Although the destination of today’s trip was on the California coast, the route was mostly inland, only leaving the US-101 at Leggett to following Highway 1 all the way to Fort Bragg.
Avenue of the Giants
The main event today was a long hike through the Redwood Forests at the Avenue of the Giants. The drive through the Avenue of the Giants was beautiful, although the combination of the 55mph speed limit and huge trees only inches from the road was beyond me. Luckily everybody took it easy, admiring the views.
We took the Drury-Chaney trail near Pepperwood. It was so impressive and humbling. Just speechless…
Near Leggett, we unapologetically did an incredibly zany thing and drove through the Chandelier Tree. The sign claims that the tree is 315 ft / 96m high and 21 ft / 6.40m in diameter, but was recently laser-measured as being 276 ft / 78m high and 16 ft / 4.90m in diameter. Still tall enough to snap your neck when trying to look all the way up…
The 6 foot (1.80m) wide by 6 foot 9 inches (2.06m) high hole was cut out of the tree in the 1930s to attract tourists to the region (there are also tunneled redwood trees close to nearby Klamath and Myers Flat, but the size of modern-day cars and especially ours – even with the outside mirrors folded in – makes it quite tricky to navigate through unscathed.
Highway 1 / Pacific Star Winery
Although Leggett is only 6 miles as the crow flies from the ocean, the warning at the start of Highway 1 that there would be windy roads for the next 23 miles, turned out to be completely accurate. I was urged to slow down to prevent having to clean the car on the inside… When we got back to the coastline, the Shoreline Highway was pretty straight again, so everybody got to recover.
We stopped at Pacific Star Winery, 12 miles north of Fort Bragg. It is situated right on a cliff and therefore has spectacular views. While the grown-ups chatted with the amiable owners and sampled some of their wines, the kids walked around and also spotted some whale tails!
The wines were mostly from Italian varietals (the well-known ones as well as the more obscure Charbono), mostly sourced from more inland vineyards near Ukiah. We especially liked their Zinfandel, and It’s My Fault White Blend (a nod to the fact that the Pacific Star fault line runs straight under the winery), but also took home a bottle of their Petite Sirah.
The Glass Beach
When we arrived at Fort Bragg, we visited the Glass Beach. After the big earthquake of 1906, San Francisco was mostly a pile of rubble. A massive amount of debris (including molten glass due to the massive fires that swept the town after the quake) was just dumped into the Pacific. Many decades later, that glass shored on this beach a couple of hundred miles to the north as pebbles, polished by the extended exposure to the currents. Unfortunately, the tide was high when we got there, so not much could be seen, apart from tourists doing some dangerous things to get that perfect picture/selfie, of course.
We stayed on the walkway and therefore spotted a squirrel nest (if there is such a thing). We first saw one squirrel laying flat on the ground, playing dead but extremely alert at the same time. Then we saw the mound of sticks and twigs in the field, with another squirrel watching our every move.
North Coast Brewing
The creatures of habit that we are, we had lunch at a brewpub 😇. This time it was North Coast Brewing (444 North Main Street, right across Pacific Star Winery’s tasting room at 401 North Main Street). Calling it lunch is a bit of a stretch as we entered at 3.30pm. The taproom on the street side was full, but the seated area in the lounge on the left was only to be opened at 4pm. So we sat there, glancing at the menu and ordered at precisely 4pm.
The food was pricier, but not at good as previous brewpubs. Their yummy spinach and artichoke dip with nachos really hit the spot. It definitely is a dish that I want to try to recreate at home, but there were also a couple of things just a bit off: the structure burgers were a tad dense as if the patties had been overworked and the pizza bases were slightly soggy from the wet ingredients. Everything tasted fine, though.
Their beers were a whole different story: their Scrimshaw Pilsner, Acme IPA, Blue Star Wheat beer, and PranQster Belgian Style Golden Ale were all outstanding and more refined than the already impressive number of others craft beers that we had tasted earlier on our road trip. We bought a 6-pack mixer that turned out to be stellar as well, and a bottle of their Brother Thelonious Belgian Abbey Style Dark Ale made its way back home.
- Spinach Artichoke Dip (Spinach, artichokes, cream cheese, parmesan, mozzarella cheesy goodness baked all together, served hot with house-made tortilla chips)
- Brew House Burger (1/2 pound of all-natural ground beef from Painted Hills Ranch on an Ft. Bragg Bakery bun with lettuce, tomato, onion, bacon, cheese, and pickle served with pub fries)
- Wild Mushroom Pizza (Shiitake and Crimini mushrooms, garlic, thyme, tomato sauce, mozzarella, and fontina cheeses)
- Margherita Pizza (Heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, mozzarella and tomato sauce)
At that time, we were quite hungry and ignored the warning from our very friendly waiter that we were ordering quite a lot of food. He was right (of course): an entire combined pizza pie would serve nicely as breakfast the next day.
Pomo Bluffs Park
From our Emerald Dolphin Inn hotel (1211 S. Main St.) Chantal and I had a short evening walk – as a recon for her morning run – to nearby Pomo Bluffs Park while being watched from afar by a couple of deer…