 mile down the road from our campground, so naturally, it became a destination while we were there.

We were especially grateful for this clear sunny day since Patrick's Point is shrouded in fog much of the year.

Rainfall averages 60+ inches a year and temperatures only about a 10 degree variation between winter and summer.

Ozzie and Lexie aren't allowed on the trails at Patrick's Point but were welcome to other parts of the park. 

A massive sea stack called Wedding Rock is a popular vista point in Patrick's Point State Park. About 50 marriages take place here each year. The weddings started in the 1930's when the park's first caretaker married his sweetheart there after blazing a trail to the place with the best view of the Pacific.

Wayne along the trail to Wedding Rock.  

Ascending the final few steps...
Atop Wedding Rock, looking south.

The bride waits...

The groom arrives -- binoculars in hand. 

Looking northward from Wedding Rock.
The weather here today is perfect. Mild temperature, sunshine and no wind or fog. Our sweatshirts were soon shed and we moved along to another overlook.

Palmer's Point 

Our next stop was a much shorter walk as we just went as far as Palmer's Point overlook where, in addition to a huge number of seals, we saw a bald eagle perched on a tree limb. Wayne first saw the eagle through binoculars but the bird was just too far away for a good photograph without setting up a tripod.

Beyond the overlook where we stopped, the trail at Palmer's Point trail continues down a steep grade into what it said to be some of the most magnificent tidepools on the entire Pacific coast. Sea-stars and crabs are easily found there. The Wayner isn't one for hiking or climbing so I didn't suggest it even though he is very patient anytime I go exploring.

Not much barking from this group.... they're enjoying a day on the rocks.

Trinidad: The Village 

One of the few souvenir stores in Trinidad.

This village of Trinidad is part of the California Coastal National Monument.

Fishing, based from the tiny harbor, is vital to tourism and commercial fishery interests for the entire region.

Trinidad is clean, quiet and quaint. It might very well have passed Morro Bay as my favorite California coastal town.

The first inhabitants of this area were Yurok Indians. They were in this region before the 1700's and lived on the bluffs overlooking this bay. By 1775, a Portuguese navigator recorded that he'd seen the bay. Later, Spaniards came, claimed, settled and named the land.

By the time of the American Civil War, local Indians were raided, killed, starved and those who lived were herded away like animals. Shameful treatment of the first people without apology... again.

As the afternoon wore on, fog drifted into Trinidad bay and harbor, changing the appearance completely.

Fishing boats look in Trinity Bay appear tiny from up here.

Trinidad has a very nice memorial lighthouse that pays tribute to the original lighthouse at Trinidad Head. The 25 foot lighthouse sits atop a 175 bluff, is still in operation and has been, since December 1871. 

Along with the replica lighthouse, this property displays the original 4,000 pound fog bell and a memorial to locals lost and buried at sea.  
In the village of Trinidad, we spotted a sign advertising local smoked salmon. Well.... that would not be passed up!

At $39.99 per pound, we selected a small package of smoked salmon. Smoked Albacore tuna was $29.99 per pound and we wanted to try it too.

Checking out, I noticed gourmet pet food -- Albacore tuna at $2.99 a can. Lexie and Ozzie should try it....

The salmon was good, but a bit dry.

Tsunami warnings, like the one below, are posted all over this area, which is at high risk.