Redwoods and Red Wines

The title says it all. We’ve been walking through the Redwoods and sippin’ on red wines. Quite the pairing if you ask me. This story begins in Crescent City, California – a wonderful little town tucked away within the Redwoods State and National Parks. If there are any blog readers that stay up to date on our adventures (aside from our mothers) you will know that we have been travelling with my brother, Johnny, through Washington, Oregon and now Northern California. Carrying the extra weight in the form of human flesh recently paid off nicely for us as we crossed over from Oregon territory into the Golden State. For there was a time in a distant life when my brother worked on a commercial fishing boat out west and somehow managed to make a friend in the process. This decade old friend, upon hearing that we were in route to his part of the world, graciously opened his door and invited us in. Yost, you’re the man. His home is situated in the Redwood Forest just a stone’s throw away from the National Park entrance. What a score for us, huh? After some back country living the past week in the mountains of Oregon, it was nice to have a warm house to relax in while also getting a full dose of wilderness just by opening his back door.

Let’s discuss our time amongst the giants of the forest. To start, nothing can prepare you for the first time you get up close and personal with a redwood. Their presence is powering. Their grandness is remarkable. They are the guardians of an ancient world and watch over their immense home from a vantage point 250 feet in the sky. As formidable as they are, they are still fragile to the ways of man. Ninety-six percent of the original old growth redwoods have been logged. A grim statistic, but the good news is that awareness has increased and logging practices have changed. Today 45% of the remaining old growth redwood forests in California are being protected under the Redwood State and National Parks. The redwoods took a hit, but within the boundary of the parks there is still an ocean of the giants to get lost in. Which can easily happen if you’re not cautious. Lucky for us, we had a personal tour guide with us. Our host, not only a native to the area but an avid outdoorsman, was able to provide us with an experience we would have never gotten on our own. His Tacoma (as we’d come to find out, “the only truck fit for these parts”) led us deep within the forest through narrow battered dirt roads that my Ranger could only dream of traversing. Well off the beaten path and into a land that few, if any, tourist has ever seen. Again, Yost you’re the man. Thanks for the memories and the deer burgers.

Okay, so you touched on the redwoods, but where the heck does the red wine fit in? Patience please, I’m getting there. From Crescent City, we headed south along Route 1 to stop at Humboldt Redwoods State Park. We needed more redwoods in our life. After frolicking with the giants one more time, we drove into the town of Garberville to drop off some baggage. This was the farewell point for my brother. It was nice travelling with you again and happy you could enjoy some time in the camper you worked so hard to build with me. Bon voyage. With a lighter load, the Ranger cruised along Route 1 at optimal efficiency. Our destination – Anderson Valley, CA.

Tucked away within Anderson Valley in Mendocino County is the town of Philo with its 349 residents. For the fermented grape aficionados, you may recognize the name, as Philo is the heart of the Anderson Valley wine region. Small town; big time wine producers. Being the fortunate travelers that we are, Marianna just so happened to know a couple who recently became residents to the area. And guess what? They invited us out to their home for a visit. Thank you travel gods! To be wined and dined is always wonderful; however, to be wined and dined in an area famous for its wine takes the cake. Sean and Lynn, you were the most gracious of hosts. Keep doing what you’re doing. You’re winning at this little game called life. We sampled bottle (after bottle) of some of the region’s best, toured their garden with its lavender field and patch of giant pumpkins, and mingled with their three horses (all of which were former racing horses now living the retired life). We even got hands on with the wine making process. A few buddies of theirs run a winery just down the road from their home, and for an afternoon Balo Winery allowed for us to play apprentice. They gave us the total experience. Complete with a waltz in a tub of grapes. The feeling of smashed grapes sliding between your toes is actually pleasant and quite enjoyable. One day years from now, if you ever sit down to a nice dinner and decide to pop open a bottle of Balo Wine, just know there is a chance that it is our feet providing those hints of earthy undertones you are tasting.

Sadly, during our time in Anderson Valley, wildfires flared up in Napa Valley and Santa Rosa causing devastating damage. Lives, homes and iconic vineyards were all lost during the inferno. A very sad end to the most wonderful time in wine country. Through a cover of thick smoke, we hit the road again. Back to Route 1 and its meandering course along the coast of California. The coordinates for Yosemite National Park is what our GPS displays. It’s not safe to drive and blog so we’ll talk again from Yosemite.

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