Deep within the Redwood Forest lies one of California's most recognizable landmarks and a strange/ludicrous spectacle that truly deserves the title "roadside attraction." Behold! the giant wooden statues of Paul Bunyan and his trustworthy blue ox, Babe, at the 'Trees of Mystery' exhibit in Klamath.
Icons of both our great state-- which seems to have an unnatural obsession with the big man-- and the forest itself, Pauly B and Babe have been greeting visitors, terrifying children and making guys like me-- who love this kind of over-sized insanity-- salivate for 50+ years.
But to fully understand Paul Bunyon and co. you'll need to embrace the aura of their surroundings: the magnificent Redwood Forest of Northern CA. Clear air, forest critters, scant cell phone service and those giant, legendary trees all give you a feeling that this place is a goddamn Disney Fairy Tale come to life. In fact, I was patiently waiting for Paul to come to life and start crooning a catchy musical number...or at least eat me
Buddies forever, best friends till the end, homies 4 life. These two have the love and respect for each other that we all strive for; like a wooden Turner and Hooch...without the sad ending.
Paul-- with his mighty axe, calm demeanor, badass overalls and hipster beard-- is clearly the dominant one here, and the bigger attraction.
He reigns supreme over the parking lot with the confidence of an A-list Hollywood celebrity. He knows you're here to gawk/take photos with him (what an attention whore he is) and that cocky smile and wide-eyed stare screams "This is my turf! This is Bunyon Country"
However, I wouldn't count Babe out of this one. She holds her own in these parts.
Stoic, passionate and very much blue, as advertised, Babe is the underdog that represents victory for the common folk. She's comfortable in her role as Robin to Paul's Batman and doesn't care-- not everyone wants a hairy lumberjack who probably smells like peat moss or pancakes. I'm on team Babe, 4ever.
And yes, all of you snickering children out there, she has balls. Giant wooden carved balls that are bigger than your automobile times 1o. And think about it for a second-- somebody spent years making this mighty stallion. All kinds of blood, sweat, and tears went into carving Babe, until someone finally said, "Well, fuck it, I've gotta do the balls now" then probably spent a solid 3 months or so solely carving these puppies up. God bless that man; I wonder what he's eating for lunch today?
Truly, two peas in a pod and I definitely think Hollywood needs to come a-knockin' to give them their own buddy cop movie ('48 hours' part 3, perhaps?). There's truly a deep bromance going on here.
And just when you thought the Paul/Babe combo were there to solely supply you with a cheap thrill, you realize the REAL method behind the madness around these parts: to get people to buy Redwood swag from the gift shop.
That's right kiddies, Babe and Paul are simply just marketing gimmicks, puppets of THE MAN, and a giant wooden patsy to get you to spend those hard-earned dollars on bigfoot statues, postcards, tiny replicas and other random gewgaws-- all of which I have no problem with. The Redwood Forest has children to feed as well, ya know?
And while my focus has been on the statues/commerce factory here, the aforementioned 'Trees of Mystery' ride is apparently a thing around these parts. While I didn't get a chance to go on it (rain closed it for the day) it consists of a mile long gondola ride thru the redwoods.