Tahoe

Linda, a Facebook friend, invited me to visit her and her husband at their home in South Lake Tahoe. She told me that they had room behind their house for Flo. Cora and I could stay in their house and that the snow was gone from the roads.

SNOW?!!

I didn’t stop to consider that Lake Tahoe was in the mountains. In fact, it is 6225 feet above sea level. That is especially impressive when considering that I was starting my trip from Sacramento, which is 30 feet above sea level. That is considerable gain for a 100 mile trip.

I decided to leave Flo at the Cal Expo RV Park. I figured that, with the cost of the fuel and the wear and tear on the brakes, I’d just about break even paying to leave her there.

I packed up Cora and all that we’d need for out excursion, secured Flo and headed Bart west on US 50. We arrived at Linda and Mike’s place at the same time as they did. What synchronicity!

Lake Tahoe is absolutely beautiful.

Linda tells me that the water level has come up quite a bit with all the rain that has fallen in the past year.

The first day I was there, we took a little “get acquainted” tour. It was just lovely.

Even though it was summery in Sacramento, winter was lingering in the mountains.

When you have snow like this, you have the equipment to take care of it. That is one mammoth snow blower!

And how about those tires and snow chains? After enjoying the sights, we went over to State Line for coffee. State Line straddles the California/Nevada border.

One side of the city has gambling.  One side doesn’t. Can you guess where the gambling is?

We got our coffees and sat down to watch the ski lift in action. It reminded me of the rides at Crystal Beach Park, where I used to go when I was a kid.

After dining al fresco at a restaurant by the lake, we retired to get rested up for the next day’s adventures.

We stopped to see Emerald Bay. If you look carefully, you can see a small structure on the top of the Fannette Island. It is a tea house that was built by Mrs. Lora Josephine Knight so that she could entertain friends who were visiting her and her husband at their 38 room castle, Vikingsholm. An interesting fact I found when trying to locate the names that go with the place is that the Knights were the primary backers of Charles Lindberg in his solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927. Another thing I learned was that the tea house is in poor shape due to the weather and vandalism.

At one time, there was a tomb on the island, too. It was built by Captain Dick Barter, who was the caretaker of a summer villa that was owned by Ben Holladay, Jr.  He was quite a character. When he felt the urge for some bourbon whiskey, he would row all the way to Tahoe City to one of the bars he liked to visit.

In January 1870, as he rowed back to the villa from Tahoe City, a fierce storm blew up about two miles off Sugar Pine Point. His boat was capsized and it was hours before he managed to right the boat and get inside. He managed to survive the ordeal, but lost two of his frostbitten toes.

Either as a reminder of his ordeal or as a conversation starter, he salted and preserved his toes and kept them in a box.

He started thinking of his own mortality and decided to prepare his final resting place. He excavated a tomb on the island’s summit and erected a small chapel over it. Unfortunately, he never got to take up residence there.

In October 1873, he rowed over to have some of his bourbon whiskey in Tahoe City. On his return trip, he got as far as Rubicon Point, when his boat was smashed on the rocks and his body was never found.

Anyway, if you would like to see if I left out anything of the story, click on this link.

We stopped by a beautiful sand beach and strolled about.

I was taken by the driftwood structures people had made.

The water was lovely. It changed colors depending on where you were standing and how the light reflected.

Here, the color almost reminds me of the Caribbean.

The boulders were striking, too.

I saw some snow and knew I needed to make a snowball. After all, I was wearing my Buffalo, New York tee shirt. I had to represent!

A lot of volunteer effort goes into keeping things so nice. I noticed one way that they honored their volunteers.

The top washer says, ” Volunteers and their hours.” Underneath that, you see the people who did the work and how much time they donated. Bob Mc Millan 529. John Levet 247. What a nice way to honor people!

Of course, Linda and I had to have out picture take together. If there isn’t a photo, it didn’t happen.

Linda is quite the birder. She took this picture of a merganser that we were watching. I’d love to have one of those cameras that make details stand out so sharply. My photo of the bird looked like a spot on a rock.

After having fun by the lake, we headed over to Carson City, which is the capitol of Nevada. 

I snapped some photos as we drove past, but none of them turned out well. I borrowed this from the internet. I’d like to cite my source, but that great box telling me the right way to do it didn’t pop up. So, if you want to know who should get the credit for this in focus and properly framed photo, click here.

