Sunday, September 12, 2010

Redwoods to Vineyards

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We left Klamath early on Saturday morning on our final trip through those forests of towering Redwood trees.  That is until December when we come through this way again. 

Parts of Hwy. 101 have been rerouted and a larger and faster highway was built.  This may sound like a bad thing, but part of the reason was to save those trees.  The pollution of the cars and trucks was doing damage to the health of the Redwoods.  Over the past 40 years or so changes were made that keep the traffic further away from the National and State parks.  You can still take the Avenue of the Giants or other roads that will take you right through those parks, but mainly you bypass most of it….except for the area at the Richardson Grove State Park (south of Garberville).  Here, you still follow the old road that has been there for ages.  The road is narrow and only 2 lanes wide.

                                    More of the giant Redwoods just before Richardson Grove State Park.DSCF6548 

                            This is right smack in the middle of Richardson Grove State Park on Hwy. 101.DSCF6550


After leaving Redwood country we continued to our destination for the night.  We had planned to stay in the parking lot at the Coyote Valley Casino in Redwood Valley (north of Ukiah).  We stayed there one other time about 2 years ago and it was fine and dandy.  We found the place in our Casino Camping book.  Some casinos have genuine RV parks with full hook-ups and some others allow self-contained RV’s to stay overnight in their lot, and yet many have no over-night parking at all. 

                                            Here we are parked and ready for the night.DSCF6553

The cost was FREE and all we had to do was go in and let the folks at the casino’s security desk know we were out there.  We did not go in to gamble, and we did not go in to eat a meal.  Bruce and I are not big on the whole gambling thing.  We usually stay at a casino just for the free parking opportunity.  Sometimes we will go in and eat a meal at the buffet, but sometimes we don’t.  Last night we enjoyed a quiet night’s sleep!

Early this morning we were on our way south again.  Bruce found a new route for us to take when he checked out the map.  Yeah, we use paper maps.  Just a couple of miles south of where we got back on the highway, was the turn off toward Clear Lake on Hwy. 20-East.  We’d never seen Clear Lake, so we thought, why not?  We would follow Hwy. 20 for 42 miles until we got to Hwy. 53-South. 

                               We found a Rest Area next to the lake, and we pulled in to fix breakfast.DSCF6554

After eating we drove on further to reach Hwy. 53.  The landscape here was typical California stuff…rolling hills dotted with trees.  My Dad always called them “scrub oaks” but I don’t know if that is accurate or not.

                                        This time of year the hills are covered with dry, brown grass.DSCF6556

Hwy. 53 took us then to connect with Hwy. 29 heading toward Calistoga.  This stretch of highway soon climbed up into the mountains where it became a winding road with tight curves.  As we began the descent on the other side, it was a bit of white knuckle time for me.  Bruce was doing fine with the 7% grade for 6 miles.  He managed to drive the big rig over the mountain and down the other side perfectly.  Well….I’m here writing this post so there is the proof of that!

                                      This photo doesn’t really do justice to the curves that followed.DSCF6559 

                             This part of the road was a cinch.  Most curves had 15 mph signs posted.DSCF6561

                                            The road soon opened up to the valley and vineyards below.DSCF6562

The route we took today was slow….so slow, but also worth it for the beautiful scenery we found.  It isn’t a route we’d take often, especially NOT in the winter months since that mountain road is so winding.  Today it was fun. 

We got to the town of Calistoga, which is in the heart of California’s wine country.  Since it was a nice sunny weekend day, the town was packed with folks out for the day.  Good thing we were just passing through.  It would have been impossible to find someplace to park the motorhome on these streets.

                                            Busy town, but it looked like a great one to explore someday.DSCF6564

                                            The world famous Napa Valley in California.DSCF6568

We ended our day in the small town of Isleton, which is in the Sacramento Delta Region.  We will be here for 2 nights.  We have no plans for this area and we just want to sit and do nothing!  The weather was fantastic when we arrived.  It was about 83 degrees.  YeeHaw!

Until next time… long for now!


JODI said...

