May 5-12, 2016 Usal Creek CA.
Usal Creek, Shelter Cove
I was off headed North to the Fort Bragg area where I was to meet Steve at the Usal Creek State Park.
The rain started just above Fort Bragg and was coming down heavy as I drove in the Usal Creek Park Road.
I found Steve where he said he’d be and made camp here by the creek, which is in the background.
I was standing near the creek and heard a splash. When I looked down into the creek, I saw this river otter. The water was shallow so it had to go by me on the top and gave me this warning as it worked it’s way down toward the ocean.
Friendly bull elk
The next day while we were sitting around the fire at camp these two bull elk wondered in like we weren’t there. I was surprised they didn’t join us at the campfire.
Usal Creek mouth
Later in the day Steve and I walked down to the ocean where the Usal creek comes into it which looked like this.
We hung around the beach for a bit then took some other side roads back to our camp exploring a little.
I noticed this old rig in the brush and determined it was likely an old truck with some kind of box on the back, maybe a delivery truck.
Hiked looking for berries
The next day I wanted to hike up on this hill on the north side of the beach, so off I went looking for berries. Steve catches poison oak so elected not to go. I‘ve noticed the elk grazing a lot up in this area.
It had rained a little the night before, so my shoes and pants were getting real wet as I worked my way up the hill to get an ocean view.
When I neared the top of the ridge I looked down to see this bull elk laying in the grasses, not detecting my presence.
I worked my way down the ridge towards the ocean looking for and eating any berries I could find.
The berries I did find could use some sun to sweeting them up, but I ate quite a few black and red ones just the same. Sorta like eating a sour candy, refreshing.
In the evening we walked back to the ocean for the sunset and to check out the ocean’s conditions.
The next morning we decided to go up to the northern part of this area, just below Shelter Cove. I told Steve I’d wait for him at the first camp up on the ridge coming in. I found these bull elk bedded down at the camp spot when I pulled in.. They got up and started munching.
Needle Point visitor center
We were headed to the Shelter Cove area north of here and to get there we had to go inland to highway 101 to Garberville and head out the Shelter cove road. We did that and then headed for the Needle Point visitor center which is a bit south of Shelter Cove. They hadn’t opened the Usal road yet that one usually can take north. There was a big slide on it that needed to be removed before they could open it.
This is the Needle Point visitor center in an old ranch house. The lady at the visitor center was a camp host so I engaged her properly knowing she was an RV’er and we hit it off well and I got a lot of local type info from her about what’s going on in this area.
They had quite a bit of interesting stuff in the center, but because I was shooting the bull with the lady I only got a few pictures of the stuff.
All the female elk
On the way out we passed by all these elk. The lady at the visitor center told me these are the female elk getting ready to calf. She also told me that all the bull elk are down at the Usal creek area where we were camped earlier. There’s quite a few elk out in that field.
Most of the camping and hiking in this area is fee spaced and too expensive for me as is all fee based camping as I don’t need it.
Camped at the locked gate on Usal road
So we needed a place to camp as it was getting late in the day. I suggested we drive down to the gate on the Usal road that comes up from the south that is still closed with a slide on it and look for a camp. We drove in and found this spot just a bit in front of the locked gate and made it camp for the night.
The next day we drove north to check out the Shelter cove area as I hadn’t been in the area in a long time.
We drove to their boat launch area, down this road and they launch off the sand behind the jetty. Some people were fishing down there too.
Up top were some of the fishing boats on trailers.
They were using tractors like this with big wheels to put the trailers into the water in the surf. This was the newest one we saw down there, most of them were a lot older with a lot of rust on them.
Back to Usal creek
We looked around a couple places before heading back to highway 101 and back down to the Usal creek area where we had been earlier and found a new camp up in the redwoods.
Hiked up the north trail
The next day I walked out on the north trail that goes out of here to check it out. This was one of my views from the trail of the shoreline going north just above Usal creek.
I walked until the trail started to go down faster than I wanted to walk back up, maybe a couple miles, then turned back.
Shortcut down the hill looking for berries
When I got above Usal creek, I decided to go down off the side of the mountain here where I could look for some berries to eat. Looking down some things caught my eyes.
The first thing was this truck that appeared to have not made it across the creek and was just sitting in the water. I heard later that they had tried to cross at midnight last night to go out and try for night smelt on the sandy beaches that are over that way. But with the spring rains, the creek was higher than usual.
And then I noticed the bull elk laying down there on the grass.
This was our last camp spot under some redwoods. We were sitting there when a car pulled in and set up camp just above us.
Cliff and his dog Sunshine
Eventually we got together with our new neighbor, Cliff and his dog Sunshine.
Cliffs on the left and Steve is on the right and I don’t know where his dog is.
It turns out Cliff is a local guy living down the road a bit just above Fort Bragg, so we got a lot more local stuff from him about the area from a locals point of view, not the state parks.
The next day in the evening, I asked Cliff if he wanted to walk out the road that goes by his camp spot just a bit.
So he and I followed his dog Sunshine up the road until Cliff had enough, so we turned back down the hill which was fine with me as I only wanted to stretch my legs a bit.
Time to head home
The next morning I packed and was ready to head on home. I drove on down to the ocean and found Cliff there fishing. There were some fishing boats just off shore fishing. Cliff said they are fishing for salmon.
When Cliff saw me drive up he and his dog came over for a chat. I shot the bull with Cliff for awhile and then headed out.
Fan belts making noise
I had noticed my fan belts were squeaking a bit when I pulled in the other day, but this morning they were a lot loader until I was thinking it might be the water pump might be going out.
Or is the water pump going out
When I got to Fort Bragg, I stopped and bought a can of belt dressing and sprayed it on the belts the best I could. The noise changed a little, but didn’t stop at which time I was really thinking the water pump may be going bad so I drove back to the parts house to see if they had a water pump for my old van.
They didn’t, but could have one in tree days. I decided to head on home and hope I could make it before something really went bad.
The noise finally went away
About half way to Boonville, I noticed the noise seemed to have gone, so maybe it just took awhile for the dressing to get where it needed to be? The engine was sounding better than it has in a long time now that I got rid of all the belt noises.
But that wasn’t the end of it. About ten miles out of Boonville, my throttle stuck open and I could only slow it down using the brakes, which I did until I found a pull out. I checked the throttle cable where it met the Throttle body injector which is like a carb on modern cars and it was loose, not tight like it should be. I got out my coveralls and went under the van to check the mechanical linkage. I worked the linkage back and forth a couple times and something snapped into place and it worked. I think the butterfly flap got stuck in the TBI somehow. Pushing the gas peddle to the floor might have fixed it if I’d done that. I’ll have to check out the butterfly later.
Trouble at home too
Once that was repaired I sailed on home. At home I found my automatic gate was broken and out of kilter and a big tree had fallen from the road across my fence which I’ll have to remove and fix the fence to keep the deer out when I get time. I did fix the gate before it got dark and did a little trimming on the downed tree.
Had a good trip.