Thursday, April 27, 2017

Bicycling the Redwoods

Mark is driving the motor home further north down Highway 101, where we are seeing more up-close glimpses of the Pacific Ocean right beside us--or perhaps that should be "left" beside us.

But there are also some challenging parts of this famous highway. While most of Highway 101 is big-rig-friendly, some of it is not. Driving on a narrow road with hairpin turns takes a focused driver in a 35-foot motor home towing a car.

We are making our way to the tiny town of Klamath, in the northwest corner of California. They have a giant salmon on the town sign because fishing is a big part of their economy.

Our campground is even named after the main salmon fished here--Chinook RV park. The campground is situated right on the Klamath River, where much of that fishing usually takes place each summer.

But our campground host tells us this summer there will be no sport or commercial fishing of salmon allowed on this part of the coast because of the low number of fish. So the fish hooks hanging from the campground sign will be bare, and we're afraid this campground will too.

We pulled the motor home into a soggy camp site. Usually the riverside sites are the coveted ones, but now we are looking for something high and dry. We'll only be here two nights, so we decided not to level or put out the slides. We headed to the Redwoods National Park Visitor Center for advice. It is situated on Elk Meadow, and we were excited to see that the meadow lived up to its name this afternoon.

There was a herd of bachelor elk hanging out together in the tall grass. These guys lose their horns each year, so they only have nubs in April as they start to grow a new pair.

At the visitor's center there was an example of the kind of rack these elk will be wearing later this year.

They shared the meadow with these black-tailed deer. We got a great side-shot of one of the deer, plus a rear view to verify they really do have black tails.

Our California friends, John and Barbara, gave us the good advice to stop at this visitor's center. They also told us that we needed to drive down the Newton B. Drury Parkway for the best views of redwood trees. So we were disappointed to find that the Parkway was closed because of two fallen trees over the road.

But when we asked, we found that bicycles were welcome on the road. So we took off on the soggy parkway on two wheels.

We have already walked through many redwood forests, but this was really neat to be able to bicycle on a paved road through these giants.

When biking through a redwood forest, it seems a little silly to see a sign pointing to a "big tree." The national park is hesitant to designate which tree is the tallest of all the redwoods for a couple reason. First, it's really difficult to measure them and know which one is the tallest. If that was determined, then all the park visitors would want to flock to that one. All that attention and extra feet compacting the soil over their roots can literally cause the downfall of that biggest tree.

Even though the redwoods are the stars of the show, there are other trees in the forest as well. The deciduous trees don't have all their leaves right now, but they have plenty moss hanging from their limbs to make them look green this time of year.

We found that the parkway ride was a slight incline as we headed away from the visitor's center. It also started raining, so we spent some time huddling under the small overhang of a national park pit toilet. We spent most of the rest of the time being splattered with sprinkles on our ride. That's just another of the glamorous aspects of our life on the road.

In spite of the uncomfortable weather, we thought it was one of the best bike rides of the year. We were glad that the logs were blocking car traffic so we had this beautiful parkway all to ourselves! Denisa's legs were complaining from the constant up-hill ride, but Mark made it all the way to the first fallen log over the highway. Then we turned around for that down-hill ride back to the car.  It was a great solitary ride in the Redwood State and National Park on our bikes today! We have now pedaled through more of His wonders!

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