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Monday, August 28, 2023

Visiting The Redwoods And Eureka, California

If you are looking for a side trip on your visit to the Redwoods, we would like to recommend the city of Eureka, California.

If you are making this trip in your RV, read this post before you start packing - 10 Items You Should Have On Your Camping List.

2022 Cross Country Road Trip Stop 13

We took a side trip to Eureka, California when we visited the Redwoods making it a 2 in 1 road trip stop. But before we spent a couple of days in Eureka, we hiked among the biggest trees we have ever seen in our lives. They were breathtaking and awe inspiring and we couldn't believe we were really here.

Me and Sandie have been wanting to come here for so long. We knew the Redwoods would be huge and beautiful from pictures we have seen but we found out the pictures didn't do these trees justice. 

Three state parks and Redwood National Park make up Redwoods. We were closest to Prairie 
Creek Redwoods State Park. 

We hiked a couple of nice trails here. The first trail was Circle Tree to see the Big Tree. Apparently, there was a really Big Tree at the end of this trail and we had to see it. 

Good To Know: This is a very easy loop. It is kid friendly and wheelchair accessible if you have all-terrain tires on yours.

Well, it kind of looked like all the other big trees in the park but we were really impressed how well it looked for it's age of 1,500 years.

Our next hike was another easy and beautiful trail, Prairie Creek Redwoods Walk.

These trees are truly magnificent and we were so grateful that we had a chance to see them for ourselves.


The next morning we headed to Eureka. Going to Eureka became our plan for our Redwoods stop after my daughter, Lisa, asked me if we would be near this city at any time during our cross country road trip. I went through our cross country itinerary and discovered that our campground near the Redwoods was only 40 minutes away.

She asked if we would like to explore the city as writers for Drugstore Divas. We said we would love to. So on our second day of our Redwoods stop we headed to Eureka. It was Sunday so our first stop was St. Bernard Church for mass. Being able to attend mass in a church we've never been to, especially in a state or country we've never been in, is one of our favorite things to do on vacation.

It was a little too early to meet with Dan Pambianco, Lisa's contact in Eureka, so we killed some time checking out the city. Lisa gave us some suggestions of where we should go. One thing she suggested was to see the Pacific Outfitters mural. She had heard that it was worth a trip to see.

As we roamed around the town, we spotted more amazing murals. We have seen murals on our travels but the ones we saw in Eureka have got to be some of the most impressive we have ever seen.

Cafe Nooner was a suggestion from Lisa to go to as this was a restaurant featured on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives. We would have loved to eat here but we already had lunch reservations.

We got to Woodley Island Marina early enough to look around before our lunch date with Dan. The marina was a really nice place to walk around on a gorgeous day.

Then it was time to meet Dan Pambianco, who does marketing for the city of Eureka. We were joining him for lunch at the marina's restaurant, Cafe Marina and Woodley Bar. 

We enjoyed delicious fresh seafood sitting at a table on the outdoor patio with a great view of Humboldt Bay. We got so excited when we spotted the seals swimming around in the bay! We would definitely eat here again if we ever have the chance to come back to visit.

We had a relaxing lunch and a fun conversation with Dan who was telling us all about town's history and things to do in Eureka. One thing he told us about was the Redwood Sky Walk at the Sequoia Park Zoo. Then he joined us there and gave us a guided tour.

There are a total of ten suspended bridges that weave themselves around the giant Redwoods. 

Being 100 feet above the forest floor we got a new view of the beautiful trees in a thrilling, but totally safe, way. It was really so much fun and a "must-do" if you ever have a chance to visit Eureka.

And if that wasn't enough fun, the bridge is located in the 5 acre Sequoia Park Zoo. We were there for the red panda feeding. The zookeepers told us all about the red pandas as they were feeding them.

The Sequoia Park Zoo is the oldest certified zoo in California and is home to many native animals of the Redwood Coast as well as rare species from around the world.

