We have always wanted to see the redwoods of California. We learned that there are two kinds of oversized trees in CA, redwoods in northern CA, the tallest trees in the world and sequoias in southern CA, which are much bigger around than redwoods, but not quite as tall. We would be seeing redwoods, not sequoias. We also learned that formerly hundreds of thousands of acres of northern CA were forested with redwoods, but lumbering demand over the years has reduced the acreage greatly to maybe a tenth of that. So now there is a complex of state and national parks in northern CA to protect some of the biggest and oldest groves [ http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=24723].
We hiked in Jedidiah Smith Redwood State Park and drove through several others. I remember, one time recently we asked Keely what he thought was different about the west. She replied, “Everything is bigger.” Now that we are traveling here, we agree heartily, and the redwoods are a perfect illustration. In the East, we admire a mature towering grove of hemlock or Adirondack pine. But those would be like children standing beside these towering redwoods. Both the height and width are in another league to us Easterners. I remember seeing three people standing fingertip to fingertip in front of one trunk and the tree was wider that all three together.
We were especially impressed with the quiet in the redwood forest. We are so used to noise that quiet impresses us greatly. Another interesting feature is the fern-covered forest floor. There is very little undergrowth, bit am abundance of ferns. We also noticed that neighboring redwoods seem to grow together and merge into one tree more than most trees do. So one would occasionally observe complex structures where multiple trunks had grown together or crossed each other.
It was in the redwoods that JoAnne first introduced what was to become the theme song for our trip, it just seemed so appropriate. “How great is our God, sing with me how great is our God… and all will see, how great, how great is our God.”