In the last week of our trip back to the US, we did something that has been on my to do list (and life list) for a long time: road trip up/down the coast of California. So my parents and Inspector Climate and I flew into San Francisco and rented a car (a car is using the term loosely – it was a Yukon and the biggest thing in the entire world).
I have family in San Francisco and so we visited with them for two days and did a little sight seeing. One of the problems of being an expat is that when I go home, I really want to go home – to my parents farm to lie on the couch with dogs which means that Inspector Climate (or I) rarely gets to see somewhere new. Inspector Climate had never been to San Francisco, and my parents and I had never seen the Muir Woods and so off we went to frolic amongst the Red Woods.
And boy, did we frolic.
May I take this opportunity to give a travel tip: get there early or take a shuttle from San Francisco (no, just get there early). Because we arrived before 9am the park was free (not that I mind paying for National Parks, but you know), but more importantly, we had the place to ourselves. We took a walk and barely saw a single person for the first 1.5 hours and as we looped back around, the park was really starting to fill up.
Also keep an eye out for wildlife! We saw a deer just wondering about in the woods, and then saw two fawns drinking out of a creek.
I have a certain love – that my parents seem to have passed down to me – for big old trees. Trees that are thousands of years old and seen so much and experienced so much make me feel small and insignificant in all the best ways.
They remind me why I do what I do (nature conservation / climate change fighter). It's for the trees, ya'll.
What we soon called 'assuming the position':
After two blissful days in San Francisco, we repacked the Yukon and hit Rt 1. It was everything I thought it was going to be...and a little bit more. For all you Australians out there, driving down the California coast is like the Great Ocean Road, but on steroids.
It did get to the point where it was a bit like, 'Oh, another beautiful vista? I mean, I guess we'll stop...'
The trip not only fed my love of big trees, but also my love for cliffs (if one remembers my trip to Norfolk Island – one will also remember my love for cliffs...why am I talking like this?).
And also for incredible feats of engineering:
Right, like we get it? Enough with the beauty.
Oh, that's just a casual waterfall INTO THE OCEAN.
And once we had driven past the beauty and the cliffs we came to elephant seals. They used their fins to cover their bodies with sand. It was adorable.
But besides the absolute beauty that was the coast, I have to say it was the quality time with my parents that I most enjoyed. My parents last did the drive down the California coast in 1970 and as we drove along they were reminded of adventures that they had gone on. And I don't know if it because I just turned 30 (did I mentioned that I turned 30? Gulp) or if it is my parents approaching 70, but they're suddenly much more open with me about their past and there struggles as adults.