June 21st, 2009

Here is yet another in all the many ways to divide people into two groups: those who relax through activity and those who relax through inactivity. My boyfriend, for example, when he’s been working too much and feels depleted and stressed out, wants nothing more than to wake up at 4am and spend 12 hours climbing the nearest mountain he can find. My mother, by contrast, would spend that same day in bed watching re-runs of Law & Order. They both seem equally refreshed the following day. Having now accompanied both through several of each of these “rest days,” I notice one advantage that he has over her, namely, that he takes in views of spectacular, nearly untouched nature while she sits and watches one murder after another. But what’s a hard working lady to do if the only way she can get the rest she so deserves is by, well, resting?

The answer is Muir Woods! This park is home to a large stretch of California’s old growth redwood trees, some of which are up to 2500 year old. This type of tree is the tallest in the world and third on the longevity list and can only be found on the California coastline (well, and stretching up a little bit into Oregon, too, but the point remains). This, then, is a genuinely rare natural spectacle and I mention it here because of its accessibility. You just drive right in, park your car and the trees are there. There’s a well-maintained, flat path, clearly marked with small wooden fences and, just on the other side of those fences, are some of the oldest, tallest trees in the world. A motivated person could hike further in, it’s true, but there is no special prized attraction waiting for him at the end, it’s all right there at the very beginning. It’s not quite as easy as Law & Order, I know Mom, but, really, it’s not so very much harder either.

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