One hundred and seventy miles north of San Francisco in the tiny hamlet of Leggett stands the world-famous Chandelier Tree. I folded in the side view mirrors of our Prius before inching through it. I needn’t have.
I felt particularly silly when an SUV breezed under right after me. What was sweet was a pack of bikers in full leathers and colors astride their Harleys going through the tree one by one, taking turns having their photo taken. Evidently the grandeur of the tree touches everyone.
Another twenty-five miles north we entered Garberville, located on the south fork of the Eel River, and sitting at an elevation of 535 feet. That’s nothing compared to much of the population, who seem to sail considerably above that height. Originally named “Dogtown”, in the 1850’s postmaster Jacob C. Garber decided to name the town after himself. Why not? That “Why not?” attitude still prevails, and the world’s only Cannabis college is there to prove it. Under California law, it’s been legal to grow marijuana in the town since 1996, as long as you have a permit. With a population of 913 in the 2010 U.S. Census, it seemed a bit busier to us, but we learned that’s because harvest season was right around the corner. Apparently some of it had already been processed, because the distinct aroma of “mary jane” and characteristic laid-back attitude it induces was prevalent in town. After spending the night in a motel that appeared to have been remodeled as recently as 1962, we moved on to our prize, just fifteen minutes away: Humboldt Redwoods State Park.
No trip with my husband is complete without a double espresso, so we stopped in Miranda. Across the street from a roadside stand called Sips: Organic Coffee and More where we also had to try some of the owner/operator’s homemade banana bread. I spied what appeared to be two refugees from Garberville. We continued along Avenue of the Giants. The forest was awesome. It’s difficult to depict just how big these guys are, but maybe you’ll get the idea. And the sense of peace was palpable. If you haven’t been here, put it on your bucket list.