Over the last few months, I have used this space to tell stories about my visits to different locations along the South Coast. This week, I’m doing things a little different.

Since the day I moved to Oregon, one place has intrigued me almost daily. I don’t get out into it daily, but I sure would like to. That place, the forest, continues to draw me in.

I have found excuses to walk through, hike around and explore different areas of the forest dozens of times, and every time is a new adventure.

At my home, the forest happens to be right across the street. So, it’s not uncommon for my wife and kids and I to go for a walk through the trees. We aren’t too adventurous, so we stick the established trails, but it only takes minutes before the world sort of slips away as we go deeper.

It is an amazing experience to hike into the forest and escape. Within minutes, you can no longer hear traffic. Before long, the only sounds around are ones you make or other living things nearby are making.

I haven’t seen anything crazy while out in the woods, but a few nights ago, my wife and I did hear what we believe to be a pack of wolves howling nearby.

My two oldest children living at home have struggled a lot due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Being isolated for more than a year was difficult, but they find peace out in the forest. It’s not uncommon for them to go out more than once a day just to hike around.

They’ve found streams, tadpoles, mushrooms, all kinds of pretty insects and a few animals. I’ve seen the videos to prove it.

I have a friend who comes back with mushrooms a couple of times a month, and I hope to soon learn enough to find the right one so I, too, can bring some home. My wife has long wanted to search for her own mushrooms, and there’s no better place to do it than here.

When I get out, there are no videos. It’s just a time to get away from the pressures of the real world and relax in nature. The large pine trees and the immense depth of the forest reminds you how small you really are in the world. When you come that realization, it becomes easier to understand your problems are not that big.

About a month ago during a trip to Northern California, I pulled off Highway 101 and spent some time exploring the forest just to get up close to the redwood trees. One day, we will go to the national forest, but I didn’t want to wait.

I wanted to see nature’s giants, so I spent 20 or 30 minutes just walking around and looking. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to inspire me to return.

In today’s world, we are surrounded by technology that drives us away from nature. At home, there’s smart TVs, applications we can talk to to play music or get information, tablets, video game systems, laptops and, of course, our phones.

Even when we go out, some of those items come with us. But getting into the forest changes that, at least for me. My phone goes away, there’s no music, no distractions. And I walk, listen, watch. It’s refreshing and reminds me of simpler times.

If you want to try it yourself, there are great places to hike and get away. South Slough Reserve has several amazing hiking trails. A little close to home on Cape Arago Highway by Sunset Bay, there are trails almost everywhere. Even heading out toward Bandon, there are placed to pull over and hike.

If you want to really explore, go a little further and check out the many trails between Gold Beach and Brookings. We live in the forest. It surrounds us every day. So why not take some time, walk into and see how it makes you feel.

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