Day Nine

Published by Noserider in the blog Neoprene 'Zine. Views: 491


We drove along the Avenue of the Giants, craning our necks, as we tried to see the tops of the giant California Redwoods.

“Katie, watch out!”

I swerved back into our lane. “I’m watching.”

We came across one of a handful of giant trees on private property. The trunks of the trees had been hollowed out and converted into a tunnel. For a nominal fee--$6 I think it was--one could drive their car through the tree, risking damage to both side view mirrors. We felt this somehow cheapened the experience, taking a beautiful and majestic piece of nature and reducing it to tacky carnival sideshow. So we opted out of that and headed north to the Redwood National and State Parks.

Here, we stopped driving amongst the trees, and started to walk the trail through the forest. The car, the road--all of it--creates a kind of barrier that prevents true immersion: you’re in the car; you’re not in the forest.

But hiking along the trails, surrounded by trees 350 feet high and over 900 years old, one can’t help but venerate the nature of the area. It’s this profound, yet inarticulable, feeling that anything that has lived that long and grown that huge should be respected. It was another sense of awe, that I could only describe is seeing God looking back at me. We didn’t speak to each other much, and when we did, it was in a whisper. We tiptoed lightly. In essence, we acted like we did in church.

And then it happened...the landscape was so beautiful, so magnificent, and so holy, I had to stop and have a good cry. I felt like the kid in American Beauty watching the bag blowing in the wind, so overcome with emotion from the beauty, that he just sits and cries. For me, this is just another day. I’ll cry from cough medicine commercials, music videos, greeting cards, and the sight of a puppy. Everything gets to me.

Brianna is not like that at all. In fact, she goes out of her way to hide her emotions. On the anniversary of her mother’s death, for example, she got blackout drunk and passed out as insurance against having to shed tears in front of me. But even she was crying. So we sat and held each other and cried while looking at these breathtakingly beautiful trees. In some ways, it was our most intimate moment together.

We hiked down to the deserted beach as a morning fog swirled around the trees. Having since composed ourselves, I of course wanted to see the beach. It was another stretch of rocky deserted shoreline. The warning signs we’d seen about bears in the forest continued on the beach. It never occured to me that a bear would walk out of the trees and down onto the beach, but the thought of it made me smile. I like going to the beach. Why wouldn’t a bear?

We got back in the car and resumed our journey northward, the swath of California behind us already dwarfing that which was left for us to discover. In fact, we’d almost traveled the length of the state, and while we were still enjoying ourselves, we were getting a little road weary.

We stopped for gas somewhere. I don’t know where it was. It was a gas station slash country store slash, I guess. But I didn’t see much of anything else that denoted the nearby existence of human habitation and civilization. I’m not sure it was an actual town. But the inside was fun--Bigfoot feet casts, maps where sightings had been recorded, and a host of sasquatch-related paraphernalia. I don’t know how I feel about the existence of Bigfoot. Truthfully, never gave it much thought. I don’t know if I believe or not. But it didn’t matter. It was fun.

We arrived at the inexplicably misnamed Crescent City--a town of roughly 7,000 people about 20 miles from the Oregon border. It was well after lunchtime, and I was hungry, but there was another aquarium, and at this one, you could pet the sharks! Lunch was going to have to wait! Unfortunately, that particular attraction was closed down that particular day for maintenance and cleaning of the shark tank. To say I was absolutely crushed was an understatement.

That’s okay, because I gave my usual stamp of approval of Crescent City: “This place is beautiful; we should live here.” Then I actually took a resume to the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center, you know, in the off chance we did want to move up here. Brianna wasn’t having any of it, but she humored me regardless. They said I could volunteer to help rehabilitate sick and wounded marine mammals--in other words, clean up seal poo--but they were not hiring, and if they were, they would not hire someone with only four-year degree in marine science that hadn’t been used in a decade. Ouch!

We stopped off for happy hour at Port O’Pints Brewing Company. We’d taken our time through wine country and did plenty of wine tasting back in Lompoc, but we’d yet to stop at a local brewery. We got one of those samplers and tried a few beers, but their nachos were what did it for us: A platter of tortilla chips covered in beer cheese sauce, sauerkraut, and corned beef. This was a new kind of nachos for us, and totally worth it.

This was pretty much it for our trip though. We went north to Cannon Beach the next day to see Haystack Rock for no other reason than we grew up watching The Goonies, and hooked inland to meetup with some old friends outside of Portland for a Labor Day barbecue. As I write this, I’m sitting at my mom’s in Washington, where we’ll remain for a couple of days before the 5 freeway and doing the reverse journey that in we did in ten days in two.
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