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Working our way up the west coast, we needed a place to call home for a couple days of hiking in the Redwood State and National Park. We chose Eureka because of it’s central location, abundance of restaurants and quite honestly, it was on the way.
There were no Starwood Properties in Eureka, so we opted to stay at a local hotel. We quickly discovered that the Inn at 2nd and C would be a great fit for us. The name, is also the address – located in the heart of downtown Eureka, just a few blocks from the channel and within easy walking distance to restaurants and shops.
We checked in late in the afternoon. The parking lot had a couple spaces available and we unloaded our suitcases from the car. A very bubbly woman working reception greeted us as we entered. While very friendly, she was the model of efficiency. I think she had other things she wanted to work on, which was great for us – you all know how I hate the hours long welcome discussion while checking in. Just give me the three minute basics, my keys and point me towards the elevator.
We were on the third floor of this beautiful 19th Century Hotel. Built by Finnish immigrants in 1886, this property had been partially updated recently. The furnishings were still period, but didn’t show obvious signs of wear. It’s awful to go into a beautifully restored old property like this and find that the furniture hasn’t been updated since the doors opened – broken down chairs, threadbare sofas, smoke filled curtains – none of that was found here.
We booked a suite that went for $209/night. While not the cheapest room in town, it was really worth it. The rooms were large, clean and the rate included breakfast.
There is also a bar at this hotel – Phatsy Kline’s Parlor Lounge. Of course, I popped down for a quick drink – or two – upon arrival. Our first night in town there was an all female folk trio playing. It was a little awkward, as they started at 18h30 and I was the only one there. The sound of one man clapping doesn’t really bring down the house. I really enjoyed the band – Belles of the Levee, check them out!
Do you love cats? Well, then you’ll love the Inn and Phatsy Kline’s. No there aren’t house cats that you can rent, but there is a definite cat theme, with lots of art, animals and even board games.
When you are making your way through the north coast of California, do yourself a favor and spend the night at the Inn on Second and C, and stop off for a drink or three at Phatsy Kline’s. They were just serving wine and beer during my visit, but had already crafted a bunch of gin cocktails and were waiting for their full liquor license. There were at least four restaurants we wanted to try within walking distance. Since we were only in town two nights, we had plenty of restaurants to choose from.
Have you stayed here before? Do these classic boutique hotels interest you at all, or would you prefer to stay at a national property?
Our trip around the West Coast of the US was pretty well planned, with hotels, routes and hikes setup weeks in advance. Most of our trips are planned this way, we rarely book a hotel on the fly. This was different. Because of some horrendous traffic issues, Highway 101 was closed completely and we had no viable way to return to our lodging in rural Mendocino County. The hotels in Willits were filling up fast. The Best Western was sold out. Similarly several other small, local hotels had filled up by the time we made it to their lobby.
Finally we found a hotel, the Baechtel Creek Inn, which is located just a bit off of the main drag in Willits, visible from the road but not as clear as other properties, it looked nice from the road, with lit trees and a winding drive. We jumped on this property. We were followed by several other cars, as we pulled into the hotel. I hopped out and ran towards the lobby hoping to beat the crowd. This town had limited hotel rooms which would be sold out in short order.
There were a few people in line in front of me and many in line behind me. The lady checking in when I arrived was arguing about the price. She demanded a jacuzzi suite (gross), but didn’t want to move her car from the temporary parking spot. She was just arguing with the guy working the front desk. He was doing his best to handle all of these new reservations and most of the people checking in were taking their traffic frustrations out on him.
I was patient and we joked about how awfully rude these people were. We managed to get two rooms and shuffled off to bed.
Our room was on the first floor, facing the parking lot. This was a motel, with exterior doors leading outside. When checking in, we were given a stern warning about smoking in the room and there would be a $500 fine. I was quite surprised when we walked into the room and were immediately hit with the smell of both cigarette and weed smoke. We got use to the stench pretty quickly though, only noticing it again, when we left the room and returned.
The floor was also a bit damp – not just near the air conditioner or near the bathroom, where there was no shower door or curtain, but everywhere. The floor didn’t exactly squish when you walked, but after the first step, you never put bare foot on the carpeting again during the stay.
There were power outlets near the beds, which didn’t do us any good because we didn’t have phone chargers with us, as we were expecting to be gone for just a couple of hours, not overnight.
I do love when a hotel does something interesting with the toilet paper. I’m just not sure why they folded this roll into the shape of a penis.
Factory muffins and some fruit with coffee and tea comprised the complementary breakfast served the next morning. We skipped breakfast.
The staff on site was pretty accommodating. I was surprised, especially considering they weren’t expecting anyone to bother them at 22h30 in the evening then they were hit with an onslaught of unexpected guests. The room was fine, better than sleeping in the car…I guess. It was a bit gross and I wouldn’t plan on staying at this property again.
Are you a fan of the Choice Hotel chain? What do you know about the Ascend Hotel Collection?
We left Hendy Woods State Park and after spending the afternoon in Mendocino and grabbing an early dinner in Fort Bragg, we decided to head back to our base camp. Taking the same road back as we did out wasn’t very exciting, so we decided to take a more scenic route. This road was interesting and brought us much farther inland than our morning journey did.
We approach the town of Willits where we would rejoin Highway 101, for the quick 20 minutes back home. The traffic wasn’t bad, but it was noticeable. We approach the on-ramp and a man from CalTrans was redirecting us, saying the road was closed for an unspecified period of time and to come back later.
