Northern California has a scope and scale that is difficult to absorb. It is only possible to experience in person what seems to be the edge of the world.
Hwy 101 from Arcata, CA winds southward over the Eel River through the Avenue of the Giants. Here vast stands of redwoods, some three hundred feet tall and over a thousand years old create an impenetrable wall to the outside world. Their height and weight are remnants of a time gone by; some of the few natural giants still left in the world.
Emerging from the almost unrecognizable quietude, sunlight begins to creep through as the redwoods give way to the rocky coastline and the relentless Pacific. The wind is master here, dominating the weather and the landscape. At the physical union of surf and stone, rocky monoliths are remnants of the old coastline and tide pools are scars and wounds in the rock filled with creatures that brave not only the onslaught of the waves but also the unforgiving cold.
A National Park Service brochure warns beachcombers to “be aware of rising tides as you can get caught against the cliffs with no possibility of escape” A little melodramatic maybe, but its easy to see their point.
All highways eventually lead back to civilization. And although it is a beautiful city, San Francisco can never match nature’s creations.