I went to the Redwood National Park hoping to see some big trees. I wasn’t sure if I would see any or not, knowing full well that most of the really big trees, the ones which are thousands of years old, have long since been logged before the days of national parks. However I had watched documentaries that say redwoods grow 6 feet a year and that in the canopy there are whole ecosystems we’re just now learning about in tree caves in and on branches, even whole species of amphibians living their entire lives up there. It’s a neat and romantic idea, still, on my way to this place I passed dozens of cheesy little small-town attractions like The Grandfather Tree and Confusion Hill. I actually stopped at Confusion Hill to see what it was about. There was a small very packed gift shop and signs all over the place saying to beware of the rare and elusive Chip-a-lope. And low and behold there were Chip-a-lope in the gift store, little stuffed chipmunks with antelope antlers on their head. Cute. There was something about a train ride and a twisted tree and their back yard seemed to be sectioned out into bizarre exhibits. I should mention the place was run by an old hippie woman, and probably her husband. I left confused alright, never finding out what the “mystery” advertised on the giant sign even was. Perhaps which drugs were used to inspire this place? I can voucher a guess on that one.
The area was rife with aged hippies. I should mention this, as that morning I accidentally flashed one when the back door of the Jeep unexpectedly flung up during my morning rituals. Then there was Confusion Hill and someplace I passed called Area 101 which looked like a small ghost town someone had boarded up and psychedelically painted with UFO’s and eyeballs. I stopped to take a photo of that bizzarro place only to be mocked by two of its patrons, old hippies, hooting and hollering and jumping around like monkeys. Touché. I smiled and waved in turn. Yes, I know I’m a dorky tourist. Might as well wear it with pride.
When I got to the actual redwood forest I drove quite a ways noticing most of the monster trees were indeed old stumps, cut down for one reason or another. Finally I got to the trails. I took the Ladybird Johnson Trail, starting with a wooden bridge that extended over the highway. It led me into the woods where I got to see giant dead trees, hollowed out by fire but still standing! I walked further. I found a cavernous tree off the path and meandered off to check it out. I have a hard time resisting such temptations sometimes. I took photos and checked it out thoroughly. It was more interesting than what was on the path and I was not the first one to think so as graffiti in the tree noted which of the many puppy-eyed teenagers loved whom. Back to the path I finally started hitting live giant trees. They were impressive but nothing like the photos I’d seen as a kid of people stretched arm to arm around the old trees, in fact they weren’t even as big as the “drive through” tree I passed, with a large hole carved out of it allowing cars to pass right through it. That tree was still alive, despite the harassment. There was apparently a “tall tree grove” but it was inaccessible without a permit. The signs stating this fact did not state how to get a permit or if it was possible.
In any event the trail was a nice one, especially for someone’s who’s out of shape tush has been doing very little except driving around the Jeep… and it was humbling to be in the presence of such wide and tall trees. Despite warnings of bears and cougar I saw no wildlife, save for a jay and a snake. The jays were demonized on the exhibit signs. I was told not to feed these opportunistic monsters because they were making some other more natural birds go extinct.