National Geographic : 1950 Jul
The National Geographic Magazine duty driver helped me make photographs (page 35). When I photographed buses on the Golden Gate Bridge, crossing the longest single span in the world, the State cop on duty helped, too; he'd been reading the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC for years (pages 3, 34). I heard of another lenient policeman in San Francisco. As he directed downtown traffic, an intercity bus stopped beside him. The driver, having discarded regulation cap for a woman's wig, popped his head out and asked in falsetto the way to the terminal. Good naturedly, the cop told him where to go. This doesn't mean that bus operators take their responsibilities lightly. Many have driven a million miles without causing a scratch. Theirs is "defense driving," which considers every foolish thing the other fellow on the road might do. Earth's Tallest Living Things Early one morning I began the all-day ride over the Redwood Highway to Eureka, Cali fornia (page 36). Eugene McLean, the driver, soon asked whether he had any sight seers aboard. Every passenger confessed. At Santa Rosa we saw an average-size church constructed entirely of one redwood tree. Just north of Benbow we penetrated the heart of the rich coast redwood realm.* World's tallest living things, and among the oldest, the majestic coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) have been growing 1,300 years or more to reach from 300 to 364 feet into the silence that settles on the groves. Here one instinctively spoke softly or not at all. Significance? One's own insignifi- cance. These ancients of eons stirred in me the same feelings I have in a cathedral mel lowed by age. We reached Eureka 40 minutes behind schedule because the driver stopped so often to let passengers make photographs. Down by the docks on Humboldt Bay we watched fishing boats unload ling cod. At a fisheries company 24 women skillfully filleted 1,000 pounds of sole an hour. One cut as many as 600 fish in an 8-hour day. On all the roads of the region we met tre mendous trailer trucks hauling colossal sem pervirens logs to some 160 lumber mills in Humboldt County. Fifty percent of the world's redwood of this species (the impor tant one commercially) stands in this county, which leads all others in California lumber production. We marveled at how easily mill hands and machinery moved timber nine feet in diameter from mountainous stockpiles to screaming saws. One night I went with friends to the only licensed whaling station in the United States. Well before we reached our destination six miles south of the city; we smelled what we later viewed, as one views a panorama. A male whale of the humpback variety covered a dock with his mammoth mass-42 feet long and as many tons heavy. John Lima drove for the Trinity Bus Line linking Eureka and Redding, to the east. For the 150-mile trip he gave me a front seat. High mountains, magnificent forests, deep gorges with racing streams-all in incredible * See "California's Coastal Redwood Realm," by J. R. Hildebrand, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, February, 1939. An Artist's Glimpses of Our Roadside Wildlife > "Take the back roads," fellow motorists advised Walter A. Weber, National Geographic Society staff artist, when he started out to paint wildlife pictures for Howell Walker's narrative of a bus trip around the United States. "I should like to take these doubters on a trans continental motoring tour. I could show them many sights as absorbing as the 16 I have painted for the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE (pages 17 to 32)," said Mr. Weber. "The very pavement proves my point. Scarcely a mile is not reddened with the vulture-haunted remains of a furred or feathered jaywalker. I believe more jack rabbits die of automobile wounds than of gunshots. The fearless skunk seems unwilling to believe that a motorcar cannot smell a warning (page 25). Nocturnal road prowling deer (page 20) are so thick in places that their bulky bodies shatter speeding cars. "In Yellowstone National Park I once stopped my car to let a moose amble across the road (page 21). Some years ago an antlered bull, irritated by a horn tooting for right-of-way, charged a Cana dian car and chased frightened occupants into the woods. "In the Southwest my headlights have pin pointed coyotes skulking across desert roads (page 29). I have seen others following deer hunters through Texas mesquite brakes and gorging on discarded venison. Whenever a rifle shot rang out, they howled in chorus, as if in answer to a dinner bell. "I watched ospreys (page 23) sailing over Washington, D. C., looking for a meal in the Po tomac, and sparrow hawks perching on a Capital hotel's television antenna. From a car parked near Red Rock Lakes, Montana, I followed the rare trumpeter swan with binoculars (page 27). "One reason so many trout streams seem fished out is that roads have a way of following their convenient contour lines (page 31). "I saw these things, not because my eyes are sharper, but because in 20 years a wildlife artist learns where to look for them."