So, we were up and out of Paris by 7:45 and headed to Sequoia National Forest. It was a six hour drive. We drove through the Mojavi Desert and Death Valley was just north of us. Needless to say, it was very hot; my car thermometer read 110 degrees!
We made it Bakersfield, California, around noon. It was interesting to see streets named after Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. This provided me the opportunity to tell my girls about Hee Haw. I thought of my friend, Cheramie J., as we saw these streets. I could hear her singing, "I'm a pickin'..."
Bakersfield is where the desert changes into farm land. We saw lots of orange groves. Something else interesting we saw was big trucks pulling large trailers of garlic.
Two hours later we were driving into the park. There was a swift moving river--the Kaweah-- on our left as we drove north. We saw some people white water rafting and kayaking. After stopping at the visitor's center, we made our way up a winding road and the temperature starting dropping. By the time we got to the top, the temperature was in the low 80's. Claire said she could tell when the temperature dropped by sticking her arm out the window.
As we drove up General's Drive, we saw a huge rock way above us.
While planning for our trip, Madison, Claire and I were hyper-focused on seeing the giant Sequoia trees. As we continued to drive up the mountain, we got our first glimpse of them and were awed. The first ones we saw were very tall but not too wide.
We continued up the mountain and ever looming over us was that big rock that we first saw when we entered the park. Finally, we arrived at it and learned that it is called Moro Rock. There are supposedly 350 steps to the top--it seemed like a lot more to me! As we started climbing, I was reminded of Stone Mountain because Moro Rock is also made of granite. However, its peak is at 6, 725 feet above sea level. It was a very steep climb, and although I am typically not scared of heights, my knees did get a bit wobbly. We also learned that Claire has an extreme fear of heights on the climb up. She really fought her way up to the top. I was so proud of her for not quitting and making it all the way.
Next, we hiked up to another rock called Hanging Rock. This climb was more through the forest. The undergrowth was made up of blue and white flowers, big ferns and many pine tree-like needles. The smell was so wonderful! Fresh, clean mountain air with a piney-flowery scent. Not as wonderful as the Cliff Rose, but still great! I wish my house could smell this way.
Where is sherman Williams?
After leaving Hanging Rock, we started our quest to find General Sherman--the largest tree in the world. We were so tired that we got a bit tongue-tied when saying its name.
As we drove, we encountered the Wawona Tree which we were able to drive through. The girls climbed onto it. While I was trying to take their picture, I was attacked by a swarm of angry mosquitoes. They were much more vicious than any Alabama mosquito!
More Big Trees!
We found him!
We had to drive about 30 more minutes before we came to the trail head to General Sherman. The trail leads down to the tree, and as you walk, there are plaques that show you at what level you are with the tree. So, it's like you start at the top of the tree and climb your way down it. The tree is 272 feet tall and over 36 feet wide at the base. It is enclosed by a fence; it has to be protected. Also, along the way, we saw a lot of signs warning that we were in an active bear area, so we kept our eyes peeled for a bear, but we were disappointed. We weren't disappointed with the General though! The tree was truly an amazing sight. I
There's a Bear over There!
So exciting to finally see a bear! It looked right at me. Madison thinks it was a baby. Back in 1998, Steve and I travelled to Whitefish, Montana. We kept looking for bears, but I never saw one. We went mountain biking down the mountain and didn't see one. Steve decided to go down one more time, and of course, he saw a bear! Seeing the bear here just made my day!
It took us about two hours to drive down the mountain, and it was a beautiful drive. Then, it was another hour to our final destination for the day, Fresno.
We arrived at our Airbnb about 9:30 and again, we had trouble getting into the lock. In fact, we tried so many times, the lock froze up. So we decided to get dinner at a local restaurant called Sequoia Brewing Company. We had delicious pizza. Ok, maybe it wasn't really that good, but we were tired and hungry.
We went back to the Airbnb and still couldn't get in. The owner had to come let us in. In the description of this place, it looked pretty cool, but we were disappointed. It did not have a standing shower. The beds were really soft though!