Monday, October 03, 2011

our epic road trip, part 1 (aka the one where nobody barfs)

Right after Labor Day, my parents flew in from Germany. The same week, we rented a minivan and hit the road.
We witnessed this beautiful sunset somewhere along my least favorite road in the universe. I had used google maps to plan our route, and we followed our directions through Bakersfield and Visalia, then made a left onto the CA 245. At first, we drove along orchards and farmland that were quite beautiful. Then, suddenly, the road became sort of hilly. "Papa is playing rollercoaster!" said Noah. And then I said "Slowdownifyoudon'twnatmetobarf. Please." And then we crawled along at a top speed of 35mph because it was all I could handle. What followed were hours of driving along a road so windy that we were pretty much the only car on it. Everyone who knew this road was driving along the flat land elsewhere. I spent hours staring straight ahead and focusing on not throwing up. It was miserable.
When we finally got off the 245, it was only to get onto the 180, which is also pretty windy. And by now it was dark and I was tired, but every time I closed my eyes, I felt sicker, so I forced myself to stay awake and stare and FOCUS.
Staying awake had one advantage: I saw all the wild life that was crossing the road and trying to get run over by a car! I'd never before witnessed the "deer in the headlights" effect on an actual deer! It was quite astounding, really: Five or six does started crossing the road as we came driving crawling along. One had gotten about half-way across the road, and she just froze and stared for a few seconds before she bolted back into the dark forest.
Next up was a cow (!) that was nonchalantly wandering along the road. (Three other adults also saw the cow, so I'm sure it wasn't an illness-induced hallucination.) It was big and slow and seemed to consider walking out into the road right in front of our car, but then thought better of it. I'm really not sure what a cow was doing wandering around Sequoia National Park at night, but it was there.
When we finally got to our hotel, it was 9:30. We forced ourselves to unload EVERYTHING from the car (bear safety) and then collapsed into our beds.
everything in one place
The fun part of arriving so late was getting to explore a totally new place in the morning. The lodge is right by the Kings River, and it's beautiful. The foresty nature smell is basically intoxicating.
the river
After breakfast at the Snack Bar, we headed out for a hike.Sadly, the after-effect of my car-sickness of the night before was that I felt sick-ish as soon as the car started moving. I KNEW it was only in my head, and that helped me not let it spoil the day, but fun it was not. At least this was a quick drive - Cedar Grove Village is pretty far into the canyon at Kings Canyon National Park (after about a 15 minute drive, you get to "Road's End," which is named aptly). I didn't realize how far away from other civilization it was when I booked the hotel (I think I'd have looked for something more centrally located), but I'm glad I didn't because I really enjoyed being away from the (obnoxious) touristy crowds (Giant Sequoias, I'm looking at you!).
We drove about 10 minutes to the trailhead for Zumwalt Meadow and started our hike.
Kings River 
reminder that you're in a canyon
Big rocks all around - it's a canyon after all!
happy hiker
Noah hiked happily most of the time. When he asked to be carried, we simply said something like "WHOA, look at that tree! Do you want to go see it?" and about 95% of the time, that totally did the trick.
We encountered more wildlife:
hungry Jay
On our way back to the lodge, we took a quick detour to Roaring River Falls. It's a quick 0.3 mile walk on a concrete path from the parking lot. In other words, the ideal hike for a tired three-year-old and his entourage.
me down by the falls
Later that afternoon, The Husband was nice enough to take Noah out to the river so the rest of us could take naps. While they were out there, Noah nonchalantly grabbed a snake (!) out of the water. We're assuming that it was a garter snake, which is pretty harmless. Still - it was a bit unsettling.
Overall, though, a pretty good first day of vacation.
and pants, you know
rules for hotel/store/snack bar


sarah doow said...

Grabbing a snake out of a river is a pretty badass thing to do!

Yara said...

I hate it when people wear shoes & shirt, but forget pants/shorts!

Lauren S. said...

Nice! I love Sequoia/King's Canyon...Haven't been in years. And I remember those roads. Ugh.