Giant trees just some of sights on scenic 101

Riverbank News - - 209 - By CARY ORDWAY Cal­i­for­ni­aWeek­

Get­ting there is half the fun, they say, and one great ex­am­ple of that is the trip to or from Hum­boldt County and its largest city, Eureka. The home of some of Cal­i­for­nia’s most scenic wilder­ness, Hum­boldt County can be reached by go­ing north on High­way 101 through a red­wood forests, lush rolling hills and his­toric towns that each beckon the trav­eler to spend just a lit­tle more time along the way ex­plor­ing.

We found that the coastal vil­lage of Men­do­cino, on High­way 1, is a great start­ing point, and well worth a night or two in one of the charm­ing inns that take ad­van­tage of the area’s nat­u­ral beauty. Perched on a bluff over­look­ing the churn­ing Pa­cific Ocean, Men­do­cino is so pic­turesque it was used as a stand-in for Cabot’s Cove, the fic­tional New Eng­land fish­ing vil­lage in the tele­vi­sion show Mur­der She Wrote. Fine restau­rants and eclec­tic shops are found in some of the town’s his­toric build­ings. Ar­ti­sans can’t re­sist the town and many have wound up liv­ing there and open­ing lo­cal art gal­leries be­cause of its un­sur­passed nat­u­ral beauty.

Fort Bragg is a lit­tle more typ­i­cal Cal­i­for­nia beach town which you’ll find along High­way 1, just a few miles north from Men­do­cino. From there take High­way 20 east and you’re in for a slow but scenic drive on a curvy road through the coastal moun­tains. In an hour or so you ar­rive at Wil­lits, a fron­tier town with a color­ful his­tory and a pic­ture-per­fect set­ting among the rolling hills just east of the coastal moun­tains.

If you just want to pop over to Wil­lits and leave the driv­ing to a rail­road en­gi­neer, you can take the fa­mous “Skunk Train” from Fort Bragg to Wil­lits. It’s the same red­wood forests you would see driv­ing High­way 20, but there’s just some­thing a lit­tle more ad­ven­tur­ous about rid­ing the rails in a his­toric steam train.

While in Wil­lits, be sure to stop by the Men­do­cino County Museum, which puts ev­ery­thing in his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive. It has one of the finest col­lec­tions of Pomo and

Pho­tos cour­tesy Na­tional Park Ser­vice

ACROSS THE TOP: One of the end­less vis­tas at Red­wood Na­tional Park. TOP PHOTO: Kayak­ers on a ranger-led ex­cur­sion down the Smith River. BOT­TOM LEFT PHOTO: The polyphe­mus moth found at Red­wood Na­tional Park be­longs to the fam­ily of giant silk moths....

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