I swung off my course long enough to visit Ferndale once again, enjoy the old buildings and hit the Ferndale Pie Company. They advertised “Great homemade pies topped with Humboldt Creamery Ice Cream”. The mixed berry pie and vanilla ice cream lived up to the hype and I grabbed one of their “small brownies”–read large enough to feed half of Darrington!–and hit the road.
That evening I camped in a small campground a couple of miles south of Orick, California. When I rode in, it looked like the proverbial cheap sites place, probably with limited hot water that ran red from old pipes. Couldn’t have been more wrong about the showers, or the place. Within yards of my campsite, a Roosevelt Elk calf lay in the grass while mom grazed in the field.
The next day dawned with clear skies and I hopped my bike, anxious to ride. Somewhere breakfast called my name. Just inside the southern boundaries of Orick an old motel and restaurant squatted beside Highway 101. Since the town was so small, choices were limited so I parked and walked into what appeared to be a run-of-the-mill greasy spoon–emphasis on greasy spoon.
I headed for the far corner and sank into the chair. The Palm Cafe served eggs done to perfection, the waffle browned and sporting luscious red strawberries, the bacon crisp, the sausage gravy and biscuit to die for. I washed it all down with coffee black, hot, and wonderful.
The 88 year-old woman who owned the restaurant came in every morning to bake fresh pies from scratch. Being told that, I had to try a piece though I wondered how I’d move, much less get up on a horse! The strawberry cream pie melted in my mouth and made me forget all about how many calories it had.
I sucked down some more coffee then headed off for my horseback ride. The brochure of The Redwood Creek Buckarettes hooked me with the siren call of “ride among ancient redwoods”. As soon as I saw the big beasts, I recalled that a horsewoman I was not and wandered if maybe I should’ve plugged my ears.
The woman guide grinned at me and pride wouldn’t let me walk away. She walked a red quarter horse over to the mounting block. I dragged myself onto the saddle. Jade was so broad I felt like I was doing the splits. I’d never been that athletic!
Still, once we got moving–just me and the guide–the rocking motion of Jade put my mind at ease and let my eyes wander. The path ran straight beside a small river then began a gentle climb up the hill. Within minutes the climb steepened and the trees closed off the modern world.
The trail meandered into the National Redwood Forest through a stand of old growth redwoods that had escaped mankind’s rapacious greed. Silence broken only by an occasional bird call wrapped around my soul. Two hours later, we emerged at the base of the hill and on back to the rodeo grounds from where we’d left.
I slid off Jade and walked bowlegged over to my bike.
That night as I listened to the lapping of the waves against the shore, I swallowed down Ibuprophen, yet couldn’t stop smiling at the memories of the horse’s rocking motion, the quiet, and the ancient trees. That night I dreamed of redwoods and horses.
I awoke to the chill of a Crescent City morning with harbor seals barking on a rock just offshore. I listened until the fog rolled the rest of the way off the water and the seals barking had died away. The Apple Peddler Restaurant lay a few miles south of my position, the opposite direction of my travel, but I remembered their mouthwatering food and strong hot coffee. What’s a few miles? After breakfast, I followed Highway 101 along the Pacific Ocean and on up to Oregon.
The Redfish Restaurant , a small square building with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the beach and situated on the edge of the park looked like the kind of place to be pricey with tiny portions and mediocre food, but I was hungry and too impatient to check out the other offerings in town. Besides, all the tables were tables had a view. I figured that was worth something.
The butternut squash soup was creamy and flavorful, nearly as good as the soup Falomi made at Mother Earth’s Bounty. The pulled pork sandwich was done right–tender, juicy, smoked pork without the smothering bottled sauces too often used. The salad was a nice mix of crisp, fresh spring greens.
It seemed like every time I had made a snap judgment based on appearances, I’d been proven wrong. My friend, Jaimie Wolfwalker, would’ve said Creator was trying to teach me to withhold judgment based on appearances and to learn to evaluate life on substance. Of course, Jaimie walked closer to the spiritual side of life than I ever had. Guess that went with being psychic and part Native American.
