We left San Francisco and headed for Yosemite, which should have been a nice short drive. And it was, except for the fact that we got a flat tire along the way. The good news was that we literally got the flat tire in the parking lot of a Goodyear store and, while they couldn't help us, they sent us one mile up the road to a tire shop, where the guys were unbelievably incredibly nice, and had us back on the road in one hour, and charged us absolutely nothing. If you're ever in Pleasanton, CA, buy a tire or two at Seever and Sons tire.
We stayed at a KOA west of Yosemite, and the site was lovely. And there was a big pool the kids were psyched about. And it was about 30 minutes east of the Western entrance to the park, which is close to all the cool stuff - El Capitan, Half Dome, etc. The bummer was that the night before we were heading to the park, there was a massive rainstorm that resulted in a mudslide that resulted in the road being closed between our campground and the West Entrance. Our only other option was to head for the South Entrance, which would be between a 1-2 hour drive. We hemmed and hawed and finally decided to give it a shot. Thankfully, the drive itself was short. Unfortunately, the southern entrance leaves one pretty much near nothing of interest, and there was no way in heck we were schlepping another 1.5 hours up to the cool part of the park only to see it and do 2.5 hours all the way back to the campground.
So, long story short, we walked the "Meadow Loop" in the southern part of the park, and the kids basically kvetched the whole way.
|At the beginning, before he was about to keel over because I made him walk a whole.three.miles|
|It was lovely...|
|but not necessarily something I would have driven three hours and camped two nights to see|
|About two minutes after this was taken, Jax fell between these rocks. Thankfully he was fine, but the cut that's on his face in all the following pictures is from that adventure.|
The drive to Sequoia was also pretty short, but so depressing. California is in the middle of a major drought, and we were driving through what should have been farmland but was all just so brown. Trees were producing fruit, but they were looking in rough shape.
We were staying at Sequoia RV Ranch in Three Rivers, CA, and weren't quite sure what to expect. When we got there everyone was super friendly, and the kids were psyched to take a break from the heat and hit the swimming hole.
|My cute little fish.|
|Not a bad place to take a dip.|
|Bustin' a move. Of course.|
|I didn't realize until this minute that we were all color coordinated.|
The road up the mountain was twisty. Really seriously twisty.
|A little more than halfway. We ended up hiking nearish to that huge rock (Moro Rock)|
We finally made it up and over the mountain and to the General Sherman Tree.
|For a sense of perspective, those teeny, tiny colored dots at the bottom of the tree are full sized human beings.|
We drove through a tree.
|Yes, actually our car. I got our for the photo.|
We saw so many huge and amazing trees. Pictures literally cannot do them justice. There's no way to capture the scale unless you're standing under them feeling Lilliputian.
|I tried laying down and shooting up, but all I succeed in doing was squishing the plum I was carrying for a snack.|
|Jax, about to be squashed by the feet of giant Ents.|
|Later in the hike - the roots of an overturned tree.|
And when we started our hike we realized that it would be perfect for us. Even terrain, cool stuff right next to the path and easy to get to, etc. So we're hiking along, Jax in front and me right behind, and all of a sudden, he says "Bear!" I thought he was kidding, so I rounded the corner and yup, right there, probably twenty yards away from him is a mama bear with her cub.
|No zoom lens. This was how far we were from a bear. It might look far-ish here, but I assure you it did not feel far-ish in reality.|
After she and her baby got into the meadow and gained some space, we kept walking, although our hearts were racing. How often do you stumble upon a bear?
|Baby bear, posing in the meadow.|
We barely (ha!) had time to recover when Lea noticed a massive dear up on the hill right next to us. It was gorgeous.
|What it actually looked like to us.|
After snapping a few pictures, we continued on, me reassuring Lea that the odds that we were going to run into one bear were extremely low, so the odds of running into another were even lower.
Well, nothing says fun like proving mom wrong, and we went around another bend and there was a black bear and two tiny cubs. Once again, we waited for them to get into the meadow, and we continued on, amazed at having seen them.
|Mama bear #2.|
Just before we ended our loop, there was another bear sighting, although this one was already in the meadow, rather than standing right on the path before us.
All in all, it was a pretty amazing experience and a great day.
We went back down the twisty, turny road and back into town and stopped along the way for some completely amazing ice cream that couldn't have hit the spot more. A little more swimming, some dinner, and another fire rounded out the day.
The second half of our California National Parks experience more than made up for the first half. I think the kids will be talking about the trees and the bears and the deer for a long time to come.
It was up and out early this morning for the long drive to Las Vegas.
|Insert Ocean's Eleven joke here, along with everyone else.|
Tomorrow is a pool and hangout day before we head off to the Grand Canyon. We have Pete with us for one more week, and we're going to pack a lot of good stuff in there. Stay tuned!
for more pictures of Yosemite and Sequoia, click here