Northern California: Part V

Here it is, the final installment of our northern california vacation, Part V: The Petrified Forest and more! To recap, we had just gone Seal Hunting and found the (almost) mythical After-Christmas Seals. After running around on the beach with the seals (well, we did the running, the seals just laid there relaxing), we headed back up the little road out of the beach.

Along the way, there were small parking areas overlooking some cool rock formations in the ocean.

The following are some pictures of the beach. It was quite foggy and cloudy by this time, so the pictures actually show what we saw. Although it was fairly dreary, we thought the view was still beautiful up the road leading away from Goat Rock Beach (where the seals were). As with most of the photos in my blog entries, hover over the pictures for some more comments.

Views of Goat Rock Beach:

[[image:cal90.jpg:Goat Rock Beach:center:0]]

[[image:cal91.jpg:Another shot of Goat Rock Beach:center:0]]

Signboards:

[[image:cal97.jpg:Information on the surrounding coastline:center:0]]

[[image:cal98.jpg:Watch out for mountain lions!:center:0]]

Views of the coastline:

[[image:cal92.jpg:Misty rocks:center:0]]

[[image:cal93.jpg:Coastline:center:0]]

Rock formations in the middle of the ocean:

[[image:cal94.jpg:Vin with the Arch in the background:center:0]]

[[image:cal99.jpg:Side view of The Arch:center:0]]

[[image:cal96.jpg:The Arch:center:0]]

[[image:cal95.jpg:Me with Goat Rock behind me:center:0]]

[[image:cal100.jpg:Goat Rock is the protrusion on the left:center:0]]

[[image:cal101.jpg:More rock formations:center:0]]

After this successful and fun outing, we decided to stretch out the fun and go to find the Petrified Forest. Now, if you think that the Petrified Forest is like a park and would have been open on Christmas Day, you’d be wrong. It was closed. So after calling to make sure they were open the day after christmas, we went to find out about the Petrified Redwoods. First we went through the gift shop/information center and were rather confused – they had pieces of Petrified Redwoods on display but it looked like rocks. Then there was a section of different volcanic rocks and explanation about what made the different rocks. And then there was a huge magnifying glass so you could see the volcanic rocks makeup. OK now, neither of us were geologists, and we were quite confused by the paraphernalia and whatnot. Finally, it dawned on us (the “DUH!” moment). Petrified wood = Volcanic Rock!

So here’s what happened, in a quick nutshell. 3 million years ago, California Redwood trees grew there. (Of course, with no logging and no humans running around polluting stuff, I’d bet that those redwoods were just humongous!) Anyway, a nearby volcano erupted and tons of ash and whatnot covered these redwood trees. Over the years, the wood portion of the tree rotted away as wood will do, and volcanic ash seeped in to fill in the gap. And in the 3 million years, the volcanic ash turned to stone all in the shape of these redwood trees!! These petrified redwoods were discovered and here are pictures of them. It’s amazing! Volcanic rock that just looks like trees and uncovered and studied by archaelogists and geologists:

[[image:cal103.jpg:Petrified redwood trees:center:0]]

[[image:cal104.jpg:Another petrified redwood:center:0]]

[[image:cal105.jpg:This petrified redwood has a california oak growing through it!:center:0]]

[[image:cal106.jpg:Vin, the petrified tree, and the growing tree:center:0]]

This redwood, named “The Tunnel Tree” is still in process of excavation and you can see how far it goes into the tunnel:

[[image:cal107.jpg:Petrified redwood extending into the tunnel:center:0]]

[[image:cal108.jpg:The outside of the tunnel:center:0]]

A plaque to commemorate Robert Louis Stevenson (who has a petrified tree named after him here)

[[image:cal109.jpg:Plaque in the Petrified Forest:center:0]]

And some living vegetation here – it’s very moist, humid, but cool air around here and all the trees have moss growing on them.

[[image:cal102.jpg:Trees:center:0]]

[[image:cal110.jpg:California Oak:center:0]]

Thus concludes our adventures in Northern California. The next day, we drove through Sonoma and Napa wine countries where the grapevines were all taking their winter naps (booooo!) and it just rained and rained and rained. We ate our last lunch in Napa, then drove to the San Francisco airport and flew home on the redeye.

We had a wonderful time, and would love to go back there during the summer and get a good look at the vineyards while they’re green and full of grapes. Maybe the ewoks were hibernating for the winter (well, they do look rather bear-like), and perhaps they’ll come out for photo ops in the summer? It was a fun trip, and a fun christmas vacation. Now to think: where should we go for Christmas in 2006?? ūüėČ

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