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Flying the Edge of America:

Oakland to Crescent City, California

Lift off Oakland

Monday, June 30, 2008 Julia and David (J&D) took off from Oakland that morning at 10:00 a.m. headed for Crescent City and the Redwood National Park in the far northern part of California. It was to be the first leg of their flight around America and their first camping on the trip. The entire west coast was socked-in. Oakland had cloud down to 1,000 feet with the tops at 2,000 feet. The clouds at Crescent City had tops at 2,000 and went all the way down to 500 feet.

The landing at Crescent City required a lot of concentration on instruments as nothing could be seen until under the cloud layer. It also required much bravery from Julia as she was not used to this type of landing in complete white-out. The instrument landing was stressful, but they made it safely to their first destination of this amazing trip.

San Francisco under clouds

They had everything they needed, except for an extra set of knives and forks, so they did well considering how many things they could have left behind. They then set out on a wonderful hike through the redwood forest, which surrounds the campground in Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park. After the hike they return to camp, made an excellent dinner, drank some great wine, made a camp fire, and turned in as the sun set.

It is difficult to describe the absolute beauty of a redwood grove. It feels like being in a cathedral or an Egyptian temple. At the same time it is possible to imagine a pre-historic scene of dinosaurs wandering through the ferns and trees. Julia had a reassuring sense from standing in their midst that some-things just stay the same. The forest can stay the same for thousands of years and still survive despite our best efforts to destroy it. It is a peaceful and awe-inspiring setting.

Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park

The park also provides a home to lots of birds and animals. Not just small friendly ones either. There are black bears in the area. But as they hiked in the forest they did not worry about a bear attack. The place was too beautiful to think of any danger being possible. Apparently, Jedediah was attacked by a bear on his expedition into the Northwest. It ripped the scalp from his head, the skin only just attached at the ear. It's hard to imagine his horror having it sewn back on by a fellow trapper with no anesthetic in the woods. Poor guy was tough enough to survive the bear attack, only to be killed by Native Americans later in his career.

Jedediah was motivated to explore by reading about the Lewis and Clark expedition and J&D started to feel the same way; how could it have been possible to explore completely unknown wilderness. J&D were in such ecstasy that they hiked for 15 miles on the soft ground through the magic forest, among irises, birds, ferns, and trees. Julia completely forgot that the next day would be another foggy flight and got lost in the moment.

Continue the adventure, in my next article of, Flying the Edge of America.


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