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Day 149 – Redwood Highway, April 25, 2011

We awoke to rain that continued most of the day.  Lucky for me, I had planned for little hiking today…mostly scenic driving and some blogging.  We followed Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway until we connected with Route 101 where we continued north until we reached the Klamath River.

A few miles south of the Klamath River on the unpaved road, Coastal Drive that extends nine miles into Redwood National Forest, is a World War II Radar Station disguised as a farm.  After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the possibility of enemy attack on the U.S. mainland became very real.  At one point, Japanese submarines operated in offshore waters and shelled some shipping operations and oil installations off the coast of California and Oregon.

To guard against a potential invasion, the U.S. Army built two cinderblock structures, complete with a shingled roof as well as fake windows and dormers, that housed an early warning radar station.  From the air, sea, and road the buildings appeared to be a working farm when in fact, they housed a diesel generator, electronic equipment, and two 50-caliber anti-aircraft machine guns.  The soldiers and civilians stationed here reported suspicious boats and planes to a communication center in San Francisco.

After visiting the south side of the mouth to the Klamath River, we visited the north which is known as the Klamath River Overlook which was written up in the Redwood National Forest’s newspaper as one ranger’s favorite place presuming it wasn’t fogged in.  I’d have to agree with the ranger, it was a lovely place.

After sitting for a few minutes just looking out to sea and hoping to spot a whale, we returned to Route 101, and headed further north to Crescent City, one of the cities on the California coast that suffered the most damage from the Tsunami in March.  We basically just parked with a view of the beach while I attended to being off the grid for three days!  It’s amazing how many calls and emails pile up over a holiday weekend when cell and 3G service isn’t available.  Before I left for a scenic drive, I passed by the harbor where all the boats sunk last month…it seemed so sad and so empty.  I can’t imagine being in Japan.

Our scenic drive took us from Route 101 to Route 199 which followed the Middle Fork of the Smith River inland and north toward Oregon.  I had hoped to stop off at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park for a short walk as the Reader’s Digest book claimed it is one of the least visited parks, “making it a perfect place to enjoy the warm sunshine that comes as a welcome contrast to the chilly coastal fogs just 10 miles away.”  Not so today…more rain here than at the coast.  Instead, we kept following the Smith River National Scenic Byway past the aqua blue, raging river and could have followed the route all the way to Oregon, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a Wal-Mart and 3G service in Crescent City, so I wanted to return to the area for the evening.  In addition, my next drive is planned for the Coast of Oregon, and Crescent City is on the way.  OK, I can’t believe I just said I was excited to see a Wal-Mart.  It’s amazing how priorities change with changing needs!

Before returning to Crescent City, we stopped just north of the area at Lake Earl State Wildlife Area.  The skies cleared and Petey was allowed on the loop road, so we stretched our legs for about an hour or so while we ambled past a meadow, through stands of trees, beside marshland, and to a point that reached the lake nestled between dunes and distant hills.  It was definitely a nice way to end the day before venturing to the Wal-Mart parking lot with “No Overnight Parking” signs posted on every lamp post.  I’m not sure where I’ll end up for the night, but thought I would at least take advantage of 3G while I can.  Whew, I’m finally caught up on my blog! ETB

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