Muir Woods and the Case of the Missing Signal

Despite their lack of wires, mobile ‘smart’ phones like the Blackberry and the IPhone make some people, including this writer, feel too connected to something they just can’t quit. But I wasn’t even tempted to check last weekend during a day trip that took my friend and me over the Golden Gate, through Muir Woods and on to a well-preserved lighthouse in Point Reyes, a charming little town located 30 miles north of San Francisco.

Although traversing San Francisco’s hilly streets had exhausted this urban pioneer, the clean, cool air at Muir Woods energized me even more than my earlier morning Americano / Benadryl cocktail, and the soft thump of footsteps on the wood paths cleared my mind nearly as effectively as my secret meditation mantra (om). Contrary to my everyday life, e-mailing, texting and browsing ceased to be an option, not because I lost my signal (although that helped) but because the world around me looked so lush and stimulating by comparison, green, wet and soft. The trees have personalities, which are most apparent by their lilt, their context and their bumps. Amazingly, despite my signal-less locale, I felt even more connected to the important people in my life, to my own thoughts and to my physical body, which felt new and improved with added oxygenation! I didn’t even Twitter.

The experience also made me feel more connected to Mother Nature (or MoNa as the realtors call her now). It sounds pretty hokey, but I respect those big red trees. They’re survivors. Fewer than ten percent of the original forest remains after deforestation, so they’re being saved by the government as a National Monument. Unfortunately, in the process of protecting and peopling the redwoods, we wind up reducing fires, which the trees withstand and even rely on for reproduction. The redwoods haven’t experienced a big fire in 130 years, but (here’s the amazing part) they self-reproduce by forming burls, which are essentially genetic clones, which draw nutrients from the roots and survive the parent trees death. At the park, you’ll see clusters of four and five trees, a little family. But that’s not all. They basically water themselves, capturing water from the morning fog that eventually falls to the ground where the roots fight for it. They’re their own ecosystem, so a redwood never has to leave the proverbial house. Who am I to judge if it works for them?

During the drive from Muir Woods to Point Reyes, I  had an idea about how to start this post, so I tried to e-mail myself a reminder, but my efforts were fruitless because I couldn’t get a signal.  Ironically, at that very moment, the radio, a reliable companion for the entire trip, became too static-y to understand just as On the Media host Douglas Rushkoff was describing South Korea’s treatment program for Internet addiction. I tried man! Rushkoff was difficult to make out over the snowy noise but it sounds like South Korea’s program boils down to getting kids outside more. I reached over to turn off the radio and enjoy the scenery on the way to Port Reyes, but the car cleared a hill and Rushkoff’s calming voice could be heard clearly once again, this time in a segment about IPad’s impact on society. I’ve become an Apple junkie, and I would have been so pissed off if I missed Rushkoff’s take on the new device. I added the anecdote to my e-mail and hit send. Then I checked e-mail. In retrospect, the momentary lapse was all but assured; it takes more than a single dose of medicine to cure most illnesses. Don’t worry; I plan to seek further treatment next time I’m in the Bay area.  I hope by then AT&T will have beefed up their network.

Fun Fact: A fully developed redwood’s root system is only four to six feet deep, but it stretches as far as 250 feet in every direction, growing alongside, through and up against other systems. Shallow but widespread. Like Facebook.  Pay it forward.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook

5 Responses to “Muir Woods and the Case of the Missing Signal”

  1. Beautiful. You’re killing me. Bring a tree back with you for my yard, ok? Tell the ranger it’s for Jan.

  2. I absolutely loved Muir Woods when I was there. It’s so different than San Francisco and it’s beauty and history is something I’m thankful that we treasure

  3. We hiked here on our honeymoon. love it

  4. Didn’t get to go while we were there, but now I almost feel like I have via your pictures. Thanks for posting these.

  5. Lovely and inspiring, thank you!