Thursday, July 9, 2015

Travelogue: Forests, Ferns, and Food on the Lost Coast (Part 1)

I found heaven on earth! This is the Fleener Creek Trailhead on the
 Lost Coast near Ferndale, CA.

Sigh...can I please go on vacation again? A few weeks ago I had the loveliest of road trips up to Northern California's Lost Coast with Mister Spooky. We left in the dead of night, zooming up the empty freeways while blasting Perturbator, Morrissey, Make Them Suffer, Chelsea Wolfe, Carpenter Brut, and Lorna Shore. Our first big stop (besides rest areas and gas fill-ups) was Oakland, where we had the pleasure of breakfasting at Timeless Coffee Roasters (so much good food I had to put it all in a separate post HERE!) and taking a short stroll through the historic Mountain View Cemetery.

Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, CA

Then we were back on the road, driving the 101 freeway up into the redwoods and to our final destination of Ferndale, California. I actually grew up in the "Victorian Village" (so called for all of the gorgeous Victorian homes) and my Nonna (Italian for grandma) still lives on the sprawling ranch where I spent my youth. My parents recently moved back up there to take care of her, so I was excited to see them all. Plus, the ranch is very remote (you have to take a small road from town, then it's another five miles up a dirt road to get there) and there is nothing for miles and miles but trees upon trees (in other words, heaven). I loved growing up there surrounded by nature, and I'm not sure why I ever wanted to leave. Nevertheless, I was pretty pleased to have the opportunity to visit and share this special place with Mister Spooky.

When we finally arrived (after a 16 hour trip due to our stop in Oakland and various other stops we made on the beautiful drive up), we were exhausted and ended up crashing pretty early that night. The next morning, we packed some snacks, water and lunch and set out to explore the ranch! There are over 1,500 acres on the family ranch, so I took Mister Spooky on some hikes I had done previously to be safe. Here are some photos I snapped while we were out hiking:

 This adorable salamander greeted us on the road to our 1st hike!
Or maybe it's a baby dragon that hasn't sprouted its wings yet!

The grass in this meadow was taller than me...and we had
to machete our way through it! 

I totally miss picking wild salmon berries!

 Curious cows! The calves were so small! We could hear their
moos at night, so relaxing.

 I joked on Instagram that this was my next black metal album cover. 
Sheep skull we found while hiking. 

 Wild irises are some of my favorite flowers. 

If you stare at this picture hard enough, 
the clouds look like they are moving! 

Nothing but trees for miles and miles!

It is always a treat to visit the ranch and see how much everything has grown. And I loved sharing it with Mister Spooky, and telling him all the stories about growing up there. After a full day of hiking, we headed back to the house and enjoyed some BBQ. My mom grilled up some veggie kabobs and pineapple, and it was all delicious!  

 Fresh grilled veggie kabobs and pineapple

Vegan s'mores!

And then for dessert we had s'mores, made with Dandies vegan marshmallows, Mary's Gone Cracker's Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Endangered Species' Dark Chocolate! I couldn't find vegan graham crackers (seriously, just leave the honey out!), so I improvised and made the s'mores with cookies. Um, best idea EVER!! I gotta give credit to Mister Spooky for thinking this up while I was desperately searching for graham crackers in the cookie aisle. Simply brilliant! 

Friends not food.

The next day we drove to Centerville Beach just a few miles from the start of the dirt road up to the ranch. We drove to the lookout by Fleener Creek Trailhead (the first photo at the top of this post) and then back down to Centerville Beach to walk on its windy shoreline. Cold, windswept beaches are the only beaches I like!

Centerville Beach

After that we drove to Ferndale and explored its cemetery and streets. I've always loved its old cemetery (you can see it in the TV miniseries Salems Lot!), and my Nonno (Italian for grandpa) is buried there, so it was a good visit and I got to pay my respects. It was also fun to share another special place of mine with Mister Spooky, especially since he has ogled pics of that cemetery from all my other visits! 

Ferndale Cemetery Gates with the Shaw crypt on the top of the hill. 

View of the cemetery, the town of Ferndale, and the fields beyond
from the top of the cemetery. Reminds me of a quaint New England
town from this angle.

We also stopped in Loleta, California, where parts of Halloween III: Season of the Witch were filmed! There is a plaque on an old brick factory building right across from the Loleta Cheese Factory (sadly they don't have vegan cheese) that commemorates it as a filming location - it is the building they used for the Silver Shamrock Novelties Company factory. Luckily, I had packed my Halloween III shirt so I could get cheesy in front of the Silver Shamrock factory! I dare you not to get the song stuck in your head now...

 Just hanging in front of the Silver Shamrock Novelties Co.,
no big deal!

For the next few nights we had booked an AirBnB rental up in Bayside, CA. We picked somewhere closer to the state parks we wanted to visit and we're glad we did because this AirBnB rental was adorable and so relaxing! It was a cute private studio in the middle of a forest but not too far from Arcata (home of Humboldt State University and such the hippie town) The hosts were so pleasant, the space was beautiful, they had a hot tub, and their dog Lucky was the cutest ever! It was our home base the next few days, and worked out so well! 

 Their backyard was HUGE! They had a cute welcome decal on
 the door, which lead to a spacious and private studio, complete 
with lounging area with TV (that we never turned on), and 
a super-adorable pup named Lucky! Sweetest dog ever!

The bed was so comfy, the decor was gorgeous, we had a deck
and use of the hot tub, and there was even a mini kitchen!
Not pictured is the HUGE shower and stylish bathroom!

The AirBnB was so comfortable, welcoming and relaxing that we wished we had booked it for longer. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend you check out Redwood Retreat hosted by Mike and Jayne on AirBnB!

I could get used to this!

That night, we headed into Arcata for dinner and picked up pizza at Dutchy's Pizza as they had vegan options, hurrah! I choose their "Matty's Vegan Passion", with vegan cheese, vegan pepperoni, sweet cherry peppers, fresh garlic and oregano. Took it back to our AirBnB and washed it all down with a local beer by Mad River Brewing Company while enjoying the quiet and gorgeous view. Later that night, we took a dip in the hot tub to ease our muscles that were sore from all the hiking. We shared a bottle of wine provided by our hosts and just let the beauty of the place soak in. And then we looked up to the billions of stars twinkling above us and we were just in awe.

I'm going to pause here, as this post is getting lengthy, but I can't wait to share more adventures and pictures with you in the next few days, including our journey to the prehistoric Fern Canyon, gorgeous views from Patrick's Point State Park, and a bunch of yummy noms I ate in NorCal, including some fine dining in Napa Valley!

Check out Part 2!


  1. I have been enjoying your hiking and landscape photos from this trip on your instagram, and can I just tell you how beautiful it all is? You have sparked in me a fervent longing to visit all of these places! Well, obviously I am not going to show up at your parent's ranch and ask for dinner and hiking tours...but definitely all the rest of it! What a lovely trip!

    1. Thank you! It is so lovely up there and I hope you can visit one day! I think you would adore it!

  2. i want to head further up north now! me and the mister talk about hiking and such but never really do it...

    1. I hope you guys make it up to the Lost Coast some day! It is stunningly gorgeous up there and I know you would adore the Ferndale Cemetery!


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