After a long and fun day, it was time to check into our accommodations for the night at Best Western Plus Humboldt Bay Inn. We thanked Dan for a wonderful afternoon and headed to the hotel.

Good To Know: The hotel has a complimentary limousine service that will get you to your dinner reservation in style at one of the many local restaurants in Eureka. Just give them a call when you are ready to return to the hotel and they will come back to get you.

We were the given the Grand Oasis Suite for the night.

After dropping off our luggage, we went to check out the Oasis Spa Area, which was conveniently located only steps away from our suite. This outdoor space was gorgeous and very relaxing. JT took a dip in one of the two pools.

Sandie and Soko challenged each other to a game of pool. 

We even took some time to relax here.

Me and Soko checked out the gym and used some of the equipment but after Soko found this massage chair he had no desire to leave it to use any more of the other exercise machines.

We decided that since we had a full kitchen in our suite, we would get takeout and bring it back to eat here. We ended up at Mod Pizza, somewhere none of us had ever been to. We weren't expecting to have so many decisions to make about how we wanted our pizzas made but once we were eating them, we were happy with the choices we made.

The next morning, after we reluctantly checked out of our cozy suite, we met Savannah and Georgiana, from Pacific Outfitters, for a kayaking tour of Humboldt Bay.

Savannah and Georgiana were amazing tour guides and pointed out different buildings in Eureka's Old Town and Waterfront that we could see from the bay.

We also got a good look at Soko's boat. But, alas, the only thing that was Soko's on this boat was the name.

We had a great time on our 2 hour kayaking adventure and saw some things we wanted to take a closer look at before we left Eureka. So after saying good-bye to Savannah and Georgiana, we went to look for the Carson Mansion. This mansion is "considered the most grand Victorian home in America."

And right across the street you will find the Pinc Lady Mansion which was a wedding gift from William Carson to his son J. Milton Carson and wife Mary Amelia.

Eureka's historic Old Town is one of the last well-preserved downtown areas in California. There are over 150 buildings that have been here since the Victorian era like Cafe Waterfront which was built in 1892.

We saw the boardwalk along the Waterfront from our kayaks. It looked so nice that we had to take a walk along it before we left Eureka.

Our kayak guides suggested two stops for us to make on our way back to the campground. One was Lighthouse Grill, in Trinidad, to get the savory and delicious Mashed Potato Cone stuffed with brisket, bacon and cheese and topped with gravy. Yum!

Thank goodness the second stop would be a hike. We needed to burn off a few calories. It was a beautiful hike on the 1.7 mile Trinidad Head Trail Loop where we had an amazing view of Trinidad State Beach and the Pacific Ocean.

After another long and fun day, it was time to head back to relax at the campground for a little while before packing up in preparation for moving on to our next stop in the morning. Did I mention the name of the campground? We stayed at Elk Country RV Resort & Campground. This has to be one of the most aptly named campgrounds we've ever stayed in. 

Read more about this campground in our State By State Guide To State And National Park Campgrounds.

 Also, you can read about Stop 12 of our cross-country road trip here.

Have you visited the Redwoods? Did you visit Eureka or any other city on that same trip? Please tell us all about your adventure in comments. We would love to read about it!


Monday, July 31, 2023

Things To Do In The Old 96 District, SC part 2

If you are looking for a family friendly, history rich, festivals galore vacation and want plenty of things to do, see and eat, look no further than the Old 96 District, SC.

If you are traveling by car to this or another fun destination, read our post, Getting The Car Ready For A Road Trip, before you go.

Me and daughter, Lisa, had a chance to come back to the Old 96 District in South Carolina a few weeks ago. We were here for the first time last July. We had a fantastic time on our first trip so we were very excited to visit again.

Last year we spent time in two of the five counties that make up The Old 96, Abbeville and Greenwood. This time, we wanted to spend at least a little time in the three counties that we hadn't gotten to on our first visit, Edgefield, Laurens and McCormick. 

Edgefield County

We spent most of our first day in The Old 96 in Edgefield. The first thing we did when we got here was look for the farm that sells the peaches someone told us we had to try. We found Titan Farms but learned when we got here that only wholesale orders were sold at the farm.

