July 28, 2006

Vacation Blog: Big trees

big tree

When my kids were young, I used to tell them bedtime stories in which we would pretend we had shrunk to a tiny size and we’d explore the house, seeing how different things felt when everything in the house was much bigger. This week, as we walked through groves of ancient redwoods, I felt like I was in one of my own stories. Or perhaps a movie set. The landscape seemed unreal: trees reaching hundreds of feet into the sky, and logs on the ground that were higher than my head. We walked through clumps of lush green ferns that were huge compared to the ones back at home.

Coast redwoods are the world’s tallest living trees. One tree can weigh more than 500 tons, with foot-thick bark that protects it from fire and insects, and some redwoods have reached more than 360 feet in height. When I looked up at the trees I walked underneath, I simply could not see the tops. More impressive than the height to me, though, was the age of the trees we saw. A coast redwood might live to be two thousand years old.

The woods were softly lit with sunlight that had been filtered through a canopy far above our heads. I could see how so many writers have compared the redwood forests to a cathedral, or any space designed to make humans feel humble and reverent. I tried to imagine what it would be like to grow in the same spot, season after season, for more than a thousand years.

Walking through the redwood forest made me feel all reflective and spiritual, but With-a-Why saw place as a huge playground. He was off and running down the soft trails, climbing up onto huge logs to race along the top, ducking behind big trees, and hiding inside hollow trees. For someone his size, the forest offered many places to hide and jump out at family members as they walked by. The ancient trees seemed to stir up all his pent-up energy, inviting him to run and play until his hair was sweaty and his face flushed. When I asked him the last night what his favorite part of the trip so far was, he said, "The redwoods."

22 comments:

Lilian said...

Wow, that's a really cool photo! The effect of two giants holding two little "kids" was definitely achieved, I had to look twice to realize it was not a "montage."

You vacation sounds lovely, I want to go to the Pacific Northwest someday too when my boys are a bit older.

Chip said...

I love those trees. My daughter was about 2 when we went lived out west and visited the huge redwoods so she doesn't remember, but they are really awe-inspiring, not only in size but in age.

pPB said...

I love jo(e)'s posts.

Leslee said...

Beautiful Jo(e), just beautiful!

Scrivener said...

Wow.

Queen of West Procrastination said...

So cool.

Yankee T said...

Consistently wonderful, this blog.

ccw said...

A great picture!

I hope one day to see these trees in person.

missymusing said...

What a wonderful Picture of your family jo(e).

The trees are beautiful, I hope to see them one day, too

zelda1 said...

I remember taking my children to the giant trees and not ever wanting to leave. I have pictures, very similar to your picture, of my two children standing next to a tree that was so large in diameter it looked like a wall instead of a tree and the heighth well, no way could we get that in either.

KLee said...

Whoa. Big tree. Cool picture. Must stop talking in broken sentences!

Love the effect of the large tree dwarfing the people, while the people on the outside loom over the ones in the middle. Very cool.

shrinkykitten said...

Oh, yay! You are in my part of the country (okay, i don't live there currently - but it is me - I mean, I am that part of the country - if you know what I mean). Make sure you get some obsidian - you should be able to find it fairly easily.

BeachMama said...

Another awesome photo! On Vancouver Island, B.C there is a forest called "Cathedral Forest" and it is so wonderful, full of beautiful redwoods and it truly feels like you are in a Cathedral. On the hottest day, you can cool off just by stepping into the forest.

Kristen said...

What an awesome vacation. Great picture. I, too, have often thought about "life as a tree", trying to imagine the experience of being in spot my entire life. I can't wait to be able to take my kids to these places.

Marie said...

Beautiful to read, beautiful to look at. Thanks.

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

When Molly and I got married, we rode our bicycles from Seattle to Chicago. (The original plan was to ride from Seattle to Annapolis, MD, where the wedding was, but it took us a little longer than we expected, so we had to bail out in Chicago and take a plane.)

We often sit around planning our next big bike trip, although we now know that we have to wait until the kids are bigger.

Generally, though, biking up the Pacific Coast Highway is way up on our list of ideas.

That was a spectacular area you visited, I'm so envious!

Anonymous said...

When last I stood beneath those trees I walked the paths with awe, wonder and a long known friend as my companions. Only the blind and bitter could hold fast to hubris in that hallowed shade. My friend and I walked to the sea beneath the trunks and there from near and far we heard the insistant calls of elk, but the call of the miles was more insistant still and all too soon those silent giants were naught but memory though a treasured one.


Pure Luck

Pure Luck said...

That would be 'insistent' not 'insistant'

As you were, nothing to see here.

elswhere said...

We were in the redwoods at the same time! In fact, we were travelling much of the same route, though we bailed out in Northern California and then headed back North. Did you travel The Coastal Highway That Is a Palindrome? And did you camp?

jo(e) said...

Elsewhere: Oh, wow, that's funny. Yes, we travelled along the Coastal Highway That is a Palindrome. We flew out of northern California.

We didn't camp though because bringing our camping equipment on the plane would have been a pain. I would have liked to ....

Gannet Girl said...

Great photo. At the beginning of the summer my daughter (almsot 19) suddenly began talking about how amazing tress are, and how different they are in different parts of the country -- she has been in NOLA, Oregon, and NC this past year. It was wonderful to hear her taking notice.

M. D. Vaden of Oregon said...

The past year, I've had a chance to hike in the redwoods at least once per month. And every 2 to 3 weeks the two years prior. I tended to explore various areas several times in a row, since there was so much hidden out of sight that could be found.

If you like browsing redwood photos, check out a few from Albums 1, 2 and 3 - see:


Largest Coast Redwoods

Various images of the California redwood forest to the north, plus some photos of the largest known redwoods

Cheers,

MDV of OR