Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sequoia National Park, May 25, 2011

Arrived at our campsite at about 6 PM and found our site easily (it's a very small campground)! Drove the rig to a level area and unhooked the tow. I got in the tow car and was going to move it out of the way so Jim could maneuver the rig into our spot. Uh-oh! I could not shift out of park. Luckily there were a few men right across from us who offered to help. Before they found the problem I was able to guide Jim into our site and even missed hitting the tow car sitting right behind the rig. Boy am I good!
Anyway, turns out it was a blown fuse. Put in a new one and, voila, it works! Had a great night knowing we had a car for a tour of the park on the next day.
Got up this morning at about 5 am to get ready to leave before 6:15 in order to make the 45 minute trip from campground to beginning of road repairs in the park. Only one lane for about 3 miles so they guide cars through every hour on the hour beginning at 7. We got there in good time and didn't wait any time before the caravan got started.
Snow, snow, snow was everywhere on the ground. Not new...but icy. We started out by hiking the Sherman Tree Trail. Of course, it led to the General Sherman Tree. It is the world's largest living tree. I'd take their word on was HUGE! It is estimated to be about 2,100 years old. It was surrounded by other sequoia's....all part of the Giant Forest! You have to see them to believe.
We left there and visited the Giant Forest Museum. Lots of information about the trees and the history of the national park. Even had pictures of a car which was smashed by a falling limb. When you walked around the monarch trees there were what looked like other large trees on the ground...they weren't trees they were limbs from the giant sequoia!! Happy I wasn't standing there when they fell.
We left the museum and took the trail called Big Trees which encircled a meadow where we had to cut our hike short in order to not disturb the bears! Yes, it looked like two families...a couple of moms with their cubs. While we were watching them another bear showed up...they were all happily eating the new grasses in the meadow. We decided to double back and hike to the car. The hiking trails were mostly covered with snow so we got a little lost. Along the way I took a wrong step too near a fallen log and discovered there was no base under the top frozen snow. My leg plunged through up to my knee and I fell straight on my face. I laid there laughing until Jim came to check I was OK and I could get up. Managed to injure my right knee a little but it didn't stop me from continuing with the tour. (I'm writing this now with an ice pack on it.)
After getting back to the car we drove to Moro Rock...a granite dome from which you can see spectacular views of the Great Western Divide and the western regions of the park. The steps go up and around the side for 400 steps...300 feet to the top. Just remember to not look down unless you're holding on to a railing or leaning against the side. It was very cold and beautiful. Long way up but easier coming down. Knee was feeling a little tight but I kept on going.
On the road up to Moro Rock we drove through Tunnel Log...a tunnel cut through a fallen sequoia.
The funniest thing to happen this day was getting lost...really lost...walking the trail around Crescent Meadow. Yes, the trail was covered with snow and, yes, we got lost...really lost. I would love to see a drawing of how we finally got around the would look like zigzag I'm sure. By the time we finished I had taken off my scarf and my jacket...that was quite a hike. Oh yea, Jim fell through the snow but he used both his legs. Didn't fall on his face though...I managed to get a picture of him that way. We both decided that was enough hiking for the day.
Obviously, it wasn't. We drove all through the park and into King's Canyon. Found the General Grant Tree. Many other sequoia's on that trail as well...we even walked through a hollowed sequoia trunk.
That was it for the day. Jim drove us back all the way through Sequoia National Park and through the construction and back to the motorhome. We got home about 12 hours after we had left in the morning.
Will be packing up to pull out of the campground in the morning headed to Yosemite. Hope we have as much fun and see beautiful nature as we did today.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Joshua Tree National Park, May 23, 2011

Drove here straight from Tucson on Sunday. No problems...beautiful drive. We did get hit by some sand devils. Weird!! We camped the first night at the Cottonwood Creek Campground in the southern part of the park. Drove right there and found a site in loop A...#19. It was a kind of lay-by. Very cool temps at night and warm and sunny during the day. The humidity was almost nothing. Warm in the sun but cool in the shade.
Sat outside and watched the jackrabbit while we drank a little wine. Next morning we got up and visited the visitor center and made arrangements for camping at a northside camp. We also bought tickets to tour of Desert Queen Ranch for the afternoon. Drove through the park and right to our new campsite...the Black Rock Campground. Nice pullthrough. VERY cold up there. We set up and then went right back into the park and to the ranch for the tour. Had to drive up a dirt road to the gate where Jim and I had our lunch while we waited for the park ranger. Few more people showed up then drove to the ranch. Looks like some place my dad would have loved. Set amongst the large rocks. Bits and pieces put together for home, cabin and work shop as well as school room. Very interesting tour.
Left there and drove again through the park. Looked at campground at Jumbo Rocks. Some sites for bigger rigs but most for small and tent campers. Amazing location.
When the day was done and we had seen all the Joshua Trees we returned to our new campsite and settled in for the night. So cold we had to wear socks and hats to bed. Very cosy.
Got up in the morning ate breakfast and broke camp. Set out to Sequoia National Park.
Our GPS guide got us lost. Navigated us through the hills to a dirt road. Had to unhook the tow and turn around. Finally found our way to the highway we needed. Did stop in Bakersfield, CA, at a Sam's to purchase four new batteries for the rig. Jim installed them himself right in the parking lot. Will anything else happen to us? YESSSS!

Trip is finally started!

First leg of trip was to Tucson, AZ, for my nephew, Dustin's, wedding on May 20, 2011. Beautiful! Love his new wife, Layla. The wedding was at Tanque Verde Ranch. The rehearsal dinner was held in the Cottonwood Grove. Delicious food...steaks, grilled corn on the cob, baked potatoes, salad, fruit, cobbler and more! We even had a herd of javelina join in the fun. Fire pits were set amongst the tables. Very cool and the fires were nice and warm. All the younger people had smores. Was great to see old friends and family.
The wedding was on the outside patio and was at sunset (close to it at least). Reception was inside with lots of great food and dancing. I even got to dance with the groom. Hope his toes are better now. They presented my mom with a little birthday cake...candles and all. She was so happy. She turned 89 on the wedding day. We were able to visit with her sister and brother-in-law in their home in the foothills the next day. That was so much fun.
Jim and I also visited the Desert Museum on the Saturday after the wedding. Drove thru the hills to the museum and walked through the sunny gardens there. Cloudless skies and brilliant sun but it wasn't hot...beautiful weather the entire time in Tucson.
My brother and his family drove to Tucson in their new Class C motorhome. I think they are ready for more traveling. Can't wait to camp with them soon.
We left Tucson on Sunday and headed to Joshua Tree National Park in California. Our GPS guide lead us straight thru the town center of Tucson. Definitely need to go back and spend more time there.