Sequoia National Park

With Rani Arbo cranked up on the CD player, we headed south and west out of Ridgecrest to drive about 200 miles up to Sequoia National Park. A young Swedish couple had advised us as to the best route around the mountains and I’m glad we took their advice. We drove through the California version of Red Rock Canyon on the highway and then up through another pass. We could see trains driving through tunnels. One train had cars in 4 tunnels at once!

South of Bakersfield, the road suddenly flattened out and became the farm country of the San Joaquin Valley where 90 percent of the raisins in our country come from. We also saw walnut and pistachio trees, apple, orange and lemon trees and many fields of grape vines covered in plastic which,I assume, were drying raisins.

We stopped at a farm stand filled with families choosing their Halloween pumpkins, doing hay rides, face painting and other seasonal activities. We wandered about trying out the samples of fresh fruit including apples, pluots, pomegranates, citrus, peaches and plums. There were lots of dried fruits for sale as well as packages of nuts. I bought a most delicious strawberry yogurt parfait for my lunch and Janie tried a local fry pie filled with spicy ground beef. We restocked our cooler with fresh fruit and headed up the road.

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The entrance to Sequoia is about 1000 feet above sea level. Our first stop was at about 6000
feet. The road up was as twisty as I’ve ever experienced with hairpin turns and 10 mph speed limits most of the way up. Our views were hidden with all of the trees with occasional awesome moments where we could glimpse the rocky peaks. There were no scenic pullouts as the road was tucked into the hillside. The reward came at our first stop – Arno’s rock. There were more than 600 steps creatively cut into a rock for us to climb.

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The views were worth the effort.

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Down below we could see the road.

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Our next stop was to see the giant Sequoia trees. The largest tree in the world is the General Sherman tree. I read that looking up at it for us is like a mouse looking up at a person. It stands in a grove of other giants and the hike to see it was like being in a giant chapel, the trees commanding our respect. Maybe it was also that at 7000 feet, people are gasping for breath and quieter.

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We continued on the General’s highway, winding in and twisting our way out toward the other end of the park which is part of King’s Canyon. As it was getting late, we decided that it was time to finish our tour and head back down. Little did we know how lucky we would be to experience, yet again, a national park at dusk. The views to the west on the way down were mother nature at her best.

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It was late by the time we got to Clovis. A quick burger at the diner across the street (do we have another theme here?) and I was ready to sleep. Time to rest up for Yosemite, our next destination.

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