Tag Archives: California

The Rest of the Journey

The Rest of the Journey: Jaz Wheeler’s Places to Remember

For several more days, I awakened surrounded by redwoods, listening to the occasional bird call. Each day brought some new adventure, some place to eat that fixed delicious food, photo ops to freeze the moment and time to heal.

I’d never heard of Petrolia, California, the Lost Coast nor the Mattole Valley, so I got directions and took off. The topography reminded me of Hawk Hill and Hopewell Farm. road to petrolia top of hillFor a moment, guilt stabbed me because I hadn’t called Aretha since I left home. I pushed that feeling aside knowing how she’d laugh at such foolishness. I’d call when it was time to call.

Steep hills, rough road, sharp curves, and solitude.1226 photos from new camera 434 One car passed me, heading for the Lost Coast and a truck rumbled by coming from Mattole Valley.

At the top of the hill,  top of hill to petrolia

a lone steer wandered away from the few head of cattle bedded down, hard chill  winds blew up from the ocean that was merely a smudge of darker blue on the far horizon and one house squatted alone, on a far hilltop. Cattle and green grasslands fading to brown beneath the summer sun, and quiet. 1226 photos from new camera 439

The further down the hill, the rougher the road, but the ocean lapping the shores below me gave reward to the determined traveler. 1226 photos from new camera 466

Cool winds blew off the water and the rugged shoreline of the Lost Coast gave testimony to the hardy people whose ranch boundaries ran along the cracked roadway. 1226 photos from new camera 488

Smaller than the small town below Hopewell Farm, there wasn’t much to Petrolia.  It boasted a general store/post office/gas station–all-in-one and scattered houses. What people I encountered were friendly, but the little store was mostly surrounded by uninhabited land. 1226 photos from new camera 511

By the time I left the valley, the patterns of bright late afternoon sun and early evening shadows greeted me along the same road that I’d ridden down. 1226 photos from new camera 514

This time I stopped to gaze at what one resident of the valley said were the largest Madrone trees I had ever seen. Lines of them marched along both sides of the road. largest madrone

Back home on my little farm, one tall slender Madrone struggled to thrive. My place wasn’t unique. In the Seattle area, Madrones simply did not get as large as these. I wondered about the age of these majestic trees, what changes they’d seen, whether they mourned their fallen and dreamed of days gone by when groves of them stood shoulder-to-shoulder. A bittersweet moment.

Much later, I was told by Laura Cooskey of the Mattole Valley Historical Society that these are not Madrones, but Eucalyptus trees. She said, “Those trees are Eucalyptus trees. The huge one right next to the Petrolia Table Cemetery is in fact the world champion  (largest) Bluegum Eucalyptus. The trees were imported from Australia and planted around 1900 as windbreaks for the cattle. As it turns out, they’re very brittle and snap and throw branches readily in windstorms; furthermore, they are extremely flammable. However, they make excellent firewood.”

I left the windy road behind and headed to Ferndale, California. As evening drew close, an old and beautiful building caught my eye: The Victorian Inn. 1226 photos from new camera 622

Dinner was real chicken pot pie, nearly as tasty as Folami Winters had served at Mother Earth’s Bounty before she helped Aretha and I; before the attack that burned her restaurant to the ground. I shoved those thoughts aside, told myself it no longer matter, that was years ago. After dinner, I met the owners of the Victorian Inn, Lowell Daniels and Jenny Oaks. They told me the Inn had been built in 1890 of Humboldt County redwoods, that the walls were so thick no insulation was necessary.

Full and tired, I headed to the campground. Tomorrow I would be leaving, beginning the return trip home.

If you enjoyed Jaz’s travelogue, be sure to CLICK and FOLLOW so you won’t miss the ending!

To discover more about the magical Mattole Valley, go to the Mattole Valley Historical Society, founded in 1999 by Laura Cooskey at: http://www.mattolehistory.org

You can learn more about the beautiful and historic Victorian Inn and the “slice of the past” town of Ferndale, California by going to http://www.victorianvillageinn.com

To read about how Jaz wound up at Hopewell Farm and became friends with Aretha Hopewell and Folami Winters, read Run or Die, now available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Run-Die-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B00KV8BK5A





AMONG THE SACRED ANCIENTS: Jaz Wheeler’s Journey Among the #California #Redwoods

Dark settled its shawl over the redwood forest as I drove into Hidden Springs Campground. My headlights picked out cars and tents and RVs as I wound my way along the curvy asphalt to my reserved spot.

Redwood sentinels stood guard at the entrance as I pulled onto the leveled area and shut off my bike. Quiet embraced me. Exhausted, I flipped out my bedroll and lay down. The next thing I knew, birds chirped in the bushes as the sun filtered through the trees. DSC01223

After a quick breakfast of granola bar and bottled water, I stuffed my bedroll in the bear proof box, snapped a small padlock on it then hopped on my bike.

