into the redwoods

This is a month ago yesterday’s post, which didn’t get made on time.

We left Williams fairly early in the morning, although it was already almost 80dF outside.  About 10 miles west of town we spied another fruit stand, where we stopped and stocked up again, then headed west around Clear Lake to U.S. 101, which is the coastal counterpart to I-5.  We stopped for gas in the town of Willits (home of the Skunk — a short railroad built back in the days when they were still lumbering old growth redwoods, but now a tourist trip), then headed up into the redwoods.

This is where we picnicked, after purchasing delicious sandwiches in a hippy dippy general store along 101 
This is the Eel River, where my ex-husband almost drowned on our wedding night, but that’s another story.

We drove up past the Benbow Inn (where I spent part of my first honeymoon 30+ years ago) and Garberville, and turned off onto the Avenue of the Giants.

Just one of lots and lots of enormous trees.

I love everything about the Avenue of the Giants.  I love the quaint little towns draped along it at intervals, and the way it forces drivers to be leisurely and enjoy the drive (it really should be a National Parkway like the Blue Ridge and the Natchez Trace, in my humble opinion), and then, of course, there are the trees.  I’m not going to get all clichéd on you and talk about how small and young they can make you feel, because to me that’s not the point.  The point is that they’ve watched everything happen in their long lifetimes, and they’re still there.  There’s something comforting about that.

It is difficult to get decent pictures of them, though.  I did try…

I like the light in this one.
This is how shallow-rooted those enormous trees really are.

Both of these photos were taken in the Founder’s Grove, at the north end of the Avenue of the Giants, which is also the home of one of the tallest living things on the earth, the Founder’s Tree:

346 feet tall, actually

A great many of the groves are named after people or events, since the remaining old-growth redwoods were originally saved by charitable donations back in the middle of the 20th century. 

This one was named after a military veteran.

There are stones with metal plaques like this scattered all through the groves.

We also stopped at a visitor center along the Avenue, where, of all things, we overheard a young man talking to the woman behind the counter about how he was thinking about going to Yellowstone. He seemed to be under the impression that it would be just a short jaunt. I couldn’t help but jump in and try to explain things — like how Yellowstone is about 1000 miles from the redwoods. I was glad to see the distance didn’t daunt him, but I do wonder if he ever made it.

We eventually got back on 101 again and drove through Eureka to the college (Humboldt State University) town of Arcata, where we found a motel.  We’d gone from 80 degrees at 8 am to 60 degrees at 5 pm.  After over a week of 90s and single digit humidity, 60s and fog were absolutely a balm to our parched souls.