Post-Vaccination Vacation: Mai Tai Tom’s Oregon Trail Tale


Day Ten: Getting Loopy Alongside The Avenue Of The Giants, Picnicking Amongst The Giants, The One-Time World’s Tallest Tree, The Benbow Experience, Our Bartender Meets Robert The Bruce & Ambiance At Its Finest

The end of our journey was now in sight. We strolled through the lobby of the Carter House one last time.  Tracy and I got an early start, while Kim and Mary took a walk and met a couple of feline friends near an old house.


The two of us scampered to the grocery store to pick up supplies for the last picnic of the trip. We would meet with Kim and Mary at one of the more popular Avenue of the Giants’ trails, the Drury-Chaney Loop.  It was about a two-hour drive from Eureka.


Drury-Chaney Loop is the “northernmost trail in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.”

“It’s a jungle out here!” I exclaimed as we walked through and around giant redwoods, fallen redwoods and lush plant life.


We came to an intersection of two paths. “Which way do you want to go?” A nearby hiker answered my question, “It doesn’t matter, you’ll end up back here.” Ah, yes, the Drury Chaney “Loop.”

The trail is a little more than two miles, but it made for a peaceful morning as we hiked among nature’s giants.I felt a little sluggish and asked Tracy if she had a banana. Grimacing at a nearby tree, she replied, “How about a banana slug?” Suddenly, I had the urge to visit UC Santa Cruz.


You can hear the noise from the cars speeding on Highway 101, but I just pretended it was a raging river in the distance.  Some of the ancient trees located along this hike are said to be between 1,000 and 1,500 years old.


Speaking of ancient!


There are a couple of wooden bridges along the path.


No matter where you look, nature triumphs in its beauty.


Kim and Tracy found these little guys to photograph along the route.


If a tree falls in the forest in black and white, does it make a noise?

Some of the fallen trees are other-worldly.

The hike made us hungry enough to hunker down at a picnic table near Founders Grove, where we would take a short hike later. After a nutritious charcuterie platter …

… we headed over to the Founders’ Tree. Between 1931 and 1957 this was considered the tallest tree in the world. It’s since been relegated to fifth place, but at a tad over 346 feet, it is still impressive.

We took the short hike through the ancient forest, which has numbered markers along the way that correspond to the Founders Grove booklet ($1 suggested donation) offering up some interesting forest tidbits.


Founders Grove Trail is an easy loop, although sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees. Well, maybe a little bit.We missed the Dyerville Giant, which stood here for an estimated 1,600 years until it toppled in 1991 (photo on internet from someone who found it).

Founders Grove is the most visited grove in the Humboldt Redwoods, and when one walks in the Redwoods, things are always looking up.Our nature experience coming to a conclusion, we headed south to our final night’s lodging at the venerable Benbow Historic Inn in Garberville. The Hotel Benbow opened in 1926.

Since the facility has hosted such luminaries and dignitaries as Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable, Alan Ladd, Charles Laughton, Basil Rathbone, Joan Fontaine, Eleanor Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover, so we knew we’d fit right in.


After settling into our rooms, we strolled the luscious grounds with blooming rhododendrons and azaleas.


Flowers, flowers everywhere. And where there are flowers, there is Tracy standing nearby to shoot them.


I could just imagine Basil Rathbone sitting on the terrace admiring the view.


I’m sure it was Holmes Sweet Holmes to him.There is definitely an old-world charm as you enter the main rooms of the hotel, including the upper lobby. I asked Tracy if I had packed my smoking jacket, but she reminded me I don’t smoke, and the hotel is a non-smoking facility.


The hotel displays remnants from its glory days.

The dining room was exquisite, and its glory was almost too much for these guys to bear.


Plenty of whimsical figures and adornments are located throughout the hotel and its grounds.


Tracy channeled her inner Kim and took some more photos.


Speaking of Kim, when we arrived back in our room, ostensibly to take a nap (like that was going to really happen), we got a call from Kim and Mary.  Let me preface this by saying Kim has led a more healthy lifestyle in recent years and is proud to tell us on occasion that he hardly drinks anymore (well, except on vacation with us). Still, he is pretty good about sticking to it.  On this afternoon, however, we’d get a surprise when Tracy answered the call at about 3:45, Mary told us they were in the bar, and we should join them. Tracy and I looked at each other and decided to go right down because if Kim was in the bar this early, there must be something very special.

First of all, the 1920s historic bar is everything you want in coziness (photo on right courtesy of Benbow Inn) …


… right down to the fireplace.Upon arriving, we saw why the bar had caught his attention. A very personable and attractive bartender (aka Heather) and Kim were in deep conversation. Since Mary was sitting nearby, Tracy and I assumed a clandestine affair was out of the question. Then we heard the words, “Robert The Bruce.”  I hadn’t seen old Bob since our 2017 Scotland trip when we stopped by his statue (below) at Stirling Castle. We recalled that Kim had a drink in Cannon Beach (MacGregor’s) named after the 14th century King of Scots, and now he and Heather were attempting to replicate it. In “true Kim” style, it took them a couple of tries to get it perfected.


