Sunday, August 30, 2009

An Incursion into California

Pampas Grass lining the roadway at Big Lagoon, in the Humboldt Lagoons State Park.

Yesterday a photographer friend and I traveled south looking for fun photo ops in what is an undeniably photogenic region of the world.  Our route traced the coast, redwoods, elk habitat, wetlands, and two wonderful cities filled with relics of their Victorian era origins.  Unfortunately -- most of the meandering trip was thick with fog.  Fortunately, most of that burned off by the time we reached Arcata and Eureka.

This is a section of Highway 101 that I've driven many times -- including two trips within the last month -- but have never stopped to explore.  I'm always en route further south, or have other time constrictions.  This trip was all about exploration -- and photo ops, which means we traveled every side road and stopped often. It was wonderful!  Twelve hours of travel, and we didn't even stop at any of the redwood groves.  I'll save those for another trip.

This is also the Big Lagoon.  We stopped beyond the causeway (no stopping on it) and walked back for quite a distance in search of that perfect photo.  I was intrigued with this moody, misty vista and frustrated with my inability to capture exactly what I saw in it. 

This fellow, and many of his relatives, was in the wetlands that lined the other side of the highway.  Hard to photograph with my camera!

As part of our exploration, we opted to see what lay in the small town of Trinidad.  As we pulled off the highway we were met with this wonderful scene of backlit fog in the forest.

Once in town, a little further exploration led us to this little lighthouse perched on the edge of the coast.  I did mention that it was foggy!  I really liked this little town.  The homes along the coast near this monument reminded me of coastal New England, in a way.  Very quaint and charming.  By now it was 11 am, we'd been on the road since 7am and were feeling a bit peckish.  The local supermarket had something cooking in the parking lot and the aroma alone drew us in.  Turned out to be barbecued Tri-Tip sandwiches.  We shared one (they were huge!) and continued on our journey.

Our next stop was the city of Arcata, home of Humboldt State University.  Some friends of mine had recently visited here and reported that it was quite an interesting place, and I have to concur.  You may notice a theme in these photographs: my fellow traveler was in search of buildings to photograph for a photo club assignment and since I love Victorian architecture, this was a natural.  This wonderful home appeared to be in the midst of complete restoration.  From it's perch on top of the hill, the vistas must be superb.  We, of course, saw little but fog.

Arcata has a delightful 'Old Town' area with large town square which on this day hosted the Saturday Farmer's Market.  Vendors lined all four sides, music filled the air.  I didn't buy anything, but the beauty and variety of produce drew my camera like a magnet.

This wonderful old Ford sat on a sidewalk nearby.  Don't you love those old curves?

 From Arcata we continued south to our ultimate destination for the day, Eureka.  A wrong turn fortuitously took us to the marina, home of a very large fishing fleet.  Among the many jewels here was this huge bronze statue dedicated to the local fishermen.

Call me crazy, but I found something interesting in these two guys silhouetted against the marina.  Old-town Eureka is across the bay.  Humboldt Bay is huge, offers all the flat water for kayak exploration anyone could ever want, or all the small-boat sailing.

This incredible bit of Victoriana perches on the waterfront across from the marina.  Now a private club, it was the home of a Mr. Carson, one of the founders of Eureka, built in the 1880's, if I recall correctly.  On the far side of it is a beautiful public library and an original firehouse from the 1880's.  A super public walking/cycling path lay on the water side of these buildings, going I know not where in either direction.

From here we wandered into Old Town Eureka, which is lively and filled with restaurants and shops and includes a boardwalk, although we didn't stop to walk around.  A few errands later, we once more headed north, more or less sated photographically for the time being.

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