You might not know a burl from a squirrel when you set off on the 31-mile section of old Highway 101 known as the Avenue of the Giants, but by the end of the day you'll have learned tons about the strange growths and the products crafted from them that are hawked all up and down the Avenue.
This scenic drive in southern Humboldt County is a treasure trove of wonderfully kitschy tourist attractions, gift shops and cabin motels established back when middle-class Americans were just acquiring cars and beginning to travel. It's also surrounded by magnificent Humboldt Redwoods State Park and other tracts containing old-growth trees that will make your spine tingle with wonder and leave you feeling smaller than an ant.
Driving the Avenue is like entering a time warp . . . every mile between Phillipsville and Pepperwood has something to make you smile and set Spot's tail a-wagging. This is one laid-back part of California, and while dogs aren't allowed on state-park trails, there's no shortage of places where the two of you can walk and contemplate the giants of nature.
Who knows, you might even come back with a redwood burl clock to hang on the wall above Rover's bed.
Photo: "Pepperwood Motel" - MrMan5919