Eureka! From A Castle To The Redwoods And Points North

It's tough to keep up with the Joneses in the Napa Valley

It’s tough to keep up with the Joneses in the Napa Valley

As soon as we passed the sign for a castle, Denise spoke excitedly  I knew nothing of it, but she’d read all about it.  U-turn required.  I was hesitant, as I knew we had many miles to go before sleep, but I had to admit, the prospect of a castle was interesting.  I didn’t know what to expect.  Soon enough we saw what looked like a genuine medieval castle.

The castle was built over a 30 year period

The castle was built over a 30 year period

The owner is a successful vintner who wanted to duplicate a Tuscan castle of the sort that might have been built eight centuries earlier.   Castello di Amorosa fulfilled his dreams. Denise and I wandered the grounds in the heat of the day, sweating while admiring the towers, the drawbridge, the sheep grazing, and of course the grapes growing on the grounds.  Apparently the castle is authentic down to its torture chamber.

IMG_7346

The original lawnmowers

Back on the road, we connected to Highway 101 and the headed for the heart of Redwood Country.  A scenic road called Avenue of the Giants offers many stops for walking among the trees.  We’d already done the famous drive-through-tree a decade earlier, but we did check out the Chimney Tree, a  quick stop on the side of the road where both of us and our dog easily fit in the hollow tree.

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Odd for all of us to easily fit inside the core of an old tree.

Odd for all of us to easily fit inside the core of an old tree.

Later, we stopped at two groves of trees with trails just off the road.  The scale of these living giants is truly awesome at times, so it was pleasant to wander on the trails among them.

I am dwarfed by this redwood

Feeling dwarfed by this redwood

The first grove had no other hikers, so the serenity was tremendous until we neared a forest road where work of some sort was going on with heavy equipment.

Looking up into the forest canopy

Looking up into the forest canopy

Further north, we stopped at the Founder’s Grove, so named for the spot where a group of redwood conservationists began their group.

Massive does not begin to suffice as a descriptor

Massive and gnarled

The area was beautiful, although the tour bus hordes were off-putting a tad bit.  I found it curious how many people walked around with their electronic tablets to snap photos.  The devices when held up almost looked like medieval shields.  I still prefer my camera.  Now if I could just avoid dropping it….

Just another opportunity to compare human versus tree

The scale amazed me here

Later, we reached the coast at Eureka, where the temperature was almost twenty degrees cooler than it had been in Napa.  Perfect.  We had a very nice dinner at a combined Japanese-Italian restaurant on the bay.

On the boardwalk

Instrumental duo jamming on the Eureka boardwalk, the restaurant right behind them

Later we strolled along crowded sidewalks in the city’s monthly first Saturday artwalk.   Musicians were everywhere, and giddy teenagers seemed to be savoring perhaps the last great Saturday evening of the summer.  I could relate.  There wasn’t one big hike that day, but I was still tired in a good way.

This group did a great version of "Miserlou".

This group did a great version of “Misirlou”.

About Josh Baker

"The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.” ― John Muir

Posted on September 11, 2013, in Flora and Fauna, General Hiking, Outdoors, Travel, vacations and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Hey, I recognize some of those scenes! That’s where I live. Probably passed right by you on the arts walk 🙂

  2. Thanks for the journey! What a beautiful castle and magnificent redwoods. Sigh–enjoy your trip!

  3. She’s got good instincts – the castle looks pretty cool.
    One day I will climb inside a redwood. In the meantime – thanks for sharing your tree-giant adventures 🙂

  4. Loved your pics, particularly of the giant redwoods. What amazing trees.

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