Saturday, June 10, 2017

Ridiculous Road Trip #1, Part 11 - High Winds, the Spaceman, Sequoia and Kings

Back to Part 10

May 17
The destination for the day was Sequoia National Park. It was going to be one of our longer trips, 320 miles, probably a seven hour trip in "RV's teach you patience" driving time. We were on the road by 6:45 am. The first three hours were great. Then the crosswinds hit. We white-knuckled it for about one hour, hoping it would get better. As we merged on the Barstow-Bakersfield Highway, we hoped things would get easier, but the big flashing highway sign was ominously warning of high wind warnings, specifically for RVs and trailers. Sigh. As I checked the national weather service, the 25-30 mph winds we had just driven through were just an appetizer. The forecast called for 40 mph winds with gusts up to 60, until 8 pm. The current time was 10:30 am. Sigh.

So we pulled of the expressway and hunkered in at a truckstop in Tehachapi, CA...for 8 hours. There was napping and book reading, and a bit of cabin fever.

And then we drove out when the winds started to calm down at 6pm. Since we'd had some good nap time, Doug was motivated to drive for another three hours. We didn't quite make it to Sequoia, and it was getting late, so we decided to park overnight at a Walmart in Visalia, CA, just an hour away from the National Park.

We drove into the Walmart parking lot at 9:30 pm and  I went into the store to check in with the manager to get permission to overnight in the lot. As I was in the store, another overnighter in a van parked next to our camper, and struck up a conversation with Doug about our camper and how much we liked it. I arrived back at the camper at this point, gave the van guy a quick hello, and went inside to get things ready for the night. Doug was still outside, being polite. This gent was driving a older Starcraft Van and the conversation had moved toward auto brands, then it veered offed the rails a bit...
Van Guy: "I have a spaceship."
Doug: "Oh? Is that a camper?"
Van Guy: "It travels forward and backward in time."
Doug:  "Oh?"
Van Guy: "Do you understand what I mean?"
Doug:  "Nooooo?"
Van Guy: "It's a spaceship, it goes forward and backwards in time."
Doug:  "Okay. ?!?!? Well, goodnight." Then he quickly stepped inside the camper and locked the door.
You can't make this kind of stuff up. The Spaceman didn't disturb us for the rest of the night. And if he traveled through space and time, he did it pretty quietly.

May 18
We passed a reasonably restful night at the Walmart, and were on the road by 6:45 am.

We arrived at Sequoia and King National Park at 7:45 am, and snagged one of the last spots in the Potwisha Campground. We set up camp, then needed to do a major cleanup of the truck to find all the food and other smelly things that might attract bears. It turns out there were several bagfuls of such stuff to go into the bear proof metal box at our camp site. Then we headed off to the visitor center. The lovely staff helped us decide how to best spend our day at Sequoia, and then we heard a fun talk about the tarantulas that live in the park, and then we peered into a hole in the ground, and just could barely see the legs of a tarantula! Yay!

Then we headed up above 5000 feet into the mountains to visit with the Giant Sequoias. It was flipping amazing.

We visited the Big Tree Museum then had a lovely picnic at the feet of these amazing trees.

Then we started hiking the Big Trees trail

 But we got distracted by another trail, so we wandered that way.

And we got to stand in the middle of burned out "chimney" of a Sequoia.


We wandered onto yet another trail that went up and up, until we finally had to turn back because there was a tree fallen across the trail, that was too tall for us to clamber over.

We made our way back and hiked the rest of the Big Trees trail around the meadow, and saw a pine martin!

Then we drove a little further up the mountain, to see the LARGEST TREE IN THE WORLD!

 And then we hiked back up the hill that was almost as tall as "The General".

It was a pretty spectacular way to spend the day. We headed back down the mountains to our campsite. Doug chopped wood and I hiked down to the "creek" below our campsite.

 Then we had a mule deer visit us in camp.

It was a lovely day.

Up next, Part 12.

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