THE SUBTERRANEAN HOMESICK NOOS » A slug out on the shoulders of giants

A slug out on the shoulders of giants

6 09 2006


Note to self: There is nothing more visually arresting than seeing a gentleman wearing blue pantaloons and sporting an axe.

The day’s going kind of cashew shaped. You know, viagra usa cheap meatily tasty but easily split. We’re standing next to a fish gutting platform looking at some fat slobs trying to flop themselves onto a long pontoon. These vile creatures seem to think they’re in some kind of aquatic curling tournament.

Matt is both mesmerized and enamored by them. He finds the honking of these fat sea lions fantastic. Sergey and I exchange a glance. We both know if we lived nearby, viagra generic a shotgun would be in their future.

“You’d get sick of it soon enough,” says Sergey.

“No, I wouldn’t! I think they’re great!”

Matt is so earnest in his reply, I think briefly about buying him a CD of Sea Lion honks for Christmas as a joke. National Geographic probably has one. Right next to the Whale Song Operas and Cicada Symphonies, but I strike the thought. He’d probably love it and annoy his neighbors by playing it all the time. And face it; I’m notoriously tight fisted with my wallet. A card will do him just fine.

After what seems like an eternity of honking, we succeed in dragging him away from their torturous wailing and proceed down the coastline in an orderly manner.

We’re heading towards the Redwoods. I’ve been looking forward to this. Nothing gets me going more than a tree so girthy you can drive a bus through it.

We start seeing random, semi-fat trees on the side of the road. These are the Milli Vanillis of the redwood world. Sure, they dance well in spandex, but the lip sync is just a little off and not the real deal. They’re big. But not big enough to make it to the big leagues.

We wind on down the road for a while, occasionally glimpsing ocean, then back inland again for more trees. I’m looking for something in particular. I glance down at my claw. There, waded in my clammy hand is a brochure touting the glory of the Trees of Mystery. I fancy a good Nancy Drew. I jive with the Famous Five. Ask anyone.

“Perhaps there’s an interpretive center around here,” says Sergey. What an admirable thirst for information. Apparently, Sergey and Matt had visited the king of interpretive centers a few days before meeting up with me. It was all about the Oregon Trail.

“The stuffed buffalo looked like it had actual wet snot on its nose,” Matt had explained.

Sounds delightful. Perhaps we can find one around here? Except this one will have a stuffed bear, complete with a poor hikers bloody torso still hanging from its mighty maw. Yes, I can’t wait.

“Why are they called Interpretive Centers anyway?” I ask, and witness a kind of Mexican shrug wave ripple through the vehicle.

I then theorize, in a moment of true Sherlockian genius, that due to the Litigation Scardypants Act of 2003, they can’t call them ‘Information Centers’ anymore. Because that would imply that the things contained within were FACTUAL. Change ‘information’ to ‘interpretation’ and no-one can be dragged in front of the beaks at the Supreme Courts for total and utter chicanery i.e. lying through their volunteering teeth.

Volunteers. I tell, ya, don’t trust ‘em. You don’t really think they ‘donate’ their time, do you?

There is more to my theory, but the words die in my mouth as we round a bend and drop our jaws at the sight of a giant blue cow and an axe-wielding beardy boy. There is no way we are not pulling into this parking lot.

Now, I don’t know much about American folklore, but I know I’m staring a giant Paul Bunyan in the face. Actually, more like the foot. That’s how giant he was. One impressive hunk of fiberglass, let me tell you.

“Looks like he’s wet himself,” I say. He seems to have an unfortunate leak around his crotchal area. Might explain the wide-eyed, uncomfortable look in his eyes.

But the Trees of Mystery tourist center has much more than young Paul and his famous blue Ox, Babe. There’s an interpretive center filled with Native American exhibits, a vehicle made from a tree trunk, and a gift shop. It manages to keep us entertained for a while.

I still don’t know much about Paul Bunyan, to tell the truth. But I’m guessing he was an environmental terrorist of some renown, sending many a 1,000-year-old tree on its way to the wood lathe in the sky.

We wave goodbye, then move on to spend the night in the town of Eureka. I dream of blue cows, elk, earthquakes and bears. Then Archimedes comes in, dripping. Total disregard for wearing a towel. Not caring that he’s leaving a puddle on the lino of my dream. He says to me, all lorem ipsum dolored and Greekified:

“Yo, Noods, beware the banana.”