That didn’t sound good. We checked the local news outlets (online) and found that a man, described as a “Grizzly Adams look-a-like” had shot people on the highway, causing a bad accident and he was still on the loose. We debated our options: 1) Wait it out – the highway has to open SOMETIME 2) Throw in the towel, grab a room and try again in the morning or 3) Find an alternate route home. The local member of our team that day called a friend very familiar with the area, and he suggested we take old State Route 306 – it’ll take longer than 101, it’s not paved the full way through and there may be water on the road.
Somehow it was decided that Option 3 was the right one for us. I’m not to keen on staying in a sleazy motel, but I’m less of a fan of wandering aimlessly down unpaved roads we are unfamiliar with – with a 76 year old driver who doesn’t like driving after dark…in a Prius.
We venture out. It was great for the first 10 minutes, then the road turned to gravel. Rocks and dust flying as we drove down this road. We weren’t the only ones who had decided to use old State Route 306. As we continue on, we come across the water in the road that the local friend told us about. I wasn’t expecting the entire road to be covered in about 4-6 inches of water, but there we were, staring fate in the eyes. Do we continue on or turn back. You know my vote. I lost. We continued on. Off-roading in a Prius wasn’t on the books for today.
I got out of the car, grabbed the biggest stick I could find and charted our car’s journey through the blockade, that I affectionately called the puddle. The water wasn’t moving, per se, but it wasn’t static either. Under surface in the murky water were rocks – lots of rocks, little rocks and very big rocks. I plotted the path and allowed the driver (it was his car) to execute the plan.
He put his car into warp speed and flew through the puddle, spraying muddy water all around – I was smart enough to stay out of the splash zone. I see the Prius pass the puddle, turn the corner and disappear out of sight. Were they going to leave me here? I take off running after them. About 250 meters away they stop. There was no need to continue on that far, but they did.
We weren’t the only small cars out there trying to ford this obstacle, hell, we weren’t even the only Prius.
These watery obstructions continued every 3-5 minutes or so. Traffic was getting worse and worse. The local folks with the big trucks passed us by and blew through the water. Their grins were big as they passed the three of us in our Prius. They smiled so big you could see the missing teeth or the hunk of chewing tobacco in their mouths.
After successfully navigating three of these puddles, we encounter the forth. Big Bertha. She was the largest puddle we had seen. Not only was she huge, but once you cleared the water, you encountered a long, straight, steep stretch of road. This road was getting muddy – all the trucks were splashing water and kicking up the rocks. This channel was also the deepest to date. It was at least 8-10 inches deep and the underwater rocks were the biggest. One wrong turn and we’d blow a tire or rip out the undercarriage.
The Decision to Return
I was not keen on the idea of us getting stuck in the puddle too – at this point there were at least a dozen vehicles behind us. We weren’t worried about the Subarus that could likely make the trip. I was more concerned about the pick-up truck driving locals and how pissed they’d be if we blocked their only way home. Not worth it.
We decided to turn around and cross those three original puddles again. The other Priuses (Priii?) followed our lead and we raced back to civilization.
As we approached the puddles, I planned on hopping out and replotting an appropriate return path, but the driver had other ideas. He said since we’ve already been through this area, we know we can make it…so let’s just drive. My stomach knotted as he laid his foot on the accelerator. We sped through each of these three remaining obstacles each time smacking into rocks – the sound of them scraping under the car caused me to gnash my teeth. The final puddle had us on a surprising trajectory – one that caused the water to flow over the top of the hood and onto the windshield. I’m pretty sure that’s not ideal for a hybrid vehicle, right?
Returning to Town
The last of the puddles were in our rear view mirror. We snaked our way through the gravel road, then back on to pavement. We hurried back into Willits to snag some motel rooms – I wasn’t going to sleep in the Prius, that’s for sure.
As we drive through town, the car was making an interesting sound – a muffled scraping sound. It didn’t sound like a flat tire, but it didn’t sound right either. When we’d pass someone on the street, they would turn and stare at us. The sound we heard inside the car was also audible outsidr. We are still causing a scene.
We pull into a local Grocery Outlet – needing toothbrush, tooth paste and phone chargers – as we had no intention of staying out all night when we left 13 hours prior. I decided to take a look at the front of the car and I found a large rubber piece hanging from just under the headlights. This part runs the entire front width of the car and it is broken. It is dragging against the pavement. It is pushing rocks, sticks, trash and other debris with us. I managed to reattach this piece, but after a few minutes of driving it would fall again. Of the four to six rivets, only two were still working properly and they wouldn’t hold the piece up.
I was terrified this would either catapult us to our death somehow, or severely injure someone behind us. We couldn’t find a way to remove this damaged piece. I made my recommendation and went along with the majority vote.
The car was in rough shape as we left Willits the next morning. The tires hadn’t deflated during the night.What a lovely surprise.
Well, Little Prius, we took you on an adventure and you returned us home. You were a little banged up, but those battle scars show what you’ve done, what you can do. This is the most excitement you’ve had and will likely never have anything this wild run under your tires again.
We left San Francisco to head up to Mendocino County to spend a couple days with family and to do some hiking. Our first hiking stop was the Hendy Woods State Park. We had some non-hikers with us, so we were happy to take an easy trail so we could all spend time together. It was their first trip to see these giant trees.
We opted to hike a flat trail – The Upper Hendy Loop Trail – which was very flat and was about 2.5 km (1.6 miles) long. While it wasn’t a strenuous hike, it was really beautiful.
This was my first redwood experience ever on foot. I drove through the redwoods about 20 years ago, but didn’t stop and hike, I had places to go and people to see. I would highly recommend this hike for all fitness levels. You get to see so much of the beauty of the region with almost no physical exertion.
Have you hiked Hendy Woods State Park before? What do you think of this trail? It was utterly dead when we were there, only coming across a single other group of travelers. So sad that more people weren’t experiencing the beauty on this long holiday weekend.