Walking through the groves, though, it’s hard to think of much but the ancient, craggy trees themselves. They are literally stupefying. The number of people (including me), stumbling along syaing "woooow" with their necks craned upwards, trying to capture with their camera lenses the placid, massive beauty of the trees was testament to how astonishing the trees are. Also: it's pretty funny watching people stumble about, looking up.
Our stay began with some good luck. We nabbed a campsite at a terrific but busy first-come, first-serve campground. As we unloaded the gear, we looked up and saw:An elk having a little lunch graze. All three of the kids were excited, and a little nervous. Elk are big. And it was close. When there's no fence or glass between you and a large animal, you have a sudden and deep appreciation for just how big they are. We stepped out onto the beach that the campground lay along and saw a seal sunbathing, brown pelicans swirling around one another and plunging from the air into the sea for food. The kids were, as one would expect, delighted. And dirty. I had some grubby, grubby people with me. I couldn't bring myself to insist that they bathe, because the showers were solar-heated, and about the temperature (I took one) you would expect a solar-heated shower to be when you're enshrouded in chilly mist, which is to say: FRIGID. It's possible that my speed-shower was accompanied by a non-stop parade of expletives and a fervent prayer for room service and hot showers (fat chance, lady), despite the fact that I have had plenty of previous disappointing experiences with solar showers, which may have improved over their previous "heat your water to almost tepid in a hefty bag" but still basically... hmm, what's the word? Oh, I know. They suck. I decided better that the kids were really, really dirty, dirty people than subject them to the joys of an unheated shower in a dingy concrete room. We did a few hikes and walks, and, um… a drive-thru tree. It is tacky, but… sometimes tacky is also fun. And it was fun. One of the groves we hiked through was the Tall Trees Grove (it’s probably wise to consider that in a park dominated by massive trees, designating a particular group as “tall” might mean they are staggeringly gargantuan, which they were), breaking for lunch on Redwood Creek, where Curly and my boy spotted tadpoles in the gin-clear waters, and the Incredible Eating Nephew perfected his stone-skipping skills before we finished admiring the grove. As we hiked back up, I felt a twinge of sympathy for the young men coming down the trail in hiking gear, clearly feeling like rugged adventurers (the grove is reached by a long-ish drive down a dirt road, and requires a free permit to unlock the gate, for a not-quite 4 mile hike), because when they laid eyes on Curly, in her seersucker skort and bedazzled, sparkly pink rhinestone sneakers (they might not be tasteful, but again, sometimes tacky is a total blast), their faces fell. Curly was unfazed by their stares and gratifyingly thrilled by the trees.
I don't know what else to say, other than to recommend that you find a way to see the redwoods. The sections in northernmost California are not easily accessible without a car and a bit of time. Like most amazing places, you’ll get a flashing, tantalizing glimpse of how wonderful it is if you only spend a day, but longer will allow you to absorb the startling, serene beauty of the place through your skin and into your bones.
Also, despite being in possession of pink rhinestone sneakers, Curly says "leather" instead of "leath-uh."