June 23, 2016 – Westport Union Landing State Beach

Route: US-101S

CARoute05We did not do this drive in one day. It actually took us two. We stopped and stayed at Mad River Rapids RV Park (clean, nice bathrooms, laundry, just a little too developed for our preferences) in McKinleyville, CA the night of June 21st. Cell reception was critical for the morning of the 22nd because Jess had a phone interview for a job. The saving grace of this stop was Six Rivers Brewery, just 5 minutes away from our campground. We enjoyed their beers.

Just south of Eureka, we debated on taking Mattole road along the lost coast. It is a beautiful drive; we have done it before in a rental car and motorcycle. However, it is twisty with lots of up and downs. We decided not to abuse Abby that badly a few weeks before our move to Colorado. We decided to enjoy the drive along Avenue of the Giants for the scenic portion of our drive.

History: Westport and Union Landing were towns supported by the lumber industry. A complex wharf and chute system was used to load the schooners anchored beyond the dangerous rocks with lumber, tanbark, shingles, wool, oats and railroad ties from the bluffs. The town struggled through boom and bust cycles, and the Great Depression diminished Westport further. The town survives today, unlike other lumber towns along the coast.


With our late start on the 22nd, we started to look for camping in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. We were shut out the previous night at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park; this park is very popular and after hiking to Patrick’s Point, it was clear why. Make a reservation, it will be worth it. We were cautiously optimistic about finding a spot in Humboldt Redwoods. The Burlington campground, where we (minus Alex) camped in 2010 was full, and the park staff recommended Hidden Springs. This was a fantastic recommendation. We selected site 9, which was level and had a nice area for Alex and the dogs. There was some road noise, but the number of cars traveling on the road decreased significantly after dusk.

We got off to an early start on Thursday and as we drove by Westport Union Landing State Beach we saw campsites set up. We stopped to investigate and discovered that this is a first come, first serve campground. We snagged a spot for two nights. Initially, there looked to be a limited number of spots, but there are three camping areas.


View from Patrick's Point towards Wedding Rock.
View from Patrick’s Point towards Wedding Rock.

Various hiking trails are available at Humboldt Redwoods State Park and Prairie Creek. Prairie Creek will have ocean view trails. At the Eel River swimming hole in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, Alex took great joy in throwing rocks into the river. It is an activity he enjoys.

Alex waiting for a wave to come in so he can throw a rock into the ocean.
Alex waiting for a wave to come in so he can throw a rock into the ocean.
Penny and Chewie running on the beach.
Penny and Chewie running on the beach.

2016_Coast05Westport Union Landing State Beach has, well, the beach. This can be walked to and at low tide you can find sand crabs, crabs, giant anemones, and mussels. Alex took a little bit to warm up to the beach and preferred to walk on the harder sand exposed during low tide. Once he discovered this surface, he was eager to run up and down the beach. The dogs were excited to frolic in the surf.

Fort Bragg is about 15 miles down the road. Fort Bragg is the home of North Coast Brewing Company and their very tasty beers. There is a tourist train, called the Skunk Train, that takes riders on a forty mile tour through redwoods and mountain meadows. We missed an opportunity to take Alex on a train ride that he would have loved. There is also Glass Beach, where beauty has resulted from a former city dump.

Overall: Fantastic camping spot. Need to be quick to grab a site. The proximity to Fort Bragg provides extra activities. We could have spend our entire trip camped out on the bluffs.

Morning view from our campsite.
Morning view from our campsite.

Brewery Tour – June 2016

The Brewing Lair

Located in Blairsden, CA, the The Brewing Lair has a superior setting (What? We should have taken pictures? We didn’t, check out the website). Tucked away in the Sierra’s along the Pacific Crest Trail, the brewery has a 9 hole disc golf course (15 acres), a slack line, and 3 BBQ grills for cooking (first come, first serve). They have several levels of outdoor seating with Adirondack chairs and picnic tables. They even have a nice selection of toys for kids (Blaze, hula hoops, Lightning McQueen, dinosaurs). The brewery is approximately a 10 minute drive from Plumas-Eureka State Park.

