We’ve been working hard at this conference, so my boss Pete decided we should get out of the grey convention center and take in some of California. We drove down through the mountains, winding down tree-lined roads, marveling at the topography towards Big Basin State Park. Pete kept saying that everything looked so seismic out here, and it does. It also looks a lot like home. We stopped at a roadside viewpoint and as I looked out over the series of hills fading away toward the water, I played this game I used to play when I was a kid. Looking out at evergreens covering hills, I tried to find the place where the mountains start to look blue instead of green. It’s impossible to find, which is why it’s a fun game to play.
Anyway, we ended up taking a hike in the redwoods. We saw trees thousands of years old and hundreds of feet high, and we marveled at how tiny we are in comparison. There were trees eaten from the inside by fire that you could stand inside of and look straight up toward the hole in the top where the sky peeked in. A ranger walked a while with us, and told us that redwoods don’t tend to fall down much because they help each other out. When one tree gets taller than the forest around it, it will sheer off its top forty feet or so when high winds hit it. That way, it’ll be about the same height as the trees around it, and more protected from the wind. The forest is home to these warbling birds, which made a funny little sound in the treetops. The ranger told us that scientists couldn’t find their nests for a long time because they only live at the very top of redwoods, and no one ever thought to look up there.
After that, we headed up the coast to a tiny little town called Pescadero, where Pete had heard about some epic tacos. We stopped into the filthy little gas station and had what is almost certainly one of the top five best meals I’ve ever had. Certainly the best tacos I’ve ever eaten. We stopped at the beach on the way home, and then drove back with the sun in our eyes. Early in the day, we had stopped at a gas station for some cheap sunglasses, and I had my feet up on the dashboard while we drove, listening to classic rock and chatting about nothing and everything. It felt like I was a teenager again, at the beginning of summer, with the whole world out in front of me. That warm orange light that flooded the city as we drove back to the hotel was like an extension of how everything felt in that moment: warm and full and free.