Posted by: Aunt Magaidh | August 13, 2010

“What I Did on Summer Vacation”

Summer vacation.

In my family, that means it’s the annual time to revive the spirit by unplugging from the usual and going someplace unfamiliar.  Despite my lack of employment, we took a quick vacation to the northwestern corner of California.  The coast.  Thanks to an old family friend, Mother Moose, we stayed in a comfy spot and visited coastal towns.  For the last couple of days we looped into Southern Oregon to hit Hwy 5 and zoom home.  Here are the destinations and a few highlights.

Samoa – This was the first stop after leaving home at 4 am.  At 9:30, we pulled into the Samoa Cookhouse for breakfast with my friend Elizabeth who lives in nearby Fortuna.  It was fun to finally see this place.  Apparently my grandmother, Lena, cooked in a place like this for a lumber company.  Service for us was spotty – we got stuck in the back room by ourselves where the waitress had a hard time checking in on us. (It was also unheated back there.)  Food was good and basic – all-you-can-eat that was pretty good.  I liked their biscuits and gravy and French toast.    Samoa is this little spit of land that is west of Eureka.  I’ve always wanted to explore it, but alas, it’ll have to wait. But at least I’ve finally had breakfast there!

Eureka – old town historic district for book and fiberholic shopping and FABULOUS ice cream at Bon Boniere Gourmet Ice Cream.  The bookshops around here are terrific.  I bought books that ranged from cooking to natural dyeing to theater arts.  Driving through some residential areas, it seemed familiar, although I only visited my grandmother once while she lived there.  I guess I should ask my dad for the family homestead address.  Addresses.  Yes folks, this is where the fog entered my genes…back in the 1850s.

Arcata – so you can get your current generation deadhead fix…yep, they look like the ones in Berkeley and Bolinas.  Unfortunately, we pulled in too late to get to the farmer’s market which is supposed to be good.

Klamath – our base camp for most of the days.  Home of Mother Moose, hostess extraordinaire.  Stopped by the “must see” Paul Bunyan and Babe the blue ox at the Trees of Mystery.

Paul and Babe, Klamath

Totally skipped the trees, but stopped at the Native American Museum at the end of the gift shop – and gazed for an hour and a half at some spectacular artifacts. BTW, Paul was highly interactive and talkative on the day of our visit.  He even commented on Daughter’s green hair.  We also visited the grave of Big Foot.  (Really.)

Big Foot's grave in Klamath

Crescent City – Tsunami history (please note the tsunami sirens all over town), WWII history (a torpedoed merchant mariner ship), Northcoast Marine Mammal Center (16 patients on the board, mostly CA sea lions and a couple of harbor seal pups),

Injured harbor seal pup at NCMMC in Crescent City

and Pebble Beach for agate hunting (mostly picked over, but a great excuse to lie down on a beach and pick at rocks).  Rumiano cheese factory has cheese to taste and buy.  I bought some lavender  jack cheese.  Lunches and dinner at The Good Harvest Restaurant.  We found The Continental Bakery – OMG GOOD DONUTY THINGS!  You must try a Big Foot if you are there!  Think of the fluffiest custard squirted into a nearly 12-inch-long foot-shaped chocolate covered donut.  More like an éclair or Boston cream pie.  It was big enough for us to share.  And their sandwiches are great.  Try one on their cheese pesto roll.  And try their blackberry streudel.  Yum.  The staff is great.

Redwood National and State Parks – (*imitating the Monty Python narrator voice*) “See the majestic redwoods and Roosevelt elk.” Ladybird Johnson Redwood Grove was a great walk.

Walking in the Ladybird Johnson Grove

I loved looking for elk…it was like a game of hide and seek.  While walking to Fern Canyon (I loved it there!), saw a big bull elk in the trees off the meadow.  Other times it was looking for antlers above the golden grass.  Too funny to see the people pulling off the sides of the roads and taking pictures.  Reminded me of Yellowstone when you see the same traffic phenomenon over a bear or moose or bison.  But these guys are big.  They have to be to keep up with the trees.  Saw some lovely big old trees.  The biggest we saw was around 1500 years old and 20 feet around.  It was great to identify plants in this park each day.  Fern Canyon was gorgeous.

