Friday, May 12, 2023

Road trip home, Day 2

The other touristy thing Younger Daughter wanted to do before leaving California was to see the redwoods, some of the largest trees in the world. My younger brother knows every old-growth redwood grove in the state, and he recommended visiting the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park as an option that was fairly close by.

So early on Tuesday morning, we shook the dust of that nasty Motel 6 off our feet and crossed the mountains towards the ocean, then found our way to the park.

Redwoods are impressive at the best of times, but old-growth redwoods are on a scale all by themselves.

The entrance to the park had a slab on display indicating how old the tree was when it was cut down. (I'll spare you my thoughts on the tragedy behind logging so many of these massive trees to begin with.) In case you can't read it, one of the marks is the birth of Jesus.

They were doing a great number of controlled burns in the park that morning. According to a passing ranger we spoke to, the fires that ravaged many famous redwood parks a couple years ago scared them into recognizing the need to keep the forest floor clean.

Additionally, the past winter with lots of rain and wind toppled a lot of trees, creating yet more debris on the forest floor, so they were trying to get a handle on the mess.

Redwoods are well-known for growing from the downed remains of older trees, often resulting in such massive marvels as this triple-trunked granddaddy. (Fence for scale.)

Ironically, redwoods are designed to survive wildfires. That's why so many have burned out hollow bases inside an otherwise perfectly healthy tree.

We walked around for a couple hours, gaping at the beauty.

There was a tourist train that ran through the area, but we didn't feel like paying $40 apiece for that privilege, so we just photographed the tracks.

This sign gives a reference to the scale of various trees.

(Note the tiny T-rex at the bottom.)

Eventually we had to put the park behind us and hit the road.

Our destination for the night was Reno. To get there, of course, we had to fight our way through Bay Area traffic, an excellent reminder of why the heck we don't live in the Bay Area. Seriously, it's a culture shock to get sucked into this morass of a complicated highway system and millions of vehicles. Eventually we made our way over the Altamont Pass and connected to Hwy. 5 heading toward Sacramento.

Younger Daughter wanted to make a quick stop at an art-supply store in Sacramento before taking Hwy. 80 over the mountains. We hit the state capital – no surprise – during rush-hour traffic.

After the art store, we got on the highway again to cross the Sierras. I'd forgotten how breathtaking the drive was.

Over the crest of the mountains, we headed into some seriously dark clouds. Yes, those are clouds, not mountains.

Fortunately the rain we drove through wasn't as bad as the clouds looked. We made it into Reno around dusk.

We also realized we had gone from the ocean to the forest to the plains to the mountains to the desert – in one day's drive!

We'd booked a room at the Silver Legacy Resort for the night.

One advantage of staying in a gambling town like Reno is the excellent deals available on hotel rooms (since they assume you'll spend money gambling). For about the same price as that dumpy Motel 6, we stayed in opulent surroundings on the eighth floor.

We had dinner in the casino, and afterward walked around looking at the over-the-top décor.

The hotel lobby had a display case with historic crystal and silver items inside, a hat tip to its name of Silver Legacy Resort.

But what caught my attention was the antique Persian rugs. Gold and silver threads, massive amounts of jewels ... these rugs were absolute jaw-dropping works of art. Photos can't do them justice.

We finally tumbled into bed, ready to finish up with the trip the next day.


  1. Thank you for the wonderful travelogue. You saved me a lot of money.

  2. It's hard to fathom the size of the redwoods.

    1. I agree. The picture of the chart helps some, if you've ever gone to the statue of liberty.

    2. I think the chart should be expanded a little. You know, with a picture maybe of a lob lolly or long leaf pine!

  3. Oooh, the redwood forest--very good choice, YD! We were in the redwoods in CA as a family when I was a child, and I still own a beautiful little bud vase made out of redwood burl that I bought as a souvenir.