4,000 species, and none of them edible

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul. ” ~John Muir
miranda, ca
It took 6 hours and three rounds of car snacks to get to Humboldt Park from San Francisco, but it was worth every minute to drive 1 mile between the old growth Redwoods that reach over 30 stories high on either side of the Avenue of the Giants. Even more moving was to stand among them in the hush of the late afternoon, when everyone else had disappeared and gone home for dinner, to lie amongst their trunks and strain our necks to see to the top where they reached endlessly toward the light.
But as grand as the tallest trees were standing upright, some reaching over 360 feet {taller than Niagra Falls}, it was the fallen giants that truly inspired awe. Laid out like tunnels and tracks in a giant playground, we ran their lengths and jumped from one to the next, stopping only to admire their impressive root systems yanked from the soil, exposing a massive web of wonder for the life it once lived.
There are a number of things that inspire wonder in a forest of this magnitude, facts worth committing to memory, memories worth making if you’re up for the drive. If you watched Ken Burns' National Parks series on PBS last month, or read the Redwoods issue of National Geographic, you may already know that the oldest recorded redwood, over 2,200 years old, stands in Humboldt Park. And if you’re a lover of cheese, you may also know that this is the county for which Cypress Groove’s illustrious and unforgettable Humboldt Fog cheese is named. But did you know this fact?
There are over 4,000 species that live in or on a fallen giant.
4,000 species, and none of them edible, at least by my standards, which is why we were grateful to find at the Avenue Café after sundown, right on Avenue of the Giants across from the cabins in Miranda where we stayed. Avenue could be classified as a diner, but a decidedly west of the Colorado River diner; the kind of place where wispy Teva-clad blondes from Oregon aren’t afraid to order sausage and eggs, where kids layered in colors and wools look like they’ve been styled for the outdoor issue of GQ toddler {this doesn’t actually exist} and where grilled cheese, made with artisan cheeses on a locally baked 7-grain bread, is a far cry from the American cheese laden sandwich {really, it’s not even cheese} most of us grew up on. It’s the kind of place where the only beer on tap is the local Eel River organic Blonde Ale, which is the perfect thing to get one in the mood for the obligatory tick-check, fireside in a cabin, that follows any good romp in the woods.

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New York City, United States
Sarah Copeland is a food and lifestyle expert, and the author of Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite, and The Newlywed Cookbook. She is the Food Director at Real Simple magazine, and has appeared in numerous national publications including Saveur, Health, Fitness, Shape, Martha Stewart Living and Food & Wine magazines. As a passionate gardener, Sarah's Edible Living philosophy aims to inspire good living through growing, cooking and enjoying delicious, irresistible whole foods. She thrives on homegrown veggies, stinky cheese and chocolate cake. Sarah lives in New York with her husband and their young daughter.