We started the day at Drive-Thru Tree Park in Mendecino County. The tree was a 2000 year old coastal redwood! Unfortunately, I accidentally scraped the window on the inside of the tree, but I suppose it was my car signing its autograph on the tree.The cost to drive through the tree was $5 and was well worth it.
The landscape of far northern California aka NorNorCal is completely different from the Bay Area/Norcal. It looks like the Pacific Northwest with lots of pine trees densely covering the hills. Additionally, there were lots of hokey gift stores as well including numerous Paul Bunyan, bear, and Bigfoot wooden sculptures. The redwoods are so big, so that makes up for the cheesiness.
Further up the coast just before Eureka, we drove the avenue of the giants, a scenic byway through Humboldt Redwoods State Park. The two-laner winds through numerous redwood groves and took about 45 minutes. A fantastic detour if time allows.
Ever since I was in 4th grade, I’ve always wanted to go to Eureka, because I’ve seen it on so many California maps. That said, the town was pretty uninteresting as it is on coastal lowland, whereas most of the rest of the coast is tree covered and hilly right up to the coast. That said, it is one of the few places that I had no mental picture/idea of whatsoever. The one bright spot of Eureka was amazing food at a restaurant called Brick and Fire (Yelp FTW)!
From Eureka we drove further north to Redwoods National Park. The ranger told us that in order to camp, we had to immediately drive 40 miles north to get a campsite. I said no way and instead went hiking in the Lady Bird Johnson grove home to 350 ft. tall trees and certainly the most famous part of the park. The hike in the grove was 100% worth it, as the Lady Bird Johnson Grove has a primordial feel unmatched in any other redwood grove. The trees absolutely humongous!
From there we drove north to Crescent City, the northernmost town on the CA coast where we found a campsite (no problem) about 5 miles north of town in a redwood grove- take that Ranger Douglas! After setting up camp, we walked through the tsunami-ravaged town (not completely destroyed, but most of the maritime infrastructure is gone). For dinner, we had the classic Pacific Northwest meal: wild salmon and a microbrew. Couldn’t ask for anything more. We then returned to camp and went to bed.