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The grace note of a hibernating California tortoise shell on a New Year’s morning in Gray’s River gave way to a rigorous passage downcoast. Powdermilk and I windsurfed and hydroplaned 101 south more than drove it, practically enlisting in the wild wind and rain.
Arriving in Eureka, I went to ground here—solely for shelter, of course.
Highway 101 through the coast redwoods alternates between freeway and narrow forest lane. Power was out, limbs were down, and almost no one was afoot—or a’wheel. A rare chance to see the redwood virtually on my own, the road deserted, the night sky entirely dark. It reminded me of visiting the ruins of Tikal, Guatemala, in mid-September, 2001—we had it all to ourselves then, too. Except that time, there were also butterflies!
Actually, when we were there [in the drive-through], it was pitch-black & flooded—we barely made it out.
January 11, 2008, Campbell, California
We were the first auto to make it through from Willets to Fort Bragg, the narrow, loopy route of highway 1 littered with redwood blowdown. At last reaching the coast, I took shelter and perhaps a pint—here where the estimable Red Seal Ale is made; then camped in the parking lot, and in the morning, made my way to Mendocino, hiking dunes, eying cypresses. But—and this is a particular hazard of Northern California, especially in the winter—good beer proved much more abundant than butterflies.
As far as I could see, Monarchs were absent from historic sights in Mendocino and Marin. But at last one little cluster, about the size of a basketball, turned up at Ardenwood, an East Bay historic farm. 10 days, 2 species—onward!
Leaf-text: A red gum leaf of the sort the Monarchs of Ardenwood depended from.