Back to Dyesscreek
After the wedding ceremony and the reception in which I actually danced to a Josh Groban song, OK, it probably wasn’t REAL dancing, but who cares, we drove two hours to Shreveport and stayed in the Boomtown Casino Hotel. A great place I guess as we checked in at 10:00 p.m. and checked out at 4:30 a.m. so we could make an early flight. We arrived in San Francisco, rented a Jeep Grand Cherokee (4wd at the very good advice from the Alamo agent) and grabbed a bite to eat at a Peruvian restaurant. Apparently the Peruvians eat a lot of seafood, including prawns, shrimp the size of small lobsters. Peruvian beer is pretty good stuff, just stay away from the dark beer, it’s sweet like Mackeson XXX without the corresponding thick body. We checked into our South San Francisco Hotel in anticipation of starting early the next morning to Sequoia National Park.
The trip to Sequoia National Park from South San Francisco leads across the Bay Bridge, through Oakland and then through the California Central Valley. Once in the Central Valley, for three hours we drove through vineyards, tilled farm land, dairies and, most importantly, grove after grove of nut and fruit trees. I remember that when I was a kid, I was impressed with the size of Little Eva, the Pecan plantation south of Natchitoches, because, as I remember my father pointing out, you drove for a whole mile through nothing but pecan trees. Little Eva is big, but it is a tiny little backyard orchard compared to some of the almond, orange, lime, lemon, apple and whatever other groves we drove through, some of which must have been as big as some of Louisiana’s smaller parishes.
Sherry under the sign near the front gate. The clouds were looming in the background. We would be
driving through them soon after this photo was taken.
By some miracle, it
didn’t rain in our wedding and it looked like a similar miracle would
be necessary to keep the rain out of the mountains while we were there.
What we didn’t know is that rain was the least of our worries. A hazy
day in the Central Valley is a cloudy day in the Sierra Nevada and when
you are driving around inside a cloud, you really can’t see much. I’m
certain that we missed some really extraordinary views on Monday in
Sequoia National Park because of the clouds. At times, the visibility
was down to one hundred feet at most. At other times, we would drive
either above some of the clouds or find “pockets” that allowed for more
visibility. Some of the photos show this lack of visibility.
This was my first
time actually driving in the mountains. We started driving in from
Visalia in the Central Valley. The first aspect of the experience of
visiting this Park was the drive. The literature that we had picked up
indicated that the grove of sequoias that we wanted to see was
approximately 16 miles from the front gate but that the driving time,
with a 30 mph speed limit was one hour. It seemed a little odd, but
turned out to be pretty accurate. That is because for 16 miles, we
drove through hairpin curve after hairpin curve. There was even a sign
that indicated that motor homes longer than 30 feet should not attempt
the drive. I suspect that this involves the turning radius of such a
long vehicle. Just to make the drive more fun, there were virtually no
guard rails, most of the hairpin curves were also on a fairly steep
incline or decline, the road was narrow, the “shoulder” was only about
one foot wide when present and beyond that shoulder or the edge of the
pavement was usually a sheer drop of hundreds of feet, thousands of
feet in some places.
Just one of the thousands (seemingly) of hairpin curves. The sign says "10mph" as
the recommended safe
speed. Many curves had no shoulder. Excuse the poor stitching of two
Shortly before we reached
the visitor’s center, we saw a few Sequoia’s along the roadway. You
will read more than a little hyperbole in my tale of the sights we saw
in the Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks. I can assure you that none
of my photographs can even begin to give you a sense of what the sights
we saw looked like. I have always wanted to see the large trees in
California. Having grown up in a national forest with Pine trees that
routinely top 100 feet, I didn’t expect to be quite as impressed as I
was with these trees. The lodgepole and yellow pines up in the
mountains are impressive enough, trees that are twice the girth and
height of the biggest pines I have seen in Louisiana. But the Seqouias
tower above these other trees as if they were saplings. The photos
below fail miserably to convey the size of these massive trees.
Sherry the Treehugger. This is a very small Sequoia.
Sherry posing between two medium seqouias.
The park service gave up the practice many years ago of naming the sequoias after famous American generals and presidents, but not before naming the largest tree on earth (by volume) after a former LSU Chancellor and probably the most hated man in the history of the American South.
Sherry and the other lady are standing about 20 feet in front of this tree.