Sunday, October 7, 2007

California

Joshua Tree National Park

We left mesa and Colleen's friend Stacey on Sunday the 30th of September and drove West through the endless suburban-ontop-of-desert spawl that is Phoenix which must be an evolutionary step towards living in Space as no one ventures outdoors except to get into an air-conditioned car to transport them to another air-conditioned dwelling or store. Desert, desert desert everywhere. We drove to Joshua Tree National Park, got our Jr. Ranger Booklets, took a quick hike through the Hidden Valley and drove past a zillion Joshua Trees which are just really big Yucca plants. We found some BLM land North of the park which doubled as a 4-wheel ATV riding range and made our camp, had a nice fire and watched the stars and Milky Way wheel overhead.

The Sierra Nevadas


The following day we took advantage of the jogging stroller we've been packing atop our car and went for an early morning desert run before heading North through more desert. Colleen has been taking her turn at the wheel while I sit in back with Yaya who is wonderful at amusing herself. She plays with Coco, Hippo and BearBear as well as her Gaga and Yaya dolls Mommy made her and then there are the Crazy Grrl and Crazy Boy finger puppets Gamma gave to her.

We drove North until we came upon the Eastern Flanks of the Sierra Nevadas and then we took a winding road into the heart of them and found a nice camp spot at about 8,000 feet. The cool night air was refreshing after the furnace that was Phoenix and Joshua Tree and we enjoyed playing in the cool mountain stream we found near-by

Colleen stands upon a streamside Glacial Rock

We drove the rest of the way across the Sierras the next morning and had a wonderful picnic lunch beside the North Fork of the Kern River before getting back in the car and slugging on to Sequoia National Park. The western foothills of the Sierras are lovely rolling grass and mesquite tree covered hills with cattle and shade gracing their slopes before you drop into the large central valley which doubles as a massive fruit growing factory.

Sequoia National Park

We arrived at Sequioa just in time to find a camp spot for the night. Our fellow campers told us of the bobcat they had just seen and warned us about the bears that roam the campground in search of food. We made sure all of ours was out of the car and in the food locker at our campsite. We made yummy dinner and popcorn and had our nightly fire. In the morning we visited the visitors center for our Jr. Ranger Booklets and then drove to the Grove of Giants up and up and up twisty mountain roads as the giant trees only grow between 5,000 and 7,000 feet above sea level.
There was a controlled burn goin on in the grove which made everything a bit smokey and smellin' of a campfire. We were amazed at the bigness of the trees which made us feel like little hobbits but were somewhat taken aback by all the fire-damaged and toppled over trees there were. Exhibits made it clear that the area was over-developed in the 1950's and that it's been a big job to restore the place to something akin to what John Muir found when he tramped through.






Check out these roots!!!


Having had our fill of big trees we took a 3.5 mile hike up a glacial valley through a beautiful forest towards a waterfall...

...only to find when we got there that there was no water in the Fall, only in the Spring when the river is swollen with snow melt does the water appear. No matter it was still a nice hike. We camped that night again at 8,000 feet on some BLM land at a glorious campsite that seemed on top of the world and already stocked with a weeks worth of fine quality dry hard wood for a welcoming fire for it dropped to freezing over the course of the night. Yaya insisted on being nakie in the tent even though it was 40 degrees out and made quite a fuss when it came time to bundle up in warmth for sleep.

The Pacific Ocean


We decided to leave off exploring King's Canyon National Park and juts took in the view from a vista before threading our way West out of the Sierras and down into the fruit factory valley below. We drove until we came to the sea West of San Luis Obispo at a state park called "Montana D'Oro" where we ate pizza by the sea at sunset and camped within sound of the waves on the beach :)



The next morning we beach combed for rocks and shells with Yaya and celebrated the Coast2Coast completion before heading South to Santa Barbara for a day at the beach which was not so fun with 40 mph winds and lots of sand in our sandwiches.

Looking that night for a campground we came across a Chumash Inter-Tribal Pow Wow and were invited to camp there for the night. The next day we enjoyed the sights and sounds and drumming as well as some fry bread before heading the final hour south to Camarillo and our Journey's End at Colleen's Uncle Michael's house.

Uncle Michael has 5 kids, Brendan, Blaine, Taylor, Bonnie and Devin and they are really nice kids. They cooked us yummy meals and on Sunday (while I stayed home to watch the Red Sox complete there ALDS sweep of the Angels) they took Colleen and Yaya bike riding down by the sea!


Here are all the California Kutins, Blaine, Taylor, Bonnie, Devin and Brandon!