Monday, February 23, 2009

To the Coast

A few weeks ago, during some unseasonably warm weather, I made a day trip from my home near Redding to the Eureka, California area. Eureka is on the northern California coast. Redding is at the top of the long interior valley that bisects much of the state north to south.

On the way out of Weaverville, the county seat of Trinity County. Weaverville has a population of 3,500, and is the biggest community in a county of 13,000. In Trinity County, you'll find no freeways, no stop lights, no parking meters. It was one of the original counties in California.

On the coast near Samoa, California. No hurricanes, no tornadoes. But . . .

That really is a dog, not a lion.

An honest to goodness cattle ranch house, right on the coast. You won't see many of these in southern California.

Most of my trip to the coast was in the dark, so I didn't get many photos. Leaving the coast, and climbing back up Highway 299, I look back toward the west. The Pacific is out there, over that ridgeline.

A roadside memorial. That's the Trinity River below. Highway 299 is a beautiful drive, but it can be treacherous.

The general store at Burnt Ranch, population 325.

You don't see these everyday anymore. Good thing it's there, since much of 299 has no cell phone coverage.

The Straw House, near the community of Big Bar. Sure enough, the building is insulated with rice straw, and it has . . .

a great view of the Trinity River from the deck.

Almost home, I pass through Shasta County's former county seat, Shasta. Folks who live here call it "Old Shasta," since nearby can be found the towns of Shasta Lake and Mount Shasta. About 3,500 people lived there from the 1850's until around 1880, when the Central Pacific Railroad bypassed Shasta in favor of Redding. The town wound down to a quasi-ghost town, and it's now a state historic park.

In Shasta, you'll find the oldest Masonic Lodge in California, still in use.

Remnants of what was once a thriving commercial district in Shasta.


Bob Barbanes said...

Whenever you guys write these little travelogues, I always go on and follow along. And dude, that 299 looks like a SERIOUSLY twisty road that I'd love to drive in my VW camper or on my motorcycle BUT NOT AT NIGHT!! What are you, nuts?

Great town names along the way too. I always love seeing places like "Whiskeytown," and "Burnt Ranch" and the images they evoke. Didn't realize that "Big Bar" and "Hawkins Bar" had more to do with the river than the alcoholic procolivities of its citizens.

Great story - must have been an awesome trip!

But a lot of it at night? Yikes.

Hal Johnson said...

"But a lot of it at night? Yikes."

I wouldn't want to drive 299 for the first time at night, Bob. But I'm nominally familiar with it, so that helps. Also, those 5 Hour Energy drinks really work, at least for me.

I went there to apply for a TWIC: Transportation Workers Identification Card. It's now required for workers working in U.S. ports, and since offshore helicopter pilots sometimes go in and out of ports, we have to have 'em.

I love those dash trips. I like driving, and I like it when I can be home with my family. Right now I'm pondering whether one of those dash trips is doable to Bodie, California. It's a ghost town, and now a state park, that's always captivated me. I'm overdue for a visit.

And yeah, when I'm driving a highway like 299, I miss my Harley. At least it has a good home.

Debby said...

Okay. Humor me. It's warm enough to ride a motorcycle out there? (I just like to hear that it is warm in other parts of the world. *sigh*
I get my thrills vicariously.

Hal Johnson said...

Well Debby, when I drove through most of 299 in the wee hours of the morning, it was cold. 27F in Weaverville. But, when I drove back through in the afternoon, it was in the high sixties. We've had a really mild winter, although for the last couple of weeks it's been wetter and colder.

MarionL said...

Beautiful country! When my husband was a wild teenager he lived in a commune near Eureka. I'm envious of your trip. One day I hope to visit the left coast on a motorcycle!