Friday Fiction - Redwood Forest

It's Friday again!
Where do the weeks go?

This week, Friday Fiction is hosted by Joanne Sher at An Open Book. Have fun reading all the great stories, and be sure to leave some comments along the way!

I'm two-thirds through my NaNo memoir.
Our family made it to the Pacific coast and spent a week with some dear friends, the Sullivans, in Big Sur.
This excerpt is the first day of our return trip.


It had been a very good and relaxing week with our friends in Big Sur, but we were ready to be on our way again. As pulled out on to the main road, I heard the familiar little voice behind me. “Are we going home now?”

I sighed. Yes, we had reached California. I could not give him that answer anymore. It made sense to little Abel’s mind, that now we had been in California, we were going home. “We are heading that way, Abel, but it will take a lot of days.”

We traveled up the route that we had traveled a few times over the last week. We went through Monterery again. As we passed the Aquarium signs, I heard someone say in the back of the van. “I wish we had gone there!”

Randy said, “It cost too much. We went on the train to the Grand Canyon. That was our expensive part of the vacation. Didn’t you have fun on the train?”

A few grunts of acknowledgement came from the back.

Randy felt bad, too, and tried to think of something to cheer them up. “Guess what, guys! We’re going to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge.”

Of the kids, only Grace had been to San Francisco. Again, as we approached the city, the houses made me think of the song, “Little houses on a hillside, little houses all the same. There’s a pink one and blue one and yellow one and a purple one, and they’re all made out of ticky tacky and they’re all made just the same.”

I watched the signs, while Randy watched traffic, and we made our way toward the bay and the famous Golden Gate Bridge. Besides have three lanes on each side of a median and being red, it was very much like our green Waldo Hancock suspension bridge at home in Bucksport, Maine. It has two huge tower frames that hold long tubes that contain twisted cables, which in turn hold up the bridge itself. It was quite a disappointment. We could not even see over the railing to see the bay below us. Oh well, at least we could say that we crossed it.

From San Francisco, we headed north up the state toward Leggatt, California, part of the Sequoia National Park, where the giant redwood trees grew. There were redwood trees near the Sullivan’s house, and they were tall, but the trunks were not much more than a couple feet in diameter. We found the signs to the park and drove among the towering trees. As we pulled into the parking lot of the office and information building, the road went right THROUGH a tree! There was a sign near it that read THE CHANDLER TREE, SIX FEET CLEARANCE. We had to stop. We couldn’t go through it. Our van was too tall, especially with the carriers on top. We had to take the drive around detour.

Randy said, “We can’t drive through it, but we can walk through it.” He opened the side door of the van, and let all the kids pile out. They ran over to the tree and into the tunnel beneath it. It was pretty cool – just thinking of being underneath that humongous tree! In the information building, it told of history of the park. We learned that part of Star Wars, when the Ewoks attacked the storm troopers, was filmed in the Redwood forest. It said that some of the sequoia trees were about 2,000 years old. That would be about the time of Christ! Of course, they had to include evolution again and also the devastation effects of forest fires. The ranger told us where to drive to see the best trees and then how to return to the main routes heading north. We only saw one other car, so it was much like having the place to ourselves.

We all got back in the van, and Randy drove slowly through the strange forest. “We need to get out,” I said. “We can’t really get the feel of it from inside the van.” So, Randy found a turn out and turned off the van. We just sat there for a minute. It was so quiet.

“Can we get out?” The kids were anxious to explore. The first thing they did was look up and up and up! The leafy canopy was hundreds of feet above our heads. It was around noon. This would be a good place for a picnic. Karen had packed us some sandwiches and fruit. Everyone sat around on logs and rocks. They inhaled their lunch, excited to run around.

“Can we walk in the woods, now?”

“Just stay where you can see us all the time.” That was my standard answer when I wanted to let them have freedom, but yet keep then within range. Even if I couldn’t call them, I could signal to them if they could see me.

Stephen said, “Hey! Look at this huge caterpillar!”

Right on the same log where we had eaten lunch crawled the biggest greenest caterpillar that I had ever seen. It had knobs and bumps and funny antennae. Does everything grow bigger around here?

We wandered about between the trees. The place had a surreal feel about it. It felt like we were in another world or time. I have expected to see Sasquatch in the shadows or maybe little leprechauns peeking from behind a fern. One tree was hollow, with evidence of being burned, yet it was still healthy at the top. The remaining trunk must draw enough water and nutrients to sustain it. The roots must go hundreds of feet below the surface. The hollowed part was like a little room. It made me think of the book “My Side of the Mountain” where the boy lives in the tree. It wouldn’t be a bad place to wait out a rainstorm, but it wasn’t raining today.

One of the other kids found the stump of a fallen tree that they could climb up on. “Hey! It’s like a bowl!” All the kids wanted to get up there too. Randy had to help Micah and Abel get up into it. I focused the video camera on them. “Scooch down.” Through the lens, it just looked like a big stump in the middle of a forest. I began singing, “All around the cobbler’s bench, the monkey chased the weasel. The monkey thought it was a joke, POP goes the weasel!” The kids jumped up and laughed. After doing it a few times, they wanted to look around some more.

“I have an idea,” I said. “Let’s find the biggest tree and see if we can stretch our arms all the way around it.” It took a few minutes and debate, but finally agreed on which tree to use. Hand in hand, we circled the giant tree – Randy, me, Grace, Caleb, Benjamin, Anna, Stephen, Lydia, Micah… we stretched as far as we could. “Abel, we need you, too!” said Randy. “Come, hold my hand.” It took all ten of us to form a chain around the tree.

Just as we let go of our hands, a doe walked out of the woods, not twenty feet away. We held our breath and watched her walk right by us. I know she saw us, but didn’t seem afraid. She stepped through some bushes and disappeared. I could have stayed in those woods for another week, but we miles to go before we sleep.

1 comment:

Joanne Sher said...

I was right there with ya. Great writing, hun.


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