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How to Spend a Week in Northern California: Behold the State of Jefferson

Wednesday April 17, 2013

A long, long time ago, Dave and I realized my 7-month-pregnant self would be in no shape to fly across the country for Thanksgiving. And so instead we decided to go on an epic road trip through the cell-phone-towerless, hours-to-the-closest-hospital reaches of Northern California. A brilliant plan. Who knew California had so much in common with west Texas?

For seven days, we travelled through African wildlife preserves, one-strip Victorian villages, and never-ending giant redwood groves.  We visited seaside towns emerging out of coastal bluffs, Ohio-size forests covered in Douglas Firs, and grungy ski towns with white peaks looming.

And the food, oh my dear Lord, the food. Northern California takes local a touch too literal, with Cypress Grove Chevre, the home of Humboldt Fog Cheese, right there in Arcata. Every restaurant, no matter how divey or refined, had Humboldt Fog on the menu. Rivers full of steelhead and salmon, with plenty of smoke shacks ready to serve you all sorts of takes on smoked fish. And the breweries! Just when you get past the wineries of Sonoma, you’re greeted with the breweries of Mendocino and Humboldt County. Speaking of Mendocino, the heirloom fruit stands! And so much freshly baked bread at every pit stop and restaurant that you will be thoroughly spoiled. By the end of our trip, we looked like squirrels hoarding away for the winter.

In the next few weeks, I’ll be posting all about our trip. These links will go live as I publish each post.


Excuse Me, Is that Your Ruff Tailed Lemur: A Night at Sonoma County’s African Wildlife Preserve

Avenue of the Giants: Magnificence of an Inhuman Scale

You Want Me To Do What With This Thing: Reel Fishing on the Klamath River and Marble Mountain Ranch

No No No, I Want to Live Here: The Towns We Visited

The Best Northern California Inns, Ranches, and Hotels: Where We Slept

Our Picks for Northern California Groceries and Restaurants



7 Responses to “How to Spend a Week in Northern California: Behold the State of Jefferson”

  1. Looking forward to your posts. I used to think I lived in Northern California until I headed north myself. So much to see and do above The City!


    4/18/2013 at 2:17 pm

  2. Ooh, where did you go? It really is an entirely different state up there.


    4/18/2013 at 8:45 pm

  3. I went all the way up the coast to Heceta Head (the haunted lighthouse B&B!), over to Bend, Crater Lake, Ashland, and back via Lassen. So far, I’ve only blogged the Natl Parks ( and but I really need to write up at least Mendocino, which I’ve been to a few times now. I want to spend some time around Shasta next.


    4/18/2013 at 8:58 pm

  4. Oh, y’all were not fooling around. We didn’t cross the California-Oregon border. Despite all the alluring tree house hotels. For some reason, we both thought that’d really be the middle of nowhere. So we went through Trinity National Forest instead. Joke –> ultimately on us.

    (And your comments on Lady Bird Grove just made my year. I was so bummed we missed it.)

    It’ll be interesting to read your take on Mendocino…


    4/18/2013 at 9:15 pm

  5. More like “I have two weeks off until I start my new job, I may never travel again” panic. Although I did manage to take a few trips after starting, I’ve been horrible about going through photos so that I can post about them. And now that I’ve been freelancing since the fall, I have no excuse!

    Oregon often seemed to be the middle of nowhere. I loved it though, especially Bend and Jacksonville (sort of a slightly bigger, more historic Ferndale), near Ashland. Oregon reminds me of Vermont in many ways.

    Trinity is serious. I’m assuming you hit Weaverville? That’s on my list of “cute towns I mean to visit on my way to somewhere else.”


    4/18/2013 at 9:58 pm

  6. The only proper response to starting a job in two weeks.

    We were up near Happy Camp (fishing for steelhead, at 7 months pregnant). Cute Weaverville would have made too much sense. 🙂


    4/19/2013 at 10:02 am

  7. If you like fishing, definitely check out the Bend area at some point. I do not fish myself, but my Dad was an avid flyfisherman (which is why we spent summers in Northern VT) and so I felt very much at home there and keep hoping to use it to lure my fishing siblings and siblings-in-law out here.


    4/19/2013 at 12:32 pm