Benbow, California: It remains cloudy, but the rain has stopped. We went for runs this morning and I ran my fastest three-miles EVER. Or so I thought. When I explained my route to DT, he figured the mileage to be just under three miles. Sometimes The Best Husband Ever can be a real killjoy.
We had a Peeping Tom look into our bus window this morning!
After all that excitement, we spent the rest of the day in Humboldt Redwoods State Park - 53,000 acres of forestland with 17,000 acres of untouched old growth Redwoods. We drove along the Avenue of the Giants, a 30-mile scenic byway with various pull-outs, picnic spots, campgrounds and hiking trails. Want to feel teeny? Stand next to a Coast Redwood - the world's tallest tree. Want to feel young? This tree is about 2000 years old. Fire. Flood. Drought. Earthquake. Nothing fazes these giant trees. And though you will be inspired to look up at the impressive Redwoods - don't forget to look down too. Wild iris were blooming all over the park today. We love to walk around the Founders Grove in the park. This is the largest tree in the grove - the Founders Tree. The Founders Tree is 346 feet tall, 12.7 feet in diameter and 40 feet in circumstance. Hello up there! This is new growth on a Coast Redwood. There are three types of Redwood trees - the Coast Redwood, the Sequoia and the Dawn Redwood. The Coast Redwoods grow on a 450-mile strip along the Pacific coast from central California to southern Oregon.
Sequoias, besides containing every vowel in the alphabet, are the most massive trees. Sequoias live in the Sierra Mountains and can grow to more than 250 feet tall. Sequoias live to be 3,000 years old and the oldest recorded specimen exceeded 3,500 years old. Sequoias require thousands of gallons of water DAILY to survive - and the Sierra snowpack quenches their thirst.
The other species of Redwood is the Dawn Redwood and it only grows in a very remote region of China! And - you won't believe this - the Dawn Redwood is a deciduous tree! Thought to be extinct, a Chinese forester found several hundred enormous Dawn Redwood in Sichuan province in 1944. The Dawn Redwood is commonly known as "water fir" or "water pine" in China because of the tree likes to grow in areas near rivers and streams. The Chinese are as serious about saving the Dawn Redwood as they are about saving the Panda.
And, that, Dear Reader, is your botanical lesson of the day. A walk amongst the Giant Redwoods is an awesome experience. I urge you to make the trek. In the spring, the ferns are sprouting new growth like mad. In Founders Grove you can also walk amongst huge ancient Redwoods that have fallen. Manute Bol would feel like a dwarf here. Most redwoods die not due to old age or fire - they fall because they become too huge to stand. They fall over because of their massive weight.
Hopefully this will not be the cause of my demise. The chance to walk under the giant Coast Redwoods is very special. And don't forget to look down too. This tree is massive. Though it has been burned from the inside, struck by lightning and who-knows-what-else - the tree is still alive. And it will live long after we are all gone. The Founders Grove is a lovely place to visit in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. If you are lucky enough to visit Humboldt Redwoods State Park, be sure to stop at the Visitor Center. Not only do they have flush toilets and a great bookstore, gift shop, documentary films and a fabulous history museum - the Visitor Center houses one of the first-ever RVs! Charles Kellogg loved the Redwoods and wanted to preserve the area. He made a traveling home from a fallen tree, called it the "Travel Log" and drove it across the country several times to promote conservancy of the Redwoods. The Travel Log was not equipped with satellite internet. After driving north and returning south along the "Avenue of the Giants" we stopped for a beautiful view of the Eel River. And pretty roadside Sweet Pea in full bloom. This beautiful grass is briza maxima, commonly called Rattlesnake Grass. Isn't this bucolic? This vine climbs many of the trees at our house in Oregon. So pretty. So green. So prolific.
It is Poison Oak.
If DT looks at Poison Oak, he has to go to emergency. For all the times we have driven the Avenue of the Giants, we have never stopped to eat in any of the (few) cafes along the route. Today we were starving and found ourselves at the Avenue Cafe in Miranda. I am not going to proclaim this restaurant is a do-or-die destination, but we shared a very delicious sandwich with grilled onion, grilled peppers, grilled turkey with provolone cheese on sourdough bread for $9. The Avenue Cafe - serving breakfast, lunch and dinner - also makes pizza, calzones and burgers. They have a great selection of local microbrews... but their wine selection says: Wine $4.50. (After being in Napa for the past twelve days, that really made me laugh.) The fries were divine too.
Until my next update, which will include a report from our wonderful dinner at the Benbow Inn, I remain, your "young and short and narrow" correspondent.
RV Park: Benbow RV Resort. Exit 636, Highway 101, just south of Garberville, California. 100 paved sites with full-hookups, 50/30 amps, pull-through and back-ins. Wifi, pool, hot tub, bathhouse, laundry and cable television. 9-hole regulation golf course. Walk a few steps to the historic Benbow Inn for a cocktail or gourmet meal. Several "prime" sites available (nearly a must for big rigs) also include a newspaper delivered to your RV each morning, and tea & scones each afternoon at the Benbow Inn.