Escape To The Redwoods

One of the things Sean and I said we were going to do in 2010 was to take more day trips and weekend getaways to the area around San Francisco. As you can see, it's almost the end of 2010 and we've pretty much failed ourselves entirely, but we did also have "buy a house"  and "get new jobs" on that list, so we can probably call it even.

(Side note about that last thing: Sean got a new developer job at a digital agency a few months ago, which I can't remember if I mentioned or not, and I switched roles within my company back in June. I am so incredibly happy doing what I'm doing now, and on Friday I got an official promotion, which meant a very pleasing sense of validation as well as a flurry of Linked In-related updating and, of course, a bottle of champagne consumed alongside some take-out Thai and three DVR-ed episodes of America's Next Top Model. Yes, we're very behind. If you tell me who wins, I shall drive over to your house and throw eggs at your mailbox and insult your sister's virtue.)

Anyway! All this to say that a couple of weekends ago, we drove up to Humboldt County with my parents to spend the weekend admiring the redwood trees. The trip was my birthday present to my mother, who once told me that when she was very small, four or five perhaps, she had seen a picture of the redwoods in Northern California and of a car driving through one and so she had, for many decades afterwards, been enamored with the idea of driving a car through a tree. And so I organized a weekend away---under the guise of getting my parents to come up for "cat-sitting"; boy, were they happy when they realized it was only a ruse---and we did just that.

My parents arrived in San Francisco on Thursday afternoon and stayed a few days making delicious meals and setting up furniture, which is kind of how it is when you're a houseguest at our place these days: we put you to work. Bright and early on Saturday morning, we started the five-hour journey north in the pouring rain, which is never exactly pleasant but which is, you know, just rain. An hour or two from our destination, my mother looked out of the window and said "is that snow?" Oh hahaha, we all said, you're hilarious. Snow! As if!

And yet:

Huh. Would you look at that. Snow. Either that or my dad has a very bad dandruff problem.

Thankfully, the snow was pretty light and it vanished fairly quickly. An hour or so later, tucked up warm inside the car, feasting on kettle chips and listening to David Sedaris, we finally made it to the Chandelier Tree, where, for the princely sum of four dollars, my mother was able to realize her childhood dream.


Did you know how big redwood trees are, by the way? It sounds like rather an obvious thing to say, but I was just completely flabbergasted by how incredibly enormous they were.

I call this one "Honey, I Shrunk My Dad."

 I call this one "Please Don't Favorite This On Flickr, Creepy People Who Seem To Have A Wellington Boot Fetish."

Next, it was on to the Shrine Tree, forty-five minutes or so up the Avenue Of The Giants. This one was in a town called Myers Flat, which as you can tell is a pretty happening place to be.

(My brother and sister have a friend called Maia, who lives in London. Needless to say, my parents and I had a hilarious time joking about the drive-through tree being in Myers Flat. "In Maia's flat?" we'd ask each other, straight-faced. "How did a tree fit into Maia's flat?" The thing about being a part of the Burns family, as Sean has quickly found out, is that we all make the dad jokes.)

Anyway, the good thing about driving through trees, even in freezing, drizzly weather, is that it never really gets old.


 Also, you just get super creative about your photo posing options.

With dusk falling, we made our way to our hotel for the night, the charming River Bar Farm. After a cup of tea and a quick nap, we headed out for dinner at the Eel River Brewing Company, where we drank beer and ate burgers and generally congratulated ourselves on a pretty perfect day, before heading back to the hotel for a game of scrabble in the parlor. Haven't you always wanted to play scrabble in a parlor? Sean, very wisely, ceded the game to his father-in-law, losing by only three points. For me, who has lost every single one of our games of scrabble to Sean---apart from one, which I remember as clearly as our wedding day, that's how important it was---this was a particularly momentous conclusion. Point Burns!

Here is what River Bar Farm looked like, by the way: like a commercial for Fall:

The next day, after a breakfast at the B&B involving apples from the orchard and eggs from the farm's chickens, we visisted nearby Ferndale, which looked less like a commercial for Fall and more like a commercial for the Victorian era.

Driving around, we kept seeing signs for a local flea market. Since the words "flea market" have the same effect on me and my mother as, say, "fifty percent off" have on....well, me and my mother, we wove through tiny country roads until we arrived at the Loleta Fireman's Pavilion and paid our fifty cents entry to get in. My dad came away with some cherry red work boots, my mother got some old state plates for a dollar each, and Sean bought me a vintage marble rolling pin I had my eye on, making it a pretty worthwhile haul. Just down the road, we popped into the Loleta Cheese Factory, which was basically my dream come true. There were samples as far as the eye could see! Cheese just there for the taking!

It was truly one of the best weekends I've had in a long, long time, every single detail of it pretty much perfect. I'm so glad that I was able to arrange something special for my mother and help her cross one of her must-do experiences off her list.

I don't think any of her other must-do experiences involve gallivanting about on train tracks with her daughter, but I guess I've got that one covered too.  

Full set of Redwoods Adventure pictures is here. My very favorite of all is the impromptu album cover photo my parents and I took in which we all gazed wistfully in different directions while wondering how our record would do. Mission: pretend you're in an obscure 1960s band that no-one has heard of and you're shooting the front cover of your album. Challenge: accepted, of course!

I'm the drummer, in case you hadn't guessed. We're going to be huge.

Dec 05, 2010

Congrats on that promotion of yours.

