Some Really Big Trees…

Today we headed out to visit Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park. Leaving about 9 am we drove 70 miles south thru Fresno to the entrance to Sequoia National Park.

But before we left we set the crockpot on a timer so that when we came home we’d have a big pot of Tuscan Chicken Spaghetti waiting for us. Then we hit the road, heading toward Fresno, about 30 miles south.

Leaving Fresno, which is at 300 ft elevation, we starting the climb up into the Sierras, with some great views along the way. Click to enlarge the pictures!

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And just like yesterday we ran into snow. We started encountering it about 4500 feet, and it just got deeper the further up we went.

SnowRoad

SnowPile

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When we got to the Ranger Station at Grants Grove at almost 7000 feet, we really saw the snow in deep drifts.

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There was a lot more snow here in Sequoia than in Yosemite yesterday.

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After checking in at the Ranger Station and checking out the Gift Shop, we had to change our travel plans. We had planned to drive the big 60 mile loop thru the park and come out down south near Visalia. But we found that loop was closed due to the heavy snowfall and would not be open anytime soon. That meant we would not be able to see the General Sherman Tree, the largest tree in the world. Bummer!

But we would be able to see the 2nd largest tree, the General Grant tree, so we headed over to Grant’s Grove a couple of miles away to take a look.

This is the first big tree we saw right in front of our truck when we parked. It’s hard to convey how really big these trees are. The pictures really don’t do them justice.

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And across the parking lot were these twins.

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And here is the General Grant tree. It’s 267 feet tall and about 35 feet in diameter. It is estimated to be over 1600 years old.

Grant Tree 3  

 

And here is an internet picture of the General Sherman that we didn’t get to see. It’s about 275 feet tall and about 40 feet in diameter at the base. That’s bigger than our RV !  It’s between 2300 and 2700 years old. The spread of the branches at the top is almost 110 feet wide.

Sherman Tree

 

After viewing the trees, we went back to the lodge for a really good lunch at the restaurant, much better than the one at Yosemite yesterday.

Then after lunch, we drove out into the forest for about 10 miles just taking in all great scenery along the way.

SnowTree 

SnowRoad 2    

Then it was time to head home. Coming back down thru the mountains, we went thru several cloud layers, but by the time we got down to the bottom, it was clear and sunny again. And going from almost 7000 feet to 300 feet really makes the ears pop.

We got back about 3:30 to a coach filled with wonderful smell of our dinner cooking away.

We ate about 6 pm and it was great. It’s the first time Jan’s fixed this Tuscan Chicken Spaghetti, but we’ll definitely have it again.

Tomorrow is a take-it-easy day. We’re going to get together with some friends, George and Sandy, who we’ve corresponded with for awhile, but didn’t actually meet until the Nick Russell’s GypsyJournal Rally in Yuma this past March. We discovered yesterday that we’re both in the same park here.

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Oh WOW !!!!

We left the rig about 9:15 am heading out to see Yosemite National Park. As we got closer to Oakhurst, the 2nd town over, we started to see a lot of snow on the mountains that wasn’t there yesterday.

After stopping for gas in Oakhurst, we headed north about 5 miles and entered the Sierra National Forest, which borders Yosemite. Along the way we encountered more and more snow, which gave us some incredible views. Click to enlarge the pictures.

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Another 10 miles later we entered Yosemite National Park at the Ranger Station. Because of the heavy snow last night (between 6 and 12 inches) we were told we that we needed either chains or a 4 wheel drive vehicle with snow tires to enter the Park.  We had the 4 wheel drive, but no snow tires, but lucky for us they didn’t really check, so we got in. As it turned out, the roads were pretty clear and we never needed it.

SnowDrive 4

SnowDrive 3

We did see several snow plows during our drive so I guess they did a good job. But the higher we climbed the more snow we saw. We finally topped out about 6500 feet, with snow covering everything but the road. And the views were spectacular.

SnowDrive 6 

SnowDrive 5

SnowDrive 7

 

After a lot of hairpin turns we came to the area known as Tunnel View, which of course involves a tunnel.

Tunnel

Coming out of the tunnel there was a large viewing area looking out over the valley, including BridalVeil Fall. Yes, for some reason it’s called Fall, not Falls.

TunnelVista 

As we got closer, the Fall got more and more impressive.

BridalVeilFall

 

BridalVeilFall2 

We stopped at the Fall viewing area and walked up the 1000 foot trail to the base of the fall. With all the spray in the air, it was almost like it was raining.

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Then it was on to Yosemite Village, which is the turnaround point for the trip, with more great scenery along the way.

SnowPeak 

SnowPeak 3

As we got close to the Village, we saw the other big waterfall in the park, Yosemite Falls. Yes, this one is called Falls, not Fall. Don’t asked me why.

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Yosemite Falls 3

After buying some souvenirs at the Yosemite Store, we stopped and had a bad lunch at the Lodge. The best part was the cookie we had for dessert.

We also saw a lot of Sequoias in the Park. For some reason I always thought that Sequoias and Redwoods were the same tree, but they’re not. It turns out that Redwoods are only found in northern coastal California up near the Oregon border.

