Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Mighty Redwoods

Ladies and gentlemen, the two main attractions of my long trip both defy description: the Grand Canyon and the mighty Redwoods.  At first, as I made my way from Berkeley to Leggett along Route 101, aka the Redwood Highway, I thought that the grandeur of the trees has been overstated.  I saw some Redwoods and, though pretty, they were not exactly something to write home about.  I headed out from my most cozy lodgings (Stone Gate Villas, a nice place) with some trepidation.  I was afraid that I had traveled many hours for a myth.  Boy was I mistaken.

There are probably more unspectacular Redwoods than spectacular ones, but the competition is close.  You certainly have to travel far enough north to see the big ones, but it is, as much as I may have worried—it is indeed worth the travel. 

First I drove through the Chandelier Tree, which was beyond cool.  And then I bought a bunch of stuff made out of California Redwood at the gift shop by the tree.  It’s the best gift shop in the area as far as I’ve seen.  Afterward I walked a little bit up the paths around the Chandelier.  This is where I first fell to my knees.  There’s a poem by the Chandelier that urges humanity to fall to its knees in awe of the Redwoods.  I thought the poem and sentiment to be nice, but just a poem and sentiment; I was not expecting to, or even thinking to, drop to my knees.  Really I had no other choice.  The size, the height, the age, the silent and unspoken wisdom of greatness, all were too much to handle for me.  And it seemed like every direction I looked there was another magnificent elder waiting to impart its strength to me.  I just had to touch them and pray.

I didn’t think that the experience could get much better, but I decided to drive through the Avenue of the Giants anyway.  Boy was I glad I did so.  Grove after grove of huge trees by an unsuspecting river.  At one point I tried to hug one of the bigger ones and found that it felt like I was leaning against a wall: my arms weren’t able to bend much at all.  Some of the trees had fallen over, and those might have been the best.  You can then climb on top of them and walk their length or see the giant hole where the greedy roots took had once taken hold.  “How in the world…” I couldn’t stop asking.  My knees and hands were getting rather dirty by the time I parted from the Founder’s Tree near the end of the Avenue.

Whether the Redwoods are the work of God or of a chance process of nature, I don’t much care.  All I know is that it’s hard not to be in the presence of these trees and be inspired to greatness, both as a person and as a struggling writer/artist, or struggling whatever.  Unless you are absolutely destitute and starving, I’d imagine that your problems will suddenly seem like nothing in the face of the football field-tall Redwoods, some of which have been alive since Christ walked the earth; or, more commonly, since before Rome was sacked; or, far more commonly, since William the Conqueror invaded England.  Most of these trees were already massively massive when Jamestown was founded, or when Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo, or when the 49ers first established their namesake. 


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