Our next stop was Genoa. The first stop was the Mormon Station, which was the site of Nevada’s first permanent non-native settlement.

Unfortunately, it was closed.

It was built in 1851 as a trading post along the Carson Route of the California Trail. The original trading post burned down in 1910. They rebuilt it as a museum, and they say it houses original pioneer era artifacts.

I’ll have to take their word for it.

In the park in front of the Mormon Station was a statue of John A. “Snowshoe” Thompson. I was particularly interested in his story, as he was born in Norway, as were my mother’s ancestors.

Thompson was born in Telemark, Norway in 1827. The name he was given at birth was Jon Torsteinsson Rue. That must have been changed when he came to America with his mother at the age of 10. His father died when he was two, so he and his mother set off to find a better life. They settled first in LaSalle county, Illinois, but continued to move west.  Eventually, his brother and sister were able to  join them.

I find it amazing that John Thompson got to California by driving a herd of milk cows all the way from Wisconsin. It makes me wonder if they had to stop and milk the cows every day or what? In any event, walking from Wisconsin to California? With a herd of cows?! Somebody remind me of this if I ever again complain about a tough day of driving.

He did some mining and saved his money and in 1860, Thompson homesteaded a 160 acre ranch in Diamond Valley, south of Genoa.

Between 1856 and 1876, he delivered mail between Placerville, California and Genoa, Nevada. If you look at the photo of the statue, you can see that he didn’t use snowshoes like we think of them. He used ten-foot long skis and a single sturdy pole that he held in both hands at once. Despite delivering the mail for twenty years, he was never paid for his service.

If you would like to learn more about John Thompson, click here.

We headed across the park to our next stop, and we came across this rock. The way it is situated, with the walkway seeming to flow around it, makes me wonder if it is a Rock of Possible Significance. However, I don’t know what it might signify.

We came across this marker for the Pony Express.

The Pony Express has captured the American imagination, in spite of the fact that  it was only in operation for 19 months. It was put out of business by the advent of the telegraph. In reading up about the Pony Express, I learned something that never occurred to me: The Pony Express was not part of the United States Postal Service.

We headed across the street and this building with a Masonic symbol caught my eye. The building is now an antique store. Our goal was the building on the other side.

We were heading toward the Genoa Bar, Nevada’s Oldest Thirst Parlor. It has been in operation since 1853.

“Thirst Parlor” I like that notion.

The bar was filled with all sorts of old-timey bric-a-brac and such.

This Buffalo Gal had to photograph the buffalo hanging in the corner.

This Bud’s for me. You can go get your own!

On the way back over the mountains to Lake Tahoe, Mike pulled over so I could take a photo of the rain shadow. You can see how much drier it is on this side of the mountains. As the air rises over the mountains, the temperature drops and eventually the moisture falls as rain or snow. By the time the air gets to the other side of the mountain range, there is little moisture left. If you want to learn more, click here.

After a good night’s sleep it was time to load up Cora and head back to Sacramento to pick up Flo. I had a lovely time visiting Lake Tahoe.

Thanks, Linda and Mike!

Sacramento

My next stop was Sacramento. It was just an overnight, as my next real destination was Lake Tahoe to visit a friend. Since I wasn’t there for long, my priority was to be able to get in and get out easily. What is more easy that a parking lot with hook ups?

Yes, I was staying at a fairground – Cal Expo RV Park. The most exciting part of the stay for me was that they assigned me a site with one of my “lucky numbers.”

Whenever I’d see numbers that were in sequential order, like 12:34, I’d comment to my father that it was a good luck  number. He seemed to enjoy this little game, so now whenever I see numbers like that, I feel that my father is with me.

Anyway, I got settled in to the asphalt oasis and decided to see what I could see of Sacramento.

I consulted my HISTORY Here app and found a couple places I wanted to check out: the California State Capitol, the Pony Express Terminal, the place that received the first intercontinental telegraph and Old Sacramento.

I drove into town and found a place to park. At first, I was dazzled by the credit card option to feed the meter. Then, I felt my heart leap with joy when I noticed that today was free parking day and no payment was required.

I strolled over to the capitol. According to my HISTORY Here app, it was finished in 1874. When the architect Reuben Clark broke ground in December 1860 the budget was $100,00 for a steel and stucco building. Clark recommended stone, which lead to spiraling costs. It ended up costing $2.5 million dollars, which would be nearly $60 billion in today’s currency. Political controversy, labor difficulties and floods proved to be too much for Clark. In 1864 he was committed to an insane asylum.

