Disturbing Sculptures Art Gallery — It’s a Real Place

Disturbing Sculptures Art Gallery (that’s really the name)
1100 Highway 101
Crescent City, California

Well, if you’re gonna name your art gallery “disturbing,” you’d better deliver. And this Northern California roadside attraction earns its name. One minute you’re cruising north on Highway 101, almost to the Oregon state line and promised nirvana, and the next minute you’ve U-turned so fast your dog yelps.

 

According to a Roadside America article, this gallery is the home of 3 artists, two of whom appear to be quite normal (driftwood sculptures and chainsaw sculptures). But the third, who luckily was not on-site the day I visited, has some issues.

Continue reading

Day 4- Klamath, California to Gold Beach, Oregon

75 miles
Gas $2.75/gallon (thank you, Oregon!)
Pacific Reef Inn, Gold Beach
$99/night + $20 pet fee
Oceanfront room with full ocean view and private patio

Continue reading

Day 3- Samoa Cookhouse and an Indian Casino

Eureka, California to Klamath, California
65 miles
Gas $3.02/gallon (why is it going up?)
Holiday Inn Express in Klamath (great, brand new hotel attached to a tiny Indian casino)
$117/night + $25/pet fee

Just north of Eureka is the Samoa Cookhouse – I love finding unique places like this (thanks, Roadtrippers). It’s off the beaten path, but worth the 15-minute drive from Highway 101. Built circa 1893, it’s the last lumber camp-style cookhouse still in operation in North America. Established by the Vance Lumber Company, Samoa is one of the last company-owned towns in the US, and the cookhouse was operated for the working lumberjacks.Today, they still encourage you to eat like a lumberjack. It opened to the public in the late 1960s and meals have been served here continuously for over 122 years. It’s all-you-can-eat, family-style. The menu changes daily and you have no choice whatsoever (you can, however, call ahead and find out when they’re serving pot-roast). For lunch today we had a fried pork-steak, peas, baked beans, and country potatoes, with chocolate pudding for dessert, plus soup, salad and homemade bread. So leave your vegan friends at home. It’s friendly, fun, and interesting, with photos of trees and lumberjacks on the walls, plus a small logging museum. Next door to the cookhouse is the Humboldt Maritime Museum.


KLAMATH
Klamath is a tiny town in the mountains, but the hotel, a brand-new Holiday Inn Express, was surprisingly nice (for the price) and Vickie at the front desk was so helpful. There was a great restaurant at the hotel, so I didn’t have to leave once I checked in. If you have kids, there’s a nice indoor pool. All I care about is Wifi.


The casino, run by the Yurok tribe,  was just slot machines, which is fine with me. I almost laughed out loud when I overheard a middle-aged woman talking about dating in a small town…“It’s hard to find a man with a full set of teeth.”

I’ll leave you with that.

MY PHOTO GALLERIES

Day 2- Point Arena, California to Eureka, California

180 miles
Gas $2.86/gallon in Fort Bragg, California
Red Lion Inn, Eureka
$71/night + $15 pet fee
Nice big room with a view of Humboldt Bay. Very nice staff. Location not great (can’t walk to anything), but there’s a restaurant on-site.

Beautiful weather today — unusually warm for October, 82 degrees. Just 40 miles north of Point Arena —

MENDOCINO
Mendo has long been one of my favorite destinations on the Northern coast. A former logging town, it’s obvious the lumberjacks tried hard to out-do each other here — the houses are Victorian masterpieces, worthy of the San Francisco gentry who originally occupied them. The town is very walkable, no matter where you stay. Now a haven for the artistic, and the artfully unemployed (the locals call them “trustafarians”), Mendocino is mostly cute stores, art galleries, restaurants, B&Bs, and gorgeous beaches and ocean vistas. I always like to stay at the MacCallum House, a gorgeous boutique hotel and originally home to one of Mendo’s founding families.  I loved staying in the converted (but still working) water tower suite. The on-site restaurant is one of the best in town, and their breakfasts are amazing.

GLASS BEACH IN FORT BRAGG
This magical sea glass destination started out as a dump. Years ago, the good citizens of Fort Bragg dumped their trash into the ocean, as so many coastal towns did for years. Now the ocean has returned the favor by recycling the trash into tiny treasures and depositing them on beaches. The former trash is now protected and you are not allowed to remove any sea glass from the beach, but it makes great photos. A cool place to stay while you’re trolling the beach is Shoreline Cottages, a cool retro-style cottage haven recently updated by new owner Paul, who is a wonderful host. Very pet-friendly!

REDWOOD FOREST
I hated this drive the first time I did it a couple of years ago. The forest plunged me into darkness in the middle of the day, and the curves blew out my tire sensors (all 4!). But I drive slower now. I’m not in a hurry to get anyplace. And there’s something really sexy about taking curves slowly and enjoying the view (take note, future boyfriends!). And it was a sunny day, so some light did leak through. And the redwoods are amazing. PLUS…it’s home to some of the most-fun roadside attractions, where all the redwoods seem to end up carved into cute bears…

Confusion Hill and The Grandfather Tree
World’s Tallest Free-standing Redwood Chainsaw Carving (according to Ripley’s Believe It or Not), stands at Confusion Hill. At 44 feet tall, this totem was carved in place from a dead tree, with scaffolding erected around it. The train and the snack bar are not open after Labor Day, so the only thing to do is wander around looking at the exhibits, and enter the Gravity House for $5.
And just down the road, the Grandfather Tree seems to be a really old redwood. Hmmm.


