LIFE IN THE WILDS OF NORTHERN CA

LIFE IN THE WILDS

So there I was - a 'city' girl married to a forester suddenly living in the middle of the Six Rivers National Forest which soon, thereafter, became Redwood National Park just south of Crescent City, CA.    When we were first married, however, it was still Six Rivers Nat'l Forest and we were living in a 3 bedroom house on the Forest Service compound there in Requa just north of the Klammath River.  It was a nice house with a fireplace in the livingroom and big open kitchen and sat on a spacious lot with lots of grass.  I felt like I was on an extended vacation at first!

One thing I had to get used to was my husband, Kit's, dog Shoen - a beautiful, well-trained Irish Setter.  I'd never had a dog before, only parakeets, so this was a brand new experience.  But she was friendly & followed commands perfectly so it wasn't long before I was taking her on walks along paths through the redwoods behind our house.

Or I'd put her in the car (she sat in the front seat!) and we'd drive a mile down to the ocean and walk along the beach, or I'd let her run while I sat on the sand and watched the whales swimming by on their way south for the winter.

We bought a boat to meander up the Klammath River to see the sights and maybe do a little fishing.

At this point, I have to say something about my husband's car.  It was a little red sports car with 4-on-the-floor.  I'd only driven a stick shift in high school driver's ed for a couple of weeks and even at that, the gear shift was on the steering wheel.  And whereas the driver's ed car was a nice sedan sitting nicely off the ground, in this little sports car I felt like I was sitting on the ground and if I held my arm out the window, I could file my fingernails on the road as I drove along!  But after accompanying me on one shopping trip, Kit told me I had to learn to drive the car by myself and I couldn't blame him.  He's the original 'know what you want and where you can get it, go there, get it, come home.'  I, on the other hand, love to browse.  So I learned to drive that little red car and came to love it.

The Trees of Mystery gift shop with 30' high Paul Bunyan statue & Babe, his blue ox.

Requa was a pretty small place.  Not much there - the Forest Service Station, a little market, a small cafe, a rather nice motel, actually, the beautiful scenery, of course, & a place called The Trees of Mystery.  I never did find out what the 'mystery' about the trees was?  As far as I knew they were just ordinary redwoods.  But there was a nice gift shop associated with the place and once in a while I liked to go in and look around.  The only trouble was, each time - the minute I was inside out of sight of my car, an employee would sneak out and wire a big ol' "Trees of Mystery" sign to the bumper and then I'd go home and Kit would grumble about having to unwire yet another one and throw it in the trash.  Oh well.  I found some nice gifts there to send to folks who had participated in our wedding.

One other thing about living in Requa:  it's where I was introduced to feasting on venison and bear meat - me, the 'city' girl who had never eaten anything beyond beef, pork, chicken, turkey, and tuna . . . well, and fish sticks, whatever they're made of?  Not only that, but wishing to become involved in the things my new husband liked to do, I decided to accompany him deer hunting one afternoon.  Big mistake!  At first it was nice - driving along a logging road through the forest.  But then he saw some deer, so stopped the car, took his rifle, and started walking quietly down the road, leaving instructions with me to drive the car down where he was if I heard a shot.

So I watched the deer on the hillside as he walked down the road.  They were just meandering around calmly eating stuff when all of a sudden they fled in every which direction except for one who fell to the ground and began rolling down the hill.  And then I heard the shot and started crying!  Big surprise to me?!!   But I know now, after 3 children, newly pregnant women can become uncharacteristically emotional and I was newly with child.  Anyway, there I was bawling my head off and Shoen, who was sitting in back behind the front seats, began whining and whimpering along with me.  Kit was kind of put out with me because I hadn't driven the car down to meet him after he'd shot the deer . . . until he got back up to the car and saw both his wife and dog crying.  Poor guy.  He wasn't quite sure what to do.  But the moment passed and then we were all excited about getting a deer - that is until I tasted venison for the first time!   It lasted through many dinners, but I learned to disguise it well.  But I never tried bear meat again.  Now wild boar is pretty good, however.  And wild ducks and geese and pheasant and elk are very nice, too.  Not bad for a former 'city' girl. 

Four months after we began our married life in Requa, Redwood National Park was created, Kit was transferred to a different ranger district, and we moved into a little 4-room log cabin in the little blink-and-you'll-miss-it community of Gasquet (pronounced Gaskey) along the Smith River on highway 199 - the Redwood Highway - 18 miles NE of Crescent City.  It was beautiful there.  Our cabin was nestled amidst firs and redwoods on the banks of the north fork of the river.  There were wonderful places to walk along the river, or just sit out on the cabin's deck and listen to it ripple past.  In the spring and summer, anyway.  In the winter the river rose 40-50 feet and roared down the canyon tossing boulders about as though they were chaff in the wind!  Rather awesome, actually.  A good thing the cabin sat 60 feet above the river!

That's all for now. Next - Life Along The River
La Nightingail

Rachel Phillips 11.02.2013 17:24

Great beginning. The emotion shown in the hunting experience capture the moment.

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Latest comments

07.11 | 19:18

The Sierras are beautiful. I look forward to driving up into the mountains every summer on the way to the lake! :)

07.11 | 19:14

There are additional passes both north and south of the ones I've mentioned. I was concentrating on those I've used to get to my favorite lake. :)

07.11 | 19:10

Interesting is how one climbs gradually from the west to cross the passes but from the east it's a steep continual climb due to the way the mtns were formed.

07.11 | 02:00

I fell like I've been on a tour bus! And without any motion sickness! Our eastern mountain roads are plenty twisty but no match for those heights!