Travel, redwoods, etc.

by admin on July 29, 2013

First a little bit of chess news in a mostly off-topic post: ChessLecture now has a YouTube page, so if any of you have ever wondered what the lectures are like, you can now watch a few (well, only one at this point, but I’m sure there will soon be more) without having to pay for a subscription. Hopefully this will make you want to subscribe.

Also, ChessLecture’s web page will now have cartoons by subscriber (and occasional reader of this blog) Edson Cortiano! I showed one of his “Chico Mate” cartoons in this post from a couple years ago, and you can see his first ChessLecture cartoon here.

It’s been kind of a long quiet spell on the chess front, partly because I went away last weekend to Arcata, California. Arcata (way in the north of the state, in redwood and marijuana country) was the first place I ever visited in California, back in 1984. I hadn’t been back since then, so when my wife said that she was going to a quilt show there (actually in Eureka, the next town over) I had to go and see if it was anything like I remembered.

Basically, what I found out is that Arcata is a lot like Santa Cruz. It has: fog in the morning, sun in the afternoon, mountains, redwoods, a bay, lots of eco-conscious people, a great farmer’s market, and did I mention redwoods? The only thing it doesn’t have is surf, because the bay is blocked by a long spit.

Even though it seemed a little bit odd to drive eight hours to get to a place that was just like home, I had a pretty good time. The highlight for me was a redwood canopy tour, where you get to climb 75 feet up a tree using ropes and footholds, and then ride a zipline from tree to tree. Here I am all suited up for action:

And here’s the view from 75 feet (stitched somewhat clumsily together from two photos, but you get the idea).

On the way back home, Kay and I stopped off at the Avenue of the Giants, former site of the world’s tallest tree (which fell in 1991). There are still some amazing trees there. Here’s a picture of me at Founders Grove (see if you can find me!):

There are so many things I love about the redwoods. Czeslaw Milosz described them beautifully in his book Visions from San Francisco Bay, which I had read just before my trip back in 1984:

The interiors of certain Gothic cathedrals–Strasbourg, for example–replicate… the columns of the primeval forests which still covered large areas of Europe when the cathedrals were built. But Europe never had trees like the redwoods, whose life spans number over two thousand years. This forest is the idea of forest, a prototype drawn by God; no church columns attain that height, and never does a church’s semi-darkness contrast so sharply with a ray slanting in from above the reach of sight. Small human figures are diminished not by the redwoods’ trunks, too huge for comparisons, but by a lower level, in relation to ferns larger than a man and to the fallen, moss-covered logs which sprout new green shoots. To confirm their value as a forest symbol: the redwoods are such that the chunk of a felled tree does not die but regenerates itself in a multitude of swiftly growing sprigs.

What can I possibly add to this? Even though I’m not a believer in God, I just love Milosz’s idea that a redwood forest is like God’s prototype of a forest. It makes me wonder: What is God’s prototype of a mountain? (Kilimanjaro, perhaps?) Of a lake? (Lake Tahoe?)

Any nominations?

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