So today we went and visited with the redwoods. We took hundreds of photos - and none of them give any sense just how goddamn big the trees are, and how lovely it is underneath them. The weather was drizzly, but not too bad, and the trees dripped, and the ground was green and soft, and there was no-one else there at all. It was just magic. Here is a typical shot of me trying to give a sense of scale. Doesn't really work!
We drove down the Avenue of the Giants in Humboldt State Park (or most of it, it was closed in one point with a tree down across the road) and stopped to do some walks into groves and also at the very informative visitors centre. It was a bit damp and miserable to do any longer hikes, but we felt we got a pretty good sense of it. It only takes a few hundred metres in from the road and you feel completely in the forest, especially when there is no-one else around. It's very silent. Here's a picture of where one of the trees had fallen over - landed on another tree already on the ground (at the far left of the picture) so split under its own weight.
Perfectly normal thing for a tree to do, but check out the scale! (Scale point is one Australian man approximately five feet ten inches tall).
Later in the day the weather crapped out so we went back into Eureka which was a very pleasant surprise - lots more cool Victorian buildings and a historical area with many excellent second hand bookshops. We were glad we went up there - it hadn't registered on any of the tourist guides but well worth a stop.
In the evening it was back to wine and cheese in Victorian splendour (fellow guests tonight included a woman from MY HOME TOWN IN NZ, honestly what is the point of travelling) and deciding what to do the next day, which was one of the days we'd left free without booking any accommodation or anything. The weather was supposed to be bad again ... more trees? wine tasting in the Napa valley? explore some scenery on minor roads? do a big drive to Sacramento? After a bit of pondering we realised that actually we wanted to do more shopping, and booked a hotel in Fairfield for more mall and outlet trawling. We can drink wine any time ... and we do.
On the way down to Fairfield we stopped at the drive-through redwood tree at Leggett. It was bucketing down rain but we got the obligatory photos. Did we drive our car through the tree? No, we did not. It was a rental car. We looked at the size of the hole, and the size of the car, and thought about it ... and decided not to. We walked through instead.
Our drive took us through the Napa Valley which was extremely beautiful, even in the rain. Clearly a lot of money around, but it was pretty busy even on a rainy Friday in January so we were happy with our decision not to stop. And of course it was the Presidential inauguration. We had wondered if it would register at all, but it didn't. Nobody mentioned it or seemed to notice. I think the general mood in California was summed up by the local paper in Eureka.
So on a very USA day - presidential inauguration? such ceremony? seems strange to me, a big fuss for a politician - we ended on the most USA note we could. By having a burger and a beer, in a mall, in front of Macy's. It was awesome.