Not an easy gig.

Speaking of gigs, there was a jazz group playing on the steps. People would stand and listen for a while and then drift off.

The building was quite lovely, with a lot of classical touches. It was rebuilt beginning in 1975. The effort lasted six years and cost $68 billion.

Golly! No wonder the building looks good!

I noticed that the flags were flying at half staff, so I went to see if I could find someone who could tell me why. I figured that there would be a guard near a door. I did find one, but she didn’t have any information about it. Later I Googled and checked on HalfStaff.org  and I couldn’t find a reason. I even asked on Facebook. No one knew why the flag was at half staff. I wonder if they just forgot.

I thought the palm trees were a nice touch – so California!

Another interesting fact about this capitol is that Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1975 as he walked across the grounds.

I headed back to Bart (the Big Ass Red Truck). I passed an interesting memorial to public safety officers who died in the line of duty.

I appreciated the sacrifice made by the families that were left behind.

After that it was time to check out the other places I thought would be interesting.

I had no trouble finding Old Town Sacramento. The Pony Express Office was there, as was the office that received the first intercontinental telegraph. What I did have trouble finding was parking.

Given the abundance of salt water taffy stores, T shirt shops and places that sold every manner of kitschy souvenirs, I decided that I had seen all I needed to see.

I headed back to the RV park to get rested up for the next day’s trip to Lake Tahoe.

LaGrange

Just a few more things before I leave Lake McClure.

The area was surrounded by rolling hills that were well-suited to ranching. The grass was lush and the cattle enjoyed the shade when they were taking a break from their eating duties.

One geologic feature that repeated caught my attention were these rocks. They stuck up just above the ground.

In some places, they reminded me of rows of grave stones. It was hard to get photos of the ones that were most interesting because there were no shoulders and it was hard to find places to pull over.

La Grange was the closest town to the park. Well, there wasn’t a lot there, but they did have a church, a school, rodeo grounds and a saloon. They also had cell reception, which made stopping in for lunch all that much more appealing.

La Grange was founded in 1852 by French miners and settlers who struck gold in the nearby Tuolumne River. Not only was there a strong French presence in the town, there was also a significant Chinatown in the early years.

By Saeidb – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21530013

St. Louis Roman Catholic Church is the oldest functioning church in Stanislaus County.

This small town has a historic district. Actually, the whole town is a registered California Historical Landmark historic district. But, down at the end of the town, they have a few artifacts on display.

They even have the old county jail.

And, hey! The Clampers helped restore the jail! I have got to get to know these guys.

By Saeidb – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21530197

I had a little trouble uploading pictures, but at least I found a few that I could share. The white building to the right of the jail was the old stage stop.

And, that’s all I have to say about La Grange. On the morrow, I roll!

Next stop: Sacramento.

 

 

Horseshoe Bend and Yosemite

After the pricy stay in Carmel-by-the-Sea, I sought out a cheaper campground. I found one on Lake McClure that was run by the Merced Irrigation District.

It was a lovely campground. They had just about every sort of camping accommodation you could think of, from very undeveloped to paved sites with electricity, water and little shelters with picnic tables.

I ended up at a site that was in an older part of the campground. I still had electricity and water, but my shelter and table were quite a bit older. But, there were beautiful trees and maintenance workers were busily cleaning up the park.

They were very accommodating. In fact, the ranger even brought me a burn barrel so I could have a campfire.

I did my part by helping to take care of some of the branches they were cleaning up. Team effort!

One of my reasons for camping here – in addition to a cheaper campsite – was to visit Yosemite National Park. When the ranger brought me the burn barrel, I asked him for directions to the park. His directions took me hippety-hopping all over the back country. It was pretty, but I am sure glad I didn’t need any assistance along the way. I didn’t see anyone after I left the main road.

I got to the road leading into the park. I picked up information at the tourism office and filled up my gas tank and headed up the road toward the park.

It is interesting how these different entities exist in close proximity. They all have different uses and different purposes.

Aren’t these rocks incredible? I wish I knew what they were. I need a geologist to travel with me!

The road wound its way up the valley, following the Merced River. Some stretches were rather smooth.

Other sections had robust rapids.

At the entrance to the park, you pass a natural gateway. I continued along until I came to an amazing sight – a place to park!

