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California

We spent five weeks in Fresno, California with Josh’s family last Christmas and New Year’s. If you’ve been to Fresno you’ll know that five weeks can be a long time to stay there. I love its “foodie” vibe and it has some fun stuff to do, and it is also great to see family, but I’ve been used to seeing mountains and/or the sea my whole life and at some point I just needed to get out of the city for a bit and see some green.

All that green I was missing.

So when some old friends of ours invited us up to Arcata  for the weekend, we were very ready to borrow Josh’s grandfather’s car and drive the eight hours north. Once on the road, we realised it was the first ever long road trip we had done together with just the two of us. The drive to Arcata went smoothly and 8ish hours later we had watched the landscape darken from brown and barren to green and damp and we could see pine trees in every direction. For me, the landscape was very similar to a New Zealand landscape, so I immediately felt relaxed.

The next day, our friends S and K took us out exploring. Josh, S, and K, are all photographers, so they ran around taking photos while I happily scibbled notes and just enjoyed the scenery. It’s quite handy to have so many photographers around: I never needed to worry about taking my own photos!

Bridge in the Lady Bird Johnson Grove

California was apparently experiencing quite a warm winter. I was hoping to see some snow during my time up north (the furthest north in the world I have ever been) but no such luck on this trip. The forests made up for it though. As we drove by and into some of the many state parks in the region, we spotted elk nestling in hollows by the road.

Elk!

Having never seen elk before, I was very excited by this. Then, we went on to the Prairie Creek State Park and stopped at the High Bluff overlook to see the sea. I was intrigued by the many “Tsunami hazard zone” signs posted everywhere. Giant rocks dotted the beach, split as if by a giant hammer.

Proof we were there, courtesy of friend S.

We also made our way to the Klamath River and the site of the original Douglas Memorial Bridge that was swept away in a flood in 1964. The 8 ton stone bears that mark the entrance of the bridge are all that are left of that original bridge now.

Josh making his acquaintance with one of the bears.

At lunchtime we had a picnic in the shade of the redwoods. Apparently there are three types of redwoods worldwide, and the tallest are the Coast Redwoods which grow in this part of Northern California. They can also live for 2000 years, earning them the name of the “ever living” trees.

Picnicking in the woods.

It was chilly under those trees, and so we ate our cheese and salami sandwiches and headed off in search of some sunshine. After stopping again, S and K took us on a short walk down a side trail to find an abandoned old ute that must have been sitting under the trees for years, slowly drowning in cobwebs and dead leaves. As we reached it the perfect ray of sunlight came through the trees, giving the photographers of the group some great shots.

Photos accomplished, we walked back the way we came, passing by a young redwood whose bark had been torn apart by a bear in search of the sugar sap beneath.

It would take some large claws to rip apart this tree, methinks.

The weekend passed quickly, and then it was time to drive the long way back to Fresno again. But we left happy to have seen our friends and the redwoods. The trip back wasn’t as smooth as the one there (*ahem* food poisioning, and getting completely lost and ending up in the Napa Valley by accident) but even the dust and haze as we reached  Fresno couldn’t spoil all that fresh air and green for us.

What’s the furthest north you have ever travelled?