Klamath River Golden Bear
Klamath River near the mouth

I had not updated this post since I wrote it in 2013 until one of my readers photographed cemeteries as public art. My pictures looked bad. So I reprocessed the originals and reloaded them. It’s amazing how much I’ve learned about both photography and writing in nearly ten years.

The third-person writing in this post throws me off a bit but I don’t want to redo all ten episodes right now. My intention at the time was to model my writing after the Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler. It fell far from the mark, but we had a great vacation – accidentally.

Chapter Seven  Jumbled Vacation Journal

Golden Bear RV Park – Temporary home during the Accidental Vacation

“I had no problem writing in my journal when I used a mechanical pencil,” Marsha grumbled to Vince.  “So I couldn’t find my pencil, and I quit writing.  I didn’t write anything yesterday, or maybe it was day three.  What have we been doing since we got here?  I remember the Trees of Mystery.  I’ve lost track.”

Lift at the Trees of Mystery Park

Since he had nothing better to do for the moment, no lawn to mow, no sprinklers to fix, no chores of any kind, Vince sat down with Marsha and they started sorting through the hundreds of pictures in all of their cameras. 

Mystery Trees

“OK, that’s enough for now,” he said ten minutes later, jumping off the kitchen bench seat across from Marsha.  “You’d better hurry if you are going with me.  Do you want to go? I want to leave here by 6:15 this morning so I can get to the car dealer by 6:45.” Vince took a breath.

“Yes, I want to go,” Marsha said.

Vince continued.  “The dealer opens at 7:30, and maybe somebody will come to work early.  I want to be the first one there.  Then I’ll take you to Starbucks and you can use the internet there.  You haven’t written anything in your journal for five days!  What happened?  You can stay here if you want to work on your journal.”

“No,” she replied.  “It’s ok, I wrote some of it online.  But now I’m mixed up.  Is it Monday?  I’m not used to being on vacation and being so out of touch!”

 “You know it’s getting late. You’re burning daylight,” Vince already on the move, didn’t respond to her.

By 6:15, as planned, they were on the road in their red rental car, winding their way north on Highway 101 from Klamath, California twenty miles to Crescent City, California to see what might be wrong with the truck.  While they waited in the parking lot of the GMC dealer, Vince alternated between pacing the lot and checking his emails on his cell phone.  It was nice to have cellular service.  He barked a few orders of who to call and email to Marsha.  He wanted to make sure that things ran smoothly back home.

“Vince, it’s only 6:45 a.m.  I’ll call them when the sun comes up.  Why don’t you go walk around a bit?” 

Anyone listening or looking at Vince would know he was a human pressure cooker.  At five feet four inches tall, his 139-pound muscular build and tense shoulders told the tale that he never stopped moving.  Business people loved him.  He carried himself like a mover and a shaker.  His demeanor stated, “I am here to get this done.”

Headed south through the California Redwoods to Eureka

By the time they checked on the truck, daylight was well on its way, and it was beautiful.  The bright blue sky and 75-degree temperatures couldn’t have been lovelier. The truck was set up to get it’s new alternator in less than a week, they were off again. There was so much to see in Eureka.

Eureka Surfside Burgers1

Arriving in Eureka the first on the agenda was lunch.  Vince had not eaten much since 5:00 a.m., and he wanted man food.  That meant burgers.  They chose Surfside Burgers on Highway 101, the main street, 5th Street, as it ran through downtown Eureka.  They enjoyed eating their burgers stuffed with 1/2 inch chunks of bacon smothered with two kinds of cheeses, a tomato slice and lettuce on top. It was cool enough to eat at a bistro set on the sidewalk.

Next Stop – The Ferndale Cemetery

St. Mary’s Cemetery in Ferndale, California

As they ate, Vince poured through the tourist map he had picked up at the Eureka KOA.   Want to check out Ferndale Cemetery? It dates back to 1868, just after the Civil War ended.”  

Blue sky and her camera around her neck, Marsha was on her way to the car.

“A cemetery?  hmmm.  Sure, sounds interesting.” As they drove south to Ferndale, she looked at the information on ther phone. “It says here that Ferndale was a glade of giant six-foot tall ferns before the first American settlers came in 1852.” 

“That explains the name. I don’t see any now. This cemetery is supposed to be the most famous cemetery in California,” Vince said.

Inside Ferndale Cemetery

 “Wow, this cemetery has huge plots.  Unlike my journal, which has no plot,” Marsha joked.  Look how big the markers are!”

Huge gravestone

 “Look at the inscription on this one.  Did you hear that woman over there that said she found someone here born in 1799?  Almost all the markers around here are from the 1800s. Maybe they had filled it up with these gynormous crypts by 1900.”

Huge crack in the wall, tilted marker

 Marsha was already in another world taking pictures of cracks in the walls, and lopsided headstones, dates, and moss on rocks.  Vince took the dog and walked up the steep incline to the top of the cemetery. 

Marsha found the stairs.

Stairway to the next level of the cemetery

“The view is great.  Just point your camera out this way.  See how you can get the ocean in the view?” Vince was excited even though he wasn’t taking the pictures.

