avenue of the giants

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Finding Endor & Oregon

Aug 16-18

Anuk and I left early the next morning, and found that my car had been cleaned. One of Adam’s neighbors really likes to clean, and my car was in the perfect state of filth. So thank you stranger for cleaning my car!

After we left the Bay area we continued up the 101, and diverted only a little to take the Avenue of the Giants. This narrow road winds through the Humboldt Redwoods State Park in Northern California, where massive trees hug the side of the road. It is hard to describe what I felt while I was there. It was like stepping into a place of dreams or fantasy. I could feel the very energy of the place. I was both humbled and filled with reverence, what I would expect to feel in a holy place. This holy place was not built and contaminated by human hands, but grown forever ago, and still here to experience. I could have paused there for years. The air is almost heavy and rich with the smell of Christmas trees. The trees are so big that you need to include a person or a car to show the scale. But you have to stand way back to take the picture, and even then you can only get a small portion of the whole tree. This was hard to do on my own, but I propped up my phone on some rocks to take a selfie using the timer function on my phone. I could see myself on the planet Endor running through the woods amongst the ferns and ancient giants building humble structures out of fallen trees and living off the land. Instead I was merely passing through, a tourist to nature’s beauty.

We stopped at a few places and found our way down to the river. Anuk ran across the rocks while I tossed pebbles around for her to chase. It felt like we were the only ones around, and in some places I’m sure that we were. I didn’t have any set plans for the night, so thankfully we found a state park camp ground along the road which had campsites available. I found the best ever campsite there. I picked the one with a cluster of six or so trees growing in a tight circle with a space in the middle big enough for my tent. There was an entry way between the tress with roots that acted like steps leading down. It was perfect!

I understand that trees can communicate with each other, and I asked for permission to set up my tent in their midst. Of course they could have said ‘no’, but I felt peace here and joy like being a kid again with a vast imagination. I used to make hideouts in the bushes around our house, and being here took me right back. The ground was so soft with fallen leaves that I didn’t need more padding than my sleeping bag on the ground. I don’t remember the dreams I had that night, but it was a peaceful nights rest, and I was sorry to leave in the morning. I had some noisy neighbors though that woke me from this dreamlike state of mind. So as usual, it was time to press on.

I spent the next day winding north up the 101 and into Oregon. The coast there is magical, sand dunes in some places, rocks jutting out of the water in others. Giant structures of nature and soft grasses hounded by the wind. I stopped at viewpoints along the way expecting to see beautiful cliff overlooks, but found thick forest instead. Steep trails led into the trees and wound down to hidden coves which I could not see from above. I wished that I had time to explore them all, but I had to drive on. Move on, keeping moving on.

In the evening I stopped at a state park campground that I found along the way. The host said that they were fully booked and he was doubtful I would find a place with openings nearby because it was the weekend. This is the downside to being in an area where folks love to camp; the weekends are just busier. By this point week day or weekends all felt the same to me, they were just days that flowed from one into the next.

I drove on as the day was waining reasoning that I could sleep in my car somewhere if I needed to, but all the parking along the coast had giant signs that said there was no camping or overnight parking anywhere. So I pressed on, hopeful to find something. I made it north of Port Orford and found a sign for an RV park. The attendant there said they had tent camping sites, all of them were empty, and I could take my pick of the bunch. She even offered for me to check them out first. They had free wifi near the office and free showers all for $20. I paid her without needing to see the campsites. This seemed like a luxury by this point, and I didn’t care what ground I camped on at this point.

The campsites turned out to be pretty plush. I picked the one on the far side of a small grove of pine trees with a beat up picnic table a good distance away from all the RV’s. It was actually quite pretty nestled between the trees and a wild field with plenty of privacy and space to throw the ball for Anuk. The sun was just sinking down in the sky as I set up camp (by this point my setup only took about 20 minutes) and I cooked my dinner by flashlight. The temperature was dropping, and I was exhausted as usual, so I opted to pass on a hot shower and went to bed early instead.

I visited the facilities first thing in the morning taking Anuk for a walk. I had just enough time to do my thing when a cat waltzed into the bathroom and got Anuk into a frenzy and I needed to leave before she woke everyone up. I opted to pass on the shower yet again, reasoning that it was only a couple days since my last shower and I would have one at the farm later that day. I packed up our gear and we headed out on the road getting an early-ish start. Packing up always takes longer than setup (roughly an hour) especially if I make coffee and breakfast (peanut butter and bread sandwich + fruit). Sometimes I help myself by making my breakfast sandwich when I make my dinner, then I have less to do in the morning. But I wasn’t in a huge rush this morning.

The drive no longer hugged the coast but carved inland where it was enveloped by thick green forest. We continued north on the 101 for a bit and visited a state park to stop and play. I found it totally necessary for Anuk and a wonderful treat for myself. Then we headed east through more scenic countryside and quaint towns to Eugene where we stopped for a late lunch. I found a brilliant vegan (all day) breakfast place with outdoor seating where everyone asked to pet Anuk. And she relished their attention as if she had known them all forever. I was told by a woman in a a coffee shop in Colorado that just seeing my puppy had brightened her day, and that everyone needs a little puppy in their life sometimes. I found this to be true everywhere I went. Anuk would make people’s faces light up everywhere, and this was my delight to witness. What a wonderful way to start life, seeing happy faces everywhere one goes. Its no wonder that Anuk loves people so much and she wants to meet everyone. What a perfect companion for a traveling introvert.

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