Today, following my 19-day hiatus that included a 9-day getaway where I freeloaded off my sister, Dovima, and brother-in-law, Herb (with a silent h) in the San Francisco Bay Area, I must now return to the daily grind and my get-rich-slow career as Minister of Floor and Wall Tile Samples. Before leaving my place of employ in mid-December, I left myself copious notes about all I have to do upon my return. This allowed me to completely free my brain from having to remember anything at all about the job I have held for over seven years. Therefore, I must only recall the address of where I work and which subway stop to exit. I suppose it would also behoove me to remember that my superior’s name is Elsbeth.
During my absence my sidekick, Greg, has been in touch with me via email. He informed me that a surprise awaits me. I hope the surprise is not that my desk caught fire and my copious notes are now reduced to ash or Elsbeth has changed her name to something like Judith. How could I possibly remember that?
I have a surprise for Greg as well as our colleague, Ling. While away, I got us a box of my favorite childhood candy, See’s Molasses Chips.
A box of dark chocolate Heaven from my childhood but hopefully produced in 2011.
I figure the sugar buzz will get us through our first morning back en masse, but by noon I’ll probably be the first to crash with a loud thud.
Yet, even though I am back in the workplace on a day when the temperature in The Big Apple is bitterly cold, here in the alternative universe that is Lame Adventureland, we’re going to resume vacation and visit the Petrified Forest in Calistoga, California with my best friend from college, the nature lover, BatPat. This place has nothing to do with the 1936 film, The Petrified Forest, starring Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis and Leslie Howard. There is also the Petrified Forest National Park in Northeastern Arizona. That’s not the park we visited. We were at California’s registered landmark # 915. This Petrified Forest is a three million year old nature preserve of giant petrified redwood trees.
The simpleton story about what happened here was that over three million years ago there was a massive volcanic eruption that toppled the forest and buried the redwoods deep in lava and ash as an on again and off again ocean saturated the area. Over time molecules of crystallized silica replaced the molecules of decomposing wood. Although the uncovered trees with their perfectly preserved appearance of bark look like wood, they’ve actually been turned into stone. This made me reflect on a member of the 1%’s heart.
I bought a sample of the petrified wood for Milton, knowing how much gay men appreciate good wood. BatPat reminded me that straight women share the same affinity. During an earlier visit some years back, she purchased a boulder size piece of it for herself to rest on her bookcase.
BatPat's hunk of petrified wood for personal use.
In comparison what I gave Milton in a little velvet souvenir sack looks more like a shard.
BatPat and I walked the trail. Here are the photos I took illustrating our hike.
Translation: don't touch anything or do anything stupid.
Good to know.
You'd think this would be a no brainer in this place.
"I'm perfectly cool with waiting in the car."
These mossy moose-shaped branches brought Bullwinkle to my mind.
No argument from me if it lessens the possiblity of encountering a rattlesnake, mountain lion or GOP candidate for president.
California Laurel Tree or as BatPat explained ...
BatPat: This is a Bay Leaf tree! Think spaghetti sauce.
Bay Leaf. We did not swipe any.
Pit Pine Tree measuring 2 feet in diameter; 43 feet of it exposed: big mother tree.
Rear entry view of the Pit Pine Tree.
Mossy petrified wood pile explanation.
Mossy petrified wood ready for their close up.
Cheesy miner & burro sculptures that I initially mistook for Juan Valdez and his donkey.
More back story.
See next image.
The Giant. Massive. Not the sort of thing you'd want to fall on your foot.
Cluster of five petrified wood stumps under a White Oak tree.
Freakin' tall White Oak tree.
Close up stump that looks like tree bark on the outside but solid rock on the inside. Perfect Land of the Giants paperweight, too.
We got the message and bowed before it.
The Queen, petrified royalty, with another tree growing out of it.
Not exactly a do-it-yourself procedure.
"Hey Mom, look what I dug up in the back yard!" ... Not quite.
What will they think of next? A petrified tree in a tunnel!
Frame left Monarch Tree -- petrified behemoth emerging from tunnel.
Frame left still submerged in tunnel portion of Monarch Tree with bonus BatPat-ian shadow.
Rocks of Ages, exposed ends of trees mistakenly confused with current Broadway musical and upcoming film adaptation starring Tom Cruise (in my mind).
Madrone Tree brought to mind an expression my father uses whenever I share one of my brainstorms, "Marrone!"
We liked this rock. It's not on the trail map, but we resisted pulling a Lucy & Ethel by trying to sneak it into the trunk of BatPat's car.
Some pretty popular rocks on the trail.
Back by popular demand, more Rocks of Ages.
I bleated, "What idiot would run here?" Minutes later, I was nearly trampled by a hyperactive running 9-year-old.
Robert Louis Stevenson Tree.
Writer Robert Louis Stevenson immortalized his 1880 meeting with “Petrified Charlie”, Charles Evans, in his book, The Silverado Squatters. Petrified Charlie found the first stump of petrified wood while tending his cows in 1871. It seems highly unlikely that any newly discovered trees in this forest will bear the honorific, the Lame Adventures Tree, for being mentioned in this blog.
Commemorative plaque depicting meeting between Petrified Charlie and Robert Louis Stevenson.
Go Vegan Bench, another site omitted from the trail map.
Translation: time to buy stuff.
Petrified Wood Pile -- not for sale.
Gift shop fireplace; resisted the urge to pull out the center piece in the center section.