The Brewing Lair Sampler.

BrewingLair_02We tried the sampler that consisted of the Blair Belgian Blonde Ale, Ambush IPA, Take a Hike India Red Ale, Black IPA, and Solo Session with Mosaic hops. These, with the exception of the Blair, were hop forward. All the beers were well done and we enjoyed them, despite them being outside of what we usually order. We went back for pints of the Blair and the Black IPA. This is brewery is well worth the trip.


Woody’s Brewing Company

Fully pour of the Apricot Wheat at Woody’s and their beer selection.

Located in Redding, CA, Woody’s Brewing Company was a great spot for lunch and beer. We again opened with the sampler and there wasn’t a beer we didn’t like. Full pours were ordered of the Apricot Wheat (hint of apricot, not overly sweet) and the Pray for Powder Porter (just very nicely done). The food was also top notch – the jalapeno burger has flattened, deep-fried jalapenos on it. Very tasty. If you are in the area, it is worth the stop.

Lost Coast Brewery

Located in Eureka, CA, we first stopped at the Lost Coast Brewery in 2010 and again in 2012. Since our last visit, Eureka seems to be a bit more down on its luck. The brewery remains rather unchanged from our memory. We settled in and grabbed a sampler. We really do like the sampler as an easy way to taste all the beers. We found the 8 Ball Stout to be one of the better beers, but, were underwhelmed in general. The Famous Hot Brown was meh, and fell short regarding the description. The 8 Ball Stout Beef stew was delicious, although light on the meat. We might stop here again, but it won’t go out of our way to do so.

Six Rivers Brewery

The sampler at Six Rivers.
The sampler at Six Rivers.

Located in Mckinleyville, Six Rivers Brewery was the highlight to our day. Forced into a commercial campground for the night due to the need for cell reception for Jess’ phone interview the next day, we needed some good beer to off set the less than picturesque accommodations. Six Rivers came highly recommended by a friend and former classmate of Jess’. The sampler was ordered again, and much drinking ensued. The Chili Pepper Spicy Ale was overwhelming, the tip to mix it 50/50 with Strawberry Wheat came too late to help us. The summer sour was well done, with a hint of acid, but not excessive. The IPAs were all nicely done.

The Buffalo Chicken sandwich had nice heat to it and the burger wasn’t one to drive for, but was edible. Had a really nice Kid’s Platter with a wide selection for those little grazers.

North Coast Brewing Company

The sampler at North Coast Brewing Company.
The sampler at North Coast Brewing Company.

North Coast Brewing Company, in Fort Bragg was the last stop of our trip. Our final sampler of delicious beers. No truly bad beer in the bunch. The Red Seal beer engine sampler had the aroma of diacetyl (buttery), but the non-beer engine Red Seal was as expected. Possible the beer engine needed new lines or the beer was not moving quickly. Old 38 Stout, Brother Thelonius, Old Stock Ale, Pranqster, and Blue Star were some of our favorites.

The food was also very good. The Carolina BBQ kurubota pork was juicy, tender, and had that expected vinegar tang. The rosemary chicken was nicely cooked and was served with a delicious sauce. We sat at the bar a number of years ago, and to the best of our recollection, the tap room has changed since then (time does march on!). The tap room seemed to have a more upscale feel to it, but 6 or so years will cloud the memory.

It is a good thing we don’t live near Fort Bragg – our wallets would be quite thin from all our North Coast visits.


We enjoyed revisiting breweries and trying out new places. It is definitely a different experience with Alex in tow, but with a little help from the electronic baby sitter (DVD player), we were able to enjoy some beer.

Hands down, the Brewing Lair had the best setting. A must visit if you are in the area; also great for Alex (an other kids) because he got to play outside and there were toys.

For beer, North Coast did not disappoint. Woody’s was a nice surprise, we stopped because we needed lunch and they served food. We are very glad we did, it was quite enjoyable. The Brewing Lair beer styles were outside of what we normally seek out, but well done.