Magnificence everywhere you look!
Trip Start Oct 20, 2012
61Trip End Jul 11, 2013
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Where I stayed
Trinity River Park
Whiskeytown/Shasta/Trinity National Recreation Area
What I did
Jacques Cousteau's Protogee
After 6 hours of driving from Nevada, (typically we tried to keep our driving to around four hours) we were ready for a camp, and "Gar" directed us to a remote park on the Trinity River just downstream from Lewiston Lake, all of which seemed to be pretty much in the middle of nowhere. We dropped into what appeared to be an empty lot, but out popped Jerry the camp host, with whom Mary had already made friends on the phone 20 minutes earlier.
The place felt a little seedy (and rather deserted), but the view of the river was nice and Jerry couldn't have been more cordial. He walked us to our site, offered a cold beer and then took Mary to town with him to get supplies (ice?...Check- beer?..Check. SHRIMP?...maybe not.) while I hooked up.
We didn't mention it at first, but when they returned from town we had to ask, "What's with the submarine?" (All the while I'm thinking I recognize this guy!) Next to his trailer was a one-man bright yellow submarine (yes yellow submarine) with a couple of air tanks strapped to the back. Turns out, Jerry is a bit of a celebrity. He dove with Jean-Michael Cousteau (Jacques' son) and even had a "20/20" special done on him (which I had seen).
A helicopter pilot in Viet Nam, he returned from the war with a penchant for thrill-seeking, building his own helicopters and flying in Hawaii until his wife nixed that, so then he turned to submarines [that's when she left him] and he moved to the West Coast, where he was now helping a friend who owned this campground, Trinity River Park.
The seediness we felt, it turns out, was not unfounded. One of Jerry's tasks was to clear out some of the "undesirables" who had taken up permanent residence behind the bathhouse, out of site from the rest of the campgrounds. When the dam was being built, the state created this camp for the workers and was considered to be the nicest place on the river, but it had been neglected for years and sorely needed a good overhaul.
We had a nice, quiet stay - within a month the place would be packed with fishermen for the annual Steelhead (trout - VERY similar to salmon) spawn. In fact, the only other camper on our side of the bathhouse had been set up (and vacated) a month early by a guy who wanted to be sure to have this spot.
We explored a bit, enjoying the solitude and quiet that was only broken by a couple of families floating the river for a Father's Day treat. It was yet ANOTHER GORGEOUS DAY. We even waded in those Alpine waters and had to think they were NUTS but it made me think about some of our traditional Father's Day hikes and the many great times we had floating the Swan River in our "back yard" in Bigfork.
We'll have to keep an eye open for Jerry-I have a feeling the yellow submarine will surface again.
From Lewiston Lake to Eureka, the road follows the Trinity River through one of longest and most beautiful valleys we have seen. We practically coasted for 50 miles, stopping at a couple of small towns where many of the residents seemed to have gotten stuck in a time warp from the 60's. Earth muffins (and Earth Dogs), I think they're called. Great place to be stuck for a few decades, although expensive. Most of them traveled the 50 miles down to Eureka to shop for groceries.
At the bottom of the 50 mile hill, we took a right on our predetermined destination, Route 101 at Eureka, CA and began the journey up the remaining California Coast and most of the Oregon Coast. (a forty year old bucket list item of mine). When I mentioned this a month earlier Billy somewhat Poo-pooed me thinking it would not be an option for us with the camper in tow but he must have asked some trusted "authorities" who assured him it was heavily traveled by beasts far greater (longer, wider, heavier RV's and trailers) than ours. Yay me! (There for sure has to be "The Artful Odyssey II" because the bucket list item was to travel Route 101, ALL THE WAY to the Canadian border.)
Our first stop was at Shoreline Campground in Crescent City, CA at a lackluster spot just off the highway. A weather front was moving in, kind of chilly and rainy, so we hunkered down, put the heater on and watched a DVD that Travis & Mallery had given me for Father's Day. "Ernest Goes to Camp." He was a lot funnier when the kids were young, you know what ah mean Vern?
Shades of melancholy began and mixed emotions set in... As we continue to head north... and east comes the realization that this is the way home.