La Tortue huffed and strained her way up Redwood Road on the outskirts of Napa, California, right to the end of the road. Here, I found my old friend and fellow-writer Robin Lewis, who lives with his wife Lynne on an old family farm amidst the birds, deer, coyotes and wild foxes.
Redwood Creek flows through a canyon just below Robin’s cottage. I walked with him there, through a redwood grove over 100 years old. Once bald-cut by logging, the forest has recovered some of its abundant mystery and is now protected. The needles end in a sharp point, there is less lichen and undergrowth, but a slice of the rainforest thrives in the midst of a California oak savanna.
Robin says the seven-year drought had all but muzzled completely the creek’s flow. Many locals were concerned for the trees. Yet, after the El Nino storms, mosses once dry and dull have burst forth in green splendor. We reached a cascade and watched a whitewater miracle.
Two days of rain later, When it was time to reverse La Tortue out of the driveway and head back down to the valley floor, the left front wheel tilted just far enough off the pressed gravel to find a gooey spot. Down she went. I tried a few amateur efforts at getting traction (pictured here) before calling in the pros. No hope of lumbering on without some help.
Thanks to a skilled tow-driver, a winch and a chain, La Tortue was up and out of her jam soon enough. A little rattled, I have renewed respect for the challenges of a redwood road trip.