I had such a great time on our road trip. We hit the Trinity Alps, Crater Lake, the Rogue River, and Redwood National Park.
I especially loved Redwood. Big trees do for me what big mountains do for a lot of others. I'm mesmerized by them. Ancient and alive, thousands of years rooted in one spot. Enormous; you can only guess at the wholeness that's way too big.
But I was also wowed by the Roosevelt Elk, which are to Redwood what buffalo are to Yellowstone. Or cows to Marin county. They are everywhere, just off the roads. Four-legged photo ops.
On our camping and backpacking trips, Harper turns into sort of a living "No Moleste" sign. She actually has to say "no moleste" to me quite frequently. In this way the seashells, giant pinecones from the forest, redwood bark, snakeskins, volcanic pumice, petrified wood, lichens, and all manner of other interesting artifacts remain where they are in nature, rather than returning with me to San Francisco to perch atop my desk, where, in my view, they clearly belong. Or at least, would probably be more comfortable.
The cautions extend to animals as well. I am often kept from grabbing up frogs, salamanders, and other slow-moving forest creatures, both large and small. My instinct when I see a giant Roosevelt Elk, for example, is to attempt to approach as close as I possibly can in order to take a picture of it.
"Hello! Don't mind me! Smile?"
Yet Harper discourages this practice too. Touting silly things like "park rules" and "common sense when dealing with rutting Elk," she dissuades me from approaching as closely as I can, or saddling, and riding the Elk. Similarly, she has had to pry me unwillingly away from monkeys, snakes, birds, water buffalo, bobcats, and bison.
While I understand that, well, yes, I may be upsetting the natural order of things, and that if everyone took pumice home soon there would be no pumice left, on the other hand: Elk! Look at the Elk!
In any case, I kept my distance as best as I could (the last photo was taken from the car as we rolled slowly by some roadside Roosevelts) and recognized the wisdom (if not the fun) of keeping one's distance, taking only pictures, and living the no moleste lifestyle.