The Redwoods

When I drove into Phoenix Tuesday night, to leave my car with my daughter for two weeks, by 6pm the air had cooled to 108°!

Yesterday morning I flew into San Francisco, where my bother picked me up, to drive to Cazadero, in northern Sonoma County, in the sequoias.  In the evening we were sitting on his redwood deck chatting and the temperature was 67°!  If we hadn’t gone out to dinner last night we probably would have had a fire in the fireplace!

I wanted to escape the desert heat, and now I’m cold.  It was 40° outside when we got up this morning.  I hated to get out from under two quilts.  They turn the heat on every morning, the house is so cold.

At noon the sun reached half of the deck and the front entry, but the huge coast redwoods shade most of the property.


This is second-growth forest.  Long ago farmers had cut down the ancient trees, and burned the stumps, planning on farming the land.  But “fairy rings” cropped up around the stumps.  (See my photos, taken on my brother’s property.)

Sequoia …[or] redwood …is an evergreen, long-lived, monoecious tree living for up to 2,500 — 3,500 years or more, and this species includes the tallest trees on Earth, reaching up to 380 ft in height and 26 ft diameter at breast height. It is native to coastal California.

Coast redwoods can reproduce asexually by layering or sprouting from the root crown, stump, or even fallen branches. Many sprouts spontaneously erupt and develop around the circumference of the tree trunk. Within a short period after sprouting, each sprout will develop its own root system, with the dominant sprouts forming a ring of trees around the parent root crown or stump. This ring of trees is called a “fairy ring”. Sprouts can achieve heights of 8 feet in a single growing season. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sequoia_sempervirens

There is a quietness broken by the whirring of hummingbird wings, the tweet and cheep of small, hidden birds, and in the background the whoosh of cars on an unseen road.

You may say that California is not as exotic as Peru.  The residents generally speak English (as opposed to those in Mississippi).  But what a contrast to the Sonoran Desert!  There are bay laurels, ferns and rhododendrons in the shade, and moss on the roof.  The air is soft with humidity.  They have a dehumidifier going 24/7 in their under-deck storage, draining to the outside, and my sister-in-law empties the garage dehumidifier – which is needed for all of their belongings which are stored in the garage, not yet assimilated after their move  – daily onto a few plants.

Locals have to gate their property so the deer don’t eat any non-native plants, but other than that there are only the squirrels and birds. A few neighbors saw a mountain lion last year, which apparently took out a few small dogs and cats.  But worse was a neighbor becoming deathly ill after getting lyme disease (transmitted by deer ticks) from walking in the underbrush in his yard.  Just walking around taking these photos, my left ankle began to itch.  I didn’t see a tick, but it made me nervous!


Recently my brother and nephew did a 12-hour night bike ride (142 miles) with twenty others.  Long rides like that are called randonneuring.

Randonneuring is a type of organised long distance bicycle riding, with rides typically covering between 100 and 1,200 kilometres (60-750 miles).
Randonneuring is not a competitive sport. It is a test of endurance, self-sufficiency and bicycle touring skills. All riders who complete the task are congratulated, and no prizes are given to those with the fastest times.
Riders are expected to carry clothing for inclement weather, spare parts and tools. Rides in excess of 300 kilometers frequently involve night riding and require lights, spare bulbs and reflective gear.
To ensure that the correct route is followed and no short cuts are taken, the rider must pass through a series of locations known as “controls”. The rider carries a “brevet card”, onto which information is added at each control, and this card is presented to the organisers at the end of the ride as proof that the route was followed.  …a “manned control”, usually at a village hall or cafe, at which someone waits to stamp the riders cards as they pass through. On longer rides a manned control may be a shop, where the rider must obtain a till receipt showing the date and time.

That would be a good idea in the Desert for those who prefer not to ride in triple-digit heat.  Maybe up the Florence Highway to Mesa.  Not as much traffic in the middle of the night.

My brother directs TV commercials.  He’s working on a Honda demo film for the Honda web site now.  He invited me for this week because he wasn’t going to start filming until next week, but this week he’s doing “pre-production”, looking for the right house with the right driveway, etc.  Home owners in LA put their names and house pix on a registry, and are paid thousands if their house is used!

If you’d like to see some of his commercials, which I think are quite good, they’re on http://www.hoytyboy.com/directors/Director_Page_Richard.htm Hit Reel to see a bunch of them (Demolition is great, and I love Elfis and Wake) but also click on Honda “Eraser”,  Honda “Beach Blanket”, and SF Coffee “Stall” – my favorites.

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