Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Travel Log: Sequoia National Park

We had a really good day today, although a bit longer on the road than we had anticipated. First we drove to Fresno and stopped to satisfy one of our favorite food cravings...

I took this picture just for you, LS. (Although I know you were just here a few weeks ago).

YB really liked the hat they gave him.

So much so that he continued to wear it for the rest of the day.

ES in his "paradise" (see previous post).

From Fresno, we headed east into the Sequoia National Park.

View out the sun roof of the car.

I was really glad we went to see the redwoods then came to see the sequoias. From the average human eye-level, you can't really tell that the redwoods are actually taller than the sequoias. The sequoias are just so much more massive than the redwoods, and I was much more in awe of these ginormous monsters than I was of the redwoods.

I mean, I'm glad we went to see the redwoods, but if you had to choose between driving off the beaten path to see the redwoods or to see the sequoias, GO SEE THE SEQUOIAS!!! The drive was truly remarkable.

That tree in the background is General Sherman - the LARGEST TREE IN THE WORLD! (Yes, there's a geocache there, too, hence the GPS receiver in my hand.)

LW & the boys on the trail to General Sherman

It was good for us to get out of the car and get some exercise. The walk from the parking lot to the General Sherman tree is nicely paved and only half a mile, but it's a pretty steep 200+ feet of elevation gain, and you're at 7,000 feet so the air is a little thin.

Another shot taken by me laying down on the ground. Yes, YB is still wearing his In-N-Out hat.

I also tried using the panorama feature on my new camera to try to get a picture of an entire sequoia tree (or three).

Sequoias have really thick bark that protects them from fires. The only real natural cause of sequoias dying is they grow too big and topple over because they have a weak root structure. At least, that's what the brochure told us.

I dunno, those roots look pretty strong to me.

We drove through another tree tunnel. This wasn't as exciting as yesterday though - not as tight a squeeze.

BTW - this is the picture ES drew after I reminded him of the "No Nintendo While We're in a National Park" rule. Other than that one minor point of discontent, the boys were overall VERY good in the car today. Not a single fist-fight!

Okay, so if you go into the park from the west (from Fresno), the road has some gentle curves, but you can generally proceed at 45 mph up into the park. We enjoyed the ride up and enjoyed seeing the magnificent trees.

Heading out the south side of the park though (heading toward Bakersfield), there are about three dozen of these...

and four dozen of these...

but there's also one or two of these...

Panorama view near the top as we started the drive down.

Panorama view about halfway down, looking back up the way we came.

Seriously. It took us FOREVER to come down out of those mountains. I can't copy and paste the image from Google Maps for you here, but I took a snapshot of my GPS display on the way down.

There are like 6 hairpin turns and dozens of sharp curves in this display alone, and this is only the tip of the iceberg.

As we came down the hill, I couldn't believe that we kept passing people headed UP the switchbacks at like 5 p.m. I think they were all nuts to be going up that late.

We finally found civilization and had some dinner in some po-dunk town that started with a T at 8 p.m. As we sat at the table mindlessly gnawing on our food, ES looked catatonic. I thought he was going to pass out and drop his face into his french toast.

Oh, one more observation to share with you from today:

So there I was, standing and admiring the splendid magnificence of the sequoias and contemplating my relative insignificance in the universe. There's nothing like a sudden panicked declaration from your four year old, "MooooOOOOOMMMMYYYYYY!!!! I have to go POOOOOOP!!!!" to shock you back into the here-and-now of life's reality.

Statistics from today:

4 Number of food items on the In-N-Out menu (hamburger, cheeseburger, double-double, fries).

24.3 Number of miles per gallon I got on our drive to Fresno (drafting off trucks). I think that's pretty good for an non-hybrid SUV. Luckily there was a Costco gas station right next to In-N-Out, so we gassed up there before heading up into the National Park. Tomorrow morning's fill-up mpg calculation will be a lot lower due to the switchbacks and using low gear to keep speed down on the 8% downgrade.

10 Number of hours on the road today. Actually, it was about 8 hours of driving and 2 hours of exploring, eating, or using the rest stops.

4.75 Number of years it took for YB to decide he's smarter than Daddy. Twice today he flipped me attitude and told me I was wrong and he was right. The first argument was over the pronunciation of the word "volcano," and the second argument was whether the moon is a planet or not. YB's response to the former was, "Blah blah blah, Daddy." WHAT did my almost-5-year old just say to me?!?!?!?! Man, I can't WAIT for the teenage years to see where THIS goes (just a wee bit of sarcasm there). At dinner when he told me the moon was a planet and I said no it wasn't. He said, "Yes, it is, Daddy. You're WRONG! It's a planet and ALIENS live there!" I need to find where he's been hiding the copies of National Enqu1rer.


Loping Squid said...

mmmmmmmm IN-n-Out!!!!!!

Going ons said...

This is so funny!

JoLee said...

Hooray!! YB has been listening to Coast-to-Coast AM!!!
"Earth's moon could become a planet"
Redwood vs. Sequoia:
Redwood may refer to:

* Family Cupressaceae (conifers)
o Sequoia sempervirens - Coast Redwood
o Sequoiadendron giganteum - Giant Sequoia or Sierra Redwood
o Metasequoia glyptostroboides - Dawn Redwood
o Cryptomeria japonica - Sugi
Sequoia sempervirens is the sole living species of the genus Sequoia in the cypress family Cupressaceae (formerly treated in Taxodiaceae). Common names include Coast Redwood and California Redwood (it is one of three species of trees known as redwoods, but "redwood" per se normally refers to this species).

Redwoods & Sequoias are basically one in the same tree.