I had a few days between my visit with Mark Keller in Redding and my last few appointments of the trip in Portland. A few years back I’d driven from Portland to San Francisco with a friend via Highway 101 along the Pacific Coast. It was by far the best drive I’d ever done, so as I had the opportunity, I thought I’d do it again, but in the opposite direction. The direct Redding to Portland route is just over 400miles, my bespoke route would add another 400miles to the trip. So for the past 3 days I’ve driven just over 800miles. I’m pretty tired. By driving a smaller road back North, I was hoping to see a lot more of the country, and I’ve definitely done that. If I’d had a week or more to drive the route I’d have had much more of an opportunity to pick and choose where to stop. I didn’t have that luxury so I had to make the most of it.Driving from Redding I stopped in the semi-ghost town of Shasta. It still has a few houses, but the main street is littered with the ruins of the old storefronts. The buildings are now managed by the State Park and the old bakery, grocery store and courthouse are kept as living museums, sadly travelling out of season they were all closed. However I did get to nose around what was left of the butchers shop. The original shop, built of wood, has long since gone, what remains is their cold room – a brick built chamber burrowed into the hillside. Much like many an Ice House I’ve seen on country estates, towards the end of winter, snow and ice would be collected and packed into the chamber to chill the room for the summer months. During winter, while the temperatures outdoors were sufficiently cold to store produce out, the chamber was cleared and used as a smokehouse.Next stop along Highway 299 was the Bigfoot Museum, sadly once again it was closed due to it being out of season. A few miles North Roger Patterson had shot the famous footage in 1967 of Bigfoot walking through a clearing. Whether it’s a hoax or not, we just don’t know.
Having reached the coast I headed South towards Ferndale and The Blacksmith Shop. I’d seen some beautiful knives at Heritage Artifacts in Napa and was regretting not buying one, so having done some searching I found that they were also stocked in Ferndale. The knives are handmade by Michael Hemmer deep in the Oregon Coastal Mountains. Each knife is individual and I had the run of their inventory to hold and test the knives to find the perfect one for me. I went for a large chopper with a myrtle wood handle, I can’t wait to get home and use it! Like most boys, the two things I loved as a child was knives and matches, things haven’t changed.Further South I headed to the Avenue of the Giants, a stunning route through the coastal redwood trees of Northern California. I hadn’t driven that specific route before, and it was thanks to Shane from Suisun Valley Farm’s suggestion that I made the detour. I’m not a spiritual person, but I’d say that taking a walk through the redwoods is the closest I’ll ever get to having a ‘moment’. None of the pictures that I took reflect the silence and majesty of these trees, I was just lost for words.Having just experienced a near religious experience I then went and tarnished it by bowing to commercialist tack by driving through a tree.On entering the avenue I stopped at a produce stall, I’d already passed a handful selling home grown fruit and vegetables but I was drawn in by this one in particular due to their offer of blackberry popsicles. I parked up, took a walk into the store (a colourful shed), deposited my money in the honesty box and took a popsicle from the freezer. It was utterly delicious, lashings of crushed fruit frozen on a stick, perfect.