day 2 of CA – sequoia national park

here’s a picture preview of today’s happenings. it’s 11 p.m. here, 1 a.m. my time, and we just got back from driving all day, so i’m beat. tomorrow morning i’ll try to edit my written account!

EDIT:
after waking up again at 6 a.m., we decided to call hertz to see if we could get our car rental early – YES. hertz is only 3/4 of a mile from the hotel, so jane and i hoofed it over there. TRAFFIC EVERYWHERE. 

we walked past a super-long election line, which is really disconcerting. then we walked along a less busy side street that both of us decided we wouldn’t walk during the dark, saw a lemon tree that i wanted to raid, and then smelled some marijuana on the other side of a tall yard fence-like thingy (we wanted to join). 

got to hertz for our mustang convertible! took off and navigated LA traffic (surprisingly like st cloud traffic in town except for narrower lanes). (freeway traffic is much nicer than cities traffic – longer following distances, but narrower lanes.)

we went over a mountain, and then entered the land of haze. i felt like i should’ve been entering a post-apocalyptic movie set or something. it was the bottom of the san joaquin valley, so there were a lot of orange groves, some very large solar panel farms, maybe olives, and a whole bunch of FLAT, HAZY land. we think there were some pretty mountains in the distance, but we could barely see past our noses. 

we started climbing out of haze-land and into the sierra nevada. stopped at a dam to check out the water levels (not good). then headed to sequoia for a 4-hr jaunt up over and down a mountain. 

up the mountain was pretty boring – not a lot goin on besides some mountain-esque scenery. we were there for the big trees! shrubbery just wasn’t doing much for us. lots of switchbacks and slow driving on the way up, and it was pretty warm. we DID lower our car top down after entering the park, so we got to have some convertible fun! 

then suddenly, TREES!!! sequoias only thrive in a certain elevation level, moisture, and temperature, and that western slope of the sierra nevada is the only place in the world that hosts the big trees. 

it was great – we were driving, and suddenly i felt like i was in the black hills (with more slope-y-ness) because it SMELLED like the hills – the great pine smell you get from sitting amidst many tall pines. the temp also dropped about 20ΒΊ, so we stopped and pulled out our sweatshirts. 

and the trees were HUUUUGE. like incomprehensible huge. it took the entire frame of my wide-angle to get a shot.

we stopped at the big forest museum, which used to be a market, gas station, hotel, etc., but they are doing all they can to return the forest to the trees. they’re also working on doing prescribed burns after a century of suppressing forest fires (NOT GOOD, as we’ve seen in the black hills) we learned a lot about the trees, got to take a short walk and some pics with trees. 

then we drove on to see general sherman, the largest tree by volume in the world. ginormous! jane thought this was the tree you could drive through, but that’s a redwood way up the coast that we won’t be seeing. but, we walked down a hill to see the giant tree, then took some pics, and hauled our butts up the hill (ugh, quite a haul, too). 

slowly descended down the mountain just as the sun was setting, so we got some stellar mountainous sunset pics. finally got too cold for the top to be down, so it was up with the convertible top. we left the park at a more northerly location, so our drive back was a different route through the land of haze.

and good grief, did it stink. i’m not sure if it was biowaste or we were driving through some livestock land, but gag city. wow. still felt (and now smelled) like a post-apocolyptic movie come to life. 

stopped at in-n-out (not impressed), and three hours later made our way back to our hotel.

PASSED OUT. wow. what a day!

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