Friday, July 10, 2015

Travelogue: Forests, Ferns, and Food on the Lost Coast and Beyond (Part 2)

If you haven't already, please check out Part 1 of the trip!

 Fern Canyon

The next day we drove up to one of the most magical places on earth, Fern Canyon. We got an early start from our cozy AirBnB, and drove up the 101 through foggy coastal landscapes, sunny prairies normally full of elk (sadly, we didn't see any), deep blue lagoons, and so many evergreen trees! Fern Canyon is located deep within Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, and from the 101 freeway you have to drive about 10 miles on dirt roads (and ford several small streams) to get there. It's an adventure from the start! What exactly is Fern Canyon? This description from the Redwoods website says it best: "Imagine walking through a narrow canyon where the walls are completely covered by luxuriant ferns and mosses and are dripping with moisture."

Yup, those are ferns covering the canyon walls, with trees creating a lush canopy
on the cliffs above.

I mean, just take a look at this place and try to tell me it's not heaven!! Fun fact: Steven Spielberg filmed some scenes from The Lost World: Jurassic Park in this prehistoric-looking canyon!

Perfect serenity.

During the summer, small wooden foot bridges are installed so hikers can cross
 the creek flowing through the canyon.

 If you look closely, you can see that there is water dripping down through
 the moss! It made the loveliest drip-drip-drip sounds!

 A view of the canyon and creek from a trail that loops up into the trees above 
Fern Canyon. 

A cute little boardwalk over a wet section of the trail through the trees above
Fern Canyon! So perfect!

I hadn't visited Fern Canyon since maybe elementary school or junior high, but it was just as spectacular as I remembered it! I mean, I could have spent ALLLLL day there, if it hadn't been for the hordes of people we encountered coming into the canyon at the end of our hike. Thank goodness we had gotten there early so we could enjoy it in can check out a few videos of its serenity I took on my Instagram (for some reason I can't embed the videos in this post).

The harsh, rocky coastline of Patrick's Point State Park.

Next, we drove back down the coast to Patrick's Point State Park, one of my favorites! I used to go on field trips here as a kid, and my family camped there a few times. One of the reasons I love it so is its diversity! On one hike you climb huge rock formations to a gusty look-out point over the sea, another hike takes you through a calm, lush meadow where you might spot elk or deer, yet another hike will take you down to a beach, another will have you walking through heavy forest and to a re-creation of a Native American village from the Yurok tribe.

View from Wedding Rock at Patrick's Point.

Looking down at Agate Beach at the top of the trail.

At the bottom of Agate Beach, looking up at the steep climb! Oooph, that was
a tough hike back up! 

We found a secret trail and climbed to the top of this rock, called Lookout Rock,
which turned out to be a real misnomer as trees blocked the view. No wonder
the trail was unused! Nevertheless, it was quiet at the top and we enjoyed
a nice break with some snacks we had packed.

Here is some wildlife we saw at both Fern Canyon and Patrick's Point (though I'm 
bummed we didn't get any shots of the many deer or the cute lil' fox we
saw!). Clockwise from the top left corner: a chubby chipmunk, a sad crab claw 
(I wanted to take this with me, but it was too fishy smelling), an adorable ground
squirrel that was collecting grass to build a nest, and two banana slugs!

Trinidad's memorial lighthouse overlooks the gorgeous Trinidad Bay.

It was mid-afternoon by the time we were done exploring Fern Canyon and Patrick's Point, so we started to head back home. We took the scenic route and stopped off in Trinidad to admire its stunning harbor and grab a bite to eat. We ate at Trinidad Bay Eatery, where I had the grossest, slimiest, most tasteless Portobello burger. I should have stuck with Beachcomber Cafe, since it actually has some legit vegan options. Oh well, at least it was pretty there.

Another shot of Trinidad Bay, filled with boats!

We headed back to the AirBnB after our fun day of exploring and spent the rest of the night Instagramming, haha! We needed a restful night after all that hiking! The next morning, we packed everything up and said goodbye to our home-away-from-home and the host's sweet dog, Lucky. We headed into Arcata to check out Wildflower Cafe and Bakery, a veggie restaurant with lots of vegan options. I ordered the french toast and black coffee, and wow, just look at the scrumptious breakfast I received!

Mmmmm...this vegan French toast was so light, sweet, and cinnamon-y!

The vegan french toast was made with sourdough bread coated in a vegan cashew batter and topped with walnuts, cinnamon and powdered sugar. It was a big portion, but it was so delicious you better believe I finished it! They also have vegan options for lunch and dinner (dying to try their vegan mac and cheese!!), and the vibe was very down-to-earth, homey hippie!