Sequoias 

Coming home, we started seeing first rain, then sleet, and finally, sleet, hail,and snow, all mixed together.

We got home about 3:30 pm, glad to be back where it was warm and dry.

Tomorrow we plan on heading south about 75 miles to Sequoia National Park where we’ll see a lot more, bigger Sequoias.

More tomorrow…

 

Late Update:

Tonight  on CSI they investigated a murder they thought was done at a shooting range. Although the name was different, the store they used was the one where Jan did her machine gun shooting when we were in Las Vega.

Gun 3

Sitting out the bad weather…

It was supposed to be cold and rainy today so we decided to wait until tomorrow before visiting Yosemite National Park, and although we saw one burst of sunlight, the forecast turned out to be pretty accurate.

So about 12:30 we headed out to get some lunch and some groceries afterwards.

I stopped by the office on the way out to find out how many RV’ers had used the Park discount coupons that were given out at the Yuma GypsyJournal Rally back in March.

As we were leaving the park we saw a squirrel standing sentry on a rock right outside the gate. We tried to get a picture but he spooked before we could get the camera out.

Maybe when we come back.

We ended up going back to El Cid because we liked it so much last night. I wanted to have another bowl of their albondigas, Mexican meatball soup. We had some last night as an appetizer to our combo platters, but it was so good I decided to have just a bowl of it for lunch. And we got some more cactus pictures while we were there.

CactusBlooms

 

We also saw a pair of woodpeckers that, at first glance, I thought were red-headed woodpeckers. But after looking closer at the pictures, I realized they were something I hadn’t seen before. It turns out they are Acorn Woodpeckers.

Acorn Woodpecker

Acorn Woodpecker2

Heading back home we stopped off at Von’s to pick up some groceries.

Coming back into the park, we found our squirrel standing guard on his rock again.

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GraySquirrel 2

Although it looks kind of brown in this picture, it’s a Western Gray Squirrel.

Tomorrow we’re going to drive up into Yosemite National Park. If we make the entire loop, it will be about a 200 mile trip.

More later…

High in the Sierras…

We decided to go out for breakfast about 9 am while we were waiting to see if our new site was open yet. Noting that the site was on the way out, we drove by to check it out and found that it was already empty. But there was a problem.

Although it was a pull-thru, the site was kind of short and rolled off down the hill in the front. By the time I had pulled far enough into the site to setup I’d be tilted downhill too much to get leveled. I thought I’d talk with the Park office when we got back.

On recommendation of the office we had breakfast at Pete’s Place in Oakhurst and it was really pretty good. The bacon was especially good.

We got back to the park about 10:30 and I stopped off at the office to find out if another site was available. One of their people took me out to look over two other sites and I picked 511.

About 11:30 we moved into our new site and got set up.

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This is a really nice area of the park, off the main road so it’s nice and quiet.

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But because of all the nice trees it took a while to get a sight line on the satellite, I had to move it three times before I got a signal. Here’s how I ended up finding a hole in the trees.

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If I had a roof-mounted sat dish, we’d have been out of luck. As it is, I had to set up the dish about 30 feet behind the coach.

The weather had been overcast and drizzling on and off all day, and it seemed like the perfect time for an afternoon nap.

And it was.

About 4:45 pm we drove into Oakhurst to have dinner at El Cid, a Mexican restaurant that advertised in the park brochure. And it was well worth the trip. The chips were hot, the salsa was cold, the iced tea was good, and the food was great!

And the view wasn’t too shabby either. We sat out on the glassed-in patio that overlooks the High Sierras,

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and looks down on a cactus garden with numerous bird feeders. And tulips, too.

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Jan was happy to see all the finches since she used to feed them in Houston before we went fulltime. She was surprised to find out that the finches stay here all year, even during the winter with snow on the ground. In Houston they only stay around for a couple of months in the fall.

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We saw several of these red headed birds too, but no one knew what they were. A little Googling told me that these are male house finches. We had never seen them before.Click to Enlarge !

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Even bluebirds were hanging around. Don’t know how happy they were, tho.

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We got back to the rig about 6 pm and settled in for the night.

The weather is supposed to be even worse tomorrow, so we’ll probably wait until Thursday before we do any sightseeing, but we’ll see.

More tomorrow…

Park of the Sierras…

We left the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds about 9:30 am heading for the Park of the Sierras Escapees RV Park right outside Coarsegold, CA.

Our first leg was about 35 miles west on SR138 to hit I-5. That part of the trip went fine. Although the road was two lane, it was smooth and straight with no stoplights or stop signs, with just a few hills right before it joined I-5. And we were treated to more poppy fields along the way.

TripPoppies

But it was a whole different story when we got on I-5 N. We immediately ran into a 5 mile long 6% downgrade. Normally that’s not a problem, but the road surface was awful. It was like driving thru a minefield and we had stuff falling everywhere.

In fact my laser printer was feeling so upset that it decided to “end it all” by leaping off the table to the floor below. In hindsight, it had been feeling depressed lately. The prognosis is unsure at this point.

