We've reached the motel portion of our itinerary (read we now have WiFi). Let's celebrate by getting you caught up on the progress of our journey thus far.
First and foremost, a little background about our two-week jaunt, for Steve and I had hatched a plan, loose itinerary, for this trip months ago. As such, it was our intention to leave West Los Angeles via automobile and travel northward along the eastern highways and byways of California, hitting as many National Parks, National Monuments and other sites of significance and magnificence along the way, crossing the California/Oregon border at the mid-point of our journey to experience Crater Lake National Park. During the second half of our trip we'd planned to head back southward via a more coastal route, hitting landmarks of significance and magnificence along the way, edging ever nearer to our point of origin. We also planned to tent camp, whenever possible, throughout the expedition. Now, there was some pre-planning involved with this effort as I wanted to be sure that we were not hunting and gathering for a campsite or alternate lodging in those parks or destinations that are particularly populace during the summer months. Nonetheless, we agreed to remain flexible, letting intuition and a sense of exploration be our ultimate guide.
Okay, long road trip over a two week time span? Camping most of the journey? You know what that means, right? Oh yes, a vehicle, preferably one with a fair amount of cargo space, packed to its sheer limit with gear, food and personal items (if you are Steve and Regina, the term "personal items" can and will generally include a metric ton of camera equipment and electronica, art and craft supplies and a Coleman portable kitchen among other things). Honey, I think we need a bigger boat...
At any rate, our entire house packed in our car, we set out at the very early hour of 4:00 am on Sunday, July 10th, for Sequoia National Park, reaching our first of many destinations a little after noon. This was my second visit to the home of California's giant trees (my first time ever visiting the park was with Steve in June of 2010) and I felt stunned as if seeing the place for the first time. Upon reaching the entrance to the park we renewed our annual pass and headed over to the Foothills Visitor Center to get the "nerd book" (National Park Passport Book...more on this later) stamped. Then we endeavored the long ascent into the heart of the park, which became more breathtaking with every mile. Once in the forest of giants, surrounded by trees thousands of years old and towering hundreds of feet in the air, I found myself in tears. I couldn't wait to get out of the car and walk amongst those stately forest inhabitants! As such we stopped at the Giant Forest Museum and took a walk along Big Trees Trail, where my excitement was further heighten by the presence of another ubiquitous inhabitant of Sequoia National Park, the black bear.
Okay, we're in the California woods. In theory, I know that bears inhabit said woods. I am no stranger to camping nor to the requisite bear boxes found in one's campsite. I am assuming that campgrounds provide campers with bear boxes because bears, in fact, don't mind visiting campgrounds in search of a little fast food. I get it. However, what with bear related deaths being part of current events and all, I happen to be feeling a little reticent about personal bear encounters at the moment, you know?
So, there I was enjoying the trees in all of their majesty with my man and one of those furry, toothy and seemingly always hungry forest inhabitants was hanging out right near the trail munching on some local greens. So, what did I do? I slowly turned on my heels and began quietly walking away from the furry, toothy and seemingly always hungry forest inhabitant. What does my man do? He does what comes naturally to him. Steve moved in closer to Mr. Bear and began photographing him! Totally freaked out, I continued walking, slowing and quietly, but with purpose in the opposite direction and Steve, after having finished his photographic session, eventually caught up with me. He was happily sharing his pictures of Mr. Bear with me as we walked (with purpose) back to the car and I have to say, they're pretty impressive. Nonetheless, I stand by my strategic quick departure as I am generally not interested in being some bear's Happy Meal. At that point I was more than ready to push on and make camp at our designated campground, Dorst Creek, located in the confines of the park. And yes, there would be bear boxes involved.