Thursday, May 24, 2012

Three Rivers CA to Modesto CA

Wednesday May 23, 2012

We were up – enjoying the cool morning and our coffee and simple breakfast!  The naval oranges from the road stand are very good! We took a little time to pay some bills on line, check possibilities for future stays and finally got started into Sequoia Park about 9:30.

The park signage is old – this was the 2nd national park with Yellowstone being the first. We stopped at a visitor center and learned about a possible road closure some way into the park due to road construction. We began climbing almost immediately- signage said you could not drive the road with a vehicle longer than 22 feet…at 20 feet we made it….

There were beautiful flowers – California Buckeye in full bloom, several yellow, pink, orange, and white flowers in abundance. Maybe we will identify – but mostly we just enjoyed their beauty. There was no way to stop on the narrow winding road to take good photos to identify later. The river in the valley was really beautiful with the snow melt still present.  
Yucca Type Flower - still checking on name - was blooming everywhere
 Before long we arrived at the construction. Jane took several photos – none are great but they do show the magnitude of the construction project. We waited about 15 minutes for the one way traffic to come through the construction area.  There was one narrow lane open as the construction workers – many of them tied off so they would not fall down the steep cliffs – were pouring concrete walls in place and backfilling to then allow for paving the road.  The road was a nice 2 lane with the poured cement (molded to look like rock) guard rail until we reached the construction area. Obviously last summer’s work! They were working on some phase or another of the construction for 4-5 miles.  Then we returned to 2 way traffic but on a much narrower road than the newer section. 
Looking down and back to where we had been

The scenery was beautiful and when we arrived to the higher elevations between 5,000 and 7,000 feet where the giant sequoias grow it was amazing. We stopped a couple times at visitor centers and pull offs to look at the trees. When we came to the General Sherman Tree – largest tree in world – we hiked the .5 miles down and then back up.  Ben was not at all sure Jane could do it – but success!  We did however  stop several times on the way back up – at 7,000 feet the air is a little thin! 

Jane at General Sherman

Ben at General Sherman

General Sherman
We stopped and had a picnic lunch – the cherries from the road side stand were great!  After lunch we began the decent from Sequoia National Park into a National Forest Area before entering King’s Canyon National Park. These two operate as one park and the highway through both is called the General’s Highway – from General Sherman’s Tree in the south to General Grant’s Tree in the north.  The hike out to the General Grant Tree was 2/3 of a mile each way and we opted to miss that one… this is taller than General Sherman tree but not as large – it is known as the nation’s Christmas Tree. 

As we began our decent from the park we began to drop quickly in elevation from 7,000 to 2,000 in 30 minutes. We came back into the valley through some of the beautiful rolling grassland hills and then finally into the heavily agriculture rich valley. 

We continued on to Fresno and then to Modesto where we called it a day at 6:00. We ate a tasty Senior Dinner at Jenny’s Family Restaurant and checked into a motel so we can leave early tomorrow to find the BART into San Francisco for the end of our journey on the Butterfield Trail. The Wells Fargo Office in San Francisco is the end of the road. Ben spoke with the Museum staff today and they suggested we ride the BART (rapid transit) as opposed to trying to drive our Sprinter into the Financial District and try to find parking… These last three days of travel have still followed primarily the route of the stage; except of course for our detours into Joshua Tree National Park and Sequoia National Park. 

We have been on the road 22 days and driven 3,988 miles. The Butterfield stage completed 2,700 in 23-25 days.  Not certain what kind of comparison to make from that! We did travel 1 day and 500 miles getting to Memphis where the Butterfield began.  We  took some time off and made several side trips along the way and only traveled about 8 hours a day where the stage traveled round the clock.  Guess the one thing I can say for sure is we have had a more comfortable trip and for sure eaten and slept better! I can only imagine the travel over the poor roads in a stagecoach! I also know the country we have crossed is beautiful and varied!! We do live in a beautiful land!

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