Sunday, May 27, 2012

Lemoore, California (May 23-28, 2012)

Our main purpose coming to Lemoore, CA was to establish a base for some day trips through the Sequoia National Forest. Once we had the truck and RV cleaned we packed up everyone on the next day and headed up the mountains to see the giant redwoods in the Sequoia National Park. Another task we had hoped to accomplish was to get to the base of Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the lower 48 states so we could say we have been to the lowest point and stood next to the highest point. We soon found that would not be possible due to it's remoteness. Well, we did see it and made it to about 25 miles, as the crow flies, to its peak.

The giant redwoods in this part of the forest only grow between 5,500 and 7,000 feet above sea level so we had some climbing to do and that we did. Quite often the access road was so narrow two large vehicles would be hard pressed to pass one another. One section of the road had major construction and it was closed to two-way traffic so we had to wait almost an hour for the road to open in our direction. Once moving we saw the construction was on a cliff side bridge that had collapsed and the construction crew was rebuilding it.  Another white knuckle drive. With that passed we resumed our ascent into the park.

Our first sighting of a Sequoia was eye-popping to Joyce and the boys. I had been on this tour before, but it was still an amazing sight to see these majestic specimens. The boys were the ones awed the most, though.  They could not keep their eyes off of them and they kept looking up to see the tops which were almost out of sight, but wait everyone, these are the small ones and the bigger ones are yet to come.

 The main road through the park, Rt 198 and also known as The General's Highway, follows to ridge line of the mountains at the elevations the trees grow in. There were many stops along this road where these giants offered the perfect opportunity to take pictures and just wander through the groves in awe. At times we would just sit a gaze while listening to the quietness interrupted once in a while by a car or a deer. Peaceful.

We had spent quite a bit of time in the park so we started to head back home for we did not want to be in the mountains when it got dark.  Believe me, the ride down the mountains, in the daylight, was just as nerve wracking as the trip up, maybe even more.  It was a wonderful day touring these wonders of the earth, but a good stiff drink, once safely in my easy chair, culminated the experience.

Holy Crap, Rosco!! Do you see the size of that tree?  Hope your bladder's full.

Some of the smaller Sequoias. Notice Joyce and the boys at the base of the tree.

Rosco looking for the giant squirrels that must live in this giant tree.  Hope he doesn't find one.

Whew, Rosco.  I'm empty. You?

"The Sentinel Tree".  It is 28' wide, 36' around, 2200 years old and 237' high. Notice the person at its base. This tree is an average Sequoia. The big ones are deeper in the forest.

After a day of rest we started out exploring again.  This day we headed south of the Sequoia National Park into the southern end of the Sequoia National Forest. Our route took us through Springville, CA on Rt. 190 and along one of the branches of the Tule River. This road was not much different than the ride into the Park, except it was windier and not as well kept. To exasperate the drive, the weather turned very cold and the fog and mist set in. Man, am I a sucker for this or what?

All-in-all the drive was good, but very slow. Not only did we run into fog and mist, but as we climbed higher we ran into snow. Luckily, it was not sticking to the roads and once over a mountain we ran out of it.  We did stop, though, and let the boys play in it for a while.  Wow! Big trees and now snow.  I think they love this place. There were many beautiful sights to see on this tour and we are glad we did it.  Just got to make sure I am hyped up for them, though. Narrow mountain roads are starting to not be my best places to be, especially when the traffic behind you wants to do well over the speed limit. Did a lot of pulling over.

Tomorrow we will do some shopping at some of the local farms and restock our pantry and fridge in preparation for our move the next day.  This part of our journey will bring us to Monterey, California where we will spend a week touring the California Coastal Highway and the towns and places along this beautiful part of the country.

Tule River Canyon Road
Yuccas on the mountainside
Man, it is getting cold out there.

Uh, oh! Not good.
Now snow?  Definitely not good.
No s*** Shakespeare.

Pretty though.


OK.  This is fun.

The Kern River Valley in the Southern Sierra Nevada mountains.

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