This week’s been a little different for us. We’re staying on the golden beaches of Southern Oregon. It’s a bit of an unexpected trip. Hubby came home Tuesday night and told me we were leaving the next afternoon, that he’d gotten a job for the dump truck. I had the distinct pleasure of pulling the camp trailer to Gold Beach on what I consider one of Oregon’s worst highways – 42S. It’s windy and tight on a good day. We won’t talk about what it's like pulling a camp trailer. Little Man did not want to ride in the dump truck with Hubby – dang it! But I had a stroke of genius and brought along six CDs of Farmer Boy. It worked like a charm. He did not peep for four hours and I didn’t feel the need to drive us all in into the Coquille River – a bonus in my book.
Being so close, I decided to take Little Man south of the border – to California. We made it through the agriculture inspection which consisted of me driving through at a slow speed and the lady in uniform waving me by. I guess I didn’t look like I was carrying any contraband fruit – their profile must not include big dusty Ford pick-ups with a dog in the back. I did take note of the large sign that said I couldn’t abandon my dog for fear of a large monetary fine. (There are some days it would totally be worth it, especially since the crazy lady that accuses me of not taking care of my dog visited again. I think that might be considered irony.)
In Crescent City we stopped at the Redwoods National and State Parks Visitor Center to get a brochure and find a place to hike. We have big trees in Oregon and I wasn’t sure that Little Man would be impressed, but it was a trip of firsts for him – first new state, first National Park (gasp – no I haven’t taken him to the one in our own state! Bad Mommy!).
Being a Forestry school alum I think that I have a different take on National Parks. I’ve visited several and this one was no different. Right inside the door was somebody’s great idea to brainwash young children. Kids were supposed to draw a postcard to send to Michelle Obama and appeal to her to “save the Redwoods.” (Because they aren’t already preserved in the National Park System?)
The gal that handed me the brochure had dreadlocks. (If she had Berkley tattooed on her forehead it wouldn’t have been more obvious where she was attending school. Strike One.) She asked me where I was from and when I replied that we were “down for the day from Gold Beach” she looked at me with complete and utter confusion. I might also mention that I had on a t-shirt with Oregon State University emblazoned on it in four inch orange letters. She says, “I’ve never heard of that.” Strike Two. I tell her it’s just a little ways north over the border in Oregon. I tell her that we’d like to go on a short hike to see some big trees.
Marking the map with a yellow highlighter, she gives me elaborate driving directions. Here she undoes half a strike for her ability to make sense of a map for people that can’t tell north from southwest, but then she tells me about the road. She explains that it’s an “old logging road” that winds through the trees and is very tight, so trailers aren’t allowed. I reassure her that I’m not towing a trailer and have driven a gravel road or two in my lifetime. Then she says, “It’s such a beautiful road that winds through the big trees, and they didn’t cut down any of the trees to build it.” Strike two-and-a-half and three.
What? No trees were cut down to build this “old logging road”? Are you listening to yourself? Roads that are built through a forest cut down trees. It’s not a bad thing. It happens. In fact those trees can actually be used for very useful things and redwoods actually regenerate from the stump. They don’t need to be replanted like other species. (This is one of the many very interesting things I learned at Oregon State University in the College of Forestry even though we don’t have many redwoods in our state.) I was very proud of myself, I did not say any of those things to the poor girl. I just smiled and thanked her for the brochure and directions, and Little Man and I went off to look at the big trees.
They were awesome. They were magnificent. They were bigger than huge. Little Man thought they were “intrasting.” We saw a bright yellow slug. We saw lots of cool hollows in the bases of the trees and we talked about who might live there. Little Man thought maybe badgers. I told him that was last summers’ trip. We talked about that people sometimes lived in them in the old days and now I’m going to have to read My Side of the Mountain again because I think that boy lived in a tree. It might make a good bedtime story.
I love National Parks. I love National Forests. I even love the reject areas that Bureau of Land Management has been left with. I think that our country has a rich heritage of natural resources that should be protected for future generations. But two of those three agencies were founded on multiple use policies and I think many information officers do the public a disservice when they give out misinformation. It’s a pet peeve of mine. If you’re going to work in an area that you aren’t from, then do everything in your power to learn accurate information.
This adventure has left me thinking about my time at a visitor center at Mt. St. Helens. My roommate and co-worker there was a Berkley student. That was a real eye-opener for us both. But that’s a whole ‘nother story.