This trip to California has been a bit of a forced march. My companion has jammed 11 newsroom visits into 10 days. Except for the last two nights, we will won’t be in the same hotel twice. Before we return to San Francisco and our flight East, our rental car will have covered roughly 1,500 miles. It has been a marathon of check ins and check outs, while trying (with varying degrees of success) to keep track of our belongings.
We are both hardy travelers, but by the time we hit the weekend, I was ready to ease up a bit. I was tempted to suggest we take just one day to make the drive a short one and veg out by some pool. Better yet, maybe we could find a nice winery in which to pass a Saturday afternoon.
But those of you who know my companion, know he can be single-minded. He’d never seen the giant redwoods and I knew he wouldn’t give them up without a fight. Besides, I’d never seen them either. If we got up early enough on Saturday, we could get to Redwood National Park and spend some time before starting the 400+ mile drive down the coast to our next stop. When I climbed into the car, it was more with an attitude of resignation than anticipation. The phrase “good solider,” came to mind. Let’s take in those big-assed trees and be on our way!
But when my companion is right, he certainly is right. I had no idea of the treasure I’d find in that forest. It is acres upon acres of stunning life, so rich and full and strong it takes your breath away. Looking up at the tree tops gives you the dizzy feeling you are falling through space. Circle around the massive trunks, and you are overwhelmed with their grandeur. The whole forest seems to sigh with natural sound from the flittering birds to the gentle sweep of a breeze that can be heard, but cannot reach you. Elk, bears and even some mountain lions make the park their home, and although we didn’t see any that morning, there is no doubt they are there. Their life cycles, as ours, are borne witness to by those stately, giant sentinels, Those trees have seen hundreds of years of life pass beneath them, and they will live to see hundreds more.
Even with life vibrating all around us, there was a remarkable peacefulness in the redwoods. It’s like they were created to refresh the spirit. No matter how weary, when you stand among the giants time stops and everything that weighs you down is dwarfed to insignificance. You will be renewed. It is a place where you will rediscover your cornerstones and reconnect to your deepest feelings. It’s a place where your companion of so many years takes your face between his hands and whispers, “I want you with me, always.” And when he kisses you, it’s like it was the first time.
What a fool I’d been, to think it was too much trouble to add the giant redwoods to our trip. And how privileged I was to see them. They are a gift, a special moment, a true treasure that fills your heart and makes it easier to keep moving when it’s time to get back on the road.