Tonight, we are in the northern Californian city of Redding. We had a late start leaving our previous nights stay at Chico and we have spent the day meandering to reach here in the early afternoon.
Before we left Chico, we visited the Honey Run covered bridge with its unique three level roofline. (When you have nothing much really going for you, a three-level roofline is pretty important!). I took a stack of photos to only find out, further up the road, that I hadn’t replaced the memory card in my camera so nothing had recorded. The only other stand-out attraction in Chico was the National Yo-Yo Museum but for somer reason (probably our disinterest in yo-yo’s), we passed it by, to head up the road towards Redding.
I have to say that there is nothing much in Redding, either, to get excited about. The only reason that we are here is that it’s the starting point for the self-drive itinerary that we plan to follow. The tour actually finishes here and takes you off for a final day’s drive back to San Francisco. We are doing the tour in reverse, so for us, this is the beginning, not the end. We are doing this because we weren’t sure that Yosemite would be snow-free if we were to be there in November, but with the weather we are having, we probably needn’t have worried.
Our first stop today was in the old cattle town of Cottonwood. This s a real ‘redneck’ town that was in its prime many years ago. Most of it’s buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. According to Wikipedia, it’s probably the oldest settlement in the local Shasta County. The first settlement here was was a stopping place for miners, pack trains and wagon trains as early as 1849 and In 1851 the Baxter & Monroe Stage Line began stopping and changing horses at their Cottonwood station. In the mid 1850’s it had become a major stagecoach stopping place. The first Cottonwood Post Office was established in 1852. For many years, it was the largest livestock shipping point in northern California. Cattle and sheep were driven to the large railroad corrals, separated and weighed on large stock scales and then shipped on railroad stock cars to all areas of the American West. Its main street was built to be wide enough to enable wagons to turn around.
We learned some more about American food today. Along with coffee at the little eatery in Cottonwood, Jill had a scone. Here, they are called ‘biscuits’ and she had the option of having it served with jelly, butter or gravy. Interesting cuisine!
We had a chat with a woman who ran an antique store in what was originally an old boarding house. It seems we are developing an affinity with women who run antique stores. She told us about the history of the building and gave us an overview of the background of the town. I would probably describe her store as a ‘junk store’ rather than an antique one. There seems to be dozens of them along the roads on which we have travelled.
We did make one special find – this tea towel that would have been a souvenir from the Cadbury Chocolate Factory in Hobart, Tasmania. It’s strange how you can come to the other side of the world and find something from home. At $10 it might have even been a good buy!
Just out of Redding is the old gold mining ghost town of Shasta. The site of the town is now a California state historical park. It contains the shells of many of the original 1850s-era brick buildings of the gold mining town – a post office, a church, an elementary school, the oldest Masonic lodge in California, and stores. Shasta was bypassed when the railway came to nearby Redding in 1877 and it gradually declined to a slow death. Later fires destroyed many off the buildings and only a few now remain of what was once the longest stretch of brick buildings in California.
Back in Redding, we found its most outstanding attraction – the Sundial Bridge. This foot bridge crosses the Sacramento River and provides access from the city’s arboretum to the very spiffy looking museum on the city side of the river. The bridge was built by a famous Spanish architect; so famous that I can’t remember his name. It has an interesting design and with its glass floor, it is very impressive.
Finally, at our hotel tonight we were confronted with another of California’s infamous warning signs. This notice was on the entry door to reception. I’m not really sure that I want to stay in place that is so dangerous, yet, other than a tent, there’s not much choice. Every place here has the same dangers. Thank goodness that Jill is not pregnant!