Jim Chevallier's Web Site



Horthern California - Redwoods


At some point, as I drove along the Avenue of the Giants, stopping here and there, I realized that, having seen photographs of huge redwoods all my life, I’d expected the woods here to consist of groves of trees five foot wide or more. In fact, a friend tells me, there are such stands in Oregon. But most of the trees here – as in Yosemite – are only slightly wider than normal large trees, if much taller and much older.

Where their size really becomes impressive is when they fall – the effect then is like looking at a dinosaur lying on its side. Seeing them upright though, one has trouble taking in their majestic height.

Really, the most wonderful aspect of the redwood forest is not their size, but the cathedral-like play of light through the high graceful columns of their trunks. This is so pronounced that most visitors speak, unprompted, in low whispers. walking in the redwood groves is, in a way, more like walking through Notre Dame than visiting spectacular monuments of size.

The other aspect that often goes unremarked is the vaguely retro quality of the signs and exhibits, which probably have not been changed for decades. The visitor’s center includes a wagon made from a single fallen redwood, with a (now distinctly antique) Nash motor added inside. The fact that the man who built it was known for his uncanny imitations of birdcalls and for being able to put out fires with his voice over the radio only adds to the slight sense of having wandered into an alternative and slightly out of date universe.

To buy a BOOK of these and other photos of the redwoods, click here: Views of California

After spending the afternoon seeing many, many redwoods, I drove back towards the coast to Eureka.