As you can imagine, I wake up in a cold sweat that could’ve been bottled on sold on a street corner as fake Chanel No. 5. I didn’t know it then, but it was a bad omen.


Note to self: There’s only so much of nature’s majesty a body can take before the needle ticks into the red.

“Make it stop,” I plead.

The endless winding of the road. The non-stop parade of trillion-year-old trees. The vomit inducing, green-windery of the road. Twists and turns upon twists. My stomach feels like a pretzel. I have no idea how Sergey can sleep though this.

“I’m sick of the trees! Is it ever going to end?”

The original plan was to spend two hours driving through the Avenue of the Giants. Two hours. After all, it’s only 32 miles of road. But it took us 6 hours.

It’s a bloody sad day when you hear yourself utter the following:

“Oh look, another big tree. Whoopee.”

And they are big. Giant even, which explains the ‘Avenue of’, I guess. It’s been six hours of giant-ness, mixed in with a little banana-drama.

Let me explain that.

So, we’re driving along and decide to stop and stroll through a grove of giant trees. Sergey and I are content with snapping more photos, but Matt is on a mission. He’d bought a postcard at Paul Bunyan’s joint, which depicted a rather ugly, bright yellow slug lying on a bed of forest tree crap. It was a Banana Slug.

Now the hunt was on to see the real thing. Except, I wasn’t really aware of that.

I did notice that Matt was scouring the earth with eagle-like intensity. He looked to the right side of the trail as he walked. Then off to the left. I took some more pics and didn’t really think much of it. Thought he was just being Matt. He raced ahead on the trail. Looking, looking.

About 20 minutes later, he was walking towards me on the dirt path, and I jokingly asked, “Did you find a banana slug?”

“No,” came the disappointed reply.

“There’s one,” I said, pointing to a spot on the ground next to me.

“Very funny.”

“No. There’s one right there.”

He rushed over and sure enough, there was a banana slug, creepily edging its way through forest floor grit. We called Sergey over and he took some photos. And that seemed to be that.

Matt was quiet as we walked back towards the car. Then out it came.

“You know,” he began. “I’m actually a little bit pissed off at you right now.”

“What? Why?”

“You knew I wanted to find the banana slug. I told you. I was the one who bought the postcard.”

“Oh. Sorry.”

Awkward silence. Noodle feels bad. Searches for solution. Realizes this is what Archimedes was trying to warn her about in that dream.

“Umm… Will I be forgiven if you see a bear first?”

He pondered this thought for a moment.

“Yes. The only thing that will make me feel better is if I see a bear first.”

“Ok, done. If I see a bear, I won’t say a word,” I say.

This will be easy. Because if I see a freakin’ bear, I’ll be running in the other direction. You mark my words with a fluorescent highlighter. Not only do I not want to see a bear first, I sure as hell don’t want to be last to see it either.

If you know what I mean.

We drove off. A couple of miles up the road, we saw a sign for the ‘Drive Thru Tree’ and pulled in. Sergey drove up next to the ticket booth and wound down the window.

“Can I take my truck through?” he asked.

The guy in the ticket booth snorted.


It was a disappointment, but we were too big for the tree. Glad to see that it knows it’s limits. So, what? We can’t drive through. No drama. We can sure as hell still pose like tourists inside it.

Strangely, Sergey became a bit of a tourist attraction himself. A bunch of German tourists asked if they could take a photo of him wearing his buffalo hat. I have chosen not to mention this hat until now because I’ve not really known how to talk about it. Words fail me. I think the fact that random people ask to take photos of it many times during the trip says it all.

And that’s when we got all tree-ed out and decided to leave the Avenue of the Giants far behind us. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize that we’d still need to drive through miles and miles of Milli Vanilli trees before even hitting the coast.

“It’ll be over soon,” said Matt. But I heard him mutter ‘I hope’ under his breath.

I want to kiss the sea when we break on through to the other side. Anything to get the taste of forest air and old moldy trees off my lips.

That night, we stay in Gualala. That’s Indian for ‘everything closes at 8’, in case you were wondering.

Continued in Part 3

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©Janeen McCrae 2006



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