Oh, okay, the parking spot was nice, but the view of El Capitan is what really caught my attention. I stopped and looked and read the plaques. One said that I might see a climber if I looked closely enough. One of these days, I am going to get binoculars!

I’m not sure, but this might be a climber. I zoomed in on the photos and I decided that this might be a climber. On the other hand…I don’t think so.

On the opposite side of the valley was Bridalveil Fall. According to my ultimate source (Wikipedia), the waterfall is 617 feet tall and flows year round from Ostrander Lake.

I had to go explore.

The water was just gushing!

I walked up to the base of the falls. They were very concerned with our safety.

Yes, it looked like there was a strong current.

There was another sign, right at the end of the path. Oh, you can’t read the sign?

I’m happy to oblige!

The mist coming off the falls was intense. I was drenched! It was hard to find a place to have a photo taken in front of the falls.

I offer to you this photo of my wet glasses as evidence of the dampness.

Also according to Wikipedia, the Ahwahneechee tribe believed that inhaling the mist of the falls would improve one’s chance of marriage. If that is true, I guess I should start planning!

I returned to Bart and had a little picnic while enjoying the sights.

I headed off to see what else I could see. There might have been many other things to enjoy on my quick trip to Yosemite, but unfortunately I couldn’t find anywhere else to park. The traffic was incredible and they were working on roads all over. There were signs warning us to follow the detours and not to rely on GPS.

After battling traffic and confusing traffic patterns I decided to proclaim a touristic victory and head home. After all, I still had to drive back to camp, and the route was going to require my complete attention.

I decided that it was not a good idea to try to retrace my route for my return trip. For one thing, I wasn’t sure how I had gotten there. I took California Highway 49 on the way back.

Oh, that was quite a trip! The road was steep and full of hairpin turns. I mean, some of the turns were so tight that they recommended driving 10 mph. I was grateful that there was this turnout for me to catch my breath.

Hey! Would you look at this! The marker was put up by E Clampus Vitus. I wrote about them in my post about going to the dentist.

Just to refresh your memories, according to Wikipedia, the members of this group are called “Clampers”.  The Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus (ECV) is a fraternal organization dedicated to the study and preservation of the heritage of the American West, especially the history of the Mother Lode and gold mining regions of the area. The fraternity is not sure if it is a “historical drinking society” or a “drinking historical society.”

After this road, I could have used a historical drink, myself.

As I mentioned earlier, I need to travel with a geologist. I saw these rocks across the road that had fractured off the road cut. They were quite lightweight, but then, again, the pieces were small.

As I was getting read for the descent to the lake below, this hawk swooped in front of me. In fact, he obliged me by doing it a few times so I could get a decent photo.

Just a few more miles and a bunch of hairpin turns and I was back at camp.

 

 

Somewhere Near Salinas, Lord…

So, one day while I was staying at Saddle Mountain RV Park near Carmel-by-the-Sea, decided to look for a cheap lunch. I got on Yelp! and found Grandma’s Kitchen. There were so many positive reviews that I had to give it a shot.

The food was good and it was reasonably priced. The one review that piqued my curiosity, though, was that it was identified as an “owl-themed restaurant.”

Why, yes…

Yes,

Yes, it definitely was owl-themed.

I kind of felt that I was being watched.

I finished my lunch and then headed over to the cash register to pay.

Yep, there were owls over there, too!

My next goal was to find John Steinbeck’s house in Salinas.

Mission accomplished! However, there was a small problem – just a small one.

Can you see what the problem is?

I was visiting on Monday. Ah, it’s the story of my life. I guess it makes when I actually get to visit a place, these minor setbacks make the successes all that much more satisfying.

John Steinbeck was born in this house in 1902. It was a fairly new house back then, as it was built in 1897. The Steinbeck family bought the house in 1900 and John lived here until leaving for college in 1919.

The Valley Guild purchased the house in 1973. The Guild was formed by eight women who shared a common interest in gourmet cooked and wanted to showcase the Salinas Valley produce. They renovated and restored the house and opened it to the public as The Steinbeck House Restaurant on February 27, 1974 – the 72nd anniversary of John Steinbeck’s death.

I walked around the house. I liked the gift shop name: The Best Cellar. Best Cellar – get it?

It’s good to know that the cats are well taken care of.

That long flight of stairs is a bit intimidating.