Fern Canyon. A must see.

Think of a cool climate version of a Hawaiian fern grotto.  There were even waterfalls and the creek walk was a favorite with puddle lovers.  Throughout this vacation I kept being drawn to the plants.  My native plants teacher, Stew Winchester (excellent instructor and ecology buff – take a class or a hike with him!), would have been proud of my enthusiasm even if I’d forgotten the botanical names of most of the plants.  I loved, loved, loved the coltsfoot, five-finger and deer ferns, the huckleberry, the vine maples.  Gold Beach was an afternoon for lazing on sand and playing word games over Japanese mochi snacks and lavender -jack cheese.  (“Hey, don’t walk on the sand verbena!”)

Brookings (OR)…where as we pull into the Fred Meyer parking spot another car pulls in and a woman starts gesturing wildly at me with a grin on her face.  Turns out she’s Pat from Red Bluff with a t-shirt that says “Yarnivore”.  She’s thrilled to see me knitting in the car.  We talk for a good 5-10 minutes while our families go in to shop.  We exchange contact info.  You never know when or where a fellow fiberholic will strike up a friendship with you.  Later, Husby, Daughter and I get lunch at The Hungry Clam.  YUMMY.  It’s a little place at the harbor, but it’s well known. It was a 20 minute wait after placing our order – apparently the boss was missing in action and the cook and waitress where holding down the fort against hordes of hungry customers.  The cook got a phone call from his brother – whom he ordered to catch a cab and come down to help out!  Poor guy was so busy that he couldn’t remember what orders he was filling, but he was cooking up a storm.  The waitress was likewise a calm but busy soul.  Never once was cursing or raised voice heard.  Customers cheered them on and applauded for every delivered order til they got caught up.    Had some of the best fried oysters I’ve had in a long time.  Clam chowder was good…we could hear the cook yelling at the helper to add clam juice (not water or milk) to thin the too thick pot.  (That boss has some ‘splaining to do!)  Followed up with Umpqua  ice cream at Slugs N’ Stones N’ Ice Cream Cones.  (I’d skip the bookstore there at the same place, not so great.)  We also looked for the WWII bombing site on Mt. Emily, but couldn’t find it.  Signage is seriously lacking- especially since it’s mostly dirt roads around there.  We gave up and went back to town.  I found a nice bookshop on the main drag.  Earl E Books. Stacks and stacks of books.  Music supplies and antiques also in the spot.  Pretty cool poking around there.

Orick – The Palms Cafe.  Good food, nothing fancy, but the strawberry-rhubarb pie was sooooo good I ordered a 2nd piece to go.

Oregon Caves National Monument (OR). WOW.  Highlight of the trip.  Imagine if you will a happy teenager.  How was this achieved?  I reserved two spots on the off-trail cave tour for Husby and Daughter.  They got to go with a small group (6 people) in the non-public areas of the cave.  They had to climb and crawl and wriggle through the cave instead of just walking the 526 steps that Moose and I climbed through the regular cave tour.  After 3 hours, Daughter was muddy and smiling.  She was still smiling two days later.  I was so happy to introduce her to caving and having her learn about a hobby that Husby and I did during our pre-parent days.  Now she is hooked.  We’ll be looking for other caves for her to explore.

Jacksonville (OR), where we began our transition to urban living again.  It’s an old western town that has been taken over by touristy shops and boutiques.  The buildings were cool, but the character reminded me of Carmel, Sausalito, SF Fisherman’s Wharf and other chi-chi shopping areas that started in cool architectural or scenic areas.  Really, do we need to buy $30 flip-flops or cheap leather items (“Everything is $20 or less!”)?  The cool things we saw were the goofy things…the town well, an old bank/dry goods store.  Okay…we succumbed to the gelato shop and I bought a microplane for zesting from the kitchen shop.

