Wednesday, March 04, 2015

A Weekend with the Giants (part 2)

When we finished visiting the General Grant tree, there was still light left and even more time left before we meet up with friends for dinner. We wanted to explore a little bit more of the park, but the road to Sequoia NP is closed for the winter, which I don’t know if the closing is seasonal or simply weather related. Seeing that the weather had been pleasant without precipitation, much less snow, the past few days or weeks I was guessing the closure was seasonal in nature.

Regardless we found that the road to Hume Lake is open and we were told that we could see some birds there. I have not heard of Hume Lake before. In past trips we have visited the most popular spots in Sequoia and Kings Canyon NP so it was surprising that this was the first time I was hearing of Hume Lake.

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Hume Lake was a few miles away from the lodge. The road passes through beautiful scenery. We came upon a parking lot by the side of the park, nearly empty except for a couple of cars, no people nearby, most likely have gone on a hike. The lake was peaceful and quiet with redwood trees as backdrop. We stayed momentarily and took photos. Across the lake on our right (I’m directionally challenged so I don’t know what direction I was looking at) there was a lot of activity. From across the lake we could make out building structures and people. We wanted to check it out. By this time, the unseasonal mild weather turned biting cold and because we were expecting some mild weather the husband did not have any hoodie or beanie or cap and his head was getting really cold. For sure if there are a lot of people out that way, there must be some sort of a visitor center/gift shop/market where we can find cover for his head.

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The drive to that part of the lake was a few minutes’ long and as we were entering we saw a sign that says: Hume Lake Christian Camp. There were plenty of high school age kids all over the grounds. There’s a gas station, a post office, gift shop, convenience store, auditorium, chapel, and lodges/accommodations. We went inside the store and grabbed a cup of coffee and a souvenir beanie for the hubby, which of course was overpriced. I was thinking it was a better value for him to buy the hoodie but he said no. Afterwards we walked down by the lake and took in the water, the noise, and the unidentified fowl feeding by the lakeside.

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Cooling down a bit more and darkening skies signalled our departure from the lake. We had another little side trip to make before checking out our digs for the night. As we drove back to the lodge, we noted that sunset was taking place. We wanted to see sunset from high up Panoramic Trail, which fortunately started next to our lodge. The drive up was curvy and slow. The trees were afire from the sunset’s glow. We didn’t see the sunset but as we ascended the top of Panoramic Trail twilight was all over the valley. I couldn’t see anything. I couldn’t see the valley below. We agreed to return the following morning after breakfast to see what we didn’t see this evening.

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Our digs for the night was John Muir Lodge, a two-storey lodge with a large common room on the main floor. We dropped our bags in our room. Our room had two queen beds and faces the parking lot/front of the lodge.

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Dinner was at the restaurant, which sits next to the front desk/registration area. The company and the service were excellent that night, the food was okay. We talked all through dinner, I had an uninspired Caesar Salad, our lady friend also had a salad, not Caesar. The boys ordered pizza to be shared and they shared a large order of chili. We brought our wine and the corkage was waived by the very friendly wait staff when she found out our bottle was screw top and not corked .

We were too full to have dessert right there and then, besides the restaurant was officially closed for the evening. We decided to take the dessert to go and share it in the common room of the lodge while we have a nightcap. They have pies, we got a whole one. They didn’t have apple pie or pecan pie; we didn’t want pumpkin because it wasn’t Thanksgiving. That left us with either coconut crème pie or chocolate crème pie. Naturally chocolate trumps everything else.

We enjoyed a piece of the chocolate crème pie with a sparkling wine in the common room with a high beamed ceiling, stone fireplace with fire roaring warmly.

What a beautiful day it was. Can’t wait to get some rest and ready for tomorrow’s adventures.

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***to be continued***

Sunday, March 01, 2015

A Weekend with the Giants (part 1)

Typically the travel process begins with the destination, followed by accommodations and itinerary. On very few instances, like this one, the destination was the result of the choice of accommodation. Sometime in January, Travelzoo, the internet company that scours for deals on travel and dining, etc., came out with another too-good-to-pass-up overnight at John Muir Lodge in Sequoia National Park. Naturally we were tempted, especially me. I have always wanted to do an overnight in a national park. What pushed us to the edge to buy it was another couple, friend of ours, who were equally excited to drive up for an overnight in the park. And so we set up the date, February 21, 2015.

Despite the sadness brought by a family member's death, we decided to push through with the trip. It was after all only an overnight and the wake and funeral were still days away.

The almost 5-hour drive was a good therapy, as it always am for me. Whenever I get the blues, a drive is my panacea. It's been a very dry, pleasant and mild winter around these parts, so I was not surprised to find the fruit trees in the orchards that we passed were all blooming. I was however pleasantly surprised to find so many wildflowers along the way.

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As we neared our destination, the field of yellow got more intense.

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We arrived at the park around 4 pm, checked in at the visitor center, and got a message from our friends to meet up for dinner at 6:30 pm at the restaurant next to the check in counter.

We had two hours to hit some short trails. We chose one that's close by, the General Grant Grove that contains the General Grant tree, the second largest tree in the world, next only to General Sherman tree , which is also inside the park.

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I thought this sign was ugly funny, because it was this dry for a winter's day.

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Along the trail we bumped into a park ranger. He assured us that they were expecting snowfall, very light he said, by evening and probably snow will be gone by the time we wake up the next day.

To be continued.............