The Redwoods and Oregon

Wow, whaaat, whoa, dude those are some really freakin big trees.  The Redwoods are some of the most impressive things that I’ve ever seen.  Some of these trees are over 20 feet in diameter and over 300 feet tall and can live over 2000 years.  Wow.  They only really exist in a small place on the planet in northern california and southern oregon near the coast.  They exist in a temperate rainforest and there is somewhere around 7 times the biomass in an old growth redwood forest than there is in a tropical rainforest.  Biomass includes living plant materials and decaying plant materials.  The reasons for this are that the trees are freakin huge, and it isn’t as hot as in a tropical rainforest so the organic matter in the soil isn’t consumed as fast.  These old growth redwood forests are huge carbon sinks and they used to be even more so.  Somewhere around 90% of the redwoods are gone due to logging.  Walking around in one of these forests is a truly amazing experience.  It is so quite and so beautiful and it smells great.  Walking among these giant trees can give a new respect for life as some of these trees have been around since the time that Jesus walked the earth.

After hiking around in the redwoods for a while, we decided to go find a campsite and we found a free one not too far away so we headed there.  The campsite didn’t have any amenities, but it was free, so we were all over it.  It was up on this cliff above a beach by the ocean so after we found a site and set up tent, we went down to the beach.  The waves at this beach were very powerful and big.  It seemed like the ground went deep pretty quickly from the beach because the waves broke very close to the edge of the water, it was very beautiful.  Also, on the beach we saw a bunch of people with tents set up, so we asked them about it and found out that camping on the beach is generally allowed so we decided to go back up and get our tent so we could sleep on the beach.  We gathered our stuff and set out walked along the beach to find a nice spot.  The main part of the beach didn’t have many nice spots left so we continued on past it.  There was a rock outcropping separating the main beach from the next section of beach and the another rock outcropping separating the next section so we had to time when we would run past the rocks so that we wouldn’t get wet from the waves.  We eventually found this nice sheltered spot between some big bolders and up on a shelf that was clearly above where the tide could possibly come in so we felt pretty safe.  We watched the sunset over the pacific and then went to sleep.  I actually didn’t sleep very well because the waves woke we up periodically and I wasn’t entire certain that we weren’t going to get swept away, but it was a cool place to camp nonetheless.  The next morning we headed north to Coos Bay, Oregon to visit some more of Emily’s friends.

Emily lived in Coos Bay for a couple years while she was a part of an Americorps program.  She worked with a food bank and community action agency and did a lot of cool things.  She also met a lot of people in the area.  We stayed at this guys house that she used to work with and he was only there for the first day that we got there and then he was going on a long vacation.  He had just recently retired and really liked Emily so he said that we could stay as long as we liked.  We ended up staying almost a week and we hung out with a lot of Emily’s old friends, went to some parties, got a lot of rest, did some blogging, did laundry and did some sight seeing around the area.  Emily described the Oregon coast as being gorgeous, but mildly unpleasant and she was right on.  Everything was lush and green and beautiful, but it was always kinda cold and windy and there was this misty rain most of the time.  It was toward the end of our time in Coos Bay, where Emily started bringing up her feelings about and concerns about the trip.  She was feeling homesick and was wondering if she should continue on the road trip.  She decided to give it a little more time so we headed on to Portland to visit one of my old friends.

One of my best friends from high school, Zach Dunham, had just moved to portland a couple months before we arrived and I hadn’t spent any time with him in a long time so I wanted to hang out with him a little bit.  When we got to Portland, Zach was at work so we went to this really cool used and new book store.  The book store was really big, definitely the biggest book store I’ve ever been to.  We hung out there for a number of hours looking around at lots of cool books.  It was when we were here that Emily made the decision that she was going to leave the road trip.  She wanted to go back and live in Austin and work with people there to try to start something that would help low income folks learn how to grow and preserve food.  She seemed to have made the decision pretty quickly, but she told me that she had been thinking about it for some time and was just now putting it all together.  She used the internet in the bookstore to buy a train ticket and it was all set up that she would catch the train from our next stop in Seattle, WA.  Zach was a receptionist for this law firm so I went up to his desk to chat a little bit while he was at work.  We talked for a bit with the occasional interruption for him to answer the phone or something like that and then it was time for him to go do something so I went back to the bookstore.  After Zach got off of work, we met at my car and started driving to his place.  Zach asked me if I wanted to see the Burnside and I was like, we just passed that road a minute ago and he was like, “No, I mean, THE Burnside.”  And then I realized what he was talking about.  Back in high school we played this video game called Tony Hawk Skateboarding and one of the places in the game was modeled after this skatepark in Portland called the Burnside.  So we went and looked at it and it was crazy.  It brought back a lot of memories of how much time I had spent in front of that dang TV screen.  The actual park looked exactly as it had in the video game, it was crazy.  We didn’t have skate boards so we couldn’t skate at all, but we wouldn’t have been as good as we were in the game, so it was probably good to just leave it at that.  We hung out with Zach for another day and then we left for Seattle in the morning.  It was good to hang out with him and see what his life was like after not really talking to him much since early on in college.  We had a good time.

Next stop: Seattle, WA.

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