Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Roadtrip Day 2: Sequoia

I woke up like clockwork at 8:27am. My body has a tendency to wake me up anywhere from 8-8:30am, even when on vacation or weekends. I guess it's just the time my mind thinks I should wake up, even without the curtains open or any indicator of sunlight. It's pretty handy, actually. No alarms need to be set.

We were starving, having fulled up on only snacks and wine the night before, but unfortunately the restaurant associated with our hotel closed for the 11am-dinner time period. What restaurant does that anymore? Apparently this one, in all its unwelcoming glory. We quickly decided to move on.

We loaded our next destination, Sequoia National Park, into the GPS and were off. 

It was still awhile before we found an appropriate restaurant to dine at, needing to go the seeming long way around to get to the entrance of Sequoia.

The place we stopped was called The Hitching Post, and according to my FB friends, stars in the movie Sideways. Whatever; we were hungry enough and curious enough to take the friendly rest stop atmosphere in stride:

Hilariously quaint and small, very country-rest stop. It even had a tiny gas station next door, which we used straight after to fill up our tank.

I ordered a turkey sandwich. It was huge and fabulous. Everything was fresh and surprisingly inexpensive (my entire meal ended up being $10...including tip).

Fresh turkey sub with lettuce, tomato, red onion, and pickles, plus side salad with ranch (surprisingly nice side salad - green onions, croutons, lettuce, tomato...the works). It was glorious. Unfortunately I could only eat half of the sandwich with the whole salad, so I took it to go.

We arrived at Sequoia/King's National Park a few hours later. It was gorgeous once again and a little warmer, but there was still snow on the ground:

It's so strange seeing snow in California but not anywhere else.

We headed through the park to the giant tree forest and hoped to see what we were seeking. We definitely did, but sunset was heading our way rather quickly as it'd taken us forever to get through the park (it's huge, much bigger than Yosemite, and a lot slower with its windy roads). So we headed out of the park (took us over an hour) and went to find our digs for the night, not having booked beforehand.

We exited one of the southern entrances of the park and within half a mile, found not only a AAA-friendly hotel (AAA is the insurance that my family has and in addition to supporting your car and insurance needs, also gets you sweet discounts at things like restaurants and hotels...win for the win), but also a restaurant for dinner.

We went in to ask the going rate for a night's stay and found it pleasantly inexpensive. It is off season but you never know, and the place was adorably woody and foresty, like living in a cabin. We were also offered a free movie rental from their selection of DVDs and we found a coupon for the restaurant next door that got us 10% off the bill or a free bottle of champagne (customer's choice). Yes for financial responsibility!

We walked over to the restaurant and sat down for a much-needed restful meal.

I was surprisingly not hungry still after the huge turkey sub and was wondering when I would be able to find the time to eat the other half (which was now faithfully in our hotel room fridge), so I ordered their soup of the day which was delicious split pea soup with ham. Starting to really love soup again - gotta get on that when I have more time in the London kitchen.

Churches ordered homemade chips with her meal. Hilariously we've both now been in the UK long enough where both of us thought these would be fries (the chips/fries conundrum). So when they came out as kettle cooked crisps instead, we were both surprised. Mistake I've made several times now. Oye.

They were fabulous though, especially with their accompanying side of buttermilk ranch. Gotta love ranch dressing - it's one of the things I miss most in American household foods. Man oh man.

The meal was lovely, and we decided on the 10% off instead of the bottle of champagne. None of us had been really drinking and meh, we still had half a bottle we'd opened from the first night and a extra large bottle of red (it was the equivalent of 1.5 bottles, put into a larger bottle). We were good on booze.

Everyone ended up letting me choose the movie and I went with "Water for Elephants." I'd read the book several years ago (it was great) and had never gotten around to seeing the movie (a constant problem for me in the last several years). It starred Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon. Surprisingly good movie, though I'm almost certain the ending was changed so it ended happily (the book, as I recall, had a much harsher ending).

And thus ended our second night - peacefully and comfortably. The hotel even had fresh coffee beans and a grinder so the coffee drinkers in our group could have really fresh coffee whenever they wanted. At least two pots were made.

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