California: the joy of redwoods and friendship

A few years’ ago I went on a fantastic trip to Cuba (I can recommend Intrepid Travel‘s itinerary – it was a scorcher!). From one two week trip I made six really wonderful friends, three who (now) live in Australia, one in Cuba and two in California.

Janet and Carol, my Californian friends, weren’t on the same trip as I was but it was these two fantastic women with whom I shared most late nights, as most of my group tended to go home quite early. I chatted happily with Janet and Carol in between fantastic dances with their tour leader, Roger.

When I went to Burma in December, it was a real kick to meet up with Carol and Janet for lunch in the capital, Yangon – they were on the last day of their trip and we were on the first day of ours.

As soon as I confirmed that I would be visiting California, I got in touch with Carol and Janet. Not for us a quick lunch in San Francisco – no, the plan was for Janet and I to travel up from the Bay Area to Carol’s place in Humboldt County. I was excited to get into the heart of the redwood forests.

I had completely underestimated, though, just how wonderfully remote Carol’s place was. I had the most fantastic few days, in a place of such peace and calm that if I hadn’t been returning to meet my lovely friend from the U.K. and to reunite with the U.S. branch of my family, I think I may have skipped town altogether!

Janet gamely agreed to travel up Route 1 instead of the quicker Route 101, just so that I could get the feel of the coastal road. Wow, it winds and winds and winds! There were stunning views all the time and it was certainly worth feeling dizzy. For some inexplicable reason, I didn’t take a single photo. I’m blaming the jet lag.

Finally we moved inland and Janet pulled over to let me see my first Redwood Grove. It’s amazing to me that such mighty trees are growing right next to the road – sometimes even beginning to encroach upon it.

© Carole Scott 2013
© Carole Scott 2013
© Carole Scott 2013
© Carole Scott 2013
© Carole Scott 2013
© Carole Scott 2013

Humboldt4After a good eight or so hours on the road, we arrived and Janet pulled off the road onto a dusty track. As we wound up the hill, I was enchanted by the views of meadows. It simply wasn’t what I expected.

That evening we caught up, ate, drank and laughed. All the time, the view from Carol’s deck beguiled me and I came back to it time and again during my few days. I loved it best in the morning, when the breeze rustled the beech tree, the wind chimes sang and the crickets (cicadas?) chirrupped noisily but no other sound could be heard. I meditated, I did some yoga, I read. I was calm.

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This short clip doesn’t do justice to it but it helps remind me of the peace…

Carol, Dexter (the dog), me and Janet on the deck:

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Janet left the morning after we arrived (all thanks for her for making the trip when she had to dash back!) and Carol, Dexter and I set off for a lovely long hike through meadows and pine woods over to friends about seven miles away. It was a glorious day – clear blue skies but not blisteringly hot.

I drank wonderful pinot noir made from these grapes
I drank wonderful pinot noir made from these grapes

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Nanny goat looks round for her kids
Nanny goat looks round for her kids
Nanny goat and kids on a neighbour's land
Nanny goat and kids on a neighbour’s land
Jumping for joy on a spring day!
Jumping for joy on a spring day!
Meadow and pine - the views just went on forever.
Meadow and pine – the views just went on forever.

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A banana slug - what a revolting-looking creature!
A banana slug – what a revolting-looking creature!

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One very happy dog, roaming free!
One very happy dog, roaming free!

The next day Carol took me to the ‘Avenue of the Giants’, which delivers what it promises…great big glorious redwoods! Stunning.

It was a wonderful trip and I shall always treasure both the views and the conversations. It has certainly opened my eyes to just how beautiful California is and I will return to see more of it.

Thank you, Carol, for such a lovely visit and to Janet for driving up there!

Next time, back to San Francisco for wine, sight-seeing, family reunions and glorious food!

By Carole Scott

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