Well, he didn't really say that, but the implication was there. I told Peter there was a park with Redwoods only 30 or so minutes from our house, and he didn't believe me. Nope, he tried to convince me that the only park with those gorgeous, tall, stately (and oh, so, shady) trees was Muir Woods. Recently my friend Linda mentioned a more local Redwood park, and I realized this was the place I had heard about so long ago...but had been told didn't exist.
Now don't get me wrong. We LOVE Muir Woods. We can all fit inside the hollow tree for family photos, and one feels millions of miles away from...everything. They have trails for every type of hiker, the trees, of course, recycling bins, compost bins, the snacks sold are wholesome, and with one exception, I just feel one with nature being there. Corny, but true. The Redwoods are just awe-inspiring.
What is not awe-inspiring? The drive. One has to go along a twisty, windy road for what seems like days, after it has taken almost an hour just to get to that road. It is eerily reminiscent of the way leading in and out of Colonia Tovar **(a little German village nestled in the mountain top just outside of Caracas). We prayed non-stop the entire time we hugged the side of the road as the one lane (for two cars) wound around the side of the mountain, going up and back down. This type of driving (and, more to the point, road) did not bode well for those with weak constitutions.
It's not hard then, to recall the ride home after we visited Colonia Tovar with Auntie Shannon. Caitlin was about two and had been very excited about the day. Colonia Tovar is famous for its strawberries, and we were so excited to taste them. Caitlin ate loved them, and ate berry after berry. We were in strawberry heaven until the long, twisty ride home. We stopped counting after 6 emergency stops (with little to no parking area) and Cait hasn't eaten a strawberry since.
So guess what happens when you have children (yes, Kelsey, too, on occasion) with you who are still prone to motion-sickness (and like to exacerbate it by reading novels in the car while on the uber curvy road to Muir Woods)?
Lots and lots of low grumbles, small moans, and then finally, just as you have passed the last scenic overlook with room to park the car for an emergency stop...the actual request to pull over and, well, you can figure it out. We haven't made it to Muir Woods once without someone getting sick, and can't even consider taking the shuttle there (from a random parking area) for that reason. When my friend Linda (yes, the lady who can get anywhere in Northern CA without a GPS) suggested we have a nature outing at the nearby Redwood Park, we signed on that dotted line immediately.
Now, if only I had just Googled this place last summer, we would have been in heaven on those terribly hot and sticky days. Instead, we rushed over there today, hurrying to try and fit it in and everything else on our pre-move to do list. Gorgeous. Utterly gorgeous.
It's in Oakland, just off a long, twisty road, but not nearly as long as the road to Muir Woods, and minus the drive to get to the road to Muir Woods. We parked inside the main gate, and headed toward the playground to wait for the rest of the group...it wasn't that hot out, but cooled off incredibly once under the shade of the trees.
After a bit of playtime, and meeting up with other folks, we continued our walk. We ambled along the trail, stopping to see banana slugs, water-gos (creeks), fields of wildflowers, picnic tables (they are very big with the 2 year old set), and random empty shelters that have benches and windows. They create hours of entertainment, believe it or not.
We only had to depart as we finally ran out of food. Nicholas even consumed the emergency fruit bar, which led us to a cranky state of affairs by the time we were back in the car. Luckily for Nicholas, Cy was able to share a bit of his extra snacks, and all was well with the world. It was a very happy Earth Day, and, yes, we carpooled.*Pronounced in the manner of Carol Kane in The Princess Bride.
**There is now an actual web-site for Colonia Tovar! When we lived there, the best directions we could find were: Leave Caracas, drive outside the city, turn right at the McDonald's, make a right turn once you get to the middle of the little town in the valley, and then stay on that road until you go up the mountain and back down into the town. Oh, and it's about a 1.5 hour trip, one way.