Those years ago, after Alicia was lost and even after I left Hawk Hill and Hopewell Farm, playing tourist was far from my mind. The redwoods had started the healing of my wounded soul, but I hadn’t been ready to take side trips to places like the Drive-Thru Tree at Myers Flat. DSC01205

And, I’d never seen a two-story tree house! DSC01215

I learned a little more about the majestic redwoods.  Drive thru shrine water stats

When I entered the gift shop, this little guy greeted me. By the time I left, he’d worked so hard to make tourists feel welcome that he was simply exhausted. shop dog at drive thru tree

For the rest of the day, I wandered among the ancient giants, drifting from one grove to another, beginning with the Founder’s Grove then on up to the Rockefeller Forest where the Giant Tree and the Tall Tree resided. DSC01239 DSC01238

When I entered Rockefeller Forest, I entered a sacred time and place.

person among giants

Like my heart, the Forest held light and shadows and jagged memories.


Eventually, the passing of the hours forced me to return to my campsite.

evening comes in forest


For more photos from Jaz’s exploration of the Redwood Forest, go to http://www.pinterest.com/ayawalksfar

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To learn more about Jaz Wheeler, read Run or Die. http://www.amazon.com/Run-Die-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B00KV8BK5A




Seals and Sea Lions, Oh My!

Entering Crescent City, multiple chain stores assaulted my vision. Progress had come to the quiet, unique seaside town, gobbled it up and spit out a bland ghost of what had been. The loss tugged at me until I reached the southern edge of the city and swung into The Apple Peddler Restaurant for breakfast.

The Denver omelette came with homemade fluffy biscuits and what Grandmother Pearl used to call ‘milk gravy’. The strawberry waffle topped with luscious red strawberries and homemade whipped cream topped off the huge breakfast. A pot of fresh coffee washed it all down and drowned any lingering sadness over Crescent City’s march to ‘ordinariness’.

Chatting with the young waitress moved her to recommend a visit to Ocean World right next door to the restaurant. IMG_0258 ocean world signNormally, I avoid wildlife shows on ethical grounds–objecting to their normal methods of obtaining and keeping wildlife–but replete with a wonderful breakfast, I decided to take a peek.

The show is housed in an old ship brought to land. I followed the young tour guide through the double doors and onto a concrete path through lush green growth. At the end of the room was a large pond. While the guide told us about the starfish whose stomachs “pop out” from their underside and engulf their prey, I picked one up and marveled at the rough exoskeleton. The sea anemones felt soft and slick. The guide demonstrated a great deal of respect for the living creatures she talked about.

Eventually, we left the pond room and moved downstairs to the aquarium exhibits. IMG_0199 fish eyes Each aquarium appeared to be spacious and to mimic a natural environment. The information about the various fish, eels, sharks and stingrays was entertaining and had me considering no more fish and chips, at least for a while. Two of the stingrays were housed at Ocean World due to the lack of a tail which would doom them in the wild. I was shocked that several of the aquatic creatures had lived for over a hundred years! A few of their resident fish could live to be 200 years old.

We climbed the stairs and followed the guide to go pet the sharks. It was my first encounter with a shark, and an eye-opener. Their rough skins and willingness to swim close to the pool edges so we could feel them brush up against our hands, went a long way to helping me appreciate them as sentient creatures that are due respect and protection.

After our shark petting time, we followed the guide to a covered area to watch the sea lions and harbor seals perform. The three sea lions slithered up on the concrete deck to slide to a stop in front of their trainer. She started by having them “wave” to the people. They took turns picking up a flipper and “waving” at us and were immediately rewarded for their friendliness with a fish. The trainer took them through several physical and verbal acts, but my favorite was the rendition of “zombie sea lions”. I’d never suspected sea lions could make such a wide variety of sounds! IMG_0239 sea lions

After the sea lions slid back into the poolIMG_0230 sea lion, the harbor seals skidded into the limelight. Harbor seals resembled young kids on sugar highs next to the more sedate sea lions.IMG_0245  Cora handstand The harbor seals performed a number of tricks, one being retrieval of a basketball from the pool then bringing it up on the concrete skirt and making a basket with it. IMG_0253 cora carrying ball

The trainer talked about the positive training methods used in teaching each animal, how each small increment of desired behavior was rewarded while each mistake was simply ignored. She said one of the seals could perform over a hundred tricks while another one could only do a small number. Each had their own specialties. When asked how they acquired the animals, we learned that two of her “crew” had been rescued, including one sea lion that underwent surgery to remove an eye. Other animals were obtained from facilities that had too many animals.

I felt pretty good when I walked out of Ocean World, leaving Cora and her performing kin behind, to head south on Highway 101. Nothing looked familiar, not even the windy road. Made it to my campsite at Hidden Springs on the Avenue of the Giants right before true darkness settled beneath the redwoods.

To see more photos of Cora and her friends at Sea World go to http://www.pinterest.com/ayawalksfar

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