John, Hexl and I, along with our friends Sam, Jeff and Chelsea, spent the weekend camping up in Redwood Forests in Humboldt State Park.
I didn't grow up in California, so hearing about the Redwood Forests as a kid has largely seemed like the stuff of lore and legend. They seem like something that existed once, but that surely have been destroyed by now — it seems too magical and wonderful to still exist on this Earth.
But there they were: absolutely towering trees, wider than a small house — indeed, some with houses built into them — big enough to drive through, tall enough to blot out the sun. Being in the groves felt like stepping into a world of perpetual twilight. On our second day, we went to the river to sun on the banks, and were stunned to see how the temperature shifted twenty or so degrees as you moved in and out of the forest. Steps into the clearing of the riverbeds and it was scorching hot and bright, moving just 10 feet into the forest and it was cool and dark and wonderfully damp.
We arrived on Saturday night, just in time to be surprised by a party for Smokey the Bear's 72nd birthday. The rangers had arranged a little show and cake for everyone, with trivia and campfire sing-alongs. It was straight out of the 60s. At one point they asked what were the largest state parks in California, and after 15-or-so eager kids tried and failed ("Sorry, that's a national park, we're talking about the state park system" x 15) Sam piped up with "The Anzo-Borrego Desert State Park." and received a look of relief and a souvenir magnet from the rangers. Later, Hexl received a shout out for his "participation" in the physical portion of the "Bring Back my Bonnie" sing along (I would hoist him in the air in lieu of me standing up on every word starting with 'B').
After that we set up camp, and Chelsea, John and I painted in Chelsea's watercolor book as Sam and Jeff worked on Dinner (their preference). Chelsea brought out a small collection of gems, and did tarot readings for John there in the grove. Needless to say Chelsea and I are peas in a pod. Dinner was great: barbecued chicken, roasted zucchini, a tomato salad — dessert was an incredible peach and strawberry buckle. We played Cheers! Governor well into the night, whispering so as not to disturb the cyclists camping on either side of us.
The next day we drove up to the Eel River to spend the day swimming and sunning on it's shores. John and I were surprised to find a Jeep Patriot as an option when we picked up our rental the previous day ("seaux butch!" we kept lisping), but we were glad to have it, when we realized we could just drive down to the shore instead of schlepping all our stuff to and from. We all swam for a while, and then — seeing as we were completely alone and would have a good head start to get dressed again should anyone show up — stripped down for some naked sunbathing. We kept imaging scenarios where rangers pulled up with stern warnings after hearing reports of "four faggots and a witch! nude!" from upset family day campers. But I don't think there's a court in the world who would disagree that our pasty hides desperately needed some sun.
While the rest of group stayed an additional night, John and I departed after lunch to drive back to the city — we're going to Utah this weekend for my sister's wedding, and couldn't manage an additional day off; but it was a perfect weekend.