It was hard to say goodbye to the Oregon Coast. I love mountains, beaches and cold weather so it was my personal heaven on earth. Writing letters in the sand satisfied my connection with nature and gave me a sense of being there without leaving a permanent trace. And the weather was so nice—cold but sunny and not raining. Until we got to the Redwoods.
Immediately Ray said our campground wouldn’t work. That as soon as it rains, we will be living in a big puddle. His foresight and the way he executed his landscape engineering skills was helpful but not infallible.
After two days of rain, at 5 a.m. on Sunday we were surrounded by water. By 9 a.m., the water had soaked into the earth and though we were left with mud, we had high areas to walk in and our entryway into Flo was clear again. We couldn’t believe how much water had fallen and how quickly it was soaked up by our neighboring giants.
We spent the morning celebrating and waving goodbye to the weekend campers while making a big, traditional breakfast of potatoes and onions with parsley from our stay at www.ForestandFarm.org, eggs, bacon and orange juice. Because cooking on the small Coleman takes time, I prepped calabacitas for dinner. The rain had stopped, but every once and a while, we were graced with water from the trees thanks to the wind coming off the coast.
Our camp is beautiful. While in full shade, the canopy is high and the ground is lush with ferns, clover, redwoods and moss-covered trees I can’t identify.
Never wanting to miss a chance to learn, we made our way to Stout Grove in Jedediah Forest for the 2pm forest tour. And just like us we were at the wrong place at the wrong time and missed the first half of the tour. That’s okay, it’s a small loop trail so we walked it twice.
I thought when we left Oregon, my slug fears would be over. They’ve increased more after the rains and the wonderful symbiotic relationship the banana slug has with redwood trees.
While I found solace in the trees, Ray found them in Smith River. Unfortunately we came between steelhead and trout season so no fishing on this trip.
And what a way to end the day—a evening program at the outdoor theatre. The first night we learned about Big Trees, Big Waves, and Big Foots. The interpreter told wonderful historical stories and myths. It was educational and fun both as an observer of the presenter and those in the theatre who came together to tell stories around the campfire.
We got rained out completely on day two. We spent the day doing laundry in town and went to bed early to escape from the rain. With no electricity or cell phone service nor anywhere to go (because you can’t stand, nor really sit up on Flo, sleeping was our only other option).
Day three was cold but we managed to get in a few hikes around the campground. Big Tree and Cathedral Trail on day four was a highlight. Our necks paid the price for all the looking up. And a quick jaunt through Revelation Trail—created for the visually impaired—allowed us to hear, smell, touch, and taste our way through the forest.
We were enamored by these tall giants. So much so that it was difficult to pick a book from the visitor’s center. Our guides gave us inspiration though. One of them spoke of the logging culture and how it’s part of the fabric of the forest. She also mentioned Julia Butterfly Hill, an activist who tree-sat for over two years at 180 feet off the ground. We found her book and was immediately hooked. Her intention and dedication—though in opposition of the lumber industry—is remarkable. We read a few chapters before going to bed. Her story is addictive. We have seen a lot of clear cutting from northern Washington through California. But it wasn’t until we traveled south down the coast and witnessed the devastation clear cutting caused in Stafford, CA and to the rivers. Ray’s family is steeped in logging (but regionally, not really involved in big corporate logging) and on the flip side many of you know that I’m an avid treehugger. But together, we understand the balance and the need for both sides. So “The Legacy of Luna” has sparked interesting conversation since leaving the Redwoods.
Our travels south gave us one more opportunity to savor the Coast Redwoods. We took the top off of the Jeep and ventured through the Avenue of the Giants. We were called to stop and explore and I found an Elder for wisdom as we near Summer Solstice. There is something different about a Redwood than any other tree. I never felt the difference between species of trees until now. The Redwood is solitary, like an individual, yet connected to the entire forest. From the water that it absorbs from it’s shallow root system it cares for itself and all of it’s inhabitants that live at every altitude.
Did you know that the Coast Redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) are taller than any other living thing? They can live over 2,000 years and withstand fires, floods, and insects. Tannins, the very thing that makes them red also allow them to be fireproof. Many plants and animals live almost exclusively in the canopy of the Redwoods. A rare sea bird the Marbled Murrelet flies directly from the ocean to a wide branch to lay one egg a year. because the Murrelet doesn’t nest, the egg is exposed to predators.
As we venture south, the weather went from cold and damp—so much so that lighting a fire at night became a chore with very little ROI—to beyond my melting temperature. If you know me, I’m in constant heat-flash mode if it’s over 78 degrees. And that kind of heat makes me want to take a lot of naps. So while I thrived up North, Ray thrives in shorts. We use the same tent configuration in full sun as we do in the rain so that we don’t turn Flo into an oven. It is nice however to have the dry air over the damp. Flo is finally drying out, as are our shoes, and so are we.
This is our last camping stop for a few days. We are treating ourselves to a night in a hotel, spending time with friends and getting ready to teach a lettering class where we still have a few spots left: bit.ly/SCCAlettering.
Headed for the Bay Area, I’m so excited to meet and teach lettering to some of the best graphic facilitators and visual practitioners in the industry. And I’m happy to report that the online Level Up Your Lettering class is filling up with those All-Stars who can’t make the in-person workshop. I love sharing my lettering knowledge so much and knowing that I’m making lettering easier, more creative, and more readable for the practitioners and their audiences is extremely fulfilling. I’m looking forward to the next art residency where I can continue this work and setting up a lettering studio to scale and grow the effort.