Highway 101 leaves Oregon through Grant’s Pass. The Pass is named after President Ulysses S. Grant the hero of the American Civil War. He’d been stationed in this area well before that war; as had William Sherman (notorious for marching through the South during the Civil War). The two were captains and were charged with keeping the peace during the gold rush. This type of duty was mundane and boring for both men so to relieve their situation they both began to drink — heavily at times. Unfortunately for Grant he was collared with a reputation for alcoholism that hung on him like stink from a skunk. The truth was that he was lonely and missed his family. Once he returned to his Ohio home the drinking was moderated; the same cannot be said of his reputation.
Near the end of the Pass one enters California, that is after being stopped for a vegan check (they want to know what produce you may be bringing in that could harm the state’s agricultural industry. “We have a couple of apples.” “Ok, go on through and have a nice day.” That was that.
Driving to Crescent City I recalled the cycling trip I took last summer which took me right through this same town. The town is not too special — its what follows was most appealing. Its a coastal area that seems more sedate than what we had seen in Oregon.
We were also fortunate to see several members of an elk herd that thrives in national forest meadows along the ocean — caution was required since this is rutting season. Many bull elks are looking for a “lady friend” for fun and for heirs. People who get in the way can suffer some painful consequences — notice the “rack” on the elk:
The first large town on the Northern California coast is Eureka built by the gold rush and the redwood lumber industry. The historic town center showcases Victorian structures, antique and vintage shops. Here’s a sample:
Leaving Eureka opens the door to the redwood forest home of the “Avenue of the Giants”. Situated in a state and federal land preserve the trees are both ancient and huge. The name of the roadway is attributed to a group of wealthy individuals who donated a million dollars a piece to protect and care for the trees starting in the 1880’s. Each has a grove of trees named in their name or that of a family member. We are all fortunate for their foresight since redwoods now are downed with a rapidity that is sad to witness; all one needs to do is look to the hills above the forest to see the range of clear-cut redwoods.
I admit that as a card carrying “tree hugger” seeing so many downed trees brings a tear to my eye. Everyone has a responsibility to support state, local and federal parks that preserve and protect nature’s legacy for future generations.