BEACH TO TREES, BY NIGHT: Several nighttime-in-the-forest gatherings shall be gearing up around the Golden State in the coming weeks, from campfires and night hikes to the popular Dark Sky Festivals in some of our state's national parks. But there's another way to take in the distinct outlines of trees and occasional hooting of an owl and the evening breeze and the moon above: While you're moving. Nope, you distinctly do not want to do this while you're driving -- gotta stay fully tuned in to the road ahead -- but, say, if you were on a beautiful and historic train, a locomotive that spent a couple of hours wending through the redwoods after sundown, then you could do all of the tree/moon/breeze-soaking-up that you required. Roaring Camp Railroads is running two such trains during the summer of 2015, on July 11 and Aug. 22, and rather than leaving from the sweet spot's typical HQ the train will pick passengers up at the boardwalk in Santa Cruz.
MORE MAGICAL: Which means the whole darn experience just grows in enchantment. You'll start your night by the waves, soaking in those Pacific vibes (you know the ones -- we need not explain), and then you'll board "the Pullman-like coaches and open-air excursion cars of the Santa Cruz, Big Trees and Pacific Railway." The trip is two hours and is described as "leisurely," so come prepared to do a little tree-communing, which is absolutely the thing to do after Pacific-vibe enjoyment (trees along the route include redwoods, Tan Oaks, and Madrone trees). The San Lorenzo River Gorge, by night, is part of the experience, and a state park, too.
HENRY COWELL REDWOODS STATE PARK... so you'll get your tall, tall trees action in, and all by the beautiful beams of our lunar neighbor. It's a fresh way to enjoy a train, to do a Saturday night, and to spend a summer evening. Have you bonded with both the ocean and the redwoods over one spellbound train ride yet? It isn't just the stuff of storybooks. Here's where you start.