Monday, August 13, 2007

Sequoia...Giant Trees, PeeWee Herman Road...

Sunay, August 12, 2007.

I left Fresno, after a Grand-Slam Denny’s breakfast (wanted to pig out cause I was uncertain of food places ahead on the road) and started east across Hwy 180. Orchards and grape fields were broken up only by a few roads and houses. There was no one in the fields, so I guess it wasn’t harvest or maintenance time, but, the vast expanses call for huge amounts of manual labor. California just wouldn’t make it without immigrant (legal and otherwise) labor.

Then, I began to pass a few “camps” on the Kings Canyon River. The camp was an amalgam of weekend visitors and long-term inhabitants, but, Oh, my, god! Talk about The Grapes of Wrath! Here is “Snoopy.” I first asked him, “How long have you been here?” and he said, “Oh, about five days.” I took one look at his vehicle where ant had built beds built up the flat-tire rims and said, “Heck, it looks like you’ve been here longer than that,” and he said, “OK, make it five years.” He’s never been off the West Coast save to bury his aunt in Kansas.


And here is Tsunami, supposedly a full-blooded timber wolf. He was a "cuddle bunny!"
Down the road I saw this sign on a building. These few miles of road and river were in a time warp...I could just imagine old, beat up pick-up trucks full of plains-land people looking for work. Except now, of course, I imagine many of those so laid back are on the dole.

The road began to climb again, and at one place I pulled over and took the picture you see below. This part of the country was wonderfully fertile land, but it needs water. You can expect to see water battles intensify in coming years. Of course, if we shed some of our English “garden yard” mentality, there would be plenty of water available.
I saw the 1,000, 2,000, 3,000 and 4,000 elevation markers pass. Here, the trees on the sides of the ever increasing slopes were now taller pines instead of the smaller junipers and cedars that populate the lower altitudes. Lodgepole pines were everywhere. Straight, tall, somewhat thin and with sparse branches, they got their name from being used to for teepees.

The road climbed to 5,000 and then 6,000 feet. I had been thinking about how nice it would be to ride a bide (as in “pedal”) from the floor of the desert to the park entrance, but a 5,500 foot climb is a long, long way. Still, I’d love to do it…just not in August!

I paid my twenty dollars at the park and sorted through the maps they gave me. I wanted to go to Kings Canyon, but figured it would take too long (I was right!). But, I did stop at two places in Sequoia National Park: General Grant’s tree and Panoramic Point.

Giant Sequoias are thousands of years old. They are resistant to bugs and infection, and fall mainly when fire has hollowed out the base. Fire, while eventually causing large trees to fall, also helps to grow new trees because it cracks upon the cones and releases seeds. Again, fire plays its role in the forest.

Take look at some of the trees!


I had to hunt to find the turn to Panoramic Point, but once I had made it to the top I was glad I had taken the time and effort to do so. Here, I had an excellent view of the rugged Sierra Mountains just to the east. And to think that the railroad had to be built through that set of behemoths.
After leaving Sequoia, I continued east through the park and soon found myself in the Giant Forest, the land of tall redwoods. At one point, a mother bear and her two cubs walked across the road in front of me. I pulled to a sideways halt and grabbed my camera. Damn! I only had a wide angle lens on! Well, I missed momma but here are the two little kids.


If I thought the road out of Yosemite was crooked, well, the road out of Sequoia made Yosemite’s look like as straight as a drill sergeant. This time I really and truly did feel my stomach go queasy on me…even though I was driving. I thought I was in a PeeWee Herman movie! (Not the one where he was in the audience and was subsequently arrested for, er, well, whatever!!)

At last, down from the mountains, I pulled over into a roadside café at We Three or some name kind of like that. Wireless! The friggin’ café had wireless for its customers. I found that many little restaurants offered the same! California.
If I thought the road out of Yosemite was crooked, well, the road out of Sequoia made Yosemite’s look like as straight as a drill sergeant. This time I really and truly did feel my stomach go queasy on me…even though I was driving. I thought I was in a PeeWee Herman movie! (Not the one where he was in the audience and was subsequently arrested for, er, well, whatever!!)

At last, down from the mountains, I pulled over into a roadside café at We Three or some name kind of like that. Wireless! The friggin’ café had wireless for its customers. I found that many little restaurants offered the same! California.

Finally, I hit Hwy 99 and four lanes. I passed through Bakersfield (thank God I don’t live there!) and joined with I-5. I-5 is like the main artery of CA, and I believe everyone north of LA was headed back to town after getting the heck out of Dodge for the weekend.

I-5 began a long climb through the mountains north of Santa Clarita and, once again, there were cars pulled over on the shoulder all along the way, the victims of over-heating. Eventually, I passed Pyramid Lake, sitting a thousand or feet or so below the highway, filling up the lowest places of the damned-in area of the high mountains. What with the heat, I wanted to drive down and jump in!!!

I-5 sucks. I finally made it in about 7 or so, just in time for Logan and me to go have dinner and play pool.

Then, to bed! Long day, but gorgeous driving.

Mike S.

1 comment:

K said...

What happened to the Graham manuscript? lots of us out here would like to know what info. he died for...thanks.