Marsha huffed a little as she hurried the rest of the way up the steep incline to the top of the hill overlooking Ferndale.

“It says in this brochure that the first industries were fishing for eels, salmon and sturgeon, while collecting shell fish and growing tobacco,” she said.

She turned to align herself to Vince’s body, pointed the camera exactly as he told her, and snapped the picture. 

 “That was a perfect shot, honey.  Thanks.”

Puppy Girl admires the view.

As they left the cemetery, Marsha struck up a conversation with a gentleman placing flowers.  It didn’t take long until they were engaged in a heated conversation about whether or not Southern Oregon and Northern California should become the 52nd state of the Union.

“This area was all set to become the state of Jefferson before World War II,” he informed her.  These trees need to be managed, and the government just won’t let us do it.  Ferndale is dying.  There’s no industry here,” his ranting continued.

“Marsha, sweetie, we need to be going.”  Vince saved her.

“It was nice to talk to you,” Marsha smiled her lips grating across her clenched teeth.  Vince and Marsha headed toward the rental car.

The Gingerbread Mansion
The Gingerbread Mansion

“Ferndale is amazing.  I love this place!  It looks like it is still 1852 around here.  Let’s take our time and take some pictures of the buildings,”  Marsha wheedled.

Klamath Canon199

She hadn’t needed to try hard.  Vince loved the architecture as well. 

Although, architecture was his first love, and he knew he would have been good at it, other priorities had called louder than college. As a bright young man and good salesman, his hard work rapidly drove him to the top of the electronics company where he worked for many years. He and his wife both loved studying the style of buildings in Ferndale.  

Quickly the day slipped by, and the couple headed back to their temporary home base in Klamath at the Golden Bear RV Park.

SFW Herds of Elk108

 As they drove, Vince spotted a herd of elk bathing in the river and pulled over.  Marsha jumped out of the car with about 20 other onlookers and captured the amazing views on her digital camera.  Vince snapped a few shots with his cell phone.

SFW Herds of Elk112

 “There is another herd about 10 miles up the road,” warned a driver coming from the south.

SFW Herds of Elk124

 When they reached that spot, the elk crossed the highway as if it were a meadow in their private forest.  Cars on both sides of the road stopped in the road, and everyone got out to take close-up pictures of the racked celebrities.  The elk seemed used to it, stopping to pose as they crossed the street, or lay in the grass having a leafy picnic.  The effect was magical.  Drivers became instant friends as they marveled at the large herd of animals.  Vince sat in the car worried that Marsha would be trampled.

SFW Herds of Elk101

 Eventually, a few cars inched forward around the herd, and soon the spell was broken, and Vince and Marsha headed down the road.  Both accidental travelers were ready for a nap, and they still had to figure out how Marsha was going to conduct her meeting the next night with no internet or cellular service.

Cotinued in The Accidental Vacation Chapter 8.

26 responses to “The Accidental Vacation: Chapter Seven”

  1. mhdriver Avatar

    Did you get to see the Carson Mansion in Eureka a beautiful Victorian home If I remember the story correctly Mr. Carson owned the lumber mill in that area. When times got hard he put his men to work building this Mansion. It owned by some club of something. I know that there were a lot of Victorian homes in Fortuna also.


    1. tchistorygal Avatar

      We didn’t get to see the Carson Mansion. We didn’t spend too much time in Eureka, because we headed off to Ferndale. By the time we got there, Vince wanted to head back so that he wasn’t driving through the redwoods in the dark. Eureka was about an hour and a half away from where we were, and you know Highway 101. There was some construction which added to the travel time – not to mention the elk. I would have hated to meet them in the dark! 🙂 We spent most of our time right around Klamath and Crescent City, which was closer.


      1. mhdriver Avatar

        In Klamath at 101 do they still have the bears entering the bridge. I have fished under that over pass for several years for steelhead trout until one year we decided to go north to
        Oregon to Gold Beach and fish the Rogue River Loved it up there.


        1. tchistorygal Avatar

          Yes, the golden bears are still there!


          1. mhdriver Avatar

            At the sporting goods store they gave away gold hearts with a bear in the center. I was lucky enough to get one and I think I still have it. It wasn’t real gold just plated.


          2. tchistorygal Avatar

            Bad news, Jim, the bears’ golden fur is wearing thin in places. 😳


          3. mhdriver Avatar

            So is my pin.