Those trees remind me of fairy tales and now I know how to identify the drummer of an obscure 1960's band. :-)

Camels And Chocolate
Dec 05, 2010

I was just editing the Ferndale/Myers Flat/North Coast chapter of the Frommer's CA book, so unfortunately I know everywhere you referenced above far better than I'd like to (without having actually gone to any of these places!).

Love that pumpkin shot. And I'll *try* and resist the urge to favorite your photo...I do have a thing for cute boots after all.

Dec 06, 2010

My future wedding, whenever it shall be just changed locations entirely because of this.

Thank you.... Sincerely.

Dec 06, 2010

Incredible pictures, and I love Sean's coat as much as it is okay for one straight man to love an article of clothing belonging to another straight man.

Dec 06, 2010

Not to overlook your lovely photos, but I have a very serious question to ask. Who makes Sean's coat? I am looking for a similar one for my husband for Christmas. If you could point me in the right direction, I'd be so grateful!

Dec 06, 2010

My dad is from Eureka (Humboldt County) and I love the drive up there - so gorgeous and the Redwoods never get old! And my uncle works at Humboldt Creamery so when I saw that sign I squealed a little and got a sudden craving for chocolate milk. Glad you enjoyed your trip!


What a great get-away. I hope to visit the giant red woods someday.

Dec 06, 2010

Congrats on the promotion! And your upcoming album, of course. I always thought the drummer was the coolest member in a band.

Dec 06, 2010

CityWendy (and Luke): Sean's coat is from Banana Republic. To be more specific, it's from the Banana Republic OUTLET. Probably a year or two old, but they seem to have similar ones like it all the time. He says it's very warm!

Dec 06, 2010

You and your family are just so cool. Love the pics!

Dec 06, 2010

You and your family are just so cool. Love the pics!

Dec 06, 2010

Thank you!

Dec 06, 2010

The Redwood Forest is on my List of Things To See Before I'm 30.

I better get cracking!


Dec 06, 2010

My brother went to school at Humboldt - isn't it lovely there? I have many fond memories of roaming the redwoods and buying random kitchen items.

Dec 06, 2010

Beautiful! I love big trees.

In New Zealnd there is a tree 9 meters in diameter. And that isn't even the BIGGEST tree.

I've always wanted to go to the redwood forest.

Dec 06, 2010

Ooh, I love Ferndale. Haven't been there (or thought of it) in years, despite having a print from one of its fine art boutiques hanging on the wall of the nursery, right at eye-level when I'm changing diapers. My favorite part (of Ferndale, not changing diapers)? The cemetery. Did you see it? Up on the hill? It's amazing.

Dec 06, 2010

I've never commented before, but I had to once I saw where you and your family had visited. I grew up going up to Humboldt County to visit my grandparents, and when I was a teenager, my dad taught me to drive during these trips. My grandparents lived in Fortuna, and we visited Ferndale many, many times. My grandparents are gone now, but we still have the beach cabin that they bought. It's about an hour north of where you guys were.

I'm so glad that you and your family enjoyed being up there. I think that it's one of the prettiest places around!

Amanda Brown
Dec 06, 2010

I love seeing people really enjoy time with their parents and be able to goof off and take funny photos. Looks like a beautiful trip.

Dec 06, 2010

That is seriously one of my favorite places in the world- and I was there about 12 years ago, at the grand old age of 10 :) I can't wait to go back!

retro sweets
Dec 07, 2010

Wow, love th3 entire set of photos! I especially like the pumpkins and the apples. Mu childhood friend now lived in San Diego and I envy her for having to visit those awesome trees when I was the one who was dying to see them in person. i hope she'll invite me over so that I can drive through those hugeness! :)

Dec 07, 2010

Gorgeous, gorgeous photos! The photo of the Victorian Inn jumped out at me the most as I actually used to work for a call centre who answered their phones on occasion, all the way up here in on the East coast of Canada, hehe.

Dec 07, 2010

Never, never, take for granted this relationship you have with your parents. Many people (probably most) do not have that. Because of it, your relationship with your children will be better and easier and less full of doubts.

The trip location looks great and makes me envious, but in a good way-- it's always a possiblity that I might make it there one day.

The relationship is something that will never happen and I am, at the same time, jealous and happy that one exists.

Franca Bollo
Dec 07, 2010

My mom grew up in Ferndale! Now, a group of my cousins (about 10 in all) and I go up every so often and take over the Victorian Inn for a few days. And agirlandaboy is right. The cemetery is definitely worth a visit. Great headstones and view back over the valley.

Dec 08, 2010

Has anyone ever told you that you look quite like Gemma Arterton? I think it must be the fabulous cheekbones. Or maybe there's just a decidedly English look about the both of you, modern and sophisticated. Regardless, anyone who can look that good next to Jake Gyllenhaal deserves some kudos. You could totally pull it off!

Dec 09, 2010

what a lovely trip, warms my heart :) wish i had a family and husband like that!

Alice Q. Foodie
Dec 10, 2010

You guys are so cute! I can't help it - love the boots. :) I am dying to make this trip too.

M. D. Vaden Tree
Dec 21, 2010

Took my mother for a first visit when she was about 89, 3 years ago. Said it was the most peaceful place she had ever been.

About the "Maia" comment ...

There is a super tall redwood in Redwood National Park, that was found and named Maia not long before they found the 3 tallest trees in the world in that same park.


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