When you are a teacher, & you have a summer trip to California planned, you do things like reread favorite books like this & "Last Child In the Woods" by Richard Louv & watch movies like The Internship, set at Google as part of your prep or trip experience.
Operation Redwoods is set both in San Francisco and a redwood grove outside of Willits, Callifornia--which is in Mendocino County. At this writing, the Mendocino Complex Fire was blazing over 350,000 acres (the first California wildfire ever of this size) and is approximately 64% contained. Willits is about 20 minutes from Redwood Valley, where much of the River & the Ranch Fires are taking place. (Both fires together make up the Mendocino Complex Fire, the latter of which is the bigger one.)
Putting it all (and me) in geographical proximity to all that's going on definitely helps gain perspective.
Being in the Silicon Valley and San Francisco areas, I knew one of our adventures needed to be to see the Redwoods. Both due to my love of the book and also out of my own environmental need. This ranked as high as all my needed tech-sightings of Silicon Valley. Our game plan had been to do that in Muir Woods on the way out of San Francisco and on the way to Napa--especially given it is only 12 miles from SF. Shortly after crossing the Golden Gate Bridge we saw a sign which started a prick of concern regarding parking arrangements for Muir Woods. Thank goodness for the magic of the internet and smart phones. A quick search indicated that yes, in today's world, you do indeed need reservations to go into the woods. At least "these" woods. And, as luck would have it, there was no room in the proverbial inn for us that day.
The internet also was instrumental in Plan B: where could we find Redwoods lose to us. (By this point, a Safeway parking lot off the side of the freeway was our research base.) That search led us to this article: "8 Places to See Redwoods Near San Francisco That Aren't Muir Woods" by Kristen Hanes. Kristen saved our day, leading us to Samuel P. Taylor State Park within an hour's drive of where we were. We had plenty of parking, no crowds, a picnic lunch, the gorgeous South Creek, and groves of redwoods. It was the perfect location for us!
What more could we want? We did a little bit of hiking, a little bit of tree hugging, a little bit of jaw-dropping at the size of the trees, and a whole lot of looking up. They really are remarkable trees. I can only imagine the size of old growth redwoods!
For more information, check out the following (or click any of the links above):
- Save The Redwoods League's website
- 10 Amazing Facts About Redwoods
- Treehugger's 11 Facts About Coastal Redwoods
- "Operation Redwoods" book website & teacher resources
Image from https://www.amazon.com/dp/0810997207?tag=your02b-20; map screenshot from https://sf.curbed.com/maps/california-fire-wildfire-fire-map-northern-2018 on 8/15/2018, Pictures from my camera.