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Thursday 17 Oct 2013
Redding, USA

Eureka! The Parks have reopened!

Whoo-hoo!!! The lunatics have reopened the National Parks (although they still appear to be running parts of the asylum).  Obama gave a very stern speech verbally kicking some ass and pointing out that nobody had ‘won’ and they had achieved nothing but reducing economic growth, costing the country and estimated $5.5 billion and making the US a political laughing stock.  I think that about covers it.

I started today with a visit to the small town of Fortuna, an old Victorian settlement full of beautiful houses, slightly grander than Mendocino, with a wonderful old-fashioned Main Street. The first shop I looked in had an amazing Halloween display in the window.  The tabletop was full of model haunted houses, haunted trains and haunted forests with little lights, moving ghosts and all sorts of dressed up characters.  It was the Halloween equivalent of a model railway display.  I loved it!  I went in to have a closer look and got talking to the owners.  She told me the models had come from ‘Michael’s’ as if the name should mean something to me.  It didn’t, but she gave me directions to the one in Eureka, as I would be driving very close to it on my way up. 

Michael’s turned out to be an enormous warehouse of a craft shop – like Hobbycraft in the UK, but bigger than any one I’ve been to before.  The scrapbooking section alone took up more than 8 aisles.  I was in crafting heaven!  I could have bought so much here, but I used every last ounce of will power I possess to get out with just one scrapbook, a few alphabet stickers, some pens and a few journaling cards.  The book had pre-designed pages, so I planned to make an on-the-go scrapbook of all the places I visited.

From Eureka, I headed away from the coast and followed the Trinity Scenic Byway east towards Redding.  Although this was more highway than byway in places, it was another beautiful drive climbing up over the Central Range past granite cliffs and through forests speckled with the orange and gold of the changing season.  It follows the picturesque Trinity River most of the way.  The highest point, the Berry Summit (around 3,000’), gave me a beautiful view across the surrounding countryside and I climbed down a little way to take photos through the masses of dry teasels growing on the hillside.

I’ve been using a couple of road trip guidebooks, including Lonely Planet’s ‘California’s Best Road Trips’.  This is full of 3-5 day drives with little suggestions of places to stop.  I was intrigued by the Willow Creek-China Flat Museum, aka the Bigfoot Museum, especially as this region has the most reported sighting of the great American legend.  Unfortunately, like so many other things on my journey, this too was closed.

Coming over the pass near Whiskytown, I was greeted by a beautiful panorama.  The sun had almost set behind me. On the horizon sat a deep band of delicate pink tinged with orange, merging in with the still-blue sky above it.  In the middle of the horizon sat the snow-capped peak of Mount Shasta, the region’s highest mountain, with a line of grey hills to either side.  Before it lay a dense valley of pines turning a deep emerald green.  Above it all hung a near perfect full moon, shining brilliant white against the pink sky.  It was so peaceful that I had to pull over and just watch for a while.  It is chance moments like this that make the road trip so worthwhile.

In Redding, I drove around a while until I found a motel that didn’t look too dodgy and didn’t charge the earth, then had dinner in the diner next door.  A bowl of salad was just what I wanted after so much fried food and oversized portions recently.  I then spent a happy evening going through my National Park leaflets and postcards to start my new scrapbook.


Mileage: 636

Running total: 3,426

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Zoe's Big World Adventure Part II - #1 America

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