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It dawned on us when we woke up to a bright but chilly morning at Gold Bluffs Beach Campground that it was October 1st. Time has just flown by since we left North Carolina on June 3rd. We realized it was time for us to start making our way south so we could stay ahead of the winter weather. We had one more place to check out before we left Prairie Creek State Park. We had heard from several people including our Starbucks friend, Nancy, that Fern Canyon was a must see. You can reach it by hiking a couple miles along the beach or by driving to the trailhead. In the interest of time, we opted for the latter.

A very short hike brings you into the lush, green canyon filled with numerous varieties of ferns. It is very damp and there are boards placed along the trail so you can avoid hiking in water. The sunlight coming through the dense foliage created beautiful designs inside the canyon. We took our time enjoying the view and taking lots of pictures. On our way back to the car, we spotted a lone elk in the meadow alongside the trail. They are such beautiful, strong looking animals, we never get tired of seeing them.

After a lovely morning hike, it was time to get on the road and start our slow trek south. We did not have a specific destination in mind for the day, we just knew we wanted to stay along the coast as much as possible. A fellow camper back at Rogue Elk Campground in Oregon had suggested Trinidad as a nice place to visit so we headed that way.

You really can’t go wrong with a drive along the Northern California coast on a sunny, early fall day but stopping to explore a bit in Trinidad made it even better. We visited the Trinidad Head Memorial Lighthouse then hiked down to the beach. Reaching the beach requires descending a lengthy set of steep steps and then a short wooden rope ladder at the end. It was worth it when we saw the beautiful beach and the seals sunning themselves on the nearby rocks.

Back in the car after climbing back up that steep set of stairs, we set our course for Eureka, California which had also been mentioned to us by several other campers. We needed some groceries and a place to stay for the night so it seemed like a good bet. Once we made it to Eureka, a trip to Walmart took care of the groceries but we came up empty on a campsite. A quick search on freecampsites.net yielded nearby Bear River Casino as a possibility. We had enjoyed staying in a casino parking lot for a night the week before so we were game to give it another try.

When we arrived, we checked in with security as suggested on the camping website and were disappointed to learn that only RVs and campers are permitted, not converted vehicles. By this point, it was getting late and turning chilly. The security guard suggested a possible place to camp but it was at least a 45-minute drive. For lack of a better option, we decided to head back to Eureka and find a hotel. Best Western had the best deal so we ended up there for the night. When we left Gold Bluff Beach that morning, we had no intention of spending the night at a hotel but part of the fun of a trip like this is figuring things out as we go along. After a busy day of hiking and driving, it was nice to stretch out in a real bed and watch some tv so it worked out just fine.