Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Roadtrip Day 3: Sequoia and Barstow

We all unanimously agreed that we would spend the next day in Sequoia, rather than hurrying to get to Barstow, which I'd genuinely described to them as: a place where people are looking to find any excuse to leave and are known for unfortunate things like meth. This is not an untrue statement - my sister and I made the unfortunate stopover in Barstow one time when we were on a roadtrip through California and into Vegas, somehow getting into our heads that it was a cute crafts town with antique shops. We could not have been more wrong. We stayed at the best hotel in town - a Ramada Inn, and ate at the only restaurant that was given a good score on Yelp - a Sizzler. I would rate the experience as awkward and sad. My sister was so worried for my safety that when I went to make a nightly catchup call with my then-boyfriend, she had me pace the hallway so she could see me the entire time. That kind of awkward drug-enhanced dangerous.

Anyway, we drove down the road a few miles to get more gas and spotted our morning restaurant. An adorable place called We Three Bakery and Restaurant, as we were in the city of Three Rivers. We sat outside in the sunshine, taking in the calm environment...

...and super filling and delicious omelettes, pancakes, and other American specialties. It was lovely - I had the chili omelette which came with huge crispy hashbrowns and an egg omelette covered completely in cheese and vegetarian chili. With a side of wheat toast, which I was way too full to eat. Ahhhh, America.

We were then ready to explore Sequoia to its fullest. The park entrance ticket we bought the day before, similar to the one we'd acquired in Yosemite, was valid for 7 days. No need to pay for reentrance. Yes!

It was another gloriously sunny and warm day and because of our scout the day previous, we knew exactly where to park and catch the free shuttle. We had just missed the shuttle as we arrived, so we putted around the Giant Forest Museum until it was time to board again. It then dropped us off at the General Sherman spot, home of the largest tree in the world.

There was a little trail off we followed to find General Sherman, then we took a longer trail to see the rest of the gorgeous landscape. It was wonderfully silent. I haven't heard anything so silent since my time living in Finland, possibly the roadtrip thru the Turku archipelago. I miss the silence - London never has any.

And the trees, glorious trees! I had forgotten how large the sequoia trees actually are. As a kid my sister and I constantly came here for various summer camps and the like. It's never occurred to me that this might be incredibly unbelievable to those who haven't. It was great seeing it with my adult eyes simply because of this - remembering that I grew up in a beautiful place. The forests here are incredible.

We had a hilarious story involving General Sherman. There is a misleading sign at the beginning of the trail to see this largest tree in the world, and it literally says, "Here it is!" and talks about General Sherman's specs. The tree that is directly behind the sign is not, in fact, General Sherman. We were all confused at this point though, since we hadn't seen the actual General Sherman tree, and as we were looking at it we all muttered, "I dunno, doesn't seem that big." "That tree," which we could see from this sign, "looks bigger."

It turns out that tree was the actual General Sherman.

We continued up the trail and another 5-10 minute walk is where the actual General Sherman tree resides. He even has a sign, as he should, being the largest tree in the world (not the tallest or the thickest, but in actual volume and weight he is the largest tree in the world).

We all had a good laugh about how we correctly identified the real General Sherman and how confusing the sign is. Glad we had our doubts; we would have felt dumb taking pictures next to the "fake" General Sherman. Huuhuu.

We then walked in peace and quiet via the trail that wove about 2 miles around the nearby forest. Gorgeous and quiet. So peaceful. 

We then decided it was time to go as sunset was coming upon us and we had a very long drive to Barstow. This was slowed down by the reduced speed through the park (that we had to go all the way back out of, not the way we came in that morning) and the fact that there was no cell service, so only the GPS to route us.

Eventually we made it to Barstow, but it was pretty late. We stopped at a grocery store or two so people could dinner in the car - I waited until we reached our next hotel (a very nice Hamptons Suite, which gave me points for my Hilton rewards card) to devour the half a turkey sandwich I had lying around. I also snarfed the rest of the honey mustard pretzels that were my favorite of the snack pack. Ah, sweet desirable snacks.

And to sleep in Barstow.

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