Thursday, August 7

13 Days Of Vacation

Day 18: World Famous Tree House, CA

You must have heard of this place. You haven't? But it's world famous! It says so right there on the sign.

Whenever I see "World Famous" or "World's Biggest" on a tourist trap sign, I know I'm being lied to. And they know that I know I'm being lied to. They also know that I Just. Cannot. Pass. It. Up. This is America's greatest contribution to travel: The Roadside Attraction.

The World Famous Tree House isn't a tree house. It is a large redwood that was hollowed out by fire eons ago, but true to the tenacity of its species, continued to live and grow. And grow it did. The tree is about 30 feet in diameter at the base. A door and a window were inserted in the trunk, and voila!: Tree House. Inside the owners (who knows how many by now) laid a wood floor and stuck a light up inside the tree about 20 feet up. How high up the hollowness goes is anybody's guess, because there's about three million years worth of cobwebs up there. My family has always agreed that the worst job in the world is changing that light bulb. I'm not sure if there ever really was a shop in there, but now it houses some cute little quarter machines. The best one is pretty old, made by some forest guy with too much time on his hands. You plunk in your quarter, and a miniature sawmill comes to life: tiny hand-carved men saw and hammer, little machines do little back-and-forth machiney things. It's really quite charming.

The true purpose of the Tree House is to funnel its guests into the attached souvenir shop. It's pretty much like any other on this part of Highway 101. Redwood plaques: check. Redwood coasters: check. Rose pods (what the hell are those things?): check. Carved redwood bears with fish in mouth: got 'em. Redwood picture decks of cards: okay. Plastic Navajo girl dolls (???): yup. Bumper stickers: uh-huh. Redwood burls sprouting in a dish of water: of course. If you can escape this without buying anything, there is a snack stand to grab your wallet on the way out. The owners are kind enough to provide a restroom.

You gotta see this, because the currently relevant endorsement of Ripley's Believe It Or Not compels your curiosity. That and the need for a pee break, a Coke, a keychain, and a redwood burl.

Teasers on this trip: Richardson Grove, Chandelier Tree, Grandfather Tree, Bigfoot


Anonymous said...

I LOVE that place-now I really wanna go!!!! :)

rennratt said...

I love the odd, road side "World's Greatest/Biggest" kinds of places.

I really want to see the largest ball of twine.

I think it's in South Dakota, for some reason.

Anonymous said...

Blackmarket Redwood burls? Who knew? The girls and I really need to head down there to check out the redwoods. I have never seen them and live relatively close. The excitement of blackmarket burls will lure me above all else.