My wife and I have been lucky enough over the past 22 years or so to be able do a little bit of traveling around the country and we keep checking places off the list that one or the other of us has been to that we feel the other should experience. I’ve traveled a bit more so I tend to say “Been there” more often but she’s quickly catching up and now that we’re empty nesters, we’ve got the freedom to get away every so often.
One place (or thing more properly) that I always felt she should see was the Redwoods in California. I’d seen them when I was about seven years old and can still remember how awe inspiring it was then. It proved to be just as wonderful during her first visit as it was for my long anticipated return. The Coastal Redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) are absolutely magnificent examples of nature’s splendor when left alone but also a testament to how man can adversely affected the natural world around us. As gigantic as these trees are, reaching nearly 380 feet tall and almost 1800 years old, just imagine the splendor we’d have been lucky enough to experience if development and expansionism hadn’t led to so many being cut down in the mid 1800’s. Their rail-straight trunks and hard wood nearly spelled their own demise but we’re lucky to still have a few virgin trees left standing thanks to some forward thinking conservationists.
There are numerous locations around San Francisco where you can view the majestic redwoods in all their splendor and I can’t imagine anyone taking a trip to the area and not making a detour to one or the other.
Samuel P. Taylor State Park is a beautiful retreat that contains landscapes and terrain varying from creek bottom to redwood forests and then to grass covered rolling hills just begging to be climbed. We experienced breathtaking vistas every time we turned a corner and the sheer number of photographs is proof that I couldn’t put the camera down. Every critter, tree, flower, and fungus that struck my eye had its picture taken whether it wanted to or not. Thank goodness we live in the digital age.
Muir Woods National Park is another location where these wonderful trees can be seen as they would have been when settlers first viewed them. Just be prepared to either get there early to find a parking place, or walk a mile or so from the satellite parking to the entrance. Did you know that Muir Woods was the location of a good number of key scenes in a 2011 science fiction movie? “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” visits the forest when Caesar is young then returns when he leads his fellow apes out of human captivity and into the safety of the virgin forest. They couldn’t have picked a more perfect location to escape to.
We had a wonderful time picnicking with family under the giants and then hiking along the trails that wound through their midst. It’s almost impossible to fully grasp the scale of these trees and your neck is sure to be sore after leaning back to view their tops stretching into the heavens. Don’t miss a chance to experience a true wonder of the natural world so do yourself and your children a favor, visit one of these parks and spend a bit of time feeling the majesty around you. Reflect upon the history these wonderful trees have lived through and you’ll start feeling very, very small in the grand scheme of things. It sure will put your troubles in perspective.
Brian “Beastman” Eastman