While in northern California, one should always make time for the Redwoods. The gargantuan (and super, duper old) trees dominate everything and are sort of hard to miss. The trees inspire poets and authors and bloggers and have for generations (well, maybe not the bloggers for generations) so I don’t feel that I need to go into great detail except…except nothing I read quite captured what we experienced. Being in that forest made me feel like I was surrounded by ghosts but in a good way.
It’s not just that they are tall (some of them reach 370 feet). They are also wide and thick. People get married inside them. We drove our rental car through one of them and I held my breath to make us skinnier. (Side note: I also held my breath while entering parking garages when we still drove the F250. Holding my breath shrinks the vehicle and helps us squeeze into tight spaces. This is just one of many contributions I brought to the big RV trip).
I also just did not realize how all-consuming the forest would be. I knew the ocean was a stone’s throw away but we could neither hear nor see it. We couldn’t see much of anything. Paige always skips ahead of us while hiking and I’ve never been concerned before but when she bounded down the path quickly in the Redwoods, I couldn’t see her at all. The forest devoured her, pink outfit and everything. It was disconcerting.
In 2004, I spent a week in Cairo staring at the Pyramids of Giza from my hotel window. That view is a whole other story which involves trading US dollars on the Egyptian black market and sleeping with one eye open the first night we were there. I’ll tell you about that another time. The point is, I stared because I couldn’t get past the mind-blowing idea that when Joseph brought Mary and Jesus to Egypt, they SAW the same Pyramids I was seeing. Jesus saw the Pyramids! It connected me to my Savior unlike anything else ever has and really makes me want to go to Israel.
Well, the Redwood trees are seriously ancient. We stood by trees that are over 1,000 years old. We saw cross sections of trees where historical events were marked on the ring. Here’s how old the tree was when Columbus came over. Here’s how big it was when the American Revolution was fought. Here’s what it was like the day JFK was shot. These silent, mighty giants have witnessed history like nothing else on earth and it was humbling to walk among them. I kept reaching out to touch their fire-resistant bark to somehow be part of them.
We did it all—the obligatory photo by Paul Bunyan and his ox, Babe; the ride through the sky and up over the trees (smooth; not scary at all) and a pleasant, continuous search for Wicket and friends.
About an hour into the woods, it dawned on me that I’d been in that forest before—a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. It felt so familiar! We realized that everything from the thick needles on the ground to the darkness to the fallen trees reminded us of Return of the Jedi! Of course, we wanted to grab our phones and check our theory but we couldn’t because there is no signal deep inside Redwood National Park. Once we cleared the woods, we looked it up and sure enough, ROTJ’s famous Ewok scenes were filmed right there in that vast, overwhelming forest. Suddenly, we felt even more connected to that big, ol’ clump of tall trees.
When we wound our back to the ranger station and out into the sunshine, we gasped at how bright everything was. I would not want to be lost in that dark, mysterious world but somehow I don’t think I’d be scared for long. It was so incredibly peaceful, comforting and knowing. Plus, an entire village of Ewoks is ready to fight the Empire and then party with us. Stormtrooper helmet bongos, anyone?