living, loving, and laughing
our way around the world

Redwood Forest


“The vainest, most slap-happy and irreverent of men, in the presence of redwoods, goes under a spell of wonder and respect.” John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley.

We left the Oregon Coast and entered into California. We drove through a small town that is filled with hundreds of lily fields. Apparently, this town produces 75% of the Easter Lillies that are sold worldwide. After the farms, the coastal road returned to views of the magnificent Pacific Ocean. The rocks were fewer than on the Oregon Coast and the waves seemed gentler and calming. A few minutes later  we were suddenly entering a forest with giant trees surrounding us. After singing the 10th round of “This Land is Your Land” we finally arrived at the Redwood Forest.

Standing at the base of a 300 ft. tree is a humbling experience. You suddenly realize that you are but a grain of sand on this huge planet of ours. Some of these giant redwood trees have been standing for over 1,000 years. We visited the small interpretive center at Prairie Creek (thanks for the tip Jen!). At the center we learned that the tallest tree is over 300 ft. tall and it would take 90 first graders lying side by side to equal that height. In our Phonics textbook we did a section on trees and there was a picture of a giant tree. The boys were determined to find it in the forest. We asked the woman in the gift shop, but we were told they couldn’t direct us to a specific tree because they want to limit the damage to the trees roots due to it’s age and fragile state. So, with a little investigation of our own, we found the trail and actually found the tree that was in the textbook - “The Big Tree”. The boys were psyched to find it and a kind walker-by took a picture of the four of us trying to go around the tree. We didn’t even fit across the front of it with our arms extended. We’re talking a BIG TREE!
We were all wondering why these trees had grown so big and why they didn’t grow so large in other parts of the country. What we found is that the trees have a bark that is approximately one foot in depth. This bark acts as a barrier against insects and fungus to protect the interior cells. If the insect or fungi happens to penetrate this thick layer, there are chemicals in the redwood that make it immune to the damage that could occur. So, unlike other trees around the country, they are immune to infestation and disease. The second cause of their growth is the location of the forest. The trees get water from the thick fog in the summer and from the rain in the winter, helping them to grow all year long. Finally, unlike humans that stop growing as they age, these trees continue to grow as long as they live.  

It is truly an amazing forest! We had a great time hiking through the trails and climbing in and out of the massive trees. We even got a chance to sit inside a giant tree and walk through it, which was really cool! We walked on the trees that had fallen to make bridges across creeks. We climbed on stumps that were big enough to be dance floors. Actually, in the 1800’s someone tried to cut down a tree to do just that and was stopped by the local preservationists - which started the protection of the Redwood Forest. Luckily for us, there are still trees to hug in California. If you’re passing through the coast, be sure to stop and take a walk among the “Giants”. You’ll be glad you did!



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