Day 19 – June 27, 2016
Mileage – 77,727
MacKerricher State Park, California
This morning we set an alarm from 6:30 am to head out to see the harbor seals. Logan’s not so sure she wants to get up. After some cajoling she decides to join the rest of us. The harbor seal rookery is quick to find. Grey blobs hang out bathing on a rock in the early morning fog. To the naked eye they simply look like a rock, with the binoculars they are expressive. On land their movements are awkward and contorted. We watch for a while, and then head to the end of the point where the rest of the colony lies. Although many of the seals on the point look larger, their character is the same, seemingly slow, lazy, and awkward on land.
The tidal pools below prove to be interesting. They are teaming with life; fish, anemone, crabs, seaweed, and more. It’s colorful display in the clear pacific waters. We explore for a while. This morning, the fog burns off, opening up the view.
Kevin and Teryn head back to the camp, while Jenney and Logan walk along the beach more slowly, Logan removing her shoes to walk for the first time in the Pacific.
Then the trek to the Redwoods begins. To start we hug the coast on Rt 1 with spectacular views of the ocean and rocky shore. The rest is through a different type of California, forested, rural and with fewer economic opportunities. Creative businesses trying to attract tourists crop up on corners; wood carving, pottery, flea markets.
Redwoods is a different type of park, part National Park, part State Park, it seems far less resourced than most of the parks we have been in. The rangers are eager and have lots of advise, with many of trails being short and concentrated in webs around visitor centers or down roads not accessible to the RV. We stumble a bit trying t find where we want to go, the maps aren’t as clear.
The coast is beautiful here. The fog is back, hanging a grey blanket over the park, but it’s not as think so visibility is far better and the brightness of the sun lightens up the landscape sometimes even coming through as hopeful rays of light. It gives the coast a sense of serene beauty and mystery.
Between visitor center 1 and visitor center 2, the girls complete the junior ranger book and turned around we decide to get more advice on where to go. The youthful ranger here shows the girls some of the magic of the lush forest – the purple bottoms of the sorrel, the octopus and nursery trees, and the deep sent of crushed up tree leaves. The girls are re-energized so we follow the ranger’s advice and head out on the network of trails behind the visitor’s center. It’s like stepping into a different world. If the Sequoias are the wise sages around whom you are quiet and seek scholarly introspection, the Redwoods impart a sense of fairyland playfulness. There is constant lush growth and rebirth here. We can see why the makers of Return of the Jedi saw this as a place to center the tree house communities of the Ewoks.
The trees are no less giants in their own right heading 300 feet skyward, but packed together as families in all stages of maturity. Below them is a think carpet of ferns and other lush greenery. Everywhere, high and low things grow; they sprout from the ground, from dead trees, and on top of each other.
We heard about banana slugs at the visitor’s center and are rewarded quickly with a sighting. Long, yellow and gooey looking these slugs look like ripe oozing bananas. Logan is excited to share the picture with a teacher who keeps a rubber banana slug in her classroom.
We keep a good pace, all of the girls/women in the group chattering happily as we go, Kevin wandering behind snapping pictures and spinning around to take it all in.
You can see where the higher branches of the giant trees have let go, crashing to the forest floor. It’s no wonder that many stories include versions of trees whomping people with their branches from Wizard of Oz to Harry Potter, you can imagine it happening here. Three or more miles later spirits are high as we walk out of the woods to find a resting place for the night.
We head north toward Crescent City. It’s obvious this area is covered with interesting characters from yard signs to boisterous outbursts in store parking lots, ‘we aren’t in Kansas anymore’. It would make an interesting ethnography. Walmart with great wifi and close proximity wins out over the peacefulness of the National Forest land just to the north. The evening is spent binging on technology with a primary focus on getting journal entries and uploading pictures. On to the next adventure tomorrow – either more redwoods or the Oregon Cave National Monument.