Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Cruising Down the 101

We had a pretty interesting trip down the coast from Oregon to northern California and came across some totally unexpected things. The coast is beautiful with the steep cliffs, uplifted rocks and pounding surf.

I picked up a tourist guide which listed different things to see along Highway 101. One of them was the 'dolly dock' in Port Orford which is one of only two 'dolly docks' in the U.S. (the other one is in Los Angeles) - and only six in the world - where gigantic hoists lift the vessels in and out of the water each day. The harbor area is too shallow for safe mooring. When not on the ocean, the boats are parked in rows on the dock and cradled in custom-made trailers that are easily pulled around by pickup trucks. We didn't really think we would have an opportunity to see this process in action, but as we were driving through Port Orford we saw a road with the words 'Ocean View' printed on it and of course had to check it out. We were in luck as they were pulling a commercial fishing boat out a few minutes after we pulled in. Pretty amazing and very efficient.

We wanted to spend some time exploring the different parts of Redwood National Park, which also encompasses some of California's State Parks. We weren't sure what the best spot was to have as our home base, but decided on Klamath, California since it seemed to be more or less central to what we wanted to see. Good choice as it turned out. The redwoods were everything we expected and once again we were so happy to see another one of our treasured natural resources being protected.
The redwood trees are the world's tallest living trees. They grow from seeds the size of a tomato seed, weigh up to 500 tons and stand taller than the Statue of Liberty.

One of noteworthy natural features of Redwood National Park is its herd of Roosevelt Elk. They exist in significant numbers now but the Roosevelt Elk approached extinction at one point. In the early 20th century no more than a few dozen, maybe as few as 1 or 2, still existed in California. The only remaining herd made its stand in the area encompassed by Prairie Creek Redwood State Park and is now thriving. Herds of elk were visible in meadows, and some were even napping in one of the picnic areas. This guy had a pretty good rack on him and seemed to be enjoying snoozing in the sun.

The other great part about being in Klamath was the Salmon Festival. We just happened to be there at the right time and totally enjoyed it. The festival is sponsored by the Yurok tribe, which is California's largest Indian tribe. The festival was a celebration of their culture.
The parade was pretty unique, beginning with the flag-bearers who represented a varied group.

They were followed by the Humboldt State University Lumberjack Band, also known as the 'Banned.' According to their website the main requirement to being a member of the band is that you must be breathing, and if this is a problem there is help available. In addition, any 'marchable instrument' is allowed. They were great.

The parade also include several floats, entries from the classic car show, and the ever popular Roller Derby gals from Eureka. Sorry but I didn't get a picture.
The festival celebrated many native traditions including native dresses which were made by tribal members. Some of them have been passed from generation to generation. The woven hats were something we had never seen before as were the beading and natural materials used in the dresses.

We were able to watch a traditional game called the Stick Game. It was played on a large sandy field and began with the youngest kids playing the game first. This was followed by progressively increased age groups playing. The game was described to us as similar to Lacrosse. The game began with pairs of kids using their sticks (3 pairs), which had hook-like curves on the end, to try to move a pair of stringed balls down the court.

A twist in the game seemed to be that it was desirable to be able to tackle and wrestle one's opponent to keep them from gaining access to the stringed balls. Sounds crazy and hard to describe but it was definitely entertaining. I was really impressed by the sportsmanship and caring that all of the kids exhibited. The shirtless kids pictured are the players while the ones in shirts are their "mentors" who make sure they don't seriously hurt each other whilc coaching each player.

All in all, very informative and lots of fun.


  1. It's a magnificent area. What caught our eyes were the signs when you approached lower lands...."Caution Tsunami Area". Helen and I rented an off road vehicle and went dune hopping. My kids were surprised the such old folks could have such a good time. Redwoods are......well...just totally awesome!

  2. You sure have been in some pretty areas lately. Too bd they don't require a translator....