To wake up inside, a window pane away from the damp and the gray, with no roads to face or miles to make – a luxurious morning. J and I join his parents looking out at the sea, and I sit back while other people make our plans for the day, which is another luxury. Just along for the ride.
The ride takes me along to the Smith River, in search of sunshine and a swimming hole. We find them both, but not before becoming horribly carsick. Carsick?! Me??!! I’ve never been carsick in my life! I am, in turns, outraged and nauseated. Whoo boy, this is what I get for making fun of people getting carsick or motion sick in my old life… I think back to a summer internship in college, spending hours doing science research out on a boat, sitting on the front with my legs over the railing, laughing while everyone else puked over the side… “Well,” I think, “I guess I deserve this.”
A long lazy mid-day at the river, then off to one of the remaining redwood groves. We’re there just about long enough for me to stop feeling woozy, and I stop to think about this little island of giant trees. This entire coast used to be giants – one huge primordial forest, carpeted with ferns, silent with mist and long years, and now it’s just this, little groves so small you can always feel the edges, all named after one long-dead tycoon or another, like pets. I think about the PCT, and it’s amazing that they could put the trail together at all, that there was enough wilderness to string together from one border to another, that the development you’re forced to confront from time to time is still such a small part of the experience. We’re so bad at taking care of this place, this world. Birds that shit in the nest.
As we walk out of that theater of time we pass a family arguing about something – “Hey,” they stop us, then ask: “Is it worth it?”
“Pardon?” I ask, baffled.
“The grove, is it worth walking around in?”
“It’s a half-mile loop,” I answer, confused. It’s a half-mile loop of flat, smooth trail, among some of the biggest, oldest, most beautiful living things on the planet. Is it somehow not worth their time?
“Yeah, we’ve already been into one grove though, so we were wondering if it was just more trees or what.”
“Uh, yeah, just more trees. If you’re into that sort of thing.”
The family continues to debate getting back into their car or walking the half-mile of trees they already drove to. I don’t know why they bothered saving all these little circles of giants. They could have just saved one and have done with it. Put a parking lot at the bottom and charge a $5 entrance fee and an extra $2 to get your picture with it. “Is it worth it? Is it worth it?!” J’s dad shakes his head sharply.
On the way back to the hotel I have to remember to sit up straight, look out the window, eyes straight ahead, and it’s ok. Better to have my stomach tied in knots than my nerves though – hopefully with another day or two off I’ll be ready to face the RVs again.