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Our Big Trip Across the Western US - September 2015

Our first day in Sausalito was beautiful! The temperatures hung in the upper 60ís with a gentle breeze making it a perfect day for a short field trip. We had discussed this with Brian in advance and went to Muir Woods on Mount Tamalpais about 7 miles from Brianís place. The drive up the mountain was very scenic on a very steep and twisting road. Parking was a real problem but once in the park we did not feel like the number of people was unmanageable. These giant coastal Redwoods are amazing to behold and the pictures really donít represent the size of this giants. In this picture we caught Gary trying to see the top of the tree.

All the trails are either paved or elevated boardwalks to protect the root structure of the trees. In most cases very little direct sunlight falls on the forest floor and the air is cool. The walk was easy although there are other trails with a lot of climbing involved. The picture below shows Sandy on the left, Filaree in the center, and Brian taking a photograph.

As we approached the Founderís Grove we were greeted by a park ranger who was preparing to give a ďTree TalkĒ. We found his information a perfect complement to our walk through the woods. He had a casual entertaining style with facts about the trees and the forest. One thing we learned is that these trees are Coastal Redwoods, not the Sequoias. The Sequoias are further north in the Sierras where there is snow, which make them thrive.

As much as this walk was about the trees and the beautiful forest around us it also presented us with a great chance to chat and get to know Filaree a little better. Of all our pictures this one really shows the size of the trees with the family standing in front of it.

In the tree talk we learned that the bark on these trees can be up to a foot thick and do a great job of protecting the trees from fire. One sign mentioned that there had not been a major fire in the park in 150 years. The tree below does have fire damage and is the result of a split in the tree that allowed the center to die. When the fire got near, the dead wood in the middle of the tree burned away. In most cases this doesnít kill the tree as the outside layers of trees are still alive.

We also learned that in 1945 what would become the United Nations met in Muir woods and this tree lies near a plaque in Cathedral Grove marking their meeting place. Signs ask visitors to walk silently through this area and listen to the sounds of nature.

Brian and Filaree are standing between a couple Redwoods that are part of what they call a family circle. When the main tree falls because of damage to it the roots of the tree will pop up a circle of new trees leaving the dead section or empty spot where the original tree was.

We left the woods and had lunch at The Pelican Inn near Muir Beach. This English style pub had fantastic food and good service. Our trip down the mountain was on the outside lane of the same road we came up on and that made it a bit scary with no guard rails and a narrow road, but the views were fantastic.

The final high elevation scene gave us a long distance look at the bay and the Richmond Bridge. The clear skies provided a great view all the way to the bay. Brian drove us around Mill Valley, a very scenic city with a wide variety of architectural styles.

We completed the day at Brianís with great conversation a couple pizzas, a perfect end to a perfect day.

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