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I made a video to go with this leg of the trip, so I’m making this a 2-part series. Our trip starts off on Friday, July 1st leaving Shasta College with our newly-minted smog certificate. It was at least 90 degrees, so we were on our way immediately in order to escape even hotter temperatures.
We jumped onto highway 299 westbound, also known as the Trinity Highway. It runs right along the Trinity River. It’s also a very mountainous (is that a word??) highway, with lots of ups, downs and curves. That can be tiresome when you’re pulling as much weight around as we are, so it’s important to take it slow and stop to rest when needed. It’s best for both the tires and the brakes to not get over-worked.
The further we went along the highway, the cooler it got. That was nice, but the icing on the cake was when we drove into Blue Lake. Even though it’s still ~10-15 miles from the coast, there was an ocean breeze and we could see the marine layer coming in. The ocean feels like home to me, so it was a relief. We even had to change into long pants and sweatshirts, but we weren’t complaining at all!
We stayed at Blue Lake Casino and Hotel. A little factoid about Blue Lake: there’s no lake anymore! When I looked at it on the map, I thought, “Why is it called Blue Lake?” and I kept looking for a body of water (other than a river) as we got closer. I looked it up, and apparently the Mad River, which formed the lake, changed its course almost 100 years ago and the lake disappeared. These days, all that’s left of it is a small pond on private property.
Anyway, the Casino is pretty cute, and small. They are making some real efforts to make it “green,” and I felt like even though they didn’t have the expensive air systems that some of the bigger casinos have, they were really trying to make it nicer by putting small air purifiers next to each row of slot machines. It still smelled like smoke in there, but that’s to be expected. They have a couple restaurants in the casino, but not really anything suitable for our diet.
It was a pretty decent setup for RV parking there. When I called to ask, I was told that it was first-come first-served, but in the 2 years the clerk had worked there she’d never seen it full. It’s free to stay for up to 2 days–the only requirement is that you sign up for their player membership card. That is also free, and they even give you free money to play slots. If you want to stay longer, they base the cost on how much activity you’ve had on your card from when you first arrive (but we only needed 2 days).
The spot we had was pull-through and very easy to get in and out of. There are no hook-ups, but there is free potable water and a dump station on-site. Also on the property is a 24-hour gas station with a mini-mart, tanks that are easily accessible with a large rig, and propane. So you have everything you need except electricity. The RV parking is set slightly apart from the general parking, so it was fairly quiet.
Blue Lake is a very small town (about .6 square miles). We walked over there our first night and found some veggie pizza on gluten-free crust at a place called Stardough’s. Across the street on one side was a bar, and on the other side of the street was a performing arts center where they had some kind of outdoor concert happening. There was another restaurant, but it looked like it was closed for the day.
On Saturday, we rode our bikes into Arcata. It’s about 6 miles away and took about an hour. We ate at a fully vegetarian restaurant called Wildflower Cafe. They had no problem making anything on the menu vegan, and there were lots of gluten-free options as well. It made things very simple to eat out (for once!), and it was tasty.
We walked around town for awhile. Arcata has a very cool vibe to it. I would characterize it as…Berkeley on extra marijuana, lol. We were looking for postcards to send to my niece and nephew there, but everything either had that “special” plant or Buddha on it. Oh, well.
They have a town square in Arcata that hosts a farmer’s market on Saturdays. There were all kinds of produce, plants, some jewelry and other trinkets, and food stands in the middle. Everyone looked like they were having a good time. We also stopped into this shop called Solutions (I think), which had a ton of sustainable clothing, food containers, bags, shoes, and all sorts of stuff. That was my kind of store. If I had a need for anything I could have easily spent quite a bit of money there, but I just enjoyed browsing.
Sadly, we didn’t make it all the way to the ocean, because there wasn’t much to do there except walk around, and it was an extra 40 minutes of biking each way. Same for McKinleyville, which I would have liked to see. Perhaps some other time. Instead we went home and relaxed for the rest of the day in between preparing for the next part of the trip.
Sunday morning we put gas and propane into the RV and hit the road on the 101 north. We stopped in Klamath at the Trees of Mystery, which was a blast. It’s right on 101, and they have ample parking for RVs. I believe that place has been around forever, and if not the trees certainly have! We took a short hike to the gondola ride, took Skytrail (the gondola) up the mountain nearly 1600 feet, then hiked back down. I was once again thankful for my hiking boots! Then we ate some lunch in the RV and got back on the road.
We arrived in Smith River about mid-afternoon and stayed at the Lucky 7 Casino. This is another free RV parking location, with pull-through sites. They also have a gas station with propane, but no potable water. The casino had a really nice timber-frame design. The inside was just as smoky as any other casino, though. We went to their restaurant for the salad bar (which was just ok) but had nice views of the ocean. It was pretty quiet that night for sleeping, and I woke up to the sound of the waves in the morning. Nice. =D
That concludes this leg of our trip. The next post will be about our trip into Oregon and where we’ve been staying since Monday. Until then, please enjoy the video…I think I learned how to do a few more things, so hopefully this one is a little better. =)