After saying goodbye to Ella in Las Vegas, we continued our journey west. A three hour drive took us into another new state, California.
We landed in Barstow, CA at a KOA. We were in the hot sandy desert.
We enjoyed some very nice sunsets.
Not a lot to do in Barstow, but we did manage to find an old ghost town just a few miles from our campground. The town of Calico was inhabited back in the late 1880’s. They mined silver here for about 15 years until silver lost it’s value. It sat uninhabited until the 1950’s when Walter Knott (of Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park) purchased it and restored it. In 2005 it became recognized as a historical landmark by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
After exploring Barstow, we were back on the road. The landscape continues to change as we move west. Our view on this day was very flat and dry.
We landed at Mountain Valley RV Park for a quick two night stay at a little campground right off the highway in the quaint town of Tehachapi, CA. We backed up to a tiny airport and a huge windmill farm.
The neat thing about the airport was they offered glider rides and lessons on how to pilot small planes. This was a first for Ashley and Addie to see gliders and how they actually fly.
We saw something else here we have never seen before. One of the people who lived full time on the property had a pet ostrich. Everyday brings new things on this journey!!
The beauty of these flat desert landscapes lend themselves to some amazing sunsets.
Feeling recharged after a day of projects, errands and a trip to the local farmer’s market, we were excited to continue on our journey. We had more National Parks to explore. Along our route it was fascinating to see how the process of drilling for oil on land takes place.
A little farther down the road the landscape changed again – to lots of vineyards! We are getting closer to wine country. At one point we could see a huge cloud of smoke. Not sure exactly what was causing this fire, but we watched in fear that it would burn the grapevines.
The remainder of our drive continued to make an impression on us. The last 30 miles put us on Highway 49, a narrow, windy, two lane road where every curve encouraged us to slow to 10-15 mph. It took us almost an hour and a half and to make things worse, we passed the campground entrance by a mile with no options to turn around so we had to back up that mile to get to Sequoia Resort and RV Park. Good thing the road wasn’t busy. Needless to say our nerves were shot by the time we parked.
The campground was very rustic and in need of a good mowing. We had a lovely spot at the end with a nice view. They had a good concept with a small lake, volleyball net, gathering area and even a tire swing. It was one of those places where the dogs just stayed dirty. The good thing for the campground is that it is close to Sequoia National Park.
Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park are connected through one entrance on the northwest side. Once you enter, you can either go north to Kings Canyon or go about 30 miles south to Sequoia. We had two days to explore, so our first day we headed to Sequoia to see some of the “largest” trees in the world, General Sherman and the Sentinel. They are deemed largest based on their mass. Some of the trees here are over 2500 years old and over 250 feet tall. They are amazing trees as they are able to survive fire. It actually helps them with the process of new growth by clearing the land around them and releasing their seeds. We hiked on just over 10 miles on several trails around the park to see the sights. We went from walking among the tall trees, to cliffs of some of the highest peaks. We even ventured around the grassy meadows and were lucky enough to see a mama beer and her cub snacking on some lunch.
The next day in Kings Canyon brought us even more spectacular sites. The area got its name because of its magnificent landscape, enormous trees, and vast lush, green valley with amazing views of Hume Lake, located at the base. This park had a great museum, lodge, Christian retreat center and even a few restaurants. The facilities here seemed much newer than in Sequoia.
It was a great two days exploring the parks. A fun Father’s Day weekend.
Our drive leaving this area on our way to Yosemite National Park put us back on Highway 49, that crazy small, windy road for the first 20 miles of the trip. Honking our way through the curves to make sure the oncoming traffic knew we were coming, we finally made our way on to what we thought were more suitable roads for the RV. Turns out this day’s 88 mile drive was not going to be an easy one either. It took close to 3 hours because of all the hills and curves. We put Aventis’ axels and tires to the test exploring this area.
Excited to see what Yosemite had to share with us we entered the park at the south entrance and began our day exploring the southern area of the park. Starting in the Mariposa Grove, we marveled at the giant sequoias. But we were a bit saddened from the scars of the recent fires and took note of the need to do controlled burns to promote new growth. We continued on to the Wawona Visitor Center to get our passport stamp and learn more about the history of the park. From there we checked out the Pioneer Yosemite History Center, where we enjoyed viewing some of the first buildings constructed in the park in the late 1800’s. Next, we hiked up for a better view of the Chilnualna Falls.
After a fun first day of checking things out, we were ready for some refreshments. We did not have to go far to find some tasty brews and yummy bites.
The next day we decided to change things up and enjoy a different part of the landscape. We enjoyed a fabulous day of kayaking around Bass Lake. The temperature was perfect and the water very refreshing on our feet. We even found a tiki bar right by the dock.
One unexpected surprise of this journey has been seeing all the different kinds of wildflowers. It started in Texas in late March, the flowers have continued to awe and astonish us through the past few months. Ashley could not resist keeping some of these beauties for herself.
Headed back into the park, we knew we had to get up early to beat the crowds. We were ready for a full day of hiking around the Yosemite Valley Area. Because the park is so popular and they do not have enough parking, they use a bus system to facilitate the process of getting around this area. We took off by foot hiking around the Valley and did not stop until the middle of the afternoon when we all decided we could not go another step. We were thankful for the bus to get us back to our car.
Below is our favorite captured memory. Believe it or not, this is a real picture that Shannon took of Upper Yosemite Falls from across the meadow and reflected in a pond.
Our time visiting Yosemite was split between two campgrounds. The idea was to enjoy the park from the south entrance for a few days and then spend a few days in the northwest area of the park. Our drive from lower Yosemite to the upper area was another nail biter of a drive. Shannon always researches and studies our routes. We even use a special GPS system that knows our length and height requirements so we do not end up on a road that will not work for us. The path we were taking today is called the Golden Chain and it is an amazing stretch of highway with incredible views, but it was also very windy. Thank goodness it was not as narrow as Highway 49.
One benefit of having so many days in one park is that you can do all the most popular activities and also the less sought out ones. The northern most entrance, Hetch Hetchy dead ends into the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. It has three stunning waterfalls as well as the dam. We had been amazed by all the different water experiences we had encountered throughout the park and this day was no different. We hiked the 2 miles up and around the reservoir to Tueeulala Falls, but could not continue on to Wapama Falls. Because of the extra high snowfall this past winter only those who were willing to get very wet traveling under the fierce falls hiked on.
We had the biggest and best spot of the campground, located directly in the middle of all the sites. Because of this we could not hide – we talked to more people here than we have in the past 10 campsites.
Taking a day to rest our bodies, we go in search of some water we can enjoy for the day. On our way the views are spectacular. Just a mile or so from the campground was a beautiful watering hole, but with all the snow melt this year the water is too dangerous for us to play in.
We did more hiking in Yosemite – can’t get enough of this amazing park! Up early again to get in the park before the crowds, the plan was to take in more of the amazing sites. We hiked up, up, up to Vernal Falls. However, we were not prepared with rain slickers or water shoes to enable us to get up in the waterworks.
Our time at Yosemite came to an end and it was time to move on. All the water has been just incredible. We are headed to Lake Tahoe, but have a one night layover in Jackson, CA at Jackson Rancheria RV Park.