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Finding the Lost Coast

Updated: Jul 1, 2021

On our way back from a recent road trip to the San Juan Islands, we decided to drive the Lost Coast. I think is was more than 20 years ago when we drove it the first time. Located in the northern coastal area of California, the area was "depopulated" in the 1930's. California's first oil wells were in this area, with the first oil shipped in 1865. Oil didn't pan out, which is one reason people left.

Early settlers also harvested tanoak bark, which is used in the tanning process. Logging was popular for awhile. But the area posed challenges for transportation. At one point, California intended to have route 1 go the length of the coast, but there were too many obstacles in trying to build a road through the King range, so the highway ended up inland. (From the car, mossy trees line the first part of the road.)

There is a stretch of the coast inaccessible by any road, but that is a favorite for hikers. Adventurous drivers can take the road from Ferndale to Petrolia to Honeydew and then out through Humboldt Redwoods State Park. That's exactly what we did.

Both Petrolia and Honeydew are tiny towns. The curvy road that goes between them wends its way through moss covered trees and valleys with large farms. Not many people live here. I saw more cows than people. Interestingly enough, there are one or two real estate opportunities for cannabis. As we drove the last stretch of the road--and were almost to Humboldt Redwoods, we saw several properties with very high, opaque fences. These, I assume, are pot farms.

The road meanders through scenic hills and valleys, and pops out to the ocean eventually.

Some of the farms appear to be fairly old.

A man and his son fish while the dog takes off to explore us. Not many people take this road.

Cow 514 eyed me warily. He's not used to seeing many people.

Glen stands in front of a rocky beach, showing his need for a haircut.

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