Late that afternoon, I crossed the highest bridge I’d ever ridden then the sand dunes in Oregon snuck up on me and I nearly ran off the road gawking. The sign for Spinreel Dune Buggy called to me, though I was by no means sure I should heed the call. I turned off and headed that way, just to check things out. Size wise, the rental place wasn’t that big. I wandered in, checked out the buggys and nearly left.
I’d walked to my bike, started it up and began backing out of the parking area when a vision that had never happened flashed across my mind: Alicia laughing as she raced a buggy down the face of a sand dune. I shut down the bike, took a deep breath and shook my head at myself. Alicia had been far more adventurous than I, and it appeared that her ghost had taken up challenging me to act beyond my doubts.
Being a conservative driver, I only raced down one cliff face of sand, holding my breath the entire distance. Of course, I wouldn’t have gone down it, but I’d already topped the dune and didn’t know how to go anywhere except straight down!
If you like roller coasters and the way they teeter at the pinnacle of drops, you’d love riding dune buggys. I hated roller coasters. Alicia had loved them. At the Puyallup Fair, she’d teased me into taking her on one–five times! Each time I got off, I swore I’d never do that again, yet I climbed back on because I loved hearing Alicia laugh.
More than anything else during my trip, the Spinreel Sand Dunes momentarily brought Alicia back to me. I left them feeling as if I had gained some great gift; and, I had.
Idling into Florence, Oregon, long after most people were home and vegging in front of television sets, I found BJ’s Ice Cream right on the main road, a dessert junkies dream. Ice cream made from scratch nestled among the baklava, cheesecake, tiramisu, tarts and cream horns.
Nick and Ron, the two young men behind the counter, gave me a brief rundown on BJ’s. Cole Brother’s Creamery started in 1917 in Slatter, Idaho, beginning a four-generation family tradition of making old-fashioned, batch ice cream. A three scoop ice cream sundae later, I groaned out the door carting a bag with a selection of tarts and cream horns.
Saturday afternoon found me drifting through DePoe Bay, Oregon. A sign bragged that it was the “World’s Smallest Harbor.”
Fifty miles north of the Oregon border, I rode through the small city of Raymond, Washington. Large steel sculptures popped up all over the town. Wildlife, people, pets, even an ox pulling logs through what was once a lumber town.
Once through Raymond, I stopped a few times during the rest of my ride home, but I was tired and eager to get home. I pushed hard. Around Aberdeen, Washington, I picked up Highway 12 East and caught Interstate 5 a few miles north of Olympia. A few minutes after midnight, I rode into my driveway.
I was home.
Some of the places Jaz talked about: (not in any particular order)
www.northwestplaces.com/trips002/Raymond001 (Raymond, Washington–a town of steel sculptures)
www.redwoodcreekbuckarettes.com (horseback tour among the ancient redwoods)
www.ridetheoregondunes.com (Spinreel Dune Buggy and ATV Rentals)
BJ’s Ice Cream, 2930 Hwy 101, Florence, Oregon
www.savetheredwoods.org/ (Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park: the most old growth redwoods in California)
http://www.redwoodhikes.com/Humboldt/Founders (Coast redwoods once grew naturally in many places across the Northern Hemisphere. Due to manmade and climatic changes, Coast Redwoods now only grow naturally in a narrow 40 mile wide and 450 mile long coastal strip from southern Oregon to southern Monterey county in California. The Dyerville Giant which stood for approximately 1600 years fell on March 24, 1991.)
humboldtredwoods.org/hidden_springs (Hidden Springs Campground, California)
AvenueOfTheGiants.net (Avenue of the Giants, California)
www.california-native-wood.com (Orick, Ca. very nice natural wood gifts and keepsakes)
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Palm-Cafe-Motel/166106546757081 (Palm Motel and Café Orick, California)
To read more about Jaz Wheeler: http://www.amazon.com/Run-Die-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B00KV8BK5A