Day 5 Old Men with Old Trees

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The Boys rose early to make some time in NoCal on PCH to discover that the dining options were pretty bleak in Fort Bragg.

 

Another Covid Casualty: Breakfast!?!

Mike and Bone discovered that every restaurant in town was closed either for the day or due to Covid. Many of the restaurants simply could not get workers to come in to work. The Great Resignation was hitting Mike and Bone's in their bellies! Sadly, with great disgust, breakfast and coffee were purchased at a McDonald's vs. a cool local diner or coffee shop like JC Beans! With no reason to hang around the Boys bolted up PCH!  

 

McDonald's Coffee at Seaside Beach

They stopped about 10 miles out of Fort Bragg at a very cool remote beach known as Seaside Beach, with huge erosion pillars out in the water getting endlessly pounded by the relentless surf. Enjoying the remainder of their coffees, Mike and Bone walked around a bit to stretch their legs. After about forty minutes the Boys got back on the road and away from the Coast.  

 

Heading into the NoCal Verdant Forest!

Around the little village of Hardy the Boys headed away from the pungent salt smells of the coast to the fragrant pine smells! PCH sways inland and into Humboldt State Park, home of the of the mighty sequoias!

 

Driving through the Avenue of the Giants!

Mike and Bone now stood amongst the giant sequoias and California redwoods (also called coast redwoods) are nature's skyscrapers. These enormous trees exist primarily in Northern California, Oregon and Washington and though they have a number of common characteristics, including distinctive cinnamon-red bark, they are different species.    

 

Mike and the Massive Sequioa's!

The magnificent, fragrant trees that Mike and Bone were staring up at can grow to be about to more than 250 feet in height and 30 feet in diameter. The biggest of these behemoths is General Sherman. The "General" stands at 275 feet tall, has a 102-foot circumference, and weighs an incredible 2.7 million pounds, lotsa tree!      

 

Bone, Rooting Around!

These giants can live to 3,000 years, with the oldest on record living more than 3,500 years. When they die, it is often indirectly because of root rot or another weakening of the base. Fire, root rot and dry spells do not typically affect the whole tree but if they destabilize the base, gravity can eventually take the tree down, according to Scientific American. This process takes a long time, as evidenced by the fact that sequoias are some of the longest living organisms on the planet. Mature sequoias lack branches on the lower half of their trunks. Sequoia trunks taper as they rise, forming a rounded top where individual branches sweep downward. Their green leaves are small, scale-like, and arranged in spirals. Both male and females cones are carried on the same tree.

Sequoias grow naturally along the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, between 5,000 and 7,000 feet above sea level and far inland. That elevation provides the trees with dry mountain air necessary for their cones to open and release seeds. The snowpack from the Sierra Nevada provides sequoias with the thousands of gallons of water every day. Sequoias have shallow roots and require well-drained soil   Because of its brittle texture, the sequoia is not a valuable lumber species. It was, nevertheless, logged extensively around the turn of the 20th century. Originally, sequoias could be found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Today, they are found only in 77 scattered groves in Northern California. Among the places that preserve giant sequoias are Sequoia National Forest, Sequoia National Park, and Giant Sequoia National Monument.  After checking out the amazing forest, Mike and Bone continuing the drive up the Land of "Bolling Grove," another redwood grove on the Avenue of the Giants, along the south Fork of the Eel River 

 

Honoring A World War I Vet Col Raynal Bolling!

Entering this grove of redwoods named after a World War I Vet, piqued the interest of Mike and Bone, who toured Belgium, France, and Turkey for world war one site. Raynal Cawthorne Bolling (September 1, 1877 March 26, 1918) was the first high-ranking officer of the United States Army to be killed in combat in World War I. A corporate lawyer by vocation, he became an early Army aviator and the organizer of both of the first units in what ultimately became the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve Command.  

Sent to France to lay a foundation for the Air Service of the American Expeditionary Force as head of what became known as the "Bolling Mission," he remained in France instead of returning to the United States, served briefly in a number of staff positions and was selected for a future combat command. He was touring his future area of operations to learn the nature of the work he would be expected to perform when he was killed in action by German troops during the opening days of the 1918 spring offensive. He was the namesake of Bolling Air Force Base and a section of Humboldt State Park.

 

Finding the Founder Tree

 A little further up the Eel River Valley is the Founders Tree, which is 325 ft in height, and 13 ft in width. It is estimated to be fifth tallest Sequoia tree on the coast. It is named in honor of paleontologist John Campbell Merriam, Madison Grant, and geologist Henry Fairfield Osborn, whom founded the Save the Redwoods League in 1918. 

 

Fire ain't no thing to these trees!

An interesting fact on the sequoias is that fire is a good thing, not a bad thing. Fire suppression is actually a threat to the giant sequoias.  It is amazing how these giants can be torched within and continue to live for hundred of years afterwards.

In fact, it turns out that sequoias are very dependent on fire. Fire helps release the seeds from their cones, recycle nutrients in the soil, reduce competition from other trees, remove undergrowth and expose bare soil in which new seedlings can take root and open holes in the forest canopy, which let in sunlight for young seedlings.  

 

Mike, Really stumped in Founders Forest!

 

Mike and Bone spent a couple of hours tromping around in the amazing landscape, as it closed in a 1:00 the Boys decided to head back up on PCH. Just as the 2 lane PCH 1 merged with 101 in Orick they herd something!

 

Elking out an Existence!!

Just as they crossed Redwood Creek,  Mike and Bone stopped to take a picture of a herd of elk in the incredibly parched landscape, they really were suffering from a catastrophic drought. Ironically, it was right down the road from the aptly named elk meadow cabins! From there, Mike and Bone took PCH as it again veered to the coast.

 

Coasting on the Coast again

The Sarah Detour - Mike oldest, Sarah just so happened to live up the road in Ashland Oregon, it would seem a darn shame to be this close and not to stop by and say "hi!" So in typically Mike and Bone fashion, the Boys re-routed off of PCH onto 199, over Grants Pass, onto I-5 and down into Sarah hometown, Ashland!

 

Ashland Bound!

The fastest route took Mike and Bone up into and then down to Ashland, right the through the heart of the amazing Cascade Mountains! Around 5:00, the Boys finally left California, after 4 days on the road!!

 

Oggling Mountains in Oregon!!

Driving into the Beaver State, Mike and Bone noticed the effects of the epic drought everywhere around them. The mountains, roads, and valley were all brown and yellow as the grass and trees were either dead or shocked into a dormant state. The Boys booked a pretty cool B&B (after the dump in Fort Bragg!) in Jacksonville, then booked done to Ashland

 

Sarah's Awesome view in Ashand!

The aptly named Ashland had already several wildfires in the area and was on constant red alert. The whole area was a tinder box it was so dry. Despite the drought, it was still a very picturesque valley with the Cascades in the background. It was good to see Sarah, her daughter and her partner. She had an amazing view from her living room of the town and the Cascades. When Sarah had mentioned that Ashland had a great brewpub, what better place for dinner than bar food and beer!!!

 

A Mike and Bone Brewing Party in Downtown Ashland!

The four headed to a lovely outdoor bar in the warm fall evening.  Mike and Bone ordered a feast of pizza, nachos, chicken wings, and sliders (basically the four food groups!). The grub came with a copious amount of lovely IPA, and brown ales. Bone of course, toasted Sarah and partner with a fair number of Irish whiskeys!! The four partied until the wee hours at which time Sarah had to get home, it was a worked day for her! The now beat Boys boogied on back to their cool B&B in Jacksonville!