We made camp in at White Widow Creek RV Park. Not a bad little place as these parks go. It is right off Highway 101, but far enough off where virtually no freeway noise is heard. There are a fair number of long-term campers here. The owner explained that loggers come in early spring and leave at the first rain in the fall. Most of the sites are largely grass, open or with some shade and pretty narrow. But it works for use for the 2 days we will be here. We were in early enough to where we had plenty of time to check out some of the local sights.
We first went off to an Azalea State Reserve to see if it was in bloom yet. No dice. Only a few of the bushes had any booms at all. It was also very hot so we decided to check out some of the beaches instead. We headed out to Moonstone beach because Mary had read some good things about the place. It was closed because of a commercial shoot going on – A truck (GMC I think) )was doing it’s splashing thing along the surf line and we were not allowed in. We later found out that it got stuck in the sand and water and wasn’t able to be removed till next morning. They tied it off so it wouldn’t go out to sea, but it was a total loss. I can think of one driver who will probably have a tough time finding another gig soon.
Anyway, we decided to try another beach, this one called Trinidad a few miles north. It was still very windy as it has for the past several days, but it was also a pleasant departure from the heat. We took a nice stroll along the very nice beach checking out the shells and rocks along the way before calling it a day.
In the morning, over breakfast I notice we were being watched. Outside our window attached to a tree was a carved head of what Mary called a gnome, but I think was more of a campground wizard. We asked the manager about it, but in the 10 years he had been there, had never seen it before.
Also while outside talking, our neighbor came out to chat. He goes by Jolly Eubanks, but let me know his real name involved about 10 more names that he rattled off. He was quite the character. One of those guys who talk in a stream of consciousness kind of way where you ask him a question, and his reply involves one tangent after another and he never actually manages to answer what you asked. He would go on for 5 minutes before I would interrupt him to re-ask the question that he would never actually answer. But he was a happy guy and I asked to photograph him for the Nomads project. He pulled out his fighting knife and a bottle of cinnamon whiskey and was only too happy to oblige.
Then it was off to our zip-line adventure. Mary had found the item in “101 Humboldt Things to Do” and thought it might be fun. The tour was to take 2-3 hours which included instruction while on the ground, climbing up a 70′ redwood tree to a platform that is attached by cable to 2 other platforms in other trees. We met our guide, Adam at 2 PM and he proceeded to harness and helmet and glove us in. We went through the three pages of waivers, about 30 minutes of safety training, learned what to call the various pieces of equipment, (lobster claws = harness clips, keeper = that thing that hold the pulley so it won’t fall 70′ to the ground while it is being transferred from one cable to the next), learned our safety checks – safety check 1, safety check 2, ready to zip – Zip On!
But first we had to get up the dam tree. We walked over to “Eureka” – yes they name their trees – and saw dozens of steel staples embedded up the 70′ to the platforms. They stuck out about 5 inches and served as both hand and foot holds. Mary was to go up first and Adam attached a rope to her harness so he could help belay her up. I had my doubts about how well she would make it up the tree, but like a tick on a hairy leg, she scampered up like a pro. She was huffing and puffing, but so was I by the time I got up.
It was pretty crowded up there with the 3 of us, and a little confusing too. Ropes and pulleys and clips and maneuvering made for a bit of skepticism, but Adam did a good job of talking us through the process. Adam would stay on this platform while we zipped off to “Arcata”, the next tree about 30′ away, then we were on our own to figure out how to get around to “Trinidad” and back to “Eureka”. The first zip we had to practice breaking in mid-zip, then hand over hand back to the platform before actually zipping to the next platform. That was clumsy, but we both did it and finally got to do a full zip which took about 7 seconds.
By the second platform we had it down pretty well. The next zip was more like 50′ away and went better because the cable was at more of an angle coming in. On the first zip, we both stopped short of the platform and had to hand over hand to reach it. Not so on the second. 10 seconds later we finished the second zip. The final zip was the biggie – about 60′! 11 more seconds and we completed the circuit. Adam asked if we wanted to go again. Mary was done but I jumped on the opportunity and pretty quickly did another circuit.
Then it was time to get down. We were to rappel down with Adam manning the belay rope. I think Mary had more trouble with this than anything else. Something about stepping off the platform backwards did not sit right with her. She was not happy with the way her harness fit around her butt and was fearing an atomic wedgie if she let go. She did not want to leave the comfort of the main cable,. But after several false starts, she did let go – and immediately rolled around backward dangling from the rope. She managed to get turned correctly and Adam was able to lower her down. My rappel went much smoother and I actually kicked off as I was lowered down the tree.
Back on the ground while we were doing the wrap-up talk, a couple of stoners came by and asked what we were doing (This is Humboldt near the University after all). Adam explained that we were zip lining from “Eureka” to “Arcata”. They looked at us with rather confused expressions and asked, “You mean there are zip lines that go all the way to Arcata?” When Adam explained that those were the names of the trees, it didm’t seem to make much difference. They eventually wandered off…
So it was a pretty fun experience all in all. I was disappointed that each zip was so short though. I guess I had visions of moving through a redwood forest for a minute or two at a time. Here, the few seconds of each zip left no real way to look around and enjoy the view. I had to pretty much be ready to land as soon as I took off. If I do it again, that will have to be a precondition. But I’m glad we did it.