We woke at 8:30 and had breakfast at Grant’s, which must be the only place to have breakfast in Gold Beach, as it was very crowded, and the food was terrible. Checking out of our lovely cabin, we headed south just a few miles to Cape Sebastian for a little walk.
View south from Cape Sebastian
Cape Sebastian, on this sunny day, featured superb views to the north and south. Apparently the preferred way to hike it is via a 2-car shuttle, leaving one at the beach and hiking down to it from the top of the cape. Having only one car, and limited time, we hiked maybe a half mile out and down, then turned back. Although a short’ish detour, this was one of the most worthwhile ones, despite the howling wind.
View north from Cape Sebastian
South of Cape Sebastian we drove along the Sam Boardman State Scenic Corridor, a long’ish state park studded with many day-use areas and trailheads. We stopped at but a few (Arch Rock Lookout was our favorite, with Pigeon Guillemot, Western Gull, Brandt’s Cormorant, an Osprey and a Turkey Vulture spotted), since many had no views, but rather provided access to segments of the Coastal Trail, and alas, we didn’t have time for any other strolls along the coast.
Table Rock Overlook
Just north of the town of Brookings we stopped at Harris Beach State Park. Ironically, although our guide book said that Brookings has the best weather on the entire Oregon coast, it was the only place that was completely fogged in, with clear blue skies both north and south of it! Harris Beach was lovely, though, with a large number of “haystack” rocks in the surf and farther offshore providing excellent habitat for seabirds (which we mostly couldn’t see due to the fog, although the white-toopped rocks were sure signs of their presence!).
Harris Beach State Park
In Harbor, Brookings’ southern neighbor, we stopped by an antiques collective, but found nothing worth bringing home, and with that, we crossed the California border, the Oregon portion of our trip complete.
But the trip was far from over, as it’s 380 miles from Harbor to San Francisco. We passed through Crescent City, and soon entered the lovely redwood forests of extreme-northern California. A sign for the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway caught our eye, and we took a beautiful detour through Priarie Creek Redwoods State Park.
Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, Big Tree Trailhead
Although we have a good number of redwoods in the greater San Francisco area, the ones in Prairie Creek are much larger, and much older than the forests closer to home. A signed elk meadow had, sure enough, a half-dozen or so grazing Roosevelt Elk does, a nice counterpoint to the bucks we’d seen the previous day.
We stopped at a trailhead signed “Big Trees” to get out and stretch our legs a little. A large map by the trails made me want to come back and camp here for a while – Prairie Creek Redwoods SP has a pretty extensive network of trails, and it would be lovely hiking in the forest among these enormous trees. We “hiked” to the “Big Tree,” all of 100 yards or so from the parking lot, then, with a ways to go to our hotel in Eureka, we continued on our way.
My yoga teacher, Catherine, suggested that we stop off in Trinidad, so we did, and we glad to have done so. Trinidad is a tiny (and I mean tiny) fishing village with pretty much no tourist trappings. High on a bluff are a few shops and restaurants, and down bythe tiny commercial fishing pier, another restaurant. I’d read about Katy’s Smokehouse online, and we bought some delicious smoked fish there for later consumption (it proved excellent, especially their smoked scallops and their wonderful canned albacore)..
After a mediocre lunch at the Seascape (the restaurant at the pier), we walked along the wooden jetty, enjoying the beautiful bay, dotted with fishing boats, a young harbor seal frolicking in the surf, and a number of Western Gulls, no doubt on the lookout for some fish “trimmings.”
From Trinidad we continued south, eventually coming to Eureka, where we checked into our hotel, Best Western Humboldt Bay Inn. After some R&R we headed out to explore the town, renowned for its Victorian architecture.
Our hotel included a little driving map of notable Victorians, so we took that, and enjoyed 20 minutes of toodling around. Although where we live in San Francisco is 85% Victorian houses (ours included), it was interesting seeing them in a less urban setting, as of course none of the ones at home have much/any yards to speak of.
The Carson Mansion
The highlight of any perusal of Eureka architecture has to be the Carson Mansion. This stupendous, ornate mansion, built by lumber magnate Carson in the late 1800s is definitely the wildest, most over-the-top building in the Victorian style that I’ve ever seen! Sadly, it is now the home to a private club, and the public cannot enjoy the interior (which, judging by the photos at the Ingomar Club, is every bit as exquisite as the exterior!).
Back at the hotel, we decided to walk to old town Eureka, since it looked like they were setting up for something when we drove through. Sure enough, we happened to be in town on an Art Night, with shops open late and serving refreshments, and two stages of live music – cool! Sarah espied a tres-modern watering hole called “the Pearl,” and inside we enjoyed a couple of chi chi cocktails and a delicious Samoan pizza from Hurricane Kate’s next door.
Thus sated we walked around and checked out the stores. For a small town, Eureka has a nice selection of stores, with several great used bookshops, a bead store, an Irish imports store, and numerous galleries and jewelry botiques. A graffiti spray-painting contest in an alley drew our attention, and we enjoyed watching the artists create their works. Although graffiti is often an eyesore, these were well above-average, and if left, definitely improve the look of an otherwise drab alleyway.
After we’d seen our fill, we moseyed back to the hotel and went to bed. Although we’d had much fun and seen quite a bit on this trip, we were looking forward to being home with our cats and in our own bed tomorrow!
- Day 1 – SF to Ashland, OR
- Days 2, 3, 4 – Portland, OR
- Day 5 – Portland, OR to Pacific City, OR
- Day 6 – Pacific City, OR to Florence, OR
- Day 7 – Florence, OR to Gold Beach, OR
- Day 8 – Gold Beach, OR to Eureka, CA <– You are here!
- Day 9 – Eureka, CA to San Francisco