The Chandelier Tree
The Chandelier Tree

Back to California. Well, I’m not really back in California … but blogging wise I am.

We headed away from the coast and inland through the town of Leggett and then north toward Humboldt State Park.

“You want to go there?” C. asks me, pointing toward a sign for the Chandelier Tree.

“Yes! Yes! Yes!” I say. I do not care that we will see many other big trees. I do not care that it will take time away from getting to the park. I do not care that it costs $5.00 … because this … this very tree … is the site of a Weddle Family Adventure.

When our kids were young we went a lot of places on very little money. One of the ways we saved money was buying a box of donuts for breakfast. A couple dollars for a dozen donuts certainly was less expensive than $20.00 to buy four people breakfast at a restaurant. (Ok, nutritionists – we usually ate healthy breakfasts – just not on trips.)

On one of our many journeys, we drove through Washington and then headed south through Oregon and northern California on Highway 101.

C. driving through the tree.
C. driving through the tree.

We had stayed in Redcrest the night before in a quaint little cabin, surrounded by redwoods. I remember the cabin being cozy with patchwork quilts on the beds and …  I digress.  The next morning we started on down the highway and broke open the very nourishing breakfast of chocolate donuts. I had one. Kelli had one. Ken had one (maybe two) and Jeff … well, let’s say he sat in back of our station wagon in chocolate donut glory as he finished off the rest of the box.

Several more miles down the windy, bendy, slightly hilly road – the donuts once again made an appearance – this time rather forcefully. You have never (well, if you have kids, you probably have) seen such a mess – all in the back seat of the car.

We pulled over by the South Fork Eel River. And Jeff did what he could to get cleaned up. Didn’t help. We wiped and scrubbed and wiped and scrubbed the car. Didn’t help.

No way were we going to get this mess cleaned up without a for-real bathroom with for-real soap … and yet there we were out in the middle of miles and miles of California redwoods.  The nearby outhouses didn’t really provide any kind of solution.

We decided to continue down the road and look for a place to do the job.

And that’s when we found the Chandelier Tree. And paid the money. And used their restroom. And we’ve always teased Jeff about having to pay to drive through a tree to clean up the chocolate donut mess. (We had already driven through a tree for free further up the road.)

Us on a long ago summer vacation driving through the Chandelier Tree with a (once again) clean son and a fairly clean car.
Us on a long ago summer vacation driving through the Chandelier Tree with a (once again) clean son and a fairly clean car.

So how could I miss the opportunity to drive through it again?

The Chandelier Tree is called that because supposedly the branches look like a chandelier, but I didn’t really notice that (either time) and didn’t know that’s why it was called that until I got home and Wikipedia clued me in.

The place consists of the tree, a picnic area and a gift shop.

C. and I were there on a March morning and we had to wait for one other car. I’m guessing summer Sunday afternoons there would be quite a long wait. Because you just don’t wait for the cars to go through the tree, but for the passenger to take a picture of the car while the driver drives through and then for the driver to trade places and the other person drives and the …  You get the picture (no pun intended).

But wow – what a nostalgic memory … and to this day, Jeff no longer eats chocolate donuts.


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