I was in Calistoga once, on my way to Napa and a day of lotta wine sipping, and I visited the gyser. I remember eating at a little deli there too. Beautiful country! Enjoy your relaxtion after your white knuckle ride.

Sue and Doug said...

double digits..double yeehaw..california is now home for a while!!

Rick and Paulette said...

83 degrees!! YeeHaw is right - it was rainy and cool up here all day.

The scenery photos today were really nice. We've never been along those routes, but I've made more notes for when we come back that way next year - my binder is getting pretty full!

Carol K said...

I enjoy seeing the beauty of the vineyards in the Napa Valley. I also like the redwoods, but the narrow, curvy roads sometime make me feel claustrophobic, especially when all you can see is trees on either side of you. That's what makes it nice to eventually break out into the scenic valley areas. It sounds like you had a nice drive today, despite the curves and grade.

Happytrails said...

What a beautiful drive through the redwoods...totally picturesque. I am so glad to see you guys enjoying the scenery on that drive.
Take care and be safe.
Mike & Gerri

In The Wind Adventures of William and Mary Ann said...

Great pictures Margie. I've always wanted to visit that area...maybe in the next year or two. We're getting antsy to get on the road again. Planning to be in Texas by December 1st.
= Mary Ann


We are not Casino people either & I still prefer paper maps as well. I prefer the type of road you were on & would thoroughly enjoy that type of scenery. Not likely we will ever get out that way though:((

Sarah said...

What a great drive! I liked reading about the reason for 101's route change. :)

Kenny And Angela's Adventure said...

All I can say is wow what a drive..

Dennis and Donna said...

I hear ya about the steep inclines!! We took a route AROUND El Paso, TX that took us over the mountains...I looked like a deer in the headlights most of the way down...You could have heard a pin drop in our truck...
We did the Avenue of the Giants about 20some years ago...words cannot explain being under their canopy of leaves...Travel safe!

Freely Living Life said...

I love the huge trees towering over the roads. Beautiful shots you took! Thanks for sharing! =)


Gail Durham said...

Absolutely Gorgeous!

Jeff Muskrat said...

Wow! What wonderful photos! Looks like a great trip!

I thought I'd give you a heads up about Richardson Grove State Park(aka. the Redwood Curtain)...

Caltrans wants to widen that section of the Redwood highway through Richardson grove state Park. This project threatens to cut, fill, compact and pave the roots of those ancient redwoods that line the highway, as well as remove 54 trees!

If you noticed the Ancient Redwoods north of Garberville, you may have noticed that the tops of these amazing trees are dying, particularly the trees next to the 101 bypass that was constructed around the Avenue of the Giants(Old Hwy 101). The Pepperwood exit near Stafford(home of Julia Butterfly hill's "Luna" tree) has the worst case of destruction caused by Caltrans and was dubbed by Judi Bari as "Avenue of the Spike-tops".

It is a local travesty, as these trees are very important to redwood tourism. When Caltrans bypassed the Avenue, they changed the hydrology of the surface water that fed these trees. Now they are dying, or drying up in the least.

We fear that the Richardson Grove "Improvement" Project(RIP) that threatens to disturb the roots of the ancient redwoods that line the highway will ultimately affect these trees as well. There is a huge court battle going on right now in the effort to Save Richardson Grove. More info at and """

Please enjoy your travels and please remember, many of these places were protected by the continued efforts of environmental groups. We need your help to save Richardson Grove!

Margie M. said...

For Jeff Muskrat: Thanks for this information on those wonderful redwood trees. I have published your entire comment so that others may read it and know this. I was unaware of this issue regarding conservation of the redwood forests there. So sad if Richardson Grove SP gets destroyed. We have enjoyed driving in that area for over 40 years.

Thanks again!

Ali said...

Hi Bruce & Margie

We have driven from Clear Lake to Calistoga many times. My aunt and uncle live in Middletown. It is definitely a beautiful yet CURVY drive. Glad you made it safely.

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KarenInTheWoods and Steveio said...

Wow.. what a lovely tour! Those winding roads are soooo inviting!

I know Steve would love to check out those vineyards, and I think I would just LOVE to hug a redwood!

Karen and Steve
(Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard