avenue of the giants
Joseph B. Strauss became immortal by designing and building the Golden Gate Bridge. But human immortality to JBS was a relative concept. The true immortals, he thought, were the mighty giants watching over the land of the free and the home of the brave. An ode is what they deserved. So after finishing the bridge of bridges, Strauss sat down and started writing “The Redwoods”.
‘Here, sown by the Creator’s hand,
In serried ranks, the Redwoods stand;
No other clime is honored so,
No other lands their glory know.’
Crossing Strauss’ creation heading north on Highway 101, you’ll eventually drive along the lines of JBS’ strophes. They sort of slap you in the face. One moment you cruise like an easy rider over the smooth black tarmac, the next moment a bright green sign enters your field of vision reading Avenue of the Giants……..
You got to hand it to the Americans, they have a talent for naming things. Avenue of the Giants…. It is a name that rings bells with the names of Roald Dahl, David and Goliath or Gulliver’s Travels engraved into them. A brochure in the wooden cabinet next to the green sign explains the true meaning: ‘The Avenue of the Giants is a 31 mile long route through Humboldt Redwoods State Park.’
‘The nations that with them were young,
Rich empires, with their forts far-flung,
Lie buried now – their splendor gone;
But these proud monarchs still live on.’
To drive over or under the Avenue of the Giants is a lesson in humility. Being watched by earth’s mighty guardians, wooden statues touching heaven, it feels like you’re a single note in a centuries old symphony composed by rustling treetops over 300 feet high.
‘So shall they live, when ends our day,
When our crude citadels decay;
For brief the years allotted man,
But infinite perennials’ span.’
To drive through north north-California already is an adventure in itself. The landscape and people are rougher (and hairier) than what and who you’ll encounter in the Bay Area or LA. It all accumulates on State Route 254.
To be like these, straight, true and fine,
To make our world, like theirs, a shrine;
Sink down, oh traveler, on your knees,
God stands before you in these trees.’
Avenue of the Giants
State Route 254
Humboldt Redwoods State Park
Southern entrance just north of Garberville on Highway 101
Northern entrance south of Fortuna on Highway 101