I’ve done a few travelogues on this blog (like the series covering my trip to the Grand Canyon) and I usually cover things chronologically. However, this time around I’m writing things about 3.5 months later. So rather than worry about covering things chronologically, I’m going to cover them by topic.
We were visiting The Redwoods (or, rather, a number of state (and maybe national?) parks containing Redwood trees) for my mom’s birthday. It was her wish to gather the entire clan for her birthday and to check the Redwoods off her bucket list. This was extra special to her because it’s pretty rare for all of us to be in one place at once time. Dave’s family is in the Pacific Northwest while Dan’s family and mine are in the mid-Atlantic. Mom’s in Florida with my three youngest siblings and dad. With everyone married and with all the parents wanting holiday time we can’t always all make it together for the same holidays.
I love when the original Mesa brothers trio gets together and this vacation allowed us to have time to riff off of each other and enjoy all of us being in one place at a time. It was also a lot of fun to get to see my niece interact with my kids since their maternal cousins have all moved away from the East Coast, so they don’t often get to play with their cousins. It definitely left an impression on them because they still often talk about the Redwoods forest and “The Big House”. I think Mom had the best time because she got to have all her children and all her grandchildren in one spot.
I caught the running bug this May when I did the Red Had Summit 5k. As soon as I got back, I started training for a 10k, so I knew I’d be running while I was on the Redwoods trip. I let mom know and she told me that my younger siblings were also doing some running training as part of their martial arts. So we arranged to run together the first morning. Everyone didn’t make the full 5k run I did that day, but I was very proud of Alex for doing the entire round trip. After we’d driven around the area a bit, I realized we were right by the California border (we were staying in Oregon). So I resolved to use one of my morning runs to cross the border and back.
It was scary running along US-101. I was just in the shoulder while cars were rushing by at 55+ MPH; I could feel the breeze as the cars passed me by. I was rewarded with some pretty great early morning vistas that the photos below don’t do any justice. It also helped me understand why some folks get up early to run in nature. Not only is the sunlight beautiful at that time of day, but there’s something magical about having the world to yourself when everyone else is asleep. (Well, except on US-101) Also, that fog you see on the photo of all of us on the first running day lent a sort of fun-spooky feel to the morning runs.
Food and Stores
At this point I should probably stop being surprised that I shouldn’t judge a restaurant by its appearance. On various trips some of the best food I’ve had has been in places that don’t look like they have great food. We had a lot of great food experiences on this trip. There was a roadside taqueria that we discovered by chance where pretty much everything was great. A random Italian place had large and delicious portions. Over near where we were staying The Hungry Clam had some of the best fish and chips style seafood I’ve ever had. On a whim we walked into Slugs ‘n’ Stones ‘n’ Ice Cream Cones and were amazed both by the variety of flavors and also how delicious those flavors were.
Back at the rental house, we took turns cooking. The opening photo is from the day when Dan and Katie bought a ton of ingredients to make custom pizzas for everyone. I grilled a few times with some rubs mom had bought me – the shrimp and corn were incredible even if I was very nervous using a grill that didn’t function like the one I had back home. At home I never get to cook for large groups, so that added to some of the fun and excitement.
Having grown up in Florida and having in-laws who practically live at the beach, beaches aren’t anything special to me. I don’t make special trips just to be there. So for us, the beach was just a place to take the kids on the days and times we weren’t in the forests. Neither the wife nor I are the “read a book on the beach” type of folks. We go to the beach to play in the sand and (in places where it makes sense) to get in the water. So the kids played in the sand and explored the tide pools and climbed rocks and generally had a good time.
What I found trippy with the beach by our house was that it had this really dark sand that could burn your feet in the middle of the day. Yet, at the same time every time there was a breeze, it would be freezing. I remembered going to the beach with windbreakers when we lived in Oregon. This was no different. It could go from t-shirt beach weather to sweater beach weather in minutes.
There are also some photos here from a beach we found when we stopped off of US-101 (I think) for some lunch. I went exploring and found that there was a trail leading from the area we parked down to a beach. That beach had some seagulls lounging on rocks that were pretty fun to photograph (even though I didn’t have my 120-400mm lens). The kids enjoyed a break from hiking to just mess around on the beach.
I’m not super outdoorsy, but over the course of my life I’ve done my fair share of hiking, most of it taking place in forests (as opposed to deserts). To some degree, hiking these Redwood trails was no different from the Smokey Mountains or Lubec, Maine or Shenandoah Valley. But then you saw the enormity of the trees around you. It was pretty insane to see cross-sections that were nearly as wide as I was tall. Trees that were alive before Christ walked on the other side of the Earth just blew my mind. Resilient trees that could sometimes survive being involved in a fire, blacked on the inside, but still growing leaves. It was almost too much.
I was incredibly proud of my children. On the Boy Scout Tree Trail they were able to do the entire thing by themselves, being carried for about 10 minutes total split into a couple chunks when they needed a break from walking.
Dave, Kendra, and I did a hike that took us climbing 1070 feet and descending 1202 feet as we made our way towards the beach. We had a few sections where we had to jump over little “lakes” that had formed due to precipitation. In those areas we saw a few others. But once we started the hike, for nearly the entire hike it was just the three of us. We went at what I thought was a pretty swift pace for a hike – 2.2 MPH with a max of 3.9 MPH. It took us 2 hours and 34 minutes, but we occasionally stopped for photos and to eat. With just the three of us, it was eerie how the forest would be silent but for the surprisingly loud sound of the trees swaying. It wasn’t that loud, but I can’t say I’ve EVER heard a tree sway before. So it sounded pretty loud. We even found a tree that had fallen across one of the bridges we had to cross. (And my mom, who showed up to do the second half of the trail with Dave and Kendra said that she saw a tree fall behind her).
This hike turned out to be one of my favorite events during the trip as we spent a lot of time talking and enjoying nature and pushing through a beautiful forest. We don’t often get to spend time as adults without any responsibilities or other things we need to do but enjoy the world around us. I can see why throughout our industrialized history, humans have sought refuge in nature.
One quick shout-out to the programmers behind GPXSee, the program I used to display the GPS data in this blog post.