We arrived in Fortuna, the main market town for the dairy farmers and loggers alike, in late morning on the fourth day. We picked up some food and other supplies, got directions, and headed east on the narrow, winding country road leading to Carlotta, where we would be working for the next two months. On the way, we passed through Hydesville, another quaint farming village. After Hydesville, the road wound into the hills and, an hour later, we were in Carlotta, which, as far as we could tell, was nothing more than two sawmills, a general store and a post office. Not even a diner or gas station! Now all we had to do was figure out where we were going to live.
At the Post Office, we learned that there were plenty of campgrounds up the road–including Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park– but the most intriguing was a place managed by Strong’s Station, an old stagecoach stop along the road between Fortuna to Red Bluff, a town on the other side of the mountain. This was a private redwood grove, owned by Hammond Lumber Company, through which the Van Dusen River, from which we could get our water and in which we could take our baths, ran. It was beautiful and very quiet, and we assumed that we would be able to live comfortably and peacefully there for the next two months.
We soon learned that “comfortably and peacefully ” weren’t quite the right words, but we had no way of knowing what adventures were coming our way when we plunked down our $12 a week camping fee on that first day.
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