It was worth the little detour to come here, though, to see where these delicious peaches grow.

We were told we needed to go to Sara's Fresh Market so that's where we headed.

We are not kidding when we tell you that these were the most amazing peaches we have ever eaten. We needed a ton of napkins to sop up the juice that was pouring out of them and the texture was perfect. 

We made some hand pies out of these delicious peaches when we got to the Airbnb in Abbeville. Find the recipe here at Lisa's website.

Next on our list of things to do in Edgefield was to visit the National Wild Turkey Federation's headquarters and museum. They were out to lunch so the museum was closed. We walked around their grounds and took some pictures.

There is a trail behind the building but that was closed with a sign warning us about "Firearms In Use."
You don't have to tell us twice!

So we were off to our next stop, the Old Edgefield Pottery and that was closed for renovation. This was really disappointing as we were excited to see this store and museum. Old Edgefield Pottery uses local materials and has been creating stoneware since the first decade of 1800.

We noticed these pumpkins behind the pottery shop. We wondered if they were made by the potters.

You can find the Old Edgefield Pottery shop in downtown Edgefield and we noticed you can also find a lot of turkeys thanks to the NWTF. 

Some of them stood outside of the stores in Town Square and on those turkeys you could find the name of the store among the other colorful drawings on the turkey. This one stood in front of the restaurant we had lunch in, Edgefield Pool Hall.

The turkey that stands on the front porch of the Discovery Center is dedicated to Edgefield's claim to fame, the Ten Governors that called Edgefield home. Unfortunately the Discovery Center wasn't open but it would have been a nice place to learn about the history of Edgefield County.

The woman who nicely offered to take our picture by one of these turkeys told us that we needed to find the golden turkey. She told us that it was painted gold to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the National Wild Turkey Federation. It took a while, but we found it!

There were a couple of places we read about before we came to downtown Edgewood that we wanted to find. For one, we were looking for and found the Carolina Moon Distillery. Lisa was hoping to find a souvenir here to bring back to her husband, Pete.

At the center of the Town Square we found the statue of one of the most popular Edgefield natives, Strom Thurmond, the last of the Ten Governors. He stands facing the Edgefield County Courthouse.

After our turkey hunt and tour of downtown, it was time to stop for a late lunch at Edgefield Pool Hall before we headed out of Edgewood. We heard they had the best burgers in the South. We found the restaurant and were looking at their menu when a gentleman came up to us and told us that "everyone goes in there for the burgers. They have good burgers." When we asked him which burger he had, he told us he didn't have a burger, he had a hot dog. He gave the hot dog a good review which I was happy about because after looking at the menu, I was ready to try the chili and slaw dog!

On our way out of town we stopped by Magnolia Dale. This house was built in 1843 and is the second house built on this property. The first house was actually the home of the first residence of Edgefield. The Magnolia Dale is currently the home of the Edgefield County Historical Society. We found out, when we got here, that we needed an appointment if we wanted to take a tour.

We also stopped at the Ten Governors Rail Trail. This would have been a fun way to learn about the Ten Governors but it was getting late and we needed to get to Abbeville to check into the Airbnb at a decent hour. We decided we will put this on top of our things to do list if we ever get a chance to come back to Edgefield.

We enjoyed our few hours in Edgefield. We would love to come back one day to explore more of the county and the things we didn't have time for this trip. But mostly we want to come back to get more peaches!

Click here for more things to do, see and eat on your Edgefield County, SC vacation.

McCormick County

McCormick County is the smallest of the five counties and the Town of McCormick had the smallest downtown of all the towns we visited in The Old 96 District.

We were hoping to see an art exhibit at the Historic Keturah Hotel where the McCormick Arts Council operates from but it was closed for renovations.

So we headed to the next thing on our list, the Red Rooster Antique and Art shop. There was so much to look at in this store and me and Lisa both wished we knew more about antiques to appreciate what we were looking at.

