2014 Western Road Trip Day 17, Wednesday May 21st

After checking out of our Hampton Inn & Suites room in Bakersfield, we set off in search of gas and a full service car wash. Regular unleaded gasoline here is $4.05 a gallon and we found out that there is no such thing as a full service car wash in Bakersfield. So, after wasting about an hour, we headed for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks which were about a two hour drive away.

The first thing you notice leaving Bakersfield is the abundance of oil wells and that they are still drilling more.

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You also notice that agriculture is a big player in the San Joaquin Valley with grape vines, orange, lemon, and olive tree everywhere.  It makes one sick to see so many oranges and lemons laying on the ground when you pay dearly for them in the grocery store. There were a lot of dead citrus trees and I wonder if California is beginning to get the same citrus canker that Florida citrus farmers have experienced.

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Orange groves on left desert on right

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Orange groves

The route takes you around Lake Kaweah which was beautiful when we were here in 2000, but is now very low like most lakes in the west. Babs commented this morning of the irony of how everyone was using automatic sprinkler systems to water their grass with a drought in effect.

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We pulled into Three Rivers which is the “gateway town” for Sequoia National Park at around 11 a.m. and stopped at this little store for a bathroom break and to buy some postcards and cookies.

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This guy stood guard over restrooms

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Cooking up beef for dinner

We bypassed our lodging for the night, The Buckeye Tree Lodge, and drove right It had been overcast all the way to Three Rivers but the sun began to peak through, although we could see clouds hovering the tops of the mountains. The first part of the drive was great and we enjoyed the flowers, rivers, and mountainside with temperatures in the middle 60’s.

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Kaweah river

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Yuca plants flowering on hillside

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These yellow flowers, probably weeds, were everywhere

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Buckeye Tree in bloom

The drive up and down the mountain is pretty intensive with multiple back to back “U” and “S” turns requiring speeds no more than 10 mph. Still an alright drive. However at around 4000 feet the temperature dropped to around 38 and so did the clouds making for a “white knuckle” ride..

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Because of the low visibility we continued through Sequoya National Park and on to Kings Canyon National Park where we went to the visitors center and had a great lunch at the park restaurant. Next stop was the General Grant Giant Sequoia, one of the earths largest sequoias at 267 feet high and a circumference of 108 feet at its base.

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Babs in front of General Grant

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Babs at the General Grant tree

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Trunk of th General Grant

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Top of General Grant tree

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The trees are too tall to get intire trees into the picture

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Remnants of the mornings snow

It began spitting rain so we decided to head back down the mountain through Sequoia National Park and only stop to see the General Sherman Sequoia which is the largest tree on earth in terms of mass. The information posting at the tree said that each year it lives, it generates enough new mass to create a large tree.

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The General Sherman tree

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General Sherman trunk has a large scar

On the way down, and now that we aren’t running around outside, the rain stopped and the sun came out. We stopped along the way to take an opportunity to take a few more photos.

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Seqoia trees in the “old Forrest”

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When we were here in 1992 you could drive under this rock…..no more.

Our lodging tonight is at the Buckeye Tree Lodge, the same place we stayed in 2000. The Kaweah river flows behind it and Babs likes to sit on our patio and watch for wild life.

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Dinner tonight was at the restaurant next door, The Gateway Restaurant & Lodge. Babs had trout, I had Oso Buca and both meals were good but the service was lacking.

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Babs Trout

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Osso Buca and me

Tomorrow we drive back through Sequoia NP to Yosemite National Park.

 

Babs Says: At home I have the TV on all of my waking hours. We have been here 5 hours and the TV has not been on yet. The sounds of nature are the best sounds of all.

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