It’s not everyday that I have a chance to tap into my inner-hippie/tree hugging self, but on the second full day of our trip, I had the perfect opportunity to do just that. Having made the bulk of our additions to “The List” on Friday, Saturday was about communing with the stunning and majestic nature of California’s North Coast.
We started our trek south by taking a drive on the Avenue of the Giants, a scenic 31-mile stretch of the old Highway 101 which runs through the Humboldt Redwoods State Park and parallels the modern-day highway. The winding road was shrouded in the shade of the Redwood forest, which reminded me a lot of the Santa Cruz Mountains. It wasn’t until we stopped at Founder’s Grove that I realized just how much bigger and taller these trees were in comparison.
Founder’s Grove is a half-mile guided loop that offers a quick and easy way to get a real sense of California’s famed Redwoods. It was there that we got our first up-close and personal look at these “giants,” including the still standing Founder’s Tree (which was the first of many trees to get a hug) and the fallen Dyerville Giant. Measuring 370 ft. after it fell in 1991, the Dyerville Giant’s fall registered as a small quake on the Richter Scale and reports stated that it sounded like a train wreck. Words can’t convey what it was like to stand next to it. This tree was amazingly huge! That was just the warm-up, though, and we soon got back in the car and headed for the Rockefeller Forest.
Off of the Rockefeller Loop, Chris and I started our hike on the Bull Creek Flats North trail where 3.7 miles later we crossed the river and returned via the Bull Creek Flats South trail. The adventure was more of a strenuous walk, but it was long and tiring nonetheless. Along the way we wandered through the largest remaining old growth Redwood forest in the world, alongside Bull Creek , and around the base of a hill. Simply amazing! I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Afterwards we drove an hour and a half to Fort Bragg on the coast. Our day’s adventure surely deserved a giant-sized reward and North Coast Brewing fit the bill perfectly. Our quaint motel was a short walk down Main Street from the brewery and its Taproom & Grill across the street.
The Taproom & Grill seemed to be Fort Bragg’s hot spot. We were lucky enough to get a small table in the bar, while the crowd continued to grow around the hostess station. We eventually moved up to the bar and the number of people waiting to be seated in the dining room remained steady throughout our whole visit.
Scrimshaw Pilsner is one of my favorite beers, but I opted to drink something different and instead chose Acme Pale Ale. Chris was excited to find Red Seal on cask and he showed little hesitation in ordering one. Both went well with our popcorn shrimp starter. Despite the busy dining room, the service in the bar was efficient and friendly, which meant Chris downed several pints before I had a chance to finish my first one. Luckily our motel was walking distance away.
Our first pint or two (or four in Chris’s case) took the edge off and our tired bodies started to relax. It was time for dinner. My Carolina pulled pork was full of tangy goodness and was accompanied by a yummy jalapeño-spiked corn cake. Chris thoroughly enjoyed his thin-sliced pork chop with mashed potatoes and vegetables. It was a good-sized portion but Chris still wished there was more of it.
The crowning glory of our North Coast Brewing visit was dessert. It didn’t take me long to down my large bowl of Brother Thelonius ice cream with beer brittle and Chris had to act quick in order to get a taste of it. Rather than pair it with Brother Thelonius, however, I finished up my pint of Pale Ale before moving on to Le Merle, a tasty high alcohol saison. Chris went dark and ordered mud cake a la mode, which he appropriately paired with Old No. 38 Stout, an ingredient used in the cake. We were so absorbed in our respective desserts that we barely spoke until they were finished.
We concluded our night with a competitive game of Scrabble, which I lost. However, after a day of walking among giants and an evening at one of my favorite breweries, I’d say we were both winners.