Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve

When we stayed up in Glen Ellen in Sonoma County recently, we decided to drive an hour west and visit the Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, which is home to lots of old growth redwoods. I discovered the place by poking around on TripAdvisor, and was intrigued by these giant trees and by the possibility of seeing a banana slug for the first time.

I know, I know: why would I want to go out of my way to encounter a banana slug? I swear I have a legitimate explanation for this.

When I was a kid, I was often sick and I was allergic to practically everything, including trees. As a consequence, I missed out on what my little 10-year-old self deemed a critical rite of passage: I didn’t attend 5th grade science camp.

Needless to say, that sucked. Each class had spent what felt like forever gearing up for the big trip into the woods. We learnt which animals would be sharing their habitat with us and whatnot, and one of those creatures was the banana slug. I was simultaneously grossed out and fascinated by the idea of coming across a large, bright yellow slug in the woods.

But because I didn’t get to go on the trip, I never had the chance to see one. And it was one of the few things no one would shut up about after everyone else returned from the trip. “Oh, yeah, there were lots of ’em! They were soooo slimy!”

I was as jealous as Yeezus watching Beck win Album of the Year, so I secretly vowed that someday I’d see a banana slug, too, damn it.

So there you go. And here I am.

Since then, I’ve been to countless would-be banana slug havens. Sometimes, I’d even see evidence of their existence in these places on Yelp, Instagram, or some other source, like I did on this occasion, and get especially stoked.

Sadly, to this day I have never seen this elusive little critter. I almost want to convince myself that they’re mythological beasts that don’t really exist and be done with it, but I’m stubborn as hell and won’t give up.

Maybe I’ll never find one. And surprisingly, I’m okay with that, too. I’ve come to terms with the possibility that maybe banana slugs, like many things in life, are better left pursued or left fantasized about. The pleasure is in never quite finding or obtaining it. It’s the thrill of the chase. Maybe finally being face-to-face with a banana slug would be anticlimactic.

I don’t know.

Anyway, there weren’t any banana slugs to be found here. Just a very still, silent forest with acres upon acres of trees, and an area to sit and admire their timeless beauty.



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