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. For 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.
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.
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.
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.”
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