Little Gardens Everywhere

Visitors bring out the tourist in me. What can I say? With two city kids in tow (my niece and nephew) just waiting to be impressed, I felt it incumbent upon me to show them something impressive. In this case, it was Muir Woods. Nothing like a stand of centuries-old redwoods to silence a couple of urban, easily underwhelmed, talkative kids.

The redwoods worked their magic to be sure, but so did the two-hour hike that on our (not very detailed) map appeared easy and short but in reality involved climbing what seemed to be HUNDREDS of steps up the “Lost Trail” and then curved along the rim hundreds of feet above the valley floor. All I could hear, after a while, was the sound of them panting. And sweating.

“How far do you think we’ve walked?” they asked in hollow and piteous voices after the first hour, stopping again to swig from their water bottles. “It must be MILES by now.”

You’d think so. Back down at the paved trail where less hardy souls strolled in flip flops, seemingly oblivious to the staggering natural beauty all around them, we discovered from a look at the big trail map that in fact we had hiked all of 2.6 miles, although it felt more like 26.

We also visited the Ruth Bancroft cactus garden, which I remembered from my research for a regional magazine article I wrote this spring. In summer, the cacti are astonishing as their blooms open and the flower stalks swarm with bees and hummingbirds. My niece and nephew were suitably captivated.

No one wanted to touch these, but god were they gorgeous:

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