Saturday, September 25, 2010

Spooked on Highway #1

Northern California has been yet another spectacular feast for the senses as we continued our trek south along the coast. This time the majestic Redwood is the signature tree of the parks. We passed through Redwood National Park and took the Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail in a remote valley where the First Lady dedicated the park in 1968.

By the 1960's most of the old growth trees had been cut down with the exception of a few areas. One can see why these trees are a logger's dream. They can rise up to 370 feet in the air and often have siblings which shoot up near the parent tree. The hard, exotic wood is prime for exotic construction applications. The walk also revealed a diversified understory of trees including rhododendron and a variety of berry bushes and ferns.

One is hushed and inspired by the mammoth trees which can provide over 1,500 years of perspectives. Despite their imposing presence they are kind enough to allow golden rays of light to reach the vegetation below.
After traveling on superhighway #101 south we took the turnoff to the beginning of coastal Highway #1. Be forewarned; this drive is not for the squeamish. First you travel a series of hair-raising narrow zigzags through coastal mountains, then when you reach the coast the highway often clings to the edges of cliffs which fall hundreds of feet to the sea below. The reward, however, is breathtaking vistas.
We were impressed by the surging power of the California coastline and surf. The waves and the beaches take on mythical quality as they crash against imposing rocks.
Finally on the approach to the San Francisco area the generous expanse of vineyards on the rolling countryside attest to the presence of a dominant industry in the area. The vines hang with their precious crop still gathering sweetness from the warmth of the California sun.