I did like the Viking sprinkler alarm. I like it when I see my ancestors represented.

Eventually, all stays come to an end. I hitched up and headed out.

I minced my way down the narrow road, with Flo in tow. Down at the bottom of the hill there was a little collection of stacked rocks that I meant to get a photo of. This time, I had a few moments to take a picture. “Why?” you might ask.

This.

After coming and going on this narrow road for four days, I finally met another vehicle coming toward. There was no way we could “share the road.”

I turned off the engine and went to discuss things with the driver. I couldn’t imagine how we were going to work this out. But, he was going to the campground to the right of the one I was at – he didn’t need to go up the road I had just come down. I backed up about 20 feet, and he pulled into a driveway. Then I pulled past him and I was on my way.

Next stop: Horseshoe Bend and Yosemite

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carmel Mission

It was Sunday and time for Mass. I made it to the Carmel Mission and managed to find a good parking spot behind the Mission. I was a little concerned for two reasons:
1) The parking lot I saw when I visited with Joan was quite small and
2) I drive the world’s largest truck.

I rejoiced in my good parking fortune and found a seat in the church.

I was quite taken with the ambo that the cantor and readers used. The stairs to access it were hidden in the wall.

The Mission was originally founded in 1771 by Junipero Serra, a Spanish Franciscan priest who founded the first nine of the 21 missions in what was then called Alta California in New Spain. He died at the mission in 1784. He is buried under the sanctuary floor of the mission.

The mission buildings and its lands were secularized by the Mexican government in 1833. The mission had fallen into disrepair by the middle of the century.

This is a photo of the mission in 1852, after the roof collapsed. It was partially restored in 1884.

Here is an image of it after its first restoration. According to my research, (Wikipedia) this is the only one of the California Missions to have its original bell tower dome.

You can see the bell tower dome in this photo that I took from the courtyard on the left side.

In 1931, Harry Downie was appointed as the curator in charge of mission restoration, a task the dedicated the rest of his life.

Here is a shot of the roof being worked on in the 1930s.

This 1937 photo documents the progress of the restoration.

In addition to restoring the church, many of the rooms the priests used have been restored to their 18th and 19th century condition.

This is a priest’s cell from about 1810.

Here is the kitchen.

This was the grand sala. I am sure we would call this a living room.

This was Junipero Serra’s cell. If this is an accurate restoration, this is where he died on August 28, 1784.

Junipero Serra was canonized by Pope Francis on September 23, 2015. This has not been without controversy. Some Native Americans criticize Serra’s treatment of their ancestors and associate him with the suppression of their culture.

I had assumed that this was a cenotaph that honored Junipero Serra and that he was interred elsewhere. I didn’t realize when I was there that he was actually buried under the sanctuary floor. If I had, I would have visited the site.

By Nheyob – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25610876

Here’s a photo that I borrowed from Wikipedia. You will notice that I have attributed the source. The other photos in this post that are from the 1800s and early 1900s were taken from signs at the mission.

There are other burials n the graveyard at the right side of the sanitary. You will notice that the graves are outlined with abalone shells.

There was a sign that indicated that these are symbolic grave sites, representing the many hundreds of indigenous people buried in this graveyard and beyond.

I felt very welcome at the mission. They invited all of us to take part in coffee and donuts after mass, and I was happy to join them.

More than a historic site, this is an active parish, and I wish it many more years of service and fellowship.

 

Carmel-by-the-Sea

Most of my trip to Carmel went well. I enjoyed looking at all the agriculture en route. There are so many different things grown in that region, unlike the monoculture of, say, Iowa, where corn is king.

The last few miles were challenging, though. Google maps directed me to take a road that had a sign advising not to tow trailers on it. So, I passed the road and waited for the map to recalculate. A little while later, it directed me to turn. There was no warning sign, so I figured that it was good. About a half mile along, the road got steep – and then it got steeper.

Then,  I passed a sign saying that this was a private road. I paused on the road and thought about how to resolve this situation. I didn’t see any way to turn around. What to do? I saw a woman walking her dog and told her what had happened. She told me to drive up to the gate and explain my problem to the guard and that he would let me pass.

I thanked her and drove on and up. And up. And up. When I got to the guardhouse, I explained my problem and he very kindly allowed me to pass and told me where to go. I couldn’t believe that I still had to go up some more before I came down. And oddly enough, the private road came out right on the road that the I was warned not to take.

