Elks and Giant Redwoods

Trip Start Apr 18, 2007
Trip End Oct 16, 2007

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Flag of United States  , California
Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Awoke to gray skies and a chill - we are in the one small part of the US that isn't having 85-90F weather.

We'd planned to drive south today as the weather wasn't going to be very special. Within a few miles of leaving Brookings we were in northern California.

Had the very good luck to see some elk at the side of the road completing our set of standard US animals.

There was sea fog all down the coast just sitting in the forests on our left - it was kinda mysterious/ghostly. there was one attraction with a huge "Paul Bunyan" who is a mythical lumberjack.

Here's the wikipedia stuff and a picture we took:

A lumberjack of huge size and strength, Paul Bunyan has become a folkloric character in the American psyche. It is said that he and his blue ox, Babe, were so large that their footsteps created Minnesota's ten thousand lakes (including Lake Bemidji, which resembles Paul's giant footprint). Babe measured 42 axe handles and a plug of chewing tobacco between his horns. He was found during the winter of the blue snow; his mate was Bessie, the Yaller Cow. Once, he helped Paul to straighten a road simply by pulling it.

Like many myths, this explains a physical phenomenon. Bunyan's birth was strange, as are the births of many mythic heroes, as it took seventeen storks to carry the infant (ordinarily, one stork could carry several babies and drop them off at their parents' home). When he was old enough to clap and laugh, the vibration broke every window in the house. Paul and Babe dug the Grand Canyon by dragging his axe behind him, and created Mount Hood by piling rocks on top of their campfire to put it out.

He is a classic American "big man" who was popular in 19th century America. Further, the Bunyan myths sprang from lumber camp tales, bawdy to put it mildly. In one such tale, extreme cold forced bears to look for food; one wandered into a lumber camp. It chased the lumberjacks up a tree on which they had a ladder. To keep the bear from climbing after them (despite the fact that bears do not need ladders to climb trees), they kicked down the ladder. This saved them from the bear, but trapped them in the tree. To escape, the lumberjacks urinated in unison and created a frozen pole, which they slid down. Such tall tales, though later toned down, were attributed to a single character, Bunyan, and became the stories we know today.

We then got to the Redwood National Park where we joined a ranger-led trail walk to the spot where Lady Bird Johnson inaugurated the Park in 1970 (she is still alive today). Apparantly logging had destroyed 96% of original redwood forest - this is one small haven where there are trees over 500 years old. they can survive 2,000 years - but most forests are now less than 100 yrs old. The trees had formed the building blocks of much of the housing and railroads in the US during the early 20th century.

I guess it goes without saying that they are huge - and tend to grow in circles as new trees have grown up out of the roots of an even older tree.

Not many petrol stations here which is why we ended up using this >>

And surprisingly gas is much more expensive here in California.

We'd planned to stay at Eureka - but it was large, impersonal and a dump, so we drove on to Fortuna where, after a trawl round all the hotels, we found a Comfort Inn at $77 - somewhat more than we're used to paying - but we're in California. The room is excllent and there is a micro-pub nearby.....
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