Last week Mr. Zucchini Runner and I were enjoying a disconnected life, driving up the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park. A close friend was getting married and Mr. ZR was the best man in the wedding. Below are some highlights from our trip, with a heavy emphasis on the redwoods.
Our first night; we stayed at a beautiful hotel in Gualala, CA called St. Orres.
In addition to the hotel, they have cottages. This one is called the Pine Haven, and it was WAY too big for just the two of us; but it was AMAZING and private and available when we booked it 3 weeks out.
There was no cell coverage, no wifi, no TV. It was the perfect start to our trip! We knew we wanted to be less connected and just enjoy nature, so this was a great way to dive right in.
The drive up the PCH for the second leg was especially breathtaking. We didn’t make fast progress due to all the stops we made — but that was part of the plan. Cell coverage was (again) very spotty the whole way, which made it really nice to just look around and soak it all up.
Eventually we made it to the first signs of the great redwoods, where the PCH winds up through the mountains, slowly taking you closer inland. We took a slight detour off the 101, to the Avenue of the Giants. Here we stopped at the Visitor Center to get our first, in-person introduction to the amazing forest. I went on a camping trip as a 6 year old with my family and we did see the Giant Sequoias, but as you can imagine, I don’t remember too much. The Visitor Center was very eye opening and I’m so glad we stopped. In a nutshell these amazing, unique forests were logged almost to the point of extinction by our ancestors who wanted to make money. Thankfully, a small group of people had the foresight and resources to stand up for these trees and protect them. Today approximately 4% of the old growth redwoods remain.
After the Visitor Center, we headed over to Founder’s Grove; where we got our first real taste of these giant trees – up close and in person. The grove was dedicated to the preservationists who founded the Save the Redwoods League in 1918.
To me all the greatest lessons about understanding life and love are found in nature. In nature, we see the life, death and rebirth all happening at once. We see the symbiotic dance that all life follows in a simple and easy to understand lesson. A giant redwood crashes to the forest floor, leaving a wake of destruction in its path — but only at first. Sure, the nearby trees and other giants may be scarred as the giant rushed by, on its way to a new life, but those scars eventually heal. The life of the tree is powerful and strong, and the tree survives standing strong for centuries to come. That fallen tree has now opened up the doorway for others to take its place in the sunlight – giving them the chance to flourish and grow even stronger. And what about the fallen giant? Just because it is no longer rooted and growing, doesn’t mean its duty is done. It will continue to provide life for centuries on the forest floor, eventually evolving into an unrecognizable piece of the earth. Nothing ever truly dies in the forest, it is all part of the cycle of life. It has been researched that up to 4,000 species live on a fallen redwood. Other trees, mosses, insects, plants and animals utilize that fallen tree. It’s no wonder I was brought to tears so many times while walking amongst these ancient beings. We all have our part to play on this earth, just as various parts of the forest have their parts to play.
If trees could talk, what would they say?
I found myself asking this question each day we hiked amongst the redwoods.
Some of these old growth redwoods have been on the earth for well over a THOUSAND YEARS. Stop and think about that for a minute. Really wrap your brain around what that means.
America has been a country since 1776 – that’s 240 years. These trees were already fully grown and massive.
1620 – Pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock. That’s 396 years ago. These trees were standing where they are now.
1368 – Ming dynasty begins (and lasts 276 years by the way), these trees were STILL standing where they are today. 648 years ago.
1000 – Vikings discover North America. That’s 1,016 years ago. These trees were already firmly planted in the ground, about 8″-10″ in diameter if not more.
I’m writing this all out, I’m proofreading it, I was there hiking amongst them and I still can’t fully wrap my brain around it. It is just about impossible for me to put into words the exact experience of hiking amongst trees that have been standing in this country — on this soil — created by mother nature centuries ago.
The tallest redwood recorded is 380 feet tall. Most of the old growth trees are well over 300 feet. To give that some perspective, a 3-story building is about 40 feet tall. Trying to stand at the base and look up at these massive giants started to make my neck hurt!
At this point, I will stop and let the photos do most of the talking.
In a world engulfed by technology, life can get complicated and so fast paced our heads feel like they are spinning. There is no off button, unless we get out into nature to take a deep breath, disconnect and force ourselves to slow down. I encourage everyone to do this as often as necessary.
I mean, look how relaxed we are? This photo was taken by Curt, the owner of bnb Hiouchi as we were about to hit the road. Staying at Curt and Meg’s house was an absolute dream! If you ever head up that way, definitely look into staying there to see if it will fit your needs. They are both extremely welcoming; after breakfast each morning, we had a hard time wrapping up the conversations to get going about our day. I cannot say enough positive things about bnb Hiouchi. Clean, comfortable (like home), beautiful view of the Smith River, unique, and delicious breakfasts!
The Smith River is a couple hundred feet from bnb Hiouchi, down a steep staircase. When I went down on our first full day there, I saw probably a hundred dragon flies buzzing around the water. In my head, they looked like little fairies. My mother-in-law would have LOVED it!
Oh, and the wedding? The wedding was absolutely magical. Many tears of joy and love were shed for the happy couple. Mr. ZR and I were so grateful their wedding was the catalyst for this unforgettable trip. I took 800+ photos from departure to the flight home; it was incredibly hard to narrow it down and only put 17 photos in this post. 🙂
Have you ever been to see the great redwoods?
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