Ashland (OR) was crowded.  It is the height of the Shakespeare festival.  We planned on stopping here to poke around and get dinner.  We knew we couldn’t get tix to any of the plays (I’d checked weeks before).  Husby and Daughter were grumpy and homesick.  But I persevered.  We found a shop that Daughter found some nifty clothes and I went to the yarn shop.  After sushi dinner (okay, not great), I insisted on find the gift and book store for the festival.  From there I found the free event (The Green Show) and peeked in the door of the reproduction of the Globe Theater.  I forced a promise from Husby that we will return to Ashland as a destination, not a pass through.

Yreka and a big room for the night.  Ya gotta love the consistency of staying at a chain motel.  The next morning we drove through the town looking at the really neat western storefronts.  Found the Native Heritage Park where they have representative trees used by the Native peoples of the area.

Cottonwood, Lake California – to say hello to my dad.  The place is too darned hot.  And really, a gated community?  Never mind me.  I still get confused by the slight racial overtones that I experience in places where my dad ends up living.  I think he forgets that some of his kids have too much pigmentation to be truly welcomed in the neighborhoods that he chooses. (But that’s another blog post entirely.)

Red Bluff, and the Tremont Café for a lunch stop.  Good food and good service.  Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get around to ordering the Cowboy Pie.  (Is it made with real cowboys?  Nope.  Peaches and blueberries.) The waitress is thrilled with Husby’s Star Trek t-shirt.  I guess trekkies are a bit rare in that spot.   But like tired horses, we sensed the road home…

Home.  Our cluttered little bungalow.  The cat is so happy to see us.  Laundry is sorted in the family room and the washer is started.  Mail is sorted and voicemail listened to.  But with a last nod to vacation, we order a pizza delivered for dinner.  Now we prepare for Daughter to return to school.  Husby returns to work (there’s a new exhibit at Chabot Space and Science Center about climate change that opens soon).  I go back to sewing and spinning for the upcoming Ren faires while looking for a job.  But we all had a chance to step away from our usual routine.  I highly recommend it.



I promised to tell my regular readers what I packed in my “amusements” pack.  Yes, I packed knitting and spinning and sewing, a book and the watercolor paint kit.

Knitting.  I took 5 projects and completed 2 (one skein hat and Calorimetry headwarmer) and made progress on 2 (the mindless shawlette and the washcloth).   I stopped at 4 yarn shops. I bought something at each one.  Despite my planning, I bought 3 balls of yarn.

  • Eureka – Northcoast Knittery (pumpkin fluff for making something for friend Elizabeth)
  • Eureka – The Bollweaver (got drive bands for my spinning wheel, resisted the wool)
  • Crescent City – A Perfect Yarn (1 ball of Cascade 220)
  • Ashland – The Websters (bought 2 balls of Merino-alpaca bulky wt. and a pattern)

Spinning was the Colonial wool in blue and an empty Magpie spindle.   I couldn’t find any local fiber, but at 2 of the yarn shops I found spinning supplies.  Got a ball of pumpkin Merino fiber at Northcoast Knittery and drive bands for my Ashford at The Bollweaver.

I did take the experimental corsets that I’m sewing for faire.  And I completed 20 handsewn eyelets.  This was usually over the morning tea and breakfast conversation with Husby and Mother Moose (our hostess in Klamath, CA).   Moose was amused by my working on faire clothes, a corset no less.  She knew me when I was a tomboy with no time for girly clothes.  Yes, she was highly amused.

Yes, those are handsewn eyelets.

I felt slightly guilty as I ignored the tiny paperback novel and the watercolors.



  1. Sounds like you had a wonderful time… BTW, I love your writing style…have you ever considered writing a book?

  2. Next time you are in Ashland I recommend the Black Sheep, it’s a pub with some of the best pub-grub (shepherds pie, bangers and mash etc.)

    • Thanks! I’ll add it to the list.

  3. You are most welcome any time. Sure was fun having you here. Thanks for visiting. Nic is still looking for Sam. Went and hiked the Bombsite trail. You’re right, they need one more sign at the junction. I think I found where you got lost. Next time we can go out there. It is also the site of the most northernmost redwoods.

    • Awwww…tell Nic Sam feels bad. And the next time we visit, we’ll definitely do the bombsite!

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