After breakfast, we wandered around Arcata plaza, went in a few shops, and went to the North Coast Co-Op. I haven't mentioned this yet, but Humboldt County has THE BEST co-ops and health food stores! And so many of them! Since we stayed at places with kitchens (my family's ranch and the AirBnB), we did a lot of grocery shopping at the various co-ops there. We really liked North Coast Co-Op as well as Wildberries Marketplace in Arcata, as they both had TONS of vegan options! And surprisingly, the regular grocery stores up there (like Safeway) have a pretty awesome vegan selection as well! Anyways, back to North Coast had been a few hours since breakfast, and when I saw they had vegan sushi I couldn't resist picking some up! They had this beautiful mermaid roll, and the woman at the sushi counter told me the vegan rolls were some of their most popular! Heck yes they are! I also picked up blk. water because I can't resist anything black, including drinking water. I call it my goth water. 

Blk. water and vegan mermaid sushi roll from North Coast Co-Op!

That night we drove back up to my family's ranch to spend more time with them. The next day we had to get up early as we were driving down to Napa Valley, where my sister lives. We said goodbye to my parents and Nonna, then had a relatively easy drive down to Calistoga. From there we headed into Napa as Mister Spooky had made reservations at Morimoto for lunch (its one of his bucket list restaurants). I had heard good things about the vegan options there, but when I inquired with our waiter, he said only a few rolls were vegan. I had heard the red curry vegetables were vegan, but he told me that dish had fish sauce in it. Yuck. So, I just had edamame for an appetizer and ordered ALL the vegan rolls (well, there were only five choices and they were only $5 - $6 each). 

These were the shisomaki (shiso leaf, plum paste) and kanpyomaki (sweet gourd)
rolls - my favorite was the shisomaki! The plum paste was divine and the shiso
leaf nicely balanced the sweetness!

This is the avocado roll, the gobomaki (pickled burdock), and kappamaki
 (cucumber, sesame seed). I hated the burdock (guess I don't like burdock), 
but the other two were good. 

I wasn't very impressed with Morimoto, as I expected a few more vegan options due to what I had heard. Our server wasn't much help, so maybe it was just his fault, but going there was just a let-down. The rolls were okay, but with the exception of the shisomaki, none stood out and I could have ordered them at any regular sushi place. I mean, I liked the sushi from a grocery store better than Morimoto's, that should say a lot! 

After the cool, 60 degree weather we experienced up north, the summer heat in Napa Valley was pretty shocking. The day we arrived it got up to 102 degrees!! So, we didn't really feel like doing much besides lazing around in the AC. I used to live in Napa Valley in high school and my parents lived there before moving up to be with my Nonna, so we had been there plenty of times and we had no need to sight-see. Luckily, both my sister and her fiancee work in restaurants, so they took care of us while we were there! For dinner that night, we went to Brannan's in Calistoga. They are a steakhouse, so you wouldn't expect them to be so vegan friendly, but they definitely made sure I was well-fed! 

Dinner at Brannan's included a strawberry-lemonade concoction, bubbles, a
veganized gazpacho and salad, grilled artichoke, and sorbet for dessert! 
Not pictured was a lovely fresh veggie plate they prepared me for the main course!

The next day we strolled around Calistoga (though the high temperatures pretty much shut that down at around 11am) and then retired back to my sister's for some siesta time. We were trying to get as much shut-eye as possible since we planned to drive home through the night. For dinner, we headed to the local grocery store (Cal-Mart in Calistoga), where I was thrilled to find SO. MANY. VEGAN. OPTIONS!! They even had Miyoko's cheese with all the other fancy cheeses! Wow, was I ever excited when I saw that box on the cheese shelf, I'm pretty sure I squealed! I got some fresh bread from Bouchon Bakery, Miyoko's Double Cream Garlic Herb Cheese, olives, tabbouleh and some other things to nibble on for dinner. 

Dinner is served!

We ate dinner and then napped until my sister and fiancee got back from their jobs (they don't get home 'til 12:30am or so due to working in restaurants), then said our goodbyes and hit the road for home! We were sad that vacation was over, but anxious to get home.

Lost highway - you can see more like this on my PHHHOTO account!

Havoc sure was glad to see us home safe! We missed him!

It really was a dreamy trip, and we loved the incomparable Lost Coast. I'm so glad I finally got to share it with Mister Spooky, because it really is an awe-inspiring place that holds such spectacular, unique beauty. We arrived home relaxed and starry-eyed from vacation! If it was easier to find jobs up there, I think we would both love to live on the Lost Coast.  

1 comment:

  1. What a fantastic vacation! Fern Canyon looks amazing!


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