Striking Out in the Redwoods

Friday, 22 October 2010 10:49 AM Written by 

MILL VALLEY, CA. -- McDonald's

I didn't find the big deserted resort in the redwoods Steinbeck and his family stayed at for several days on their way to San Francisco half a century ago.

I drove down the Avenue of the Redwoods yesterday afternoon, past thousands of trees so tall and thick they shut out the entire electromagnetic spectrum -- from the sun, Verizon or Sirius XM.


The avenue's narrow and snaky, and the tree trunks so monstrous they often touch the paint of the yellow line. It's impossible to believe that until the mid-1960s, when the bypasses were put in, the road was US Route 101 and a major truck route.2010-10-21_17.15.55-1

I pulled over at an organic fruit and veggie stand near Pepperwood, but I was never able to find the old resort that the people there said might be the place I was looking for: the Hartsook Inn, set in the redwoods at the southern end of the Avenue of the Giants.

The Inn is now closed and owned by the Save- the-Redwoods League.  A real getaway with 62 rustic cabins and no phones, it was once the place to go for celebrities like Steinbeck.H-CA8

I did find the Benbow Inn, another resort that might have sheltered the Steinbecks for several days. It's not hidden so deep in the redwoods, but it's still going strong. DSC_2012

I stopped for dinner last night in downtown Garberville, the prosperous capital of Marijuana County, and guess what? Everyone seemed stoned.

Demographically, everyone was either old and homeless looking or young and homeless looking (they were the ones with the overstuffed backpacks).

As I got back in my RAV4, a stereotypically solid citizen of Garberville was squatting on the sidewalk with his back against a building.

"Is that a 2010?" he said.

"Yeah," I said.

"I've got an '09."

"Sure you do, pal," I thought.

He asked me where I was from and I told him Pittsburgh.

"I've got an uncle in Pittsburgh -- and I went to a football game at Three Rivers Stadium in the '80s, when I was a teen-ager."

As I got into my car, he hit me with the closer that I should have seen coming but didn't:

"I've got some good weed if you're interested."

I passed on his kind offer, thereby missing a chance to contribute to the greater Garberville economy by buying locally.

I tried to make it to my daughter Michelle's house here last night, but didn't. Too tired. I slept in my car for about three hours somewhere along lonely, dark, twisting, dipping US 101 near Willits.

Then I got up, drove the remaining 100 miles and pulled into Michelle's driveway at 2. I slept till 6, breaking several dozen zoning laws in her fine upstanding community, I'm sure. 


To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.