I made it to Saddle Mountain RV Park, and got tucked in right next to another Airstream.

It was a nice park, even though it was at the end of a very narrow road and at the top of a hill.

It had a great pool with a wonderful view. The view was open.

Unfortunately, the pool was closed for the season. It looked ready to go to me, but the weather wasn’t really pool weather yet.

My main reason for putting Carmel-by-the-Sea on my itinerary was to visit Joan, a Facebook friend. I just love how Facebook brings people together!

She and her husband are living in Pacific Grove with her father. Can you believe the view? We are standing on the deck and that is the Pacific right out there!

I met her cat, who was a real charmer. I also met her father, her dog and her bird, but I didn’t get photos of them.

I did get a photo of her husband, Rob, while we were strolling by the shore. He strolled with us for a while and then took off to attend to something else.

We walked toward Monterey and came upon these seals basking on the beach. There were some people with a conservation group there that had viewing scopes set up so we could get a good look at the seals. There were so cute! I could even see their whiskers and watch them breathing.

We got down to cannery row and came upon this bust of John Steinbeck. (He wrote “Cannery Row” in case you’ve forgotten.)

We stopped for lunch. As an appetizer, we split an artichoke. Joan told me that a town nearby, Castroville, is known as the artichoke center of the world.

After lunch, we headed back up the beach. We left Monterey

and strolled our way back to Pacific Grove. Of course I had to take Joan’s photo

and then she took my photo.

Then we got back to the beach by their house. Isn’t this just glorious?

Ah, but our day was not over yet. We decided to tour Tor House and Hawk Tower. On the way over, we stopped off at the Carmel Mission.

We didn’t have much time, so I decided that I would attend Mass there on Sunday and forgo the tour at this point.

We got over to the house, but we were still a little early, so we decided to tour another house instead.

This house was for sale and they were having an open  house. It was quite lovely – and it even had a bit of an ocean view from the balcony off the master bedroom.  I don’t know how much of a view they will have left when the house across the street is finished being built. Still, though, not a bad place to hang your hat. Heck, you could hang a whole bunch of hats there!

Finally it was time for the tour.

The house was built by California poet Robinson Jeffers, his wife, Una, and their sons beginning in 1914. It is called “Tor House” after the rocky outcropping it is built on. After the original structure was built, he built the Hawk Tower as a gift for Una.

The tower was interesting, and some of the people climbed up to the top. I felt claustrophobic and I didn’t like the steep and irregular stairs. Staying down on terra firma and enjoying the gardens seemed more appealing.

And with that, my day with Joan came to a close. Thanks, Joan, for a wonderful time! I hope our paths cross again before too long.

 

On to the Big Trees!

After hours and hours on the road, driving around and/or through Los Angeles, a night in Bakersfield and then more hours on the road, I arrived in Three Rivers, California.

My destination was Three Rivers Hideaway, where I was going to stay for a few days while checking out Sequoia National Park. I had made a reservation, and talking with the camp host on the phone, it sounded like they were busy. Little did I know that they weren’t exactly busy, although they did have a few permanent residents. After discussing it with her, we settled on site 20, which I said was a lucky number, as my birthday is on the 20th.

When I got there, the site wasn’t available. It was occupied by a man working on getting the park ready for the season.

Since I was so disappointed, she surprised me by renaming my site for the duration of my stay.

Kerry even liked Cora and came by to chat with her. Cora seemed to like her, too.

The weather forecast for my stay wasn’t good, which kind of foreshadowed the weather for the next few months. Well – maybe it wasn’t months, but it sure felt like it!

Anyway, the day after my arrival was the best day for a visit to the park. After a night’s sleep, I got up and headed out. I drove past the shops advertising snow chain rentals. Well, if I need chains, I’m not going. I headed to the park headquarters to see what the road conditions were.

But first, time for the iconic photo op by the sign.

I stopped in at the headquarters and got my National Parks Passport stamped. Then I took a while to look at the displays.

This one caught my attention. Hmm…I was there in March. March is just about the rainiest month of the year. I have to say that the weather was holding true to type.

I drove up and up and up and around and around and around. I found a scenic overlook where there was actually a bit of a view. The weather was not the best.

After more up and up and up and around and around and around, I finally reached the Giant Forest.

Those were some BIG TREES!

I parked and went to find General Sherman – the tree, not the man. I parked and slogged up the trail.

