Day 13 – June 21, 2016
Mileage – 76,264
Nevada/California Border to Sequoia National Park, CA
Today is a travel day with a goal to make it to Sequoia National Park in California. Last night we stayed in a Flying J parking lot with hundreds of long haul trucks and a few RVs. Set up to keep truckers on the road, the Flying J offers us a few critical things that we take advantage of – free WiFi, showers, a weigh station, and gas. As a result, we leave clean and ready to roll, with all of our blog posts updated for the past we days. As a result even though we got up early, we aren’t on the road until 9:30am.
It’s a long road through the Mojave Dessert with 100+F temperatures, rest stops with rattle snake warnings and lots and lots of trucks. The dessert seems inhospitable to life and reminds us of our mortality.
It’s amazing to see the food producing region rise out of the dessert as we get north of Los Angeles and closer to the mountains, passing through famed McFarland. Having watch the movie McFarland USA we can’t help but think of the blood, sweat, tears, and inequity that goes into the mass-produced food we eat.
Off the interstate the roads are lined with orange, citrus, walnuts, almond, olive and many other types of trees. We see corn on the cob, which looks different than much of the cattle corn we see at home, and large-scale dairy farms. The heat has knocked out the refrigerator, which is having trouble holding temperature, so as we approach the park we stop at one of several farm stands for local avocado, peaches, cheese, and orange and strawberry flavored milk.
We reach the park a little before 6pm only to find out that they recommend that RVs longer than 22 feet enter through the north gate. Posed with the dilemma of being 24 feet Kevin makes the critical decision to enter anyway and brave the narrow, twisty, windy road through the park. The views on the drive are stunning as we cross yet again through several eco-systems from the arid landscape of the valley floor to the lush forest trimmed with enormous sequoia. Like the others this park is one is unique with a mix of rounded and jagged granite domes rising from the valley floor and clear blue rapids rolling over rounded boulders.
Jenney is on pins and needles here as we twist and turn with only steep drops for shoulders on the side of the road. By now Kevin is a master at this type of driving and the ascent though slow is smooth. The biggest hazard is the traffic bombing down the other lane at times in rally fashion, often cutting the curves wide only to find us taking up the full lane on the other side of the road. Kevin sticks tight to our own lane ensuring we stay on our side of the yellow line.
The prize is the forest at the top with temperatures in the 60s and full with giant sequoia hiding like wise sages among the smaller newer growth trees. Rolling down the windows for the cool breeze the sent of the evergreens wafts into the car. This terrain (minus the big trees) feels more like home, perfect habit for all kinds of wildlife.
The park brochure is complete with warnings about rattlesnakes snakes, ticks, bears, and mountain lions oh my!
Lured by the massive trees even through we know it will be dark soon and our overnight plans are not secure, we stop to see General Sherman, the largest by volume Sequoia and plant in the US. Though buggy (remember I said it was like home), it’s nice to be out of RV hiking through the woods. We aren’t alone by any means, but at once Jenney is reminded why we stopped here, as Kevin’s face and body lite up like an enthusiastic child; seeing General Sherman was a mission of Kevin’s.
Back in the RV we begin the hunt for a place to sleep. All park campgrounds are full and unlike other parks, the NFS campgrounds are actually on the map and are also brimming with people. We haven’t checked the guidelines for this area, but dispersed camping seems to be popular here as the roads are line with RVs tucked off of them. Miles down a forest road and in the dark we simply pull off into the forest where we are obviously not the first to go, and park surrounded by the songs of the night and towering pines.
Cool temperatures, and peaceful surroundings ensure a powerful slumber as the girls quickly drift off to sleep.
Citrus Groves, Bakersfield, CA