Tuesday, November 9, 2010




1 a : living or located in the woods or forest
b : of, relating to, or characteristic of the woods or forest
2 a : made, shaped, or formed of woods or trees
b : abounding in woods, groves, or trees : wooded

A couple months ago my sister and I drove down to the California Redwoods. After a days drive, we stopped at a motel in Crescent City, a little cove off the coast right over the boarder. The hotel was owned by an Asian couple, both really enthusiastic about showing us the best route to drive through the park. Our room was on the second floor at the end of a landing carpeted with soggy blue astroturf. When we stepped, water seeped out from under our sneakers.

That night we went for a walk toward the water. It was raining pretty hard. And it was dark. We walked toward the sound of sea lions, but didn't make it to the pier.

The next morning I drove to Safeway and bought Gwen and I Kashi and yogurt for breakfast. Before setting out for the park we stopped at the National Redwoods Park Visitor Center. A clean-cut young man unfolded a paper map onto the desk and traced with a Sharpie pen the best route for us to take. He wore a beige park ranger's uniform. I thought of Smokey the Bear. It was still raining.

Driving through Crescent City toward the park, Gwen pointed out how the trees were getting bigger. I told her it was in her head.

The drive into the park was unusual. The road wound into the hills, houses grew sparse, trees grew denser. We gradually disappeared into the folds of the forest.

Upon entering the park, a narrow SYLVAN trail led us through the woods. A dense fog hung in the branches of massive trees. I felt as though we drove through the illustrations in an old fairy tale book. Signs instructed us to drive 15 miles an hour; we barely made it past 10, overwhelmed with the scenery. Parts the road were slim enough to barely allow even one small car to pass. The ranger had told us it was an old wagon trail. In places the path hugged rigid cliffs with no barrier.

We pulled the car over often to take photographs. Rain speckled the lenses of our digital cameras. We posed against colossal tree trunks, dwarfing our minuscule bodies. I suppose this is the essence of why people go to the Redwoods—to reframe their perspective in some way. To feel small. To remind one's self where one stands.

To see the forest for the trees, perhaps.

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