The Big Trip Out West
Though I haven’t even been home for more than a month, I’ve been pretty busy. Almost immediately after coming home, my family and Julia set out on a great adventure west. We wanted to see some of our nation’s most beautiful parks during the Centennial of the National Parks Service. Our goal was to visit the Badlands, the Corn Palace, Custer’s State Park, Mt. Rushmore, Devil’s Tower, Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, Craters of the Moon, Crater Lake, Redwoods State Park, Yosemite, King’s Canyon, Sequoias, Moab, Canyonlands, Arches, the world’s best cinnamon roll at Glen Haven, and Trail Ridge Road. But even the perfect plan can have its bumps and amazing surprises. Come along on the journey, as I’ll be posting each day (and roughly each park) throughout the next few months.
Our Last Morning in Yosemite
Finally, we had a lazy morning. We slept in. We laid around in bed. There was even time to sit down and do a puzzle in the sunroom! While Zach worked, Julia and I took some time to relax, and then we all met up with mom and dad. They had been off in the campground area, catching up on laundry while enjoying the beautiful scenery. One of the most amazing things about Yosemite is that there is always something more beautiful around every corner.
We’re excited to get back there one day and finally get to hike up Half Dome. (Although, there is no way in the world that I’m hiking up the footpath to the top. Just one little handrail, hundreds of people, the wind… It already makes me want to have a panic attack.)
Hitting a Road Bump and Taking a Detour
Now, I need to mention the route we took out of Yosemite. Remember those warnings on the radio about road closures in Yosemite? It turns out that a large boulder landed on Tioga Pass, the road that passes through the north entrance of the park. It would take a few days before the road could be cleared. We were out of luck. The only other way out of Yosemite is by the south entrance, through Death Valley and Las Vegas. It was an unplanned and extortionate detour, but it was our only option.
It meant another loooong day of driving. It’s part of a road trip–the driving–but it sure does get old. Mom and Dad had only insured the rental car for two drivers, so they were forced to do all of the trip driving themselves. I wish we could have made the workload a little bit easier!
But the detour did have a positive side: we got to see the Sequoias, King’s Canyon, and Death Valley!
Seeing the Two Biggest Trees in the World
By 4 pm, we had arrived at King’s Canyon National Park. This is the home to the General Grant tree. It’s the second largest tree in the world and 1700 years old. At almost 270 feet tall and is about 30 feet across at its base, General Grant is breathtaking.
Because the sequoias are especially resistant to rot, there is even an ancient, downed, hollow tree here. It’s called the Fallen Monarch and was once used as a shelter for campers in the early 1900s. Watch your head and climb inside, and you can understand why people took shelter inside of it.
There are other old stumps here from old logging activities, like the Mark Twain tree and the Centennial Stump. When pioneers first reached this area, their reports on the size of the trees were unbelievable. They only knew one solution: to cut down a tree and bring home a slice of its trunk.
Our drive then took us on a rock road around the rim of King’s Canyon. It’s a beautiful area, though not as breathtaking as the Grand Canyon. Because of the drought, the lakes here are devastatingly dry, and the only thing that runs through the streams is dust. I paint a dreary picture, but to its credit, we didn’t get to go down in the canyon. Perhaps it is a beautiful area is one has a bit more time to explore.
We saw another general today: General Sherman. The largest single trunked tree in the world, it sits at 275 feet tall and 37 feet across. Because our family has a difficult time following a plan, we actually arrived here at twilight and had to walk down the pathway in near darkness. My camera made it impossible to capture any details in the low light, so we just stood there and enjoyed it. And after enjoying it for a while, we became scared. Really scared. It was a fast and loud walk to the car, and I’m positive that many bears ran in terror when they heard us coming.
On this trip, Zach has been enjoying his brand new camera setup. Unlike my phone, his camera is able to take the most beautiful and high def photos in even minimal light. We followed the road down to the handicap entrance to General Sherman and waited for him to take some night shots. He even captured the stars!
Pip, Pip, Hooray for Perko’s Diner
By the time we headed out, we were really behind schedule. Luck must have been on our side because we passed a Mom and Pop place called Perko’s Diner. Even though we arrived ten minutes before closing, the employees decided to keep the place open for us and make sure we were fed a good dinner of breakfast food.
Road trips: they’re just magical.
After a quick bite, we hit the road. Mom and Dad drove all through the night to try and save us some time on our detour. The only thing I remember is waking up in a daze as we passed Las Vegas on the interstate. The lights beckoned like the 1920’s New York night life. I dreamt of tree giants walking among the city and clearing the roads of boulders.
It was all a blur.
Be kind to one another,