22 August 2007

My Roots in the Redwoods

I love the redwoods. My great grandfather settled up in the redwoods in Northern California more than a century ago. I was born in that area and then, after graduating from high school in San Diego, found myself wanting to live amongst the redwoods again - but without giving up on the beach culture. I landed at the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC).

I still miss the UCSC campus. It sits on a hill over the Pacific - the northern part of Monterey Bay. The campus has 22 distinct ecosystems - from the Oak trees and grassy hills you usually find around Sacramento to the thick copses of trees. When I went there I think we had about 6,000 students on more than 2,000 acres. The walks between classes could entail a walk through the woods, buildings disappearing behind trees. One quarter, I had a twenty minute walk between classes with only a fifteen minute window. I might pass by deer, would pass through various copses of woods that blocked all roads and buildings, and then get a glimpse of the ocean below on one section of the trail. I was always late for my next class yet never felt stressed. I loved jogging through the fire trails, even though the continual climbing never let me move very fast. A few years ago, I brought my family to campus and again found myself transfixed by its beauty. My wife turned to me and said, "Tell me again why we don't quit work and go to school here for a few years?" We passed by one guy who looked like the kind of fellow who might never have seen beauty in anything that didn't wiggle when she walked, and I heard him say to another student, "I'm going to tell my kids that I went to the most beautiful, f***ing school in the world." I almost stopped to say, "Well, you won't put it quit like that but, yeah."

With all that said, here are two videos that brought back memories. The first is a slow moving trip through the redwoods at Orick, CA, where my great grandpa settled and my father grew up. In fact, Davison Ranch is now a part of the Redwood National Forest. It's gorgeous country, where the residents pay for the beauty by living in a fairly isolated rain forest. (It's more than 13 hours of driving to get from the part of California where my dad grew up to the part of California where my son has grown up; Santa Cruz is about halfway between those two points.) The second video is from a Kenny Loggins concert filmed on campus at UC Santa Cruz. You get some sense of what the campus is like as the video shoots the band and audience from different angles. Enjoy your trip into the redwoods.

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