Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Highway 101: Day 2, Journey to Paul Bunyan's Crotch

In the morning everything seemed less desperate. For a minute anyway. We went about morning bathroom rituals and packed up our things while peripherally listening to tales of horrific shark maulings on the television. My favorite part of the morning was noticing that which had been overlooked in the fatigue of the night previous: the Euro Bath. This was a soap pump installed in the shower. In attempting to assure us that it was European ("Lewk aht may leetle flahg! Zees iz naht Ahmericehn!"), it only dug itself deeper into its obvious white-trashiness. Thinking of the process this thing went through, from someone conceiving it, to the salesman talking the hotel into installing it, to people actually using the thing (I didn't, wanting to keep it a mystery... and partially suspecting it would burn my flesh off), well, it was impossible to not love the poor little guy.

We finished packing up our things and then I realized something was missing.

Where was my portfolio?

Ummm... okay? I started looking under everything. No portfolio. Juliane and I went over the night previous, as I started sweating. Did she bring it in from the car? No. Did I? Think, think... no... I took it out of the car, but... I took those pictures and... Fuck! I must have put it down while I was taking the pictures.

Two portfolios, one inside the other. Dozens and dozens of pages of art. Gone. Okay, but maybe someone turned it in. Maybe someone was nice enough to do the right thing and turn it into the hotel?

We wheeled our luggage out of our room and I saw Robin, who was singlehandedly changing out all the sheets from our wing of the small hotel. I asked if anyone had turned in a black portfolio. She said no, sorry.

I was crestfallen. Juliane went outside to take her luggage to the car.

Robin was trying to reassure me, sensing that I was upset by whatever was going on. "You can leave your address and we can always ship it to you if someone turns it in..." I tried to respond, "Sure... yeah, I'll..."

Juliane botled back in the door, "It's outside on the car!"


"It's on the trunk, right where you left it."

And sure enough, there it was. Needless to say, this would not, in all likelihood, have happened in Chicago. But the morning campers and tourists of Myers Inn (who had all left by the time we were heading out) had left what wasn't theirs alone. What a novel concept.

I went back inside to tell Robin that we'd found the portfolio, that I'd been an idiot and simply left it on the car, and then followed up with asking what the Avenue of the Giants was.

"You're on the Avenue of the Giants"


She explained it was a thirty-one mile stretch of road through the redwoods, and that the Avenue of the Giants was simply the old 101. She recommend parks we could stop at (though I figured we wouldn't really have time for that) and told us how to get back on to the modern 101. I thanked her profusely and then dragged my semi-bedraggled self across the street where Juliane was taking pictures and we grabbed a couple sandwiches for the road.

Finally we pulled away from Myers Inn and started down the Avenue of the Giants. The sparseness of traffic was remarkable, given that this is an obvious tourist destination (I even recognized some of the "Drive Through a Tree!" spots.)

Of course, one can't drive among the redwoods without taking the obligatory look-how-large-these-things-are-compared-to-me pictures. We had far more time to stop and admire the sights that day (without actually delving too far into any of the parks, unfortunately), so we pulled over on several occasions and documented our dwarfishness among the massive locals.

These three shots (below) were of one of the larger trees, which I walked inside. There was easily room for five people to stand comfortably. Graffiti from such parties (singular as mine or, from the look of it, couples) over the years had been inked, etched, and painted inside the tree. But the tree just stands on, indifferent to its guts interlopers and their little histories.

I think we saw the sign warning of elk crossing before we drove past a cluster of cars pulled off to he right side of the road. I saw what they were looking at just as we were passing, and pulled the car to an abrupt stop, threw it into reverse, and parked alongside the other vehicles. A good amount of the people were taking pictures, but more were just watching. These elk just munched the grass, occasionally turning an only mildly interested head in our direction, mimicking the understanding and age of their taller, trunked neighbors.

Next we were obliged to pull over at the Trees of Mystery, because, well... the Trees of Mystery have a gigantic Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox that are too remarkably cheesy to not appreciate and love. Juliane took this picture of the main building (gift shop?), and I think it has to be one of my favorite pictures of the whole tour (with one of my other favorites to come shortly, further along in this post).

Sadly we didn't have time to take the Trees of Mystery tour, but we were fortunate enough to see Paul move his head, wink his eye, and wave his hand, all of which clearly blew the minds of the little kids clambering on his car-sized boots.

From there it was higher up and back toward the coast before crossing over and joining the infamously boring (according to PK and Eric) Highway 5. But that last stretch of Highway 101 yielded this picture, which is my other favorite picture of our trip, the white fog settling and wafting, slow driving uphill behind a logging truck.

We opted not to arrive in Seattle that night, staying somewhere south of Portland. But the next day it was on to Seattle, and the infamous land of Fantagraphics. And, though I said I wouldn't post any more about the tour – to hell with it! – there was too much weirdness to not say something about it. Weirdness abounds.


James said...

It wasn't Paul Bunyan's crotch that Steve Miller was interested in when we went there:

Paul Hornschemeier said...

I can't pretend to be more sophisticated than I am and act like I didn't take a picture of the world's largest nut sack...

In a place so obviously geared toward awww-shucks family fun, it boggled my mind that they kept on Babe's balls.