After a leisurely breakfast of bacon and pancakes, we packed up and headed south to Moonstone Beach. A river swept along the shore and met the ocean at a scenic cove. The waves weren’t happening but we enjoyed the beach and got wet anyways. We made sandwiches and listened to the classic soul and funk tunes on blast by the parking lot’s self appointed guardian, a scurvy character with flames tattooed on his legs.
Back on the road, we meandered up highway 101 to Fern Canyon, a ferntastic hiking experience in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.
Besides being filled with beautiful cascading 100 foot high walls of ferns, Fern Canyon was home to the thickest swarm of mosquitos I had ever encountered. They filled the air like confetti in a ticker tape parade.
Fern Canyon was also the unfortunate site of the great drone crash of 2016, when the phantom got too wiley and tried to weed wack some of the canyon walls. It careened off the wall, fern leaves flying, and wobbled over some large root burls before coming to rest high in a young tree. Luckily we were able to bend the tree branch and retrieve the drone, a bit worse for the wear and smeared with green fern juice. It was a defeated hike back to the bus.
On the way out of the park, we passed a herd of wild elk, grazing peacefully in the rain on the roadside. The lady elk lifted their heads to watch Lady Liberty pass by.
We drove north in the dark. It was raining and an almost full moon peaked through gaps in the rain clouds, illuminating a rocky coastline and misty, tree-covered mountains. The trees were so dense as to feel like an impermeable walled tunnel, almost touching their branches together over the road.
Finally, we stopped at a Denny’s in Crescent City for a late dinner, checking out the local Friday night crew with interest. Rhinestones, bad tattoos, baggy black clothes and obesity and missing teeth were not unusual.
A short drive farther north put us over the Oregon border, where we made camp outside Brookings at Harris Beach State Park. This all-amenities campground outdid all of the California campgrounds with its free, hot water showers, clean, bug-free heated bathrooms and ocean views.