Finally, we retreated to our room to freshen up and return to the beautiful dining hall for dinner. The ambiance was perfect as we settled in for our meal.Tracy decided upon two starters for dinner.  Borrowing a page from Kim’s favorite Roman Emperor salad playbook, she ordered a Classic Caesar Salad; Hearts of Romaine Lettuce, Parmesan Crisp and White Anchovy Filets tossed in House Made Caesar Dressing, followed by a steaming hot white bean chili, laden with melted cheese. She gave it “two Yums up.”


Kim enjoyed his Chicken Piccata; Rocky’s Organic Petaluma Chicken breast (What, no Bullwinkle?!), sautéed and cooked in White Wine, Lemon, Capers, and Garlic served with Rice Pilaf with Mushroom and Seasonal Vegetables, while Mary thoroughly enjoyed her Salmon Pasta.


My perfectly grilled Filet Mignon; Tenderloin of Beef grilled and topped with Blue Cheese Butter and Roasted Shitake Mushrooms served with Red Wine Shallot Demi Glaze, Red Bliss Mashed Potatoes and Seasonal Vegetables, should have filled me up …

… however I am hard-pressed to ever pass up any sort of bread pudding. I was hoping that the hiking from earlier in the day would pay off in less pounds gained.Sleep came fast in our small room (if we were to stay again, I would probably opt to book one of their larger rooms). That said, we really loved this hotel with an old-world charm not often seen in this day and age.

The last full day of our Post-Vaccination vacation had ended. Tomorrow we’d drive back to Kim and Mary’s home, and then head home.  However, on the road back to our friends’ house, there was a little more wine to be consumed.

Day Eleven: Return To California Wine Country, Our Favorite Winery In The World, A Horse Is A Horse Of Course & Wine In The Vineyard

We awoke to another beautiful morning, checked out the view from Benbow’s terrace and bade farewell to Kim and Mary (well, at least for a few hours).

It was a little more than two hours to the little town of Geyserville, which happens to house a tasting room room featuring our favorite wines… Ramazzotti.

The Ramazzotti family is from the Le Marche region of Italy, and its wines, especially the reds, dominate our EuroCave at home. I usually come away spending more money than expected in its tasting room, and this time was no different. Eight bottles later, we were out the door. Thankfully, we get a discount being club members.


Note: Two months later, in Ramazzotti’s peaceful patio, four old guys celebrated their 51st anniversary of meeting each other at our San Diego State (aka “Harvard of the West”) dorm.  That we are all still alive is a modern day miracle.


As we were about to hit the 101, we passed a sculpture we had driven by many times before. With a little digging, I found out this horse located along the Geyserville Sculpture Trail is lucky to still be here. From … “At the southern end of the sculpture trail stands ‘Victory,’ a miraculous creation by artist Bryan Tedrick, whose studio was destroyed in the October 2017 wildfires. The 25-foot-tall statue of a galloping horse was under construction at the time, but survived with only minimal damage. Hence its name, ‘Victory’.”

Our next stop is where we had reserved a tasting. On Westside Road just outside of Healdsburg is located Walt Baca Wines. We had tasted a delicious red at a restaurant a month or so previously in Southern California, so we thought we’d give it a shot.  We were early for our appointment, but we were given a complimentary glass of wine that we enjoyed while strolling around the vineyards.


Baca is located in a spectacular setting (like so many California vineyards), and we left with even more wine.


Hey, how did those people get in my wine glass?
I told Tracy I didn’t want to count all the wines we had purchased on this entire trip for fear we wouldn’t have gas money for the drive home.

We drove along Westside Road where we passed the historic Hop Kiln winery (now Landmark Vineyards at Hop Kiln Estate). It has long been a favorite photo op for us.

Soon we were back in Bodega Bay, and our 11 day adventure had ended … sort of. On our way back to Southern California the following day, Tracy and I would stroll the grounds of Filoli Historic House & Garden (below) in Woodside (story to come soon in California Dreaming).

Our first Post-Vaccination Vacation had been a success. It was not only great to get out of the house, but to travel to so many scenic and interesting places in Oregon and Northern California.  From our new favorite town of Ashland …



… to the gorgeous beauty of Crater Lake …


… to a tour on Howard Hughes’ famous aircraft in McMinnville …

… to the rugged coastline of Oregon …


… to a couple of unique stops in Northern California …


… we enjoyed it all.

The four of us are planning our visit to Northern England/Southern Scotland in 2022, plus our twice Covid-delayed journey to Portugal. Hopefully, we’ll squeeze in a few short trips to destinations unknown before that, and, as always, our motto stays true …

Enjoy the Journey!

Attitude is Everything!

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