Moving to a new town always entails a load of mixed emotions, for me at least, even though I seem to be continuously on the move. Maybe I’ll blame it on my childhood, moving an unimaginable amount of times, different homes, towns, schools, friends. My most recent move was from San Diego, where I have lived for the past two years, to Fortuna, a small town in Humboldt County. For those who aren’t familiar with Humboldt County, it’s a coastal stretch in Northern California in the thick of the Redwood Forest, about two hours south of the Oregon border.
We didn’t initially choose to move to Fortuna, I suppose Fortuna chose us. We searched all around the Bay Area, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. One day when we were almost at our wit’s end (I will elaborate in a future post), we thought of Humboldt County. A few days passed and we found a cheap (and I mean cheap) apartment. Despite Fortuna’s lackluster appearance and occasional cloudy sky, we were sold on the cheap price, the size of the place, and the beautiful view of the Redwoods painting the skyline as we stood on our back porch. And might I add it’s only twenty-odd minutes to the coast (a deal-breaker for Avery, who must find a body of water whenever we hit a new town).
After the first few days unpacking (not that we had much considering we moved out of a 1995 Ford Aerostar), we hit the trails. It took some researching and exploring, but we finally found our spot: the Avenue of the Giants, a 32-mile stretch along the old Highway 101 which features some of the largest Redwood trees in the world, and only a twenty minute drive south of Fortuna. After more researching we also found out that Fortuna has some of the best hiking in California, score!
Our day spent at the Avenue of the Giants was incredible. If I could hike and get paid for it, I want to know how to apply! I got a photo in front of the “Giant Tree” (pictured below, top right corner) and Avery found a river to swim in (wetsuit, boots, and all), so we were both equally satisfied. To top it off, it was a gloriously warm afternoon when you were in the direct sunlight (bottom right photo). And even when we were in the shade, the elevation changes were sure to keep our blood pumping.
One of the hikes we did was the Addie Johnson Trail, which leads you to Addie’s gravestone. She was the first pioneer to die in that area after taking up residency there. This hike is in the Upper Bull Creek Flats in Southern Humboldt County, near the Big Tree Area, where the Giant Tree is located. It’s a 2.5 mile up and back with an elevation gain of 600 feet, not the highest but it produced a satisfying burn to the legs. While on our way up the mountain, we were talking about the pioneers and Avery brought up Lewis and Clark. I remember him praising their brazen efforts, “Men were bred differently back then.” Pretty accurate considering they walked across the entire country; how relieved they were when they finally caught sight of the Pacific, I’m sure. Avery then continued by saying he wanted to find a book about them to learn more about their ventures. Self-education, my friends, doesn’t cost a dime!
We also found a few beaches; pictured below is Moonstone Beach (top and bottom left). We went to this beach a few days before we hiked the Ave. of the Giants. I was in complete awe when we arrived. It’s safe to say that whenever I’m feeling homesick or missing San Diego, I’ll take a short twenty minute drive up the 101 and spend an afternoon on Moonstone Beach, and all my worries will soon cease. Compared to Southern California, the Northern coastline is immensely different, but in the best way possible. The forest juts up completely to the coast, but there are still sections of sand beaches.
I relate a lot of the coastal terrain up here to Big Sur, just because I’ve taken so many trips there. They have their similarities; Moonstone Beach has a river running through it that leads into the ocean, just like Andrew Molera State Park where the Big Sur River spills into the Pacific Ocean. I hate to say it because I love Big Sur so much, but Northern California is like Big Sur on steroids! And with cell service (for the most part anyway)! Plus, when we lived in San Diego, it was a nearly eight hour drive to get to the Sur. Now, we can drive thirty minutes and be in the thick of it all, without compromising the Ocean! We are getting off to a good start, and the way things are going I think we made the right decision by moving up here. I am going to miss San Diego, and will write about that time soon enough, but life is all about change; how we adapt to it and how we adjust to such change. This is just another one of those changes, and even for the better I’d say.