“Let’s go back,” he said, back to Ferndale.
It’s a little town in northern California – more precisely, in Humboldt County, home of mammoth redwood trees, counter-culture cannabis growers, and (more prosaically, because everything shouldn’t be exciting) dairy and beef farms.
We liked Ferndale last time and we wanted to see the coast again, and the redwood forests so
we planned, we packed, and before we knew it
we were driving onto the Coupeville ferry and crossing over to the Olympic Peninsula. It’s a longer route, but so much prettier, and we avoided Seattle traffic. Heading south along the Hood Canal (it’s a fjord!) on a quiet two-lane road, we passed Hamma Hamma and Lilliwaup,
glimpsed a herd of elk grazing by the roadside
then merged onto the interstate (ugh). We powered past Portland and stopped in a town called Brownsville for the night. Google pointed us to a local joint called Kirk’s Ferry Trading Post for dinner. The food was OK but it was even better after we watched a vintage truck – the one we thought was part of the cool display of vintage tools and stuff out front – start with a groan
and a growl and slowly, very slowly, putter down the road. We noticed the truck owner’s wife scowl as she sped away in a separate vehicle. This is good, we thought!
The next day we crossed the Oregon/California border and sailed down a loopy mountain road in a downpour, finally arriving in peaceful little Ferndale at dusk. Early the following morning I wandered outside and watched a peaceful, pastoral scene unfold as the world was refreshed by September rains.
Contentment worked its way under our skin and deep into our bones as we strolled wide beaches, hiked emerald forests, and motored through rolling hills overlooking the empty Pacific far below. Daily coffee in a laid-back cafe with a workshop in back where kayaks are built by hand anchored us to Ferndale’s gentle rhythms.
We’re home now. I miss this exquisite corner of the world already.
Maybe you can see why.
We met a cast of friendly, eccentric characters on the trails, including a 94-year-old man intent on hiking a steep trail that connects grassland to the beach, a woman of a certain age hiking barefoot in the rain with two tiny dogs on leashes and a cat on her back, and a man who apparently went nowhere without his two cockatoos.
On the way back home we spent two nights on the Oregon coast in the little town of Waldport. More on that later, but here is a view from the beach at low tide one morning:
This trip went by too fast. I know I’m privileged to be able to spend any time at all at such spectacular places as California’s Redwood forests and its nearly deserted northern beaches. Breathtaking scenery awaits anywhere you look. Just let old habits drop away and look with new eyes.