Mune 2012 Roadtrip, Leg 2, The Redwood Forest

Pete Rose and Shirley Felman were the only things that awed me when I was nine. He was a baseball superstar and she sat three seats away in Mr. Schaefer’s class. My dreams alternated between being one and kissing the other.

In Los Angeles then, school started the Tuesday after Labor Day. The week before, our family tradition was to take a vacation. That year, it was a crooked north route through Placerville, Lake Tahoe, and the Redwood forest. I had cousins in Placerville and got $5 in quarters a day in Tahoe. I did not want to go to see some trees.

But at nine years old decisions are rarely yours, so I climbed in the van with the family as we left Tahoe and headed northwest, thinking about Rose’s hit record and what I would say to Shirley on the first day of school.

We saw the Golden Gate Bridge which was nice but not that golden. I slept a little in the van.

I awoke when the van stopped. I looked out the window and froze. I forgot about Rose. I forgot about Shirley. I saw a series of trees bigger than my imagination. I ran out of the van. The first tree was twenty-six steps around. It smelled clean and thick and wet. I jumped and slapped it as high as I could reach. I ran to the next one. I climbed over waist-high roots and peered up to see the top of it.

Kris, Zach, and I pulled into the Avenue of the Giants. I put Zach in the Zachpack. We strolled along the quiet path. The trees were clean and thick and wet. I remembered a few from my childhood: one whose root system looked burnt out, but still sprouted green sprigs thirty or forty feet in the air; in my youth I estimated the sprigs were at least three hundred feet high; one that looked veinous and ridgy; and one that was felled, but still looked red and alive at its cross-section.

Kris, me, and Zach in front of the still alive, burned out redwood.

Zach screamed at the big trees and I turned to let him touch them. After about twenty minutes, he fell asleep and Kris and I talked about the big trees and that one time I came up here with my folks and we drove the van through a tree.

We got back in the van and I looked as the trees sped by. We stopped and bought tiny redwoods to plant when we got home. We drove through the drive-through tree and took the only picture from that vacation. I started school the next week and was too afraid to talk to Shirley. Pete Rose played for another year and a half. The baby redwoods we bought at the gift shop, died before we got them in the ground.

About Jimmy

The stories herein are about a sentimental 80s child who cried at every showing of ET (the sad part where he was lying in the wash) and his families, then and now. His wife, son, parents, and siblings play their parts well. They have their exits and their entrances. Sometimes their exits are sad, but not as sad as ET.
This entry was posted in 2nd Grade, Baseball, Elementary School, fatherhood, memoir, Nostalgia, School, Topeka Dr and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Mune 2012 Roadtrip, Leg 2, The Redwood Forest

  1. Dianna says:

    Aw, sorry the tiny redwoods died. Love the picture and the “Zachpack”!

  2. inkline says:

    Babe, I loved finally sharing a Redwood forest walk with you.

  3. paralaxvu says:

    You brought back my own memories of that forest in words so real I was with you all the way…well, not when you kissed your far-away love or hit a Pete Rose out of the park, but otherwise…;-) Thanks for the mind trip!

  4. How random is this: I RANDOMLY follow your blog, because I like your writing style, and here you are, taking a road trip literally to where I live in California! The Avenue of the Giants is about 20 minutes from where I sit right now. It really is a small world.

  5. Maxi says:

    The humungous trees are incredible, hope to see them one day. Still, nothin’ tops baby Zach.
    Blessings – Maxi

  6. cricketmuse says:

    Thanks for stopping by “Airport Moments.” Redwood trees are a fave since I used to live in Northern California and still remember traveling the highway where these majestic beauties loomed on each side of the road. Felt like we had traveled back to a prehistoric forest. It’s great you are sharing this with your kids.
    Blue Skies,

  7. Eric Hart says:

    Great Post Jimmy. Makes me jealous to 1) See the Redwoods and 2) Purchase and plant them. Later!

  8. Mom says:

    Maybe it was a good thing those trees died. Where would we have put them?
    Love you guys.

  9. I think it’s wonderful to revisit childhood places with your own child – and ‘Mom’ is right. Those trees would have eventually taken over your entire yard, possibly even the entire neighborhood! lol

    • Jimmy says:

      Yeah… I don’t think Los Angeles weather would’ve supported the trees too well. I’m pretty sure we forgot to water them after the first week.

  10. dorannrule says:

    I’m following you or so I thought, but for some reason not getting your posts. So now I must go and look for your grand trips into childhood, where I always happily connect with feelings and reactions I thought I had forgotten. Thanks! 🙂

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