The Avenue Of The Giants…….#199 (80’s)


Highway U S 101 is referred to by a variety of road-signs, in Oregon it is characterized as  the Oregon coast highway, in Washington state it’s identified as plain 101, and in California it’s sometimes referenced as the pacific coast highway,  but the residents of northern California having recognized it’s alluring provocation christened it the Redwood Highway.  It was an amenable designation as the Willson family were about to experience on  their journey conveying south from crescent city.  The itinerary was one without design,  neither Gary or Jan could appraise what points of interest or vista they would engender that might compel an arrest in their journey.  Gary’s curiosity was activated when less than two miles from crescent city they encounter a roadside sign.  Turn on headlights Next 8 miles.



The forestation had begun,  the two lane Redwood Highway was  blanketed by a disposition of prismatic earthen foliage and majestic ascending trees. the asphalt roadway carving an artery thru the labyrinth of coppice,  providing an uninterrupted avenue of empyrean observation.  The travelogue amongst the Redwoods was halted,  a large parking area and pavilion was entrenched on the left side of the highway.  towering upwards and adjacent was a giant 49 foot likeness of the legendary Paul Bunyan holding an ax, and Babe his renown blue ox.  Gary  without hesitation  structured the Cavalier into the Parking dominion,  an aura of curiosity and enthusiasm resonating from the cars back seat.     Robert and Sandi acknowledging the display,  discovering something of real interest to their youthful perception


Trees of Mystery is a privately owned exhibit bordered by The Redwood National Forest and State Park,  what started as a fishing camp by Carl Bruno in 1931 evolved into an attraction named Wonderland Redwood Park, then named the Kingdom of Trees after a rustic highway 101 was opened for more public use by a WPA highway project.  It was then sold to Carl Lewin and re-branded with its current name Trees of Mystery.  In 1946, Ray and wife  Marylee Thompson,  the first woman to serve on the board of the redwood empire association,  became the principal benefactors, expanding the affectation to encompass the redwoods anomalous aperture..

Jan, Sandi and Robert with the stone serpent

Sandi and the tired Logger

Robert and Sandi before a redwood

The Willson’s beginning,  Robert and Sandi leading the procession, exploring the stated stone,  wooden sculptures and carvings viewed along the winding path.  Gary taking notice,   even in their demise the redwoods insured a survival,  many with six Herculean trees rooted from a fallen ancestor, its new growth springing forth from its branches,  at times the redwoods blanketing the Trail of Trees in a semi-darkness

The Brotherhood Tree,  a specimen of endurance,  over 2000 years of age and when losing 74 feet of it skyward reach, still remains standing at 215 feet of stature.  Continuing on to another  cluster of designated trees,  “The Cathedral“,  a hosting location for weddings.  The evening hour was approaching,  a meal at the dining establishment adjoining the Trees of Mystery was fulfilling, Gary realized it was a 70 mile journey to Eureka,  the family feeling the fatigue from the long journey.  It was time to still the night, but their lateness finding no vacancy’s, a final resolve successful.  a catechism of tomorrow’s venture would begin with the celestial essence of an Eureka dawn

The morning found  a gentle ocean affectation filling the atmosphere,  the aurora of the sun brushing the landscape with an advancing effulgence.   Humboldt Bay,  the second largest bay in California,  it position virtually undiscovered from the sea,  because of  its  obscure narrow harbor entrance  and a similar circumstance from the terra firma east, explorers finding northern California and southern Oregon land routes to the pacific coast non-existent because of the 2 million acres of densely forested Redwoods.  In 1850 gold was discovered on the Trinity River, the miners initiating a compulsory path to the coast and an  uncovering of Humboldt Bay and bringing settlers and Eureka to propinquity.


Eureka waterfront

A morning tour of the city,  viewing the celebrated Victorian Mansions built by the 1884 lumber baron William Carson, first viewing a pink Victorian, a wedding gift for his son Milton, then the monolithic colossus home of the redwood empire architect.  Continuing with the exploration, the harbor wharf granting the sound and aroma of the lapping water, finding a magnitude of fishing sorties and  lumber enterprises  still flourishing.  Their heighten assemblages  of branched timber addressing the waterfront awaiting shipment to the mills.   Another assembly of history gathered and filed away for recalled.



Once again acquainting the Highway,  the travelers continued south,  traversing the small burg of Fortuna and finding a distinctive name change for this extension of 101,  now proclaimed as  The Avenue of the Giants.   Halting their progression at Myersflat,  again finding an opportunity to experience the continuing breath of the redwoods, the shrine auto exhibit of the drive thru tree,  the cavalier idling thru the standing giant redwoods hollowed out passage way, and to the delight of Robert and Sandi, Gary stopping, camera in hand to record the event for prosperity.   The family once again embarking  on foot, traversing another trail to consume the essence of the redwood giants,  finding The Founders Tree,  a 346 foot colossal dedicated as a tribute to the save the trees league, formed in 1917,  responsible in preventing the redwood groves destruction


Jan’s interest having accumulated, discovering a gift shop which displayed cuts of redwood, some sculptured to adorn a place of dignity in a room and others that would prevail as a backdrop for a clock or picture.   The uniqueness of the shop included free shipment to any location, enabling the purchasing excursionists to continue to journey without having to arrange a provisional space for their acquisitions,  thus tempting the travelers to increase their expenditure.  With the afternoon approaching and their previous motel accommodations in Eureka unsuitable,   their late arrival finding the better establishments void of a  vacancy,  Jan having vowed, this would never happen again, inaugurating a call to the Best Western in Garberville,  a reservation was accomplished and with a satisfied Jan,  a better night’s rest was assured for continuing their journey


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