My dad always hated "Tourist Traps". We kids were encouraged to loathe them, too, but when my kids came along, I wanted to indulge a little in forbidden territories such as The Trees Of Mystery, the little tourist trap that advertises with billboards for MILES and MILES of Hwy 101. The place is emblazoned in my eldest daughter's memory as a very cool place to include on a family vacation to Northern California. So, Jess, this one's for you.
I thought I'd stop in to see if Paul Bunyan would talk to me as he had when I was about 13 or so, the one time when my brother Neal and I whined loudly and long enough to make a stop at the fabled Trees. Well, I probably did the whining. Neal was too cool to actually whine, even at 7 years old. Paul has a smooth deep radio voice that emanates from a speaker hidden in his chest hairs, and he keeps up a lively real-time conversation with the folks approaching the entrance, asking where they are from, how they like the weather today, have they met his friend Babe The Blue Ox?
I had always assumed that Babe was a girl, perhaps a sort of a life partner of Paul, the lonely North Woods Loggerman. I think this trip was a real eye-opener for me, and my Babe Epiphany was helped along by the family in my photo. Now, you'll have to take my word for most of the story, because when all the major action was taking place, I was in the middle of changing my camera batteries. I fail at being a action photojournalist. I will leave that up to Logan Hall.
The man and his son had ducked under the clueless Babe The Blue Ox. When I looked up from my battery fumbling, just as the woman was focusing and saying, "Are you ready?" I saw that they had each placed one hand on Babe's - um, bullsack. Yup, Babe's definitely male. Funny I had never noticed those before...