Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Great California Adventure - Part 4 - Hell Road/Mattole Beach (09-15-2007 to 09-22-2007)

I am happy to report that the Dodge is fixed once more, and thanks to be misdiagnosing the problem as a fuel delivery bug, I have successfully replaced my Fuel Pump, Filter, Fuel Pressure Regulator, as well as the plugs, distributor cap, rotor button, spark cables, and ignition coil. But, she runs great now... I just wish I had the cash back...

Anyway, in the last part of my trip, I left off saying that part four would tell the tale of the Mattole Rd, aka CA-211.

So, this is where I shall pick up.

As I was saying, when last we spoke, we had just returned to camp from Fern Canyon, at which point we hastily packed up and got underway for Ferndale.

The drive to Ferndale took us through Eureka, CA, one of the larger costal cities in the area. Its akin to if we took the city of Salem, Oregon and relocated it to a bay on the Pacific Ocean, its just damned big compared to any costal town I had been in before.

The drive, really has been pleasant up to this point, Highway 101 in California is very unlike the 101 in Oregon. Its well maintained, and other than having a whole lot of 7% grades on it, is a rather stress free drive.

Anyway, a brief fuel stop in Eureka and then some poor directions from Google Maps finally got us on the 211, driving across nice flat farm lands going west towards the town of Ferndale, little did we know we were driving towards one of the most horribly designed highways I'd ever encountered in all the thousands of miles I've driven from coast to coast.

Ferndale is a small town, and if you aren't heavily into Victorian era architecture, kinda boring. We passed through it, snapping pictures here and there as we went, but didn't really stop for anything, our goal was to make the crossing over the hills to the coast (something I figured would take us maybe two hours of scenic backroads driving, HAH!)

It wasn't until I saw the sign and the beginning of the road.... I should have just turned around and went back to the 101.....

The wonderful view was provided after a very short period of time and one really steep climb up. I stopped near the top to let the engine cool back down and hoped that we weren't going to see too many more like that....

Oh, no.... it repeated that same hill about 50 billion more times... after the first two, we switched to taking the hills in low range to reduce the strain on the engine and first gear (the transmission was really not liking me at that point).

The drive I think maxed out at a top speed of 15 mph on the majority of the uphill drive and then 5mph on the downhill sections.

The two hour drive, soon turned into a four hour drive, then a six hour drive.....

Till we finally came out of the trees and saw our first downhill....

I think my words at the moment I saw the drive down were "Oh, F--- me with a lampshade!"

I think the only reason I managed to remain sane while driving that road was probably from the unending stream of creative cussing I was doing. I call it creative because I gave up on standard swear words and started trying to come up with new and painful methods of pain to deliver upon the Cal-Trans employees that had designed that road. The narrative was apparently funny enough that my navigator had to tell me to shut up on multiple accounts to prevent a loss of bladder control.

Anyway, we got down, we had been hoping and begging that at the bottom was Mattole beach and the end of the drive...

OH, Hell NO!

That only the 1/3 of the way point, some in the middle of BFN three horse village on the coast, Capetown was its name. I distinctly remember remarking that the town could go and stuff itself somewhere lacking sunshine for not being the end of the drive.

After getting down to the coastline, the adventures of having my left brake stuck in the clamped down position added unending moments of fun as the truck was now pulling hard left at this point. It eventually stopped doing such when the brakes cooled down enough at the brake pad could retract again.

The drive pretty much repeated itself as described above a couple more times before we finally reached the town of Pertolia and the road out to the beach. By this point it was dark, I believe going on 9pm, a full seven hours to make 40 miles, but with a full moon and winds with 20mph gusts coming off the ocean. We picked the most wind breakered campsite we could find (Ala, the one closest to the entrance).

A few minutes leveling and hooking up the drain hose, we nipped into the camper and got to work on making beer battered deep fried chicken and french fries for dinner. After dinner, we took a brief nighttime stroll out to the beach and then went back to the camper, showered, and passed out, more worn out from that 40 mile drive than we had been from hiking and all the other stuff the previous days.

Ironically, we were rocked to sleep that night by the strong winds broadsiding the camper on the passenger-side. It did make cooking dinner interesting the night before, as the wind would periodically push the range hood vent shut on the outside, even with the range hood on.

The weather was nice and clear, still windy, but it seemed far less so than it had been the previous night. All the rain clouds had migrated inland towards the Humboldt Redwoods, leaving us nice and dry.

After a nice, hearty breakfast, we decided to hike out and actually take a look at the coast that we had driven the road from hell to get to.

First thing I noticed was the presence of one class A motor home and 2 class Cs, along with a couple of trailers farther back. Mason and I looked at each other and said, "Yeah, they must have come the southern route, cause there's no way in hell's handbasket they came from the northern way!" Later on that afternoon when we started for the Burlington Campground in the Humboldt Redwoods, our guess was proved accurate.

The country down around the Mattole Beach Campground, is indeed, breathtakingly beautiful. The clear day gave us a sharp contrast of colors and textures across the hills, the beach, and the pacific ocean. If you ever wish to visit this beach, and want some peace, quiet, and a bit of beach walking, Mattole Beach is great.... Just take the road from Hwy101 that goes through the Rockafeller Forest in the Humboldt Redwoods to Pertolia and then come back the same way, its alot less stressful.

The beach here seems to be a theater of rough beach art, we noticed quite a number of various endeavours at it, including a maze made in the sand from small rocks, a sculpture of sorts from sand, rock and tide washed timbers, and some sort of a May Poll.

We decided to add a bit of our own .

Well, after our nice day hike, we decided that we probably should be getting on, at that time, we didn't know if our predictions that the southern route would be easier would come true or not.

Now, mattole beach campground does have fresh water, in addition to nice vault toilets. The primary filling faucet has one of those no-thread, must hold on numbers, which making refilling an RV fresh tank a bit troublesome. Fortunately, they had a second regular faucet type, minus handle of course, lower down the pipe for the regular water tap. Never leave home without your vice-grips, I always say, or for that matter a good water filter.

That faucet probably hadn't been used in ages. Long enough that the bugger had filled up with sand. When we first turned it on to flush out the filter before filling the tank, we could get any water through the filter! Took me a minute to figure out it was caused by the strained on the filter hose being chock full of sand, a little flushing of the lines and we were filling fresh tanks.

The only thing that really disconcerted me was, sitting by the outhouses was I guess the local meth-head. Damned if we know how he got out into the middle of BFN, but there he was. We decided not to leave the camper unattended at anytime while the fresh tank was refilling, in chance that the local meth-head decided to suruptiously hitch a ride.

Anyway, that wraps up the road from Hell, our next stop, the Avenue of the Giants, and Burlington SP.

But, before I leave you, I've included a little extra, a video I shot of the Mattole Beach. It has me doing a narrative, making my best attempts at sounding like some pompous tour guide while the camera does a couple of slow 360 degree turns of the beach area.

Thanks all for reading!

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