Day Forty Five: I Like Big Trees And I Cannot Lie: California, Oregon

(Events of Wednesday April 29th, blogged Monday May 4th)

I so badly want to catch up with this blog, but I just can’t make any headway. Every time I start to make progress, I hit a long stretch with no internet. As it is I am parked by the side of the road with Annie whining at me, and it’s hardly the relaxed setting for the creative juices to flow in. And this was a fun day I really wanted to do justice. Ah well.

I woke up in better spirits, and as the creepy crappy RV Park gave me no reason to want to linger,  so we set off early for a day of renewed commitment to exploring redwood country and all of its delights, beginning with the fabulously kitschy tourist trap RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET!

Tourist trap isn’t exactly the right term though, because it only cost a dollar and it was really cool. It’s an entire home creatyed entirely out of a single hollowed out log! While it was made to be a traveling exhibition kind of thing back in the 1940s, and I don’t think it was ever lived in, it was surprisingly roomy, and it certainly could have been. Redwoods don’t mess around-they are GINORMOUS!

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There was a small kitchen, bedroom, and living room, and even a completely random framed photograph of an otter!! How’s that for a good omen for the day?

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While the house itself was awesomesauce, the hospitality at the attached gift shop/restaurant, even to the first customer of the day at 8AM was…a tad chilly.

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Unfortunately the “Grandfather Tree” next door was not yet open for the season, so I drove a bit further to… Confuuusssiioonnn Hiiiillllll.

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So Confusion Hill is one of a handful of “mystery vortex spots” scattered around the country, where unexplainable phenomena seem to occur. It was opened in 1949, and I loved it because it’s something of a relic in time to the days when “wacky” roadside attractions were all over the place, and people actually went out and explored the country for entertainment.

Of course you’re nothing in these parts if you don’t have a life size bear or BigFoot carved out of redwood in front of your establishment.

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And a really really big tree helps too. This is the Elbow Tree which is 1200 years old. And counting.

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Unfortunately, most of the exhibits were meant to be toured by non-solo travelers, and a lot of the phenomena consisted of “compare your heights from these two places. Why does the taller person seem shorter?,” kind of things. But the Gravity House was pretty nifty. The first picture is the house as it appears on approach. The second picture is taken with the camera held level to the floor. In the foreground is a wooden chute with water pouring out of it that appears to flow uphill. There were also stations where you could place a golf ball or soda bottle down and of its own volition it would roll upwards. The whole thing actually made me a bit sea sick, so I didn’t linger.

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The place also had a kind of nifty “Twin Towers” tribute area. and a log with notable events through history marked on it to better illustrate the age. The pins start at 1066-Normans conquer Britain, and move through to 1975-Vietnam War ends. Mind boggling.

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And then it was time for the main event. For the first (I think) time on the trip, I actually backtracked for something. I hadn’t been in the mood for it yesterday, but I could NOT come all the way across the country and NOT visit the DRIVE THRU TREE!!!

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Naturally, Marigold, being a lady of a certain size, was not going to fit through an opening designed for the relatively modestly sized automobiles of the 40s and 50s, but we did get to see some other lucky folks drive through.

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AND we got to walk through (several times) I remember counting how many footsteps it was, but that number is lost to time-it was in the double digits though! And – I should point out – this tree is STILL ALIVE and continues to grow and flourish.  I could have stayed here all day, I just thought it was the coolest thing! And they had a pretty kick ass gist shop too!

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But time keeps on spinning, and so must Marigold’s wheels, so we headed back toward where we started from this morning. And about 15 minutes down the road I realized I LEFT MY SELFIE STICK BEHIND!!! DISASTER IOF BIBLICAL PORPORTIONS! There was nothing to be done except to backtrack yet again, explain to the nice lady at the entry station why we didn’t want to pay another $5, PANIC when the selfie stick wasn’t where I remember leaving it by the tree (the funny thing is, I had noticed before we left that I had mislaid it, went to retrieve it, gotten distracted, and forgotten to), and the RELIEF when it turns up behind the counter in the Gift Shop. Whew! Crisis averted.

Several hours into the day we were finally able to progress further northward than we had gotten yesterday. And we headed on to the Avenue of Giants- a roughly 30 mile road running through the heart of the redwoods and with lots of cool places to stop and wander about. It’s sort of hard to wrap your mind around how truly BIG everything is out here, especially when they are ALL big and there’s not a control group for comparison. Your mind defaults to thinking everything is kind of normal sized. But here are a few trees with a medium sized terrier to compare them to. (OK, the third one is really just a cute Annie picture I couldn’t fit in anywhere else. But the Chimney Tree is great-you can stand inside it and walk around.)

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Pictures don’t do justice to  the transcendent peaceful, almost otherwordly feeling you get walking through these dark and quiet and impossibly green places either. John Steinbeck said “the redwoods once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always… from them comes silence and awe… the most irreverent of men, in the presence of redwoods, goes under a spell of wonder and respect.”

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Most of the rest of the day was spent driving up the coast with the goal to get to Oregon and FINALLY be out of California by nightfall. Of course there was the random elk sighting here and there…

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And then… at last… success… Oregon!! The Beaver State! Pacific Wonderland! Things Look Different Here!

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Actually, the coastline looked pretty much the same. Stunningly gorgeous, but pretty much the same…

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Umm… OK.. THAT does look a bit different…

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In yet another bit of serendipity, I stumbled upon a wonderful campground, and found a site perched on a cliff looking over the ocean, and after a stroll to the beach, was treated to one of the most incredible sunsets I’ve ever seen. And Annie and I had it all to ourselves.

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One thought on “Day Forty Five: I Like Big Trees And I Cannot Lie: California, Oregon

  1. As a non Facebooker I love reading about your days here and of course to us, it doesn’t matter if they’re late, we just jump in right where you are! So don’t worry! If it’s bugging you, you could do a couple of shorter reports one day xxx


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