Lame Adventure 266: Prolonging Vacation

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.

Veer left.

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.

Preserved nerds.

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).

Sound advice.

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.

20 responses to “Lame Adventure 266: Prolonging Vacation

  1. Thank you for the picturesque trip out west.

    Beware of so-called superiors with the name Judy.



  2. Snoring Dog Studio

    I’ve been there! When I was quite a wee lass, mind you, but I remember vaguely wood that seemed like stone. Thank you for the photographic journey. I shall print all of your photos out, put them in my photo album, and pretend the memories are mine. Thank you for filling in the holes in my memory stores!

    I would also like a sample of Molasses Chips, while I’m at it with the begging and absconding.


  3. you had me at see’s candy….i’m a native californian and i’ve never been there, but next time i’m out in cali, i am so going to visit! happy new year, sugar! xoxoxox


    • See’s is a California institution. They have stand alone stores in both Northern and Southern California. The next time you’re out west, you must check them out. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Happy New Year to you, Savannah!





  5. Glad to know you are back at work. Hope you arrived safely and notes are in tact.

    Thanks for sharing you photos. My only complaint–I think you need a few more! LOL But, hell, you were out in nature. Better document, document, document. Hard, as in petrified, to tell when that will happen again, right?

    Have a great day, V!



    • Hey, I shot at least 1000 pix on my trip! My sister was itching to confiscate my camera and I think I was even getting on Thurber’s nerves.

      It’s very cold out here, but at least The Boss noticed that we failed to turn on the heat. Why she makes the big bucks.


  6. I’m back at work and I miss vacation….WAH!!


  7. Thanks for the great trip photos (and stories). I especially loved your remark about the Juan Valdez sculpture (not).


    • Happy New Year AF! Good to hear from you. So glad you appreciated my Juan Valdez confusion. It was the burro that activated it for I eventually realized that the miner had a full beard and was not carrying a cup of coffee.


  8. Nice pics-give Domina and herb my regards.


  9. I’m ashamed to say that as a native Californian I never got around to visiting this site, so thanks for the guided tour and photos. The cheesy miner immediately reminded me of Gabby Hayes, but that was before your time, whippersnapper.

    My sister-in-law worked at See’s during the holidays and always brought a big box of candy that she had personally (and “creatively”) packed for Christmas dinner. She could fit more candy into a two-pound box than you would ever imagine. And all the good stuff, too!


    • I guess I shouldn’t admit this, but I do remember Gabby Hayes and you’re right about that miner! I’m also a native San Franciscan (something like 4th generation) before moving to NYC for college at N(ot)Y(et)U(seful). I never would have visited this place in my life were it not for BatPat. Last year, my niece, Sweet Pea, gave me the perfect box of See’s candy. She painstakingly picked out exactly every chocolate she knew I’d like. This year the kid gave me a sweater! Waa!


      • You know, you can order See’s online. Just don’t attempt it during the warmer weather months. The shipping will cost more than the product because they pack it in a styrofoam cooler with bags of blue ice and rush delivery. Could be worth it though….mmmm….See’s.


        • I’m too poor to go the expensive shipping route. It’s too bad See’s is not out here, but I suppose this part of the country being a steam bath in summer has a lot to do with why they never really pursued the Big Apple. They were briefly available at Bloomingdale’s in the 80s or 90s but it was just the prepackaged goods — not the fun stand alone store where you can mix and match.


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