Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Grand Day Out in Crescent City

It's a lovely late Sunday morning, and here I am blogging. The blogging is good, because it is distracting me from hearing "Arthur's Theme" by Christopher Cross inexplicably running through my head. Why THAT song? I hate that kind of soft '80's pop crap with a passion. Why not a GOOD '80's song, like some Devo or B52's? Oh well, at least it's not Elton John and Kiki Dee singing "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart", which I view as the musical equivalent of the ebola virus.

After the prodigious quantities of rain we had a week or so ago, Nature decided we needed a break. Fortuitously, the break fell on a Saturday, so P and I decided to head north. Our previous day-out foray a couple weeks back had been south to the beach outside Petrolia that also serves as the northern trailhead for the Lost Coast Trail. Logically, it seemed to me, that we should head north. The goal: Tolowa Dunes State Park. We had driven past many times, and usually one of us would remark, "We really need to go there sometime.".

So, with the promise of a good weather day, off we went after a tasty Los Bagels bagel breakfast in Eureka Oldtown. The weather was really good--some lingering coastal fog that was burning off fast. The countryside is still very green and the native rhododendrons in Del Norte Redwoods State Park were just starting to bloom.

We drove straight to Crescent City from Eureka with no stops. it's 80 miles, and some of the road is very narrow and winding. It takes 1.5 hours to get there and there is no getting around that time with the roads the way they are.

Crescent City is an odd little town. It's the seat of Del Norte County and contains the bulk of the county population at 8805 people. It is not the northernmost city on the California coast (the northernmost city, I believe, is Smith River.), but the geography north of town really starts to seem more Oregonian than Californian. If you know the landscape at all, you can recognize that you are in a transition zone. There are still redwood trees, but everything else screams 'Oregon Coast!!"

Unlike a lot of the towns in this neck of the woods, Crescent City doesn't have a really well defined main drag. Like Eureka, Highway 101 has been turned into two one way streets, running north or south, lined with businesses. Unlike Eureka, in Crescent City, a lot of those buildings are fairly new. There also is not an equivalent of the Eureka Oldtown, which has that old-timey Main Street feel. I think this lack is due to the '64 tsunami which trashed a chunk of the city and took out a lot of the buildings there at the time. It's an old harbor--the lighthouse there has existed since 1856--and it FEELS like there should be more older buildings, but there aren't.

Still, P and I have driven grids in the city streets in the past to see what's there, so we have a decent idea of what local businesses are available. In any case, I know there is a local yarn store! It's called A Perfect Yarn, and I had to stop . I spent a very happy 10 minutes browsing; it's a neat little place! Another reason to like Crescent City.

We ate a nice lunch at The Good Harvest Cafe and then headed for Tolowa Dunes north of town. It was bright and clear, but a bit breezy. We navigated the map and found the central entrance that has beach access. It was a tiny trial driving there. The road was flooded in one spot with standing water that turned out to be a bit deeper than we thought. Still, we got through it. The beach was nice, but EXTREMELY windy. Too windy, even for kites. We picked about for 10 minutes and bailed looking for a more sheltered area.

We checked out the north, but it is a hike to the beach from there. The same was true for the south, but there are some nifty wetland trails and it would be worth going back with with some binocs and a bird book.

A meadow by the South trailhead of Tolowa Dunes. Look at the great color mix; the red is grass seed heads:

We then drove back to town and decided to check out a couple of antique stores. Our first choice was closed, but the second, Sylvia's Attic, was not. What a great place! The shop was very well organized and had everything from the pricey to the affordable. The vintage kitchenware was fun to poke through and there was a lot if it. P and I went a bit bonkers, but we kept finding things we had been looking for. We found (and purchased) a set of stainless steel Turkish kebab skewers, a pyrex double boiler (the find of the day!!), a silver water pitcher, a free standing strainer with legs and a wooden masher, a spice rack, a complete set of tiny steel crochet hooks (guesses who those are for), a book on local culture and some yellow seed beads. The owner, Sylvia, is a friendly lady, transplanted from L.A--Beverly Hills, more specifically. She had quite a few stories and I now have the distinction of knowing someone who has taken her kids trick-or-treating with William Shatner. Her daughter was buds in high school with Miguel Ferrer and Billy Mumy (of 'Lost in Space' fame)--she showed as a picture of how they look today in a group shot. Quite a slice of fun! Also, a store to go back to. She had Corningware lids and I think she has one of a size I need...

We then headed for Battery Point lighthouse. Since the tide was out, we were able to walk out to Battery Point Lighthouse and we took a quite nice little guided tour. The lighthouse is still functioning and manned, as well. You can only get to it at low tide, though. The interior is very cool, with vintage furnishings. It straddles the line between working facility and museum. Another place worth seeing.

We tried to go to the Rumiano Cheese shop, but it was already closed, so we toodled off to the north end of Pebble Beach for some agate hunting. The agates there are small, but there are LOTS. We found a total of 257 agate pebbles in all different colors. Check out our haul:

At this time of year, it stays light very late, so it was already 7pm and we were hungry. P had read of a place called Bistro Gardens on that was well reviewed so we went. It was casual, but the prices were quite steep. I had the special--Salmon with scallops in a champagne cream sauce. P had shrimp and andouille sausage that also came in a cream sauce. We had an appetizer of polenta with marinara. Well, I was underwhelmed, considering the prices. All the sauces were too heavy and salty. My fish was extremely well cooked--not too done or underdone, but tasted fishy, smacking of a low end supplier. For $24.95, I expected more. The presentation was pretty with smashed spuds and julienned veggies, but pretty doesn't save bad sauce. obvious The chef DOES know something about cooking, but I was quite disappointed. A gal at the table next to ours had the special ,too, and she said it was almost a " religious experience" which was what convinced me to try it. I guess I am not ready to get religion yet. I'd be tempted to go back for a second chance if it wasn't so spendy. All ageism aside, the salty sauces hinted that the food was geared to an older crowd used to eating fairly well. I remember my grandparents late in life salting their food to DEATH because that was what they could taste. There was even a 4:30-6:00 early bird menu, although they menu refrained of specifically calling it that. Well, so much for Bistro Gardens. Still, I had a nice meal with my sweetie and the view was good.

All in all, Crescent City is a cute, friendly little burg and it's worth spending the day there--there is a lot to see. P took some great shots--more than me. Click the link to see them at his Flickr site.

Sunset over Freshwater Lagoon on the way home from our Grand Day Out:

1 comment:

Karina said...

Sounds like a great day, Lovely!

And always remember: "Arthur he does what he pleases."