For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to see the Red Woods. I finally stopped with excuses and went out and booked my flight. I wish I shared this experience with my husband though, he would have loved it and would have made it more fun. But he also would have slowed me down and talked me out of everything because my trip was insane. A normal person would not have attempted to drive the hours I drove to get to the places I wanted to see. Luckily, I rented a fast cool car, see post #3.
My journey was not easy. But nothing worth doing is ever easy, I mean EVER. If you want easy, stay on your couch. Here is the story: I flew into San Franisco, which was #2 on the list, see blog post number 2 for that exciting adventure. I drove two hours from the airport to be halfway between the Sequoia National Forest and the Airport (About 4 hours total trip). I arrived at my hotel late at night, so sadly I could only get Burger King for dinner. I went back to my hotel after eating a greasy burger, wiped my fingers on my white pants, and started planning for the next day. Mission: SEE REDWOOD TREES.
I was a moron to think this would be easy because as I was planning, a pop-up alert showed up that wasn’t there before, “Road Closures due to snow, tire chains required.” In my head, “Fuck. Tell no one, continue as planned. I can do that right?” Meanwhile, I am driving a dodge Challenger not a 4wd SUV. So, I researched the weather, and it was supposed to be freezing (6 degrees) and expecting to snow. I brought sneakers and a light jacket, so my attire was horrible. Okay, new plan, I will make it to Yosemite and see the grizzly giant. Full transparency, I saw the warnings, but was prepared to walk 2 hours to see the tree, I wanted to get as close as I could get though. So, I started my journey, and on the way, it was the most beautiful drive of back roads and valleys. It took my breath away. The ride was filled with podcasts and my thoughts, my favorite type of mediation.
I filled my tank and stopped to get a coffee, a winter hat, a map, and gloves for my journey. I started my journey toward the Grizzly, I passed the Sierra Nevada State Forest and kept on climbing the mountain. I started seeing signs that said “TIRE CHAINS” required. It was not long after that, my car started slipping and sliding all over the road and on either side of me was frightening cliffs. I have never been so scared in my life. Well, yesterday I was damn scared too, but you can read that in my San Fransico Trip. I kept going, I pulled over to take a break and a guy told me that I would not make it and they wouldn’t let me park. I was 20 minutes away from my destination! I ignored the guy and kept on driving another 5 minutes, and then I saw the amount of snow ahead of me and I couldn’t get through it. Imagine driving up Smugglers notch in the winter, or if you aren’t familiar with VT, picture just driving in five inches of snow in a sports car. I ran out of places to pull over, and I couldn’t help by go back to my risk-reward proposition. The risk, I was going to fly off the road and total my car, get hurt or just get stranded with no one to save me. This risk was death to me. The reward was to see a large Tree but guess what, there are hundreds of other large trees in California. I needed to think back on what my mission was, it was to see the Red Wood trees. It was not a particular tree. I was disappointed to have to turn around when I finally found a place, trust me, if I could have safely, I would have parked my car and walked 3 hours to see this. But there was no safe place to park and realistically, I was not wearing the proper attire to walk in the snow for that long. I turned around, and I was so sad about it, but I am happy I tried like hell. I am happy that I gave it my all, but I failed. You know what though, good for me for failing, it means I put myself out there. I didn’t get hurt and I stayed safe.
There was another route that I could take to see another large Red Wood, so I made my way back down and around to get there. I drove through Yosemite National Park for about an hour, which is beautiful. But eventually came to the same fate, I pushed myself so hard to get there, I had to start backing up the highway to get out of the snow situation I put myself in. Again, I tried, and I failed.
As I turned around again, I was again SO scared. I wanted to just get back to the snow free roads, and roads that I knew I could get help on if my car had issues, or I ran out of gas or something. I pulled over at the Sierra Nevada State Forest to walk around the forest.
I mean I really wanted to see some tall trees which I did, but I didn’t see the ones I was really looking for. The snow-covered trails made it a nice peaceful quiet escape, there was a sign that said to watch for Mountain Lions.
The walk was great mediation medicine, it gave me peace and courage to find a new plan. The trip itself was worth it and it was not a failure overall, I captured beautiful photos and had the most gorgeous views on the way over. I found myself stopping any chance I could to take in the beauty – it was breathtaking. So, I started back tracking a bit, I looked at my options, Sequoia National Park was three hours away, but the weather was much colder, and the risks were just as bad, I might not make it. So, I googled, best places to see the Red Woods in California. I would like to say, I have googled this many times and I found a lot of places while planning my trip, but I missed an obvious State Forest. Herny Cowells Red Wood State Forest.
This trip would be another 3.5 hours from where I was so there was not a lot of time to waste, the forest was open until 6pm. GPS says I will be there at 3:30pm. Here we go. I ventured over there and was taken back with the highway I was on; it was covered in valleys after valleys and hills after hills. The moment of Zen that I felt, driving my dream car, taken in the moments around me. I was so excited to just see what I was seeing, I forgot to eat all day but there was no time to stop, I didn’t want to waste a moment. I headed towards the Red Woods.
I found the Red Woods, in the period expected, I got there around 3:30pm. It didn’t cost anything to get into the park. I drove in, parked my car, followed the Grove Trail, and immediately was in awe. The smile on my face was as big as the trees, the tears in my eyes were forming. I made it and I am here. I walked the trails, I touched the trees, I smelled the fresh air, and I appreciated the moment. I sat on the benches and photographed the imagery around me.
I found what I was looking for. I watched a couple get married, and parents dragging their kid on a leash. This made me miss my kids, but they would be running around that park, not on a leash like a dog. Kriston called me, and I tried to explain the beauty around me. He knew I was happier; he felt disappointment with me when I had to turn around several hours ago. That is what love is, disappointment with me, not at me, shared emotions. I found what I was looking for, true love in that park – the couple that was getting married, the parents that most likely had to go through a lot of trouble with a toddler to get there – it reminded me of my humble life, and I was so lucky. It was moments prior to that, I realized that my husband had to go through all those fears with me. He may have been more scared at times. Moments ran through my head, “Your husband let you go?” My husband didn’t just let me go, he handed me his SD Card and camera. I am always going to be an independent person, someone that will go out on an adventure on her own. I know, I want to share memories as well, but I also want to experience the world from my own perspective, and I always want to be okay with being alone. If you can be alone, you must be okay with who you are. Plus, you just can’t read a book or write with kids under your feat. I didn’t know I was looking for love. My husband and I have the same ups and downs as every marriage does. The highs are high, the lows are low. But in the moment in the woods, and now writing this, I realize I love this man with all my heart, and I appreciate the fuck out of him for giving me my own space. The worst thing in a marriage is resentment, never hold your partner back. Uplift them and encourage them, it’s the best gift you can give.
I made it; it was beautiful. It was worth the trouble, the fears, the risks. I can leave happy now.