Another interesting sight to see in this small town is the McCormick Train Station. It is a historic train station built around 1911. It is now the home of  SC Wilds Heritage Center.

Trains stopped running in this area in the 1970's. The Savannah Valley Railroad Trail resulted when the unused railroad tracks was repurposed through the "rails to trails" movement. It is a 9.4 mile one way hiking and biking trail. We hiked a small part of it.

Before this town was known as McCormick, it was named Dorn Gold Mines. William Burkhalter Dorn searched and eventually found gold in this area. We read that we could pan for gold at Heritage Gold Mine Park so we headed over there but found out that it is only open a few times a month.

This small county has three large state parks.

We went to Hickory Knob State Park. Being a camper, I was curious to see the campground in this park that sits along the shore of Strom Thurmond Lake.

We saw campers fishing and found out that there are are kayak and canoe rentals for even more ways to enjoy the lake. In fact, the park and campground amenities are numerous, including a pool and restaurant. There is a lodge and cabins here to rent if you don't have your own RV or tent to camp in.

Although McCormick County is a small county, it does have lots to offer. I would love come back to camp at Hickory Knob State Park one day!

Click here for more things to do, see and eat on your McCormick County, SC vacation.

Laurens County

We visited Laurens County on our way home from The Old 96 District. On our way to downtown Laurens, a gas station on the opposite side of the street, caught our eye. At the same time, me and Lisa turned to each other and said "Did you see that?" We made a U-turn and headed to the station.

We parked and got out of the car to take pictures of the gas station that didn't get the message that we were not living in the 1950's anymore. 

The owner of Nostalgic Filling Station, Rich Kuhnel, saw us from his house next door and was nice enough to come out and talk to us, even though it was just starting to rain. He told us about how he bought this station 20 years ago. He told us that the station originally opened in 1930 but had been closed since 1954. It took a couple of years and lots of work for Rich and his wife Cindy to restore the gas station to what it might have looked like back in the day.

Rich was nice enough to invite us into the building behind the gas pumps where he sells antiques he's acquired over the years.

This phone really works!


I couldn't leave without buying this Betty Boop. My mom loved her!

We enjoyed talking to Rich, looking at his antiques and learning a little about him and his racing career. The amount of trophies on display told us that he must have been a very skilled driver!

It was pouring when we left the gas station but we had umbrellas so we headed into town to check out Laurens' Main Street.

It was Sunday and everything was closed but we were determined to see the town even though it was raining so hard that the umbrellas were not much help in keeping us dry...

until a clap of thunder that had to be right over our heads, it was that loud, sent me running to the car with Lisa yelling out behind me that she needed to see something she spotted down the block. I thought she was crazy and I was scared for her life, because where there is thunder there is also lightening! But she made it back to the car safely and we were off to our next destination, Battle of Musgrove Mill State Historic Park.

We would have loved to walk the l.5 mile Battlefield Trail here. I did jump out of the car to look at the first sign on the interpretive trail. But it was pouring so we decided it wouldn't be any fun doing it in the rain.

We drove through the park looking for Horseshoe Falls (which is actually not in Laurens County so not a part of the Old 96 District). We wanted to at least see the falls while we were in the park. We spotted some water and went to look.

We, or I, did slip in the mud a couple of times but we got close enough to take this nice picture of Lisa. It wasn't the falls though.

It took us a while, we drove in and out of the park a couple of times, before we finally did find the falls and it was worth all the time it took to find them. We saw some brave souls enjoying the falls even though it was still raining, but not as heavy as before. On a nicer day, we would have taken off our shoes and joined them!

We definitely want to come back to Laurens since we feel like we didn't really have much of a chance to enjoy it. We will have to make sure we come back on a day when it is not raining and not on a Sunday!

Click here for more things to do, see and eat on your Laurens County, SC vacation.

Read more about our visit to The Old 96 District in part 1 of this 2 part series.

Have you been to The Old 96 District? Which county did you visit? We would love to hear about the time you spent there.