Vacation 2015: Days 7 and 8

Day 7: Sequoia National Park

Today almost didn't happen.

We pulled up to the ranger station at the park and the ranger asked if we had snow chains. We  did not. He told us we needed to have snow chains in the vehicle. He also told us we would not be able to tow our trailer. We needed to drop it off at one of the campgrounds. He handed us a list of local businesses that rented tire chains and sent us on our way.

We drove back out of the park, and found the first snow chain rental place. They were asking $100 and there was a line of people waiting to get a demo on how to install the chains. We debated if it was worth the time, money, and hassle. At the same time, we'd already missed out on Mariposa grove. Did we want to miss out on our chance to see sequoias altogether? We were really on the fence, but ultimately decided to forge ahead.

Turns out that was a good decision!

[caption id="attachment_1957" align="aligncenter" width="300"]The group under Tunnel Rock The group under Tunnel Rock[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1958" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Tunnel rock Tunnel rock[/caption]

We were able to drop the trailer off at a campground near Hospital Rock.

[caption id="attachment_1953" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Luke at Hospital Rock Luke at Hospital Rock[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1949" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Petroglyphs Petroglyphs[/caption]

We went north through the park, following the Kaweah River. We made a wrong turn down a road called Badger Pass. It was barely wide enough to accommodate two vehicles. And we were on the outside! Luckily, the people coming the other way were in a tiny car. I was sooo grateful we had ditched the trailer!

As we got higher the temps dropped and the fog settled in. It made it difficult for me to get good pictures of the view, but it was all beautiful.

[caption id="attachment_1948" align="aligncenter" width="300"]California Buckeye California Buckeye[/caption]


Snow was scattered here and there and by the time we got to Grant's Forest there was about 6-8 inches on the ground.

We stopped and put the chains on. It wasn't too difficult, but it made for such a bumpy, awful ride. It soon became apparent that we were the only ones who'd taken the instructions seriously since NO ONE else had their chains on. We used them for a bit and then took them off. The roads were totally fine anyway.

We stopped at the Giant Forest Museum and learned about the sequoias and the park and how fire was necessary to their breeding and survival. Really interesting.

[caption id="attachment_1955" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Sentinel Tree Sentinel Tree[/caption]

Next, we walked down the path to see General Sherman. The largest living thing on earth. Unfortunately, they were still clearing the thick, heavy, wet snow from the walk and our shoes were soaked immediately. We made it to the viewing platform before our frozen feet made us retreat to the car. At least Karen and Tim were able to make it all the way down.

[caption id="attachment_1959" align="aligncenter" width="200"]General Sherman General Sherman[/caption]

At the next stop, Lodgepole, a ranger asked the boys if they'd been given Jr. Ranger booklets. A friend had mentioned this program to us prior to our trip, but it had completely slipped our mind! Each boy was given a booklet and they started to fill them out while we ate. They were both really into it and learned a lot!

For me, the very best part of the day was on the way back down. I was disappointed that I wasn't able to get right up to the sequoias or even take decent pictures of them. Then I noticed that one of the pull-offs that had been closed on the way up was now open! We pulled in and got out and ran around and took pictures. My shoes were absolutely sopping at this point, but I didn't care. The trees and the snow and the mist were absolutely amazing.

[caption id="attachment_1947" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Ben and sequoia Ben and sequoia[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1950" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Karen and Gabe Karen and Gabe[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1954" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Our Family Our Family[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1952" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Big tree, little boys Big tree, little boys[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_1956" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Hello, tree. Hello, tree.[/caption]

Before we left, the boys completed their books and turned them in. The rangers spent time with them going over the book and their answers and making sure the boys had learned something. Then they signed off on their work, swore them in as Jr. Rangers, and presented them with a badge.

[caption id="attachment_1960" align="aligncenter" width="168"]Official Jr. Rangers! Official Jr. Rangers![/caption]

We headed out of the park and continued on our way.

[caption id="attachment_1971" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Lake Success, Porterville, CA Lake Success, Porterville, CA[/caption]


We enjoyed a nice dinner at Moo Creamery. They had gluten free buns, goat cheese, and almond milk shakes! It was such a fun meal. The boys never get shakes so that was a really nice way to end the day.

[caption id="attachment_1961" align="aligncenter" width="168"]Yum! Yum![/caption]

Our goal was to get to Vegas so we could at least see the strip lit up at night. Unfortunately, we just couldn't make it. We were so close. We stayed in Primm, NV. In a casino hotel. It was kind of gross. Smokey and tacky. I guess that's part of the experience!

Day 8: Hoover Dam

Tim wanted to see Hoover Dam so we put it on the list, but I've never been very interested in seeing it, personally. It turned out to be really neat and I'm grateful we stopped to see it.

[caption id="attachment_1970" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Boulder city Scenic Overlook Boulder city Scenic Overlook[/caption]

We walked along the memorial bridge, first. It was a nice walk with amazing views.

[caption id="attachment_1966" align="aligncenter" width="200"]View from Memorial Bridge View from Memorial Bridge[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1965" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Gabe on the Memorial Bridge Gabe on the Memorial Bridge[/caption]


After the bridge, we drove over to the dam itself. We stopped in the gift shop and then walked over the dam and back.

[caption id="attachment_1967" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Memorial Bridge View from the Dam Memorial Bridge View from the Dam[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1968" align="aligncenter" width="300"]NV Side NV Side[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1964" align="aligncenter" width="200"]AZ Side AZ Side[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1963" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Angels Winged Figure of the Republic[/caption]

It was busy, but not too crowded, and was a great chance to stretch our legs.

We hit the road and ended up staying in Williams, AZ, a neat little town along Old Route 66, about an hour south of the Grand Canyon.


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