All hands are now very busy in the office, hurried the worst kind—the old monotonous life has set in and it is irksome enough. To leave the free open air for the confined office and bedroom, and the laborious outdoors work for writing, is a great change and is irksome.
[Today] we had a lovely morning. Another steamer lay at our wharf, so that we did not get ashore until nearly noon.
I found the men all back at the office except Gabb…Ashburner and King were just starting for the Mariposa Estate—they went [this] afternoon. I once more donned the habiliments of civilization and went and took rooms at a boarding house with the same landlady that I had last winter, who has moved to new and more comfortable, as well as more fashionable, quarters. I met many old friends, among them Mrs. Ashburner, had a most pleasant dinner, and thus again began civilized life, calling on Mrs. Whitney in the evening.
We had a stiff breeze [last] night, and it was clear, but the ship rolled heavily. I slept well, however, although it has been three years since I have been on shipboard.
All day [today] we ran down the coast. The wind was fair and we made fine headway. The coast ranges were in sight, some of the higher peaks covered with snow. A beautiful night set in, but the breeze was heavy. The moon was light and we ran so close to Punta de los Reyes that we could hear the barking of the innumerable seals and sea lions that thronged the rocks there. A Russian man-of-war had been wrecked there but a few days before.
We ran into the Golden Gate about midnight. It is a most beautiful entrance to a more beautiful harbor. The whole scene lay so lovely in the soft moonlight that I stayed on deck until we anchored in front of the city.
[The Oregon] did not leave until [this afternoon], when we went aboard about 3 P.M. There is no dock—the steamer anchors two or three miles from the shore. Surfboats come up as close as possible. We got into a cart, which was drawn out by a horse to the boat. We clambered in and were rowed to the ship. This cost us two dollars. We were soon under way, and [this] evening I sat and listened to the purser tell stories of Utah. He spent eighteen months among the Mormons.
I stopped [here] twelve days, making excursions in every direction and looking at various coal and copper mines, but we had much rain, and often I was not out at all. One of these excursions carried me through the redwoods in two other places; I wish it had been oftener….
I met an old friend, a Mr. Pomeroy…and spent some very pleasant evenings with him and his wife….
[This afternoon], unexpectedly, the steamship Oregon arrived from San Francisco, and suddenly the town was all astir.
As before remarked, a flat stretches out into the sea here, about five or six miles wide and ten to fifteen miles long. It is mostly covered with very heavy timber and a tangled undergrowth of ferns and bushes, but here and there are openings where pretty farms abound. There are some lakes in here, beautiful sheets of water. I went out to one—with grassy swamps around it and rushes and reeds growing up in the shallow margin. Dense dark forests surrounded it. There were a few canoes tied up to the shore, and by two cabins that I passed were some really beautiful half-breed children. Myriads of ducks and geese and other waterfowl swarmed, and some white swans and pelicans enlightened the scene. These waterfowl, especially ducks, are very abundant. I saw a hunter, an Indian, coming in town with a horse loaded with them. He must have had a hundred. They cost only $1.50 per dozen, and I luxuriated on wild ducks all the time I stayed there.
The floods of two years ago brought down an immense amount of driftwood from all the rivers along the coast, and it was cast up along this part of the coast in quantities that stagger belief. It looked to me as if I saw enough in ten miles along the shore to make a million cords of wood. It is thrown up in great piles, often half a mile long, and the size of some of these logs is tremendous. I had the curiosity to measure over twenty. They were worn by the water and their bark gone, but it is not uncommon to see logs 150 feet long and 4 feet in diameter at the little end where the top is broken off. One I measured was 210 feet long and 3 1/2 feet at the little end, without the bark.
[Last night] a tremendous storm raged on this coast. It did immense damage to the shipping at San Francisco, and sank the ship that had on board the iron “monitor” sent out to protect the harbor. At Crescent City it was heaviest in the night, with the heaviest southeast wind the place has seen for ten years. There were no vessels to injure, but it did other damage. The wind blew down some unoccupied houses. It blew down a shed attached to the house where I was stopping and did damage there to the amount of about $200. The surf broke up so high that it brought driftwood and heavy logs up to the doors of the front buildings. I could not sleep all night—the breaking of the surf seemed almost like the booming of artillery. The wind partially ceased, but the surf was heavy all day [today], and the wind returned, but with less violence [tonight].