Less than a quarter mile down the road from our campsite is a grove of old growth redwood trees, and we had never seen anything like them!
So after getting the motor home situated at the campground, we headed to see the "Avenue of Giants." Redwoods are the tallest living things in the world, and this road is lined with those giant trees.
The Avenue of Giants is a famous scenic highway that showcases some of the finest groves of old growth redwoods in California, and it starts just a few miles down our road. It's a road meant to be savored slowly, with lots of pull-outs and trails to get even closer to the trees.
We are finding that Denisa makes a good "tree model." Mark has to back away a very long ways to get the entire tree in a photo. It's hard to see a person wearing dark clothing standing at the base of that big tree. But Denisa's white hair shows up nicely against a dark trunk. That scores one advantage of getting old.
Not all the big trees we saw were standing upright. Some of the big ones were laying on the ground.
The tree in the picture below is the Dyersville Giant. At 362 feet tall, it was once the tallest tree in the world. But in 1991, this 2,000 year old tree fell to the ground in a huge wind storm. The crash was so powerful it registered on a nearby seismograph. We found it is just as hard to photograph a big tree on the ground as it is standing upright. You can barely see Mark standing on the far end of the tree while Denisa takes the picture from near it's middle point. The Dyersville Giant was truly a giant!
It's amazing that the Dyersville tree is laying on the forest floor so intact. Many times these tall trees splinter into toothpicks as they hit the ground, because they fall from such heights.
These fallen logs become nurse trees that provide organic matter for other forest plants to grow on. It's amazing to walk inside the base of one these giant trees to feel just how big they are.
We loved walking in the forest on different trails off the Avenue of Giants. With all the rain, the forests are a sea of green.
There were no fences to keep us away from the trees, and no huge crowds. We really liked that! There was, however, a healthy crop of poison oak that convinced us to stay on the trail.
Some of the trees that have fallen across the trail, have to be cut to keep the path clear. We can tell that this tree is around ten feet in diameter. We can also see that the bark is close to a foot thick. That's one of the reasons these trees can survive forest fire--they are so well insulated with that thick bark.
There are wood splinters in the forest from fallen trees and branches. It had been raining, so this wood was wet to bring out the rich red that gives this tree its name.
We kept driving further down the Avenue, stopping to take another trail. We got pretty good at taking pictures of trees that can be over 300 feet tall.
Not everything along the Avenue of Giants is a pristine forest. There are a few small towns and some kitschy tourist stops as well. For example, who could resist a stop at the Shrine Drive Thru Tree?
It's not exactly a drive-thru tree right now, as the rains have caused the road immediately after the tree to crack and tilt steeply towards the river below. So we were told to drive into the tree for pictures and then back out.
That's actually easier said than done. Even though it looks like there is plenty room in the front, the back is where there is only an inch on each side to get most cars into the tree.
The picture below shows two things. First, it shows the car that entered the tree right after us. As they backed up, we heard the kind of crunch that makes you cringe. They found backing out of there can be really hard on a car. Secondly, it shows how damaged this tree is. While still alive, the Shrine Tree has fought the fires and has parts missing now.
There are cables that are anchored to surrounding trees to help stabilize the Shrine Tree. This cable is digging deep into an old-growth anchor tree nearby.
Nevertheless, we paid our $6 to take pictures driving through and standing in the only naturally made redwood tree tunnel available for such a touristy stop. There are other drive-through trees, but we think they all have man-made carved tunnels.
Our admission fee also allowed for a trip to the drive-on tree, as well as the drive-thru tree.
It looks like this family-owned attraction needs a little maintenance. These tree houses were cute, but needed a little home repair. We had never seen tree houses made out of trees, rather than in trees.
They are even two-story tree houses, with an interior stair case carved out of the tree. It was intended to be used by children to get to the second level. Mark also found that agile big kids can climb up to the second floor as well.
During several of our hikes this afternoon, we got some rain. It never was heavy rain, so we just kept hiking and enjoying those majestic redwoods. We are beginning to get used to this rainy climate that makes the redwoods grow so tall. They need a lot of water to thrive, so we dawned our raincoats and thrived with them. On the way home, we enjoyed another aspect of the rain as we saw a rainbow stretching across the sky. We've been blessed with another day of wandering His wonders!