Tucked away in California’s northwest corner is a little-known route, aptly named “The Lost Coast.” Discovered in National Geographic’s Guide to Scenic Highways & Byways, this hidden treasure of a road…
” …climbs and dips through forest and windy ranchlands to one of the westernmost points in the contiguous 48 states, Cape Mendocino. Begin in Ferndale, an 1852 town that grew rich from creameries and enjoyed a boom in Victorian houses and commercial false front architecture.” The description goes on to inform that the route ends in the 53,000 acre Humboldt Redwoods State Park, and leads neatly to an easy drive through the Avenue of the Giants before rejoining Highway 101.
How could we resist? We began as suggested in Ferndale, lazing through savory pie lunch and a milkshake before I stopped a while in a local yarn shop named “Foggy Bottoms” to get some needles and advice for the orange-grey hat I was knitting. In the early afternoon we began the 63 miles of twisty corners and breathtaking views of this incredible route.
We stayed the night partway along in a small county park that was well priced and, deal upon deal, offered a shower at 3 minutes per quarter. With strategy, planning, and teamwork, we both blissfully bathed for a mere $1.25 and felt clean as a whistle to finish the route the next day.
Trees of Mystery, Klamath, CA
As a last crowning glory to our California journey, we stopped at a quirky private park called “Trees of Mystery” in Klamath, CA.
Here, the dog-friendly experience began with the inevitable photo taken beside house-sized figures of Paul Bunion and his trusty companion, Babe the Ox (though in this rendition, the ox is not, well, “oxed,” shall we say…).
Along the walk, we watched a video showing vintage 80’s footage of the 200 foot+ Family Tree with its many branches, followed by more recent film taken by helicopter as the venerable tree met its demise when disease prompted them to cut it down before it hit the gift shop and highway. We saw 2000-year-old trees growing tall and strong on the remains of fallen (dead) 2000-year old trees that themselves were still miraculously intact. We saw trees growing in funny shapes, and trees with roots under which we could crawl.
Best of all was the half-ring of trees called “Cathedral Grove,” used as a background setting for weddings. Nearby hidden speakers played an old-time song rendition of, naturally (and with perfect kitsch), the classic poem:
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
“Trees,” by Joyce Kilmer, 1886-1918
A younger, still-small set of similar circular trees was growing nearby, and a sign read that they were taking reservations now for weddings to be held in front of these trees… 600 years from now!
The experience’s dual finales consisted of a gondola ride through the trees to an observation tower at the top, and a walk through carved panels telling the stories of Paul Bunion.
Trees of Mystery was a quirky place. We loved it!
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