Monday, November 19, 2007

A curvy Road, a Racy Van, Redwoods, and a Rain Forest

Having travelled on Highway 101 almost all the way down the Oregon Coast, this past week the Dueck 6 drove on in our decked out mini-van heading further south into California's Redwood country. Hwy 101 is an incredibly beautiful drive, with lots and lots and lots of curves and ups and downs to keep you focused. Sometimes you are in the trees, and then 5 minutes later you are on a cliff hugging the ocean shore. Amazing! If you ever get out this way, we highly recommend the drive.

Now for those of you who are perceptive you may have noticed the adjective "decked" in front of mini-van in the previous paragraph. How do you deck out, supe up, or just generally try to make a van look cool you ask? Well to start with, you take a middle-aged guy who loves Hot Wheels cars and wanted to be a race car driver in Gr. 1. Add to that a frugal mind and limited resources. Then mix in 4 enthusiastic kids and a wife who knows that her husband really wanted to "let loose" in a Mennonite/pastor/conservative sort of way. And what do you have?

A $20 set of blue flame decals that are now one the "Dueck 6 Mobile!"

(If you look closely, you will see that my search for bumper stickers has been more successful of late, and if you look really closely, you will see the official Hot Wheels logo right on the back of our rooftop carrier!) Okay, while it isn't really a Vanagon from the 60's, it is at least a good attempt to fit into the cool California culture, wouldn't you say?

California has truly been cool, and for the most part rainy. We had two rainy days in a great motel (great means a suite with two separate sleeping areas, 3 queen size beds, and two TV's for only $75!) in Crescent City, then headed for three nights of camping at Prairie Creek State Park in the Redwood National Forest. On our two sunny afternoons we went on some amazing hikes, and were surrounded by some truly awe-inspiring trees. The pictures really don't do them justice, but here is the best we can do to give you a taste of these truly massive creations of God.

Height: Some of the these Coastal Redwoods grow to be over 350 ft tall. That's as tall as a 30 story building (meaning they are as tall as the Revolving Restaurant in Winnipeg). Standing under one makes you feel like a tiny ant. Some of these old growth trees may be 2000 years old, with most of the larger trees being at least 500 years old.

The forests we hiked through were incredibly damp, even with the sun shining. These trees need over 500 gallons of water every day, and they got 40% of their moisture intake from the fog that is an almost daily occurrence.

Redwood roots are very shallow (only about 6 feet deep), but they can grow for hundreds of feet to the side, intertwining with the roots of other trees for stability and strength. The stronger the connections, the less likely they are to get blown over in a storm. This is a great picture of how church life should be - working together, supporting, encouraging, and strengthening each other to do the tasks God calls us to in the face of opposition from a hostile world.

Lois' favorite trees were the "goose pen" trees. Redwoods have a 1 foot thick bark which protects them from fire and fungi. However fire may sometimes get in and burn out the inside of the tree. The trees may be almost completely hollowed out inside, yet still be very much alive. Early settlers to the area used to store their geese in these trees, barring the opening with a gate. As you can see, they work great for holding children too!

We had three days of hiking and camping among these great trees. Unfortunately it rained the last couple of days we were there, which didn't really dampen our spirits, but it did make us really damp! The kids were great about it, and enjoyed the chance to eat a few meals in the van. While at the campground we had the opportunity to meet a cyclist from England and share a meal with him. We enjoyed the adult conversation, and he welcomed the chance to talk with us and our kids.

One of things about travelling to different areas is that you see things that you didn't even know existed. I had heard about and seen pictures of Redwoods, but one place I had never dreamed about was Fern Canyon. After a 30 minute ride down a wet gravel road, a 10 minute walk on a trail, we all entered into what seemed like another world. We saw first hand what looked great on postcards, and what was also a part of the Lost World, Jurassic Park Movie. Here is a picture of what we saw, but again, it does nothing to convey the beauty and serenity of the place.

The walls of this canyon are covered with the delicate 5 fingered fern. With the creek, the massive uprooted Redwoods, the 30 foot high walls of green, this was one of those places that truly surpassed all that people said about it.

How many years was this small canyon here before anybody discovered it? One small creek flowing into the vast Pacific Ocean carved this beautiful canyon. God, in his creative goodness and power saw fit to decorate this canyon with ferns to bring glory to himself, and joy to those people fortunate enough to visit it.

Redwoods and Rain Forests. Truly, "the whole earth is full of His glory." Isaiah 6:3


Arvid & Ruth said...

Hi COnrad & Lois & Family! It is so good to read about your adventures! Pretty spiffy looking van! The redwoods look amazing, even just on camera. Can hardly imagine how beautiful they are in real. God's creation continues to amaze us.


Anonymous said...

Hey Conrad I normally don't do this kind of stuff but your mom and dad are visitng me in Arizona and showed me your blog. It looks like you're having a great time....only you and Lois can live out of a shoe box and still love life but thats more a God thing than anything else. You're an inspiration to all.