One of the favourite stops on every Bandit Tour all five years running is our reunion with the one and only Justin Legge from Friends of the Dunes. On day four, the Bandits meet him early at the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center right outside Eureka, CA and he is just as excited as we are. Every year, Justin takes the Bandits to the Humboldt sand dunes and shares his knowledge on how and why the dunes have become overrun by introduced invasive species. His passion for preserving nature and coming together with other caring humans to restore and protect the environment can be felt. Justin is one of the most expressive, heartfelt and entertaining environmentalists and when someone rubs off such incredible enthusiasm, you naturally want to do whatever you can to help his cause.
We focus on the same dune every time we visit and over five years, 100 Bandits and approximately 200 hours of ripping out weeds and grasses later, you can visibly see the positive impact we’ve had on the landscape over time. The Bandit dune is nearly clear of grasses and next year is all about removing what has grown back.
As we wrap up, Justin had some wise words to share with us about the impact we can have restoring natural landscapes in our own community. It was a simple message and so powerful. Care honestly. Care with your heart and soul. Learn about what is happening in your neighbourhood and then tell someone that you care honestly about it and you want to help make it better. That’s how change happens. We’ll take that advice Justin and are already researching what restoration need Traction can get behind when we are back in BC.
Our landing place for the night was in Santa Rosa, CA and the road to get there was some of the most beautiful stretch of highway in the country through the Redwood National Park. We hiked through the forest searching for the Spirit Tree that Justin told us about, an albino tree with all white branches and needles. We made the assumption that we were looking for a massive Redwood, as one would, and 45 minutes later, we finally came across the elusive Spirit Tree and it was not what we expected. Beautiful nonetheless!
This was our last night together with just the Bandits before we meet up with the rest of our Dreamforce Tractionites and Bandits at heart. We could have gone out in Santa Rosa to see what the town had to offer, it was a Saturday night after all, but not us. Until the wee hours of the morning, we all sat in the Traction tour bus, reliving our favourite moments of the trip, reflecting on the good we’ve done, the laughs we’ve had, and the friendships we’ve made. Something special happens when you spend every waking moment with a group of people, experiencing new things with them and chatting for hours on the road. Bonds are built that will last much longer than the end of this trip and it is an experience none of us will soon forget.
Bandits signing off, until tomorrow!