  2. Hot Rod Cowgirl Avatar

    Love it! With all the hassles of a major break down on vacation, you both handled it great and you had a wonderful memorable vacation together:) What an adventure too! I love your photos too and as I read, I felt like I was with you on the adventure wondering what was next:) We actually have elk like that close to us here and often they will come visit us….love seeing them as they are so incredibly majestic! Also the hamburger looked yummy….I am going to note the name of the burger place for future reference:) Hugs:) TOM


    1. tchistorygal Avatar

      Yes, it’s close enough to you, that you could head over for a long weekend. 🙂 Thanks for the nice compliments and encouragement to keep writing. 🙂 Believe it or not, I am actually glad we had the breakdown. We would never have spent the time to explore, and it was truly lovely. 🙂


      1. Hot Rod Cowgirl Avatar

        I would love to if I could grab a few days just for me time to come see you:) No seriously keep writing…I get frustrated at times with my writing and feel like a ding dong…totally stuck but we have to keep writing so we do not give up. I know I would never give up on writing but sometimes I want to go throw dirt clods against the bank behind the barn:) And that is why you are young at heart TOM…you see things as the glass is still half full as in a good thing….negative people only see the glass half empty…keep seeing it half full and your heart will always be happy and full of adventure:) I am like you I see and look for the good in unexpected circumstances…life is good:)


        1. tchistorygal Avatar

          Yeah! We need to make plans. We don’t live THAT FAR APART!


  3. RoSy Avatar

    This is fun. I would have enjoyed the stop at the cemetery too.
    You mention “the state of Jefferson.”
    I saw a bit about that on the history channel once. Interesting population there…
    The gingerbread mansion looks nice. Do you know why they call it that?
    There sure are a lot of elk up there.


    1. tchistorygal Avatar

      The population of two that I stopped to talk to were interesting. The first was the man who left the area to find work. The second was a painter who painted the Gingerbread Mansion, and was working on another Victorian hotel downtown. He was an older, very lean, white man, who had painted just about every building in town – over and over again. He was definitely busy, and didn’t show signs of stopping. And he worked alone. So if he had all the work in town, it didn’t leave very much for the young folks coming up behind him. There was no industry there that I could see. The Jefferson State advocate, who had moved away, and wanted to come home, said there wasn’t any work since the government curtailed the logging industry so much. It is a difficult dilemma. The elk were happy to live there. I don’t think they care if it is Jefferson or California.


  4. Daniela Avatar

    Oh Marsha, such a wonderful photos and engaging adventure writing -:)!


    1. tchistorygal Avatar

      Thank you so much Daniela. That’s such a high compliment coming from you. You are an outstanding writer. I still think about your guide to the poor single women who come to your country looking for single men. Soooooooo funny! 🙂


  5. adinparadise Avatar

    Mmmm….that burger looks really good. 🙂 Hubby is a much better photographer than I am, but I do sometimes resent that after I’ve taken a shot of something, he will take a much better shot of exactly the same thing. I suppose it’s a man thing. 🙂 great that you saw those elk. What a bonus!


    1. tchistorygal Avatar

      You get my feelings perfectly. I think our husbands must be related. Both good photographers, good at remodeling their houses, good at….That can be a bit intimidating, but then there’s us, well at least you. I bet your husband can’t touch a piano the way you can! 🙂 And I bet he didn’t take all those pictures that you took. Your pictures are absolutely marvelous, and so varied. Your writing is superb, weaving the stories around so many different pictures. I bet he can’t do that! 🙂

      Yes, the elk were definitely a highlight. That was one time we were at the right place at the right time, and the next time we drove through, we hardly recognized the place because without the elk, it was totally blah!


      1. adinparadise Avatar

        Thanks for the vote of confidence, Marsha. You really don’t want to hear my hubby sing, and he really must never touch my piano unless something needs adjusting. 😀


        1. tchistorygal Avatar

          hehehe. Vince can actually sing, and we sing to the dog. He doesn’t do it in front of anyone else, though. 🙂 Probably a good thing for both of us. I used to sing quite a bit, but my voice is totally out of shape now. We have a piano, and he loves it because it is beautiful old oak. I bought it from a friend who had it in her house, and 30 years ago I said if she ever wanted to sell it, I’d love to have it. She called me, twenty five years later out of the blue, and said, “I’m going to sell my piano, and you said you wanted it.” So I have a beautiful piano, that I can play a few tunes on from memory when I was a child, and I can plunk out anything I know by ear, but it is plunky. I can read music with much disgrace, and when I tried playing at church, my husband refused to come because it was so embarrassing to hear and watch me play. 🙂 But I have a beautiful piano. And I dust it. 🙂


  6. Ralph Avatar

    Oh !!! Thanks a lot MVBFM for finding a plot for me !! 😉 xox


    1. tchistorygal Avatar

      The plot thickens, Ralph! You’re one of the tallest people we all know! I just figured… Illustrations… poetic license … Thinking of you 🙂 I just wanted to help my readers get grounded! 🙂 love you, Ralph. 🙂 xoxoxxo


  7. the eternal traveller Avatar

    Oh, and Mr ET is always telling me how to get the best photo, after I’ve already taken one. And then he says, “If I had taken that photo I would have…” Thank goodness he has his own camera now. He can take thousands of photos any way he wants.


    1. tchistorygal Avatar

      Vince had a little camera, but he does need a better camera of his own. He really IS a more talented photographer than I am, I think. But we talk about photographing a lot. He used to do a lot more of it when he was younger. 🙂


  8. the eternal traveller Avatar

    I really love that the problem with your truck led you to have this wonderful unplanned holiday together. Lovely photos too.


    1. tchistorygal Avatar

      Thanks. It really was wonderful!


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