EUREKA
This is an adorable historic town that’s in serious trouble. Beautifully-restored historic downtown with original Victorian architecture, a gorgeous boardwalk on the bay, funky stores and restaurants, amazing murals…and you can’t walk around without being harassed by the numerous vagrants and homeless people. None of them were aggressive — in fact, the men went out of their way to be polite and ask about my dog  and comment on the beautiful sunset. But even the local news referenced the “problem” several times, and there are crime issues, including theft. While I felt safe, I was never sure if my car was safe. I do feel safe traveling with a dog — Panda is small, but mighty. He’s a ferocious protecter.

But it’s sad. It’s hard to enjoy your vacation when you see so much suffering around you. Why do we have homeless people in America? In the richest country on the planet???

So, in spite of a great hotel with a view of Humboldt Bay, I decided to move on, deeper into the Redwood Forest…

Photo by Stephanie Roberts, ObsessiveHobbyist.com

MY PHOTO GALLERIES

Day 1- Carmel, California to Point Arena, California

260 miles
Gas $2.69/gallon (awesome!)

Wharf Master’s Inn, http://wharfmasters.com
$139 + $15 dog fee
http://pointarena.net

There’s only one way you should travel from Carmel…via Highway 1. South is Big Sur, but I’m headed North this time. There are so many adorable little coastal towns and stopovers…Moss Landing, Santa Cruz, Swanton Berry Farm, Half Moon Bay, San Francisco. My destination today was Point Arena, a quaint little town I’d passed through several times on my way to Mendocino. I always wanted to stop, but when you only have 2-day weekends you have to make tough choices. This trip is about making those other choices…stopping everywhere I want to, taking an exit that entices, following signs to antique stores, Mystery Holes, and ghost towns.

The first stop is Moss Landing, 22 miles north of Carmel and home to some of the best whale-watching cruises on the coast. I’ve always done the Blue Ocean trips — it’s a nice 60-foot boat with a top deck the other boats don’t have, and the onboard naturalist, Kate, is friendly, informative, and genuinely enthusiastic. These photos are from trips this past year…

Santa Cruz is a cool, funky,  counter-culture center filled with old hippies, young hippies, surfers, and homeless people. The Boardwalk is an old-fashioned Coney Island-style carnival, right on the beach. I recently spent a dreamy night at Dream Inn, on the beach just north of the Boardwalk and the wharf — it’s a great location, but is unfortunately not dog-friendly. 😦

The beach area gets lots of attention, but downtown Santa Cruz is funky fun, with cool vintage shops, sidewalk cafes, bookstores (with actual books), and antiques.

Swanton Berry Farm is my secret stopover. You might pass right by the cool vintage pick-up truck with the giant strawberry in the back and never know what you’re missing. This charming u-pick farm is a great stop on your way to San Francisco. The friendly farm store has an “honor till” — you throw your money in the drawer and make your own change, for delicious fresh strawberries, jam, scones, fair trade coffee. If you have time, sit a spell and play dominoes. This place reminds me of a great fruit stand on the old highway between Charleston and Beaufort, South Carolina. It’s got a very laidback, southern vibe.

Photo by Stephanie Roberts, http://ObsessiveHobbyist.com

Half Moon Bay is a sweet coastal town. The main street is not on the beach, but a few blocks inland. A great dog-friendly hotel is the Half Moon Bay Inn, right in the middle of Main Street. Another 28 miles up Highway 1 and you’re in San Francisco. Highway 1 actually becomes 19th Avenue through San Fran, sending you right through the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge. I took Highway 101 up to Petaluma, then cut over to Bodega Bay to re-join Highway 1 (you can cut over earlier, but I like stopping over in pretty Petaluma). This San Francisco suburb has it all. A funky history, funky stores, and a funky future. And you know that “funky” is one of my favorite adjectives, awarded only to the most-interesting places I run across.

From Petaluma it’s an easy hop over to Bodega Bay on the coast, most famous as the setting for Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds.” Then straight up Highway 1 to Point Arena, population 473. I rolled in about 6:00, just in time for a pretty Pacific sunset. Stayed at the Wharf Master’s Inn, home to the home of the Wharf Master, originally. It’s now an inn, built around the original 1865 home, which you can also stay in. It’s on the hill above Point Arena Cove and the pier, and provides a spectacular view. But don’t think about staying here if you can’t do stairs — they’re everywhere! And funky wooden sculptures. The cove and wharf are small, with a very East Coast feel. The beaches are rocky, so not much fun for dog-walking or sunning, but I did see surfers and kayakers.

The town of Point Arena is just about 3 blocks long, with some cute stores.

But the undeniable star of Point Arena is the Point Arena Lighthouse.

Photo by Stephanie Roberts, ObsessiveHobbyist.com

The 115-foot lighthouse is the tallest on the West Coast. Originally built in 1869, the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 seriously damaged the lighthouse. If not for the staircase, it would have fallen. But it proved easier to rebuild it than repair it, so the current lighthouse dates from 1908. It costs $7.50 to enter, and they give tours of the museum and the lighthouse every day of the year expect Thanksgiving and Christmas, 10:00-3:30. It was SO WINDY when I was there that I could barely stand up (I later found sand in my ears!), so it’s easy to see why there were so many shipwrecks (plus, those big rocks didn’t help much).

WHICH WAY NEXT???
IMG_2817

MY PHOTO GALLERIES