But once we got to the bottom of the hill it was smooth sailing. And we had some more great scenery, including hillsides covered in purple flowers.

TripSage

We stayed on I-5 until about 30 miles out of Bakersfield, when we got on SR99 heading toward Fresno.

99 turned out to be a really good road, four lane all the way to Fresno. Along the way we started seeing signs for Apple Annie’s Restaurant in Tulare, and thought we would check it out.  And we were in luck, as they had a large enough parking lot to accommodate us.

The food was good and we were on our way in about 45 minutes.

Unfortunately, it would have been better if we had been on our way in 35 minutes.

Coming into Fresno we split off onto SR41. SR41 is a good two lane road that got a little more hilly as we went along, but no real problems.

Until we got to the park.

We pulled in behind a 5th wheeler.and went in. And discovered that I been lied to.

I called the park earlier this week to see if they had an open site for us. They told me they had plenty of room and that I could make a reservation, but really didn’t need to.

And I believed them.

And then I found out that the 5th wheel in front of us had gotten the last site. They had had a lot of RV’s show up and there were was ‘no room at the inn” for us. If we had only spent 10 minutes less at lunch. Ah well.

They said they would have a site for us tomorrow and we could boondock in their dry camping area until then.

So here we are.

SierraBoondock

 

The park is really nice, with hills and trees, something we have not seen since February in Texas. Everything since then have basically been parking lots.

Here’s our most recent site in Lancaster..

AVRVPark 1

 

And here’s our site in Las Vegas.

RoadrunnerRV

 

And here’s our site in Laughlin.

LaughlinCasinoRVParking

 

And here’s our site in Tucson.

Voyager1

So hills and trees are nice…as long as they don’t block the satellite dish, of course.

Anyway, here’s some pictures of here.

Sierra 1

Sierra 2

Sierra 3

Not sure what we’re doing tomorrow yet. It depends on how early we can get into our full hookup site.

More later…

Rested up and Ready to Travel…

Tomorrow morning we’ll head north about 230 miles to the Park of the Sierras Escapees RV park in Coarsegold, CA.

But today was a “get ready” day.

After going the Marie Callenders restaurant in Lancaster for lunch, we stopped off for gas and then went by WalMart for supplies.

Back home, I fixed a loose panel on the coach, checked the engine oil, added antifreeze, added water to the coach batteries and checked the tire pressures. And it looks like we’re ready to go tomorrow.

Last week I showed ya’ll some great poppy pictures. Now I want to give equal time to some great Texas bluebonnet pics.

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The red flowers are Indian Paintbrushes, another Texas favorite. Bluebonnet03 Bluebonnet04 Bluebonnet05 Bluebonnet06 Bluebonnet07 Bluebonnet08

Take that, poppies!

More tomorrow from Park of the Sierras, at the edge of Yosemite National Park.

Pacific Coast Highway…

Today was our Pacific Coast Highway road trip.

Two years ago this past March we drove the first part of the PCH where it starts at San Juan Capistrano and Dana Point, up thru Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach, and ending up in Long Beach. I sense a trend here.

We stayed at an RV Park in Long Beach right on the Pacific Ocean. That’s us on the far left.

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And here was our view out the other way. The Queen Mary.

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Anyway, today we drove into LA and got on the PCH near Playa del Rey and headed north.

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Coming thru Venice Beach we encountered this strange sight.  I’m not exactly sure why a CVS pharmacy has a transgendered clown on its marquee, but it is Venice Beach, after all. But this explains it further.

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Coming into Malibu we decided to stop for brunch at Marmalade Cafe right off the PCH. The place was really good, really yuppie, and really expensive. Jan had a short stack of blueberry pancakes with bacon and I had a tortilla scramble. And it was $33!

Leaving the cafe, we headed north again. About 3 miles down the road we came across the Malibu RV Park high on a cliff overlooking the PCH and the Pacific Ocean.

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What a view!  We may have to think about staying here a few nights when we come back this way next year.

Moving on along the PCH we started encountering some of the really scenic areas.

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This shot I think I’ve seen in a lot of movies and TV shows. It’s Point Mugu.

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Reaching Santa Barbara, we turned around and headed back, this time taking a different, more scenic route. Rather than go all the way back down to LA and back up, we cut across thru the Los Padres National Forest, to Ojai.

This is Lake Casitas, a 420 sq. mile lake that’s over 1000 ft up in the mountains, and it’s really a great view.

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Along the route we passed thru Ojai (pronounced ‘O HIGH”),  I had heard of the Ojai Valley before, and it’s easy to see why. It’s just one big garden. Tree farms, nurseries, fruit orchards with lemons, limes, and strawberries, sod farms, you name it.

Ojai Valley

Leaving Ojai, we passed thru Santa Paula, Fillmore, and on to Santa Clarita on I-5 Then it was a straight shot back to Lancaster and home, a total trip of about 300 miles.

Tomorrow will be a ‘rest up” and “get ready to travel” day, since we plan on leaving here Monday morning,and moving north about 230 miles closer to San Francisco.

More Later.