Yep, that’s snow, and more snow was in the forecast. I was lucky to get there on a “clear” day.

So, I walked through the tunnel and on the path through the grove. Too bad there wasn’t a tunnel to drive through, but those trees are over near Eureka, California in the redwood forests.

General Sherman is the star of the show in this grove of trees. It is the world’s largest tree, measured by volume. I did a little research, and General Sherman contains over 500,000 board feet of timber. How much is that? Well, if you consider that the average house has about 5,000 board feet in it, the wood in General Sherman could build a small town.

General Sherman has the greatest circumference of any of the trees in the park – and has a circumference at the base of about 110 feet. The diameter is about 36 feet at the base. An interesting feature of sequoias is that the trunks remain wide high up. Sixty feet above the base, General Sherman is about 55 feet in circumference – or 18 feet in diameter. The first large branch is 130 feet above the ground and the tree is 275 feet tall.

General Sherman is estimated to be about 2,000 years old, which would make it a middle aged sequoia. Trees that make it to the end of their natural life are around 3,200 years old.

The weather was really less than pleasant. This is the path around the tree. It was not a great day, as you can see – and hear.

I was fascinated by these roots. Imagine what it must have sounded like when this tree fell.

I made my way back to the Bart and decided to head back down.

Like I said, it was wet, but I did like the view of the back end of the bus that wedged itself in front of me. I was able to maneuver out of the spot – I mean, they could have given me another foot or two – but I was able to get out and then reverse the process.

Down and down and down and around and around and around.

Incidentally, this was the mileage I got when I made it to the Giant Forest.

Also, take a gander at the temperature.

Here are the readings when I got back down. It’s a lot warmer and I actually have  more miles to empty. I love it when that happens!

Once I was back down, I stopped in a picnic area and had lunch. In the truck. It was warmer, but the weather was not suitable for picnicking. (Or have you already gotten the idea that the weather was unpleasant?)

I had booked three days at Three Rivers Hideaway, so I kind of hung out. One day, I went to THE ice cream parlor in town. Several people told me that I had to go there. It wasn’t hard to find, as it was the only ice cream parlor in town.

The ice cream was good, and the lady who scooped my cone was pleasantly chatty. Sometimes, you just need someone to exchange pleasantries with when you are traveling alone.

I also spent some time using the internet at the library. The librarian was also very helpful. In fact, I showed up just as she was taking her dinner break, but she let me in anyway.

I decided to treat myself to dinner at the Gateway Restaurant and Lodge. I headed back toward the entrance to the park.

Just head to the end of the road!

The river was high. With all the rain and the snow melting, it was rushing.

I got the chili. Partly because I wanted chili, and partly because the prices on the menu were a little bit rich for my taste.

And then my time in Three Rivers, California came to a close. The weather cleared a bit, and I was able to pull over and take a picture of Lake Kaweah with the snow-capped mountains in the distance.

Next stop: Carmel-by-the-Sea.

 

 

 

 

 

Palm Springs and the Wind Farm

I’m always on the lookout for things that you can’t do just anywhere. I found a company in Palm Springs that gives tours of a wind farm. That sounded like something right up my alley. I made arrangements to take the tour and then started looking for other things to do in the area,

I hit up my HISTORY Here! app and saw that there were a couple of listings for the area around Palm Springs; Gerald Ford’s house and Sonny Bono’s grave. Well, I had nothing more pressing to do before the tour, so I put the addresses in my map and set out.

I saw roads named after famous people. Here’s Frank Sinatra Boulevard

and Gerald Ford Drive. There were others, but I didn’t want to slow the flow of traffic to take pictures. (And, truth be told, I didn’t want to try to find a place to park so I could get out and take pictures.)

I found the street sign that the app said his house was on.

Of course it was inside a gated community! What was I thinking? That I could just roll up and take a look?

Anyway, according to my map, his house would have been just around the bend to the right.

As long as I was parked and out of my truck, I decided to stroll around a little.

I smell money!

After a bit, I got back in the truck and headed out to find Sonny Bono’s grave. I didn’t get too far before something else caught my attention.

I saw a sign for an estate sale. Well, it’s not like I need anything, but I figured that it would be an opportunity to go take a “tour” of a mid-century modern house that was definitely out of my price range.

I mean, it was on the Rancho Mirage Register of Historic Places!

Quite the house, isn’t it?

I did buy a couple things.

One was a deck of playing cards from Japan Air Lines that I picked up for a friend who collects airline items.

I got myself a mug from The Torah Oasis in Rancho Mirage. I figured, it says “Rancho Mirage” and it cost a quarter. That’s a thrifty souvenir.

Then it was on to Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City to find Sonny Bono’s grave. This is what I was looking for:

This is what I found where the app lead me:

I didn’t find it his grave, but I walked around and saw some interesting graves.

I was there right after the anniversary of Nestor’s passing.

This is a larger view of their memorial.

I turned the photo so that the words are easier to read. I can just imagine the family getting together and making this tribute to him. He must have been greatly loved.

Not all the graves had large floral tributes, but I thought that this bunch of daffodils was a nice touch.

This marker with the woman’s nickname and a sketch of a bunny was sweet.

This tranquil fountain was a nice ending point to my search for Sonny’s grave. On to the windmill tour!

After a brief lecture about the history of windmills being used to generate electricity, we hopped into this big bus and set out to tour the wind farm, which is located between two mountain ranges. They serve to funnel and focus the wind, which makes this a great place for a wind farm.

There were different sizes and brands of wind turbines. The manufacturers are always seeking to improve the efficiency of the machines.

At one time, these hinged turbines were the state of the art.

Theses are the latest and the greatest. Can you imagine having to climb all the way up to work on this? I was kind of hoping that they would come up with some sort of an elevator or “belt man lift” by now.

Our guide told us that they are starting to secure the turbines. It turns out that a couple guys broke in to one to steal the copper wire out of them. It didn’t go well for them. They were electrocuted.

Tucked in between all the turbines, you can see solar panels generating more power.

Now, my father would rant on about how people thought that we could depend on alternative forms of energy. It turns out that they have this figured out.

Right there, along with the solar and wind, they have what they call a “peaker” generating plant that runs on compressed natural gas. When there isn’t sufficient power coming from the wind turbines or the solar panels, the peaker generating plant kicks in.

Our last stop on the tour was the Windmill Market, where we got to sample a date milkshake. Delicious!

And then it was time to head back to Flo and get packed up to hit the road.

 

Super Bloom!

Thanks to an unusually wet winter, California was experiencing a “super bloom”.   I’m sure you heard about it – it was all over the news. I did a quick Google search and got about 6,620,000 hits in 0.49 seconds.

One place that was mentioned over and over in the reports was Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (about 282,000 results in 0.89 seconds) and it was about fifty miles from where I was camping. All the news stories recommended getting there early and taking lots of water. I got up at a time that I thought was early and set out to see the super bloom.

I pulled over every time there was a turnout, to see what I could see.

At first, I would only see a flower or two, here and there in the sand.

I think these are called desert lilies.

I liked the tracks in the sand around this one.

Not all the flowers are white.

There are yellow flowers.

Lots of yellow flowers.

I saw these just outside Anza-Borrego Desert State Park – outside being the key word. Although I thought I got up early, I didn’t get up early enough. By the time I got there, the parking lot was full, and parking at all the trailheads that I could find were also full.

Oh, well. I parked on the road outside. That made it easy enough to take a picture of the park sign.

The desert was quite splendid. I was taken with these clusters of mixed plants.

They reminded me of bouquets or arrangements for fancy dinners.

There were cactuses here, too, but I didn’t see as many as I saw in Arizona.

There were prickly pear surrounded by was looks like baby’s breath that would work for Baby Huey.

The ocotillo was in bloom, too.

I loved wandering around in the flowers and snapping pictures whenever it struck my fancy.

In this shot, you can see how the flowers were clustered.

Look how green the hills were! This is quite a different look for the desert in this area.

These lavender-colored flowers are different from any I’ve seen before.

These pink ones remind me of snap dragons.

These remind me of cornflowers – only white.

After a few hours of wandering around, I needed the bathroom. I stopped in at the library. Not only did they have a bathroom that they didn’t mind sharing, they had a book sale.

I thought this might help me plan my travels as I made my way up the coast. Then it was time to head back. This time I stopped at the turnouts on the other side of the road.

This is the badlands.

This area is all about off-road vehicle fun.

Quad cycle fun.

Dirt bike fun.

The scenery is stunning.

Then it was time to head home. There’s the Salton Sea in the distance. I drove until I got to route 89 and then turned left.

Home again!