Kings Canyon and driving through California

The plan for Monday was to head into Kings Canyon to see the deepest canyon in the USA but most of the scenic byway is closed due to snow, although we still haven’t seen much evidence of it.  We went as far as we could and it is certainly a long way down (10,ooo ft at the deepest part and deeper than the Grand Canyon) and you wouldn’t want to stand on the edge if you suffered from vertigo at all…

Driving along twisty roads doesn’t interest the girls, it mainly makes them feel car sick (and me sometimes!) so we headed for Hume Lake instead, a man-made lake which was meant to be very beautiful.  But first, we found some people in need of rescue.  The road down to the lake was the only road we’d seen in the whole trip that actually had some snow on it.  It hadn’t been ploughed at all so there was a car stuck in the snow just a short way onto the road.  Step forward my lovely husband, who loves a bit of off-roading when he gets the chance, and after a little bit of revving of engines, the correct use of the 4 wheel drive and some snow digging the Germans were free pretty quickly.

The girls were rightly proud of their Daddy and shouted lots of encouragement from the safety of the car!  The couple were very pleased too – they had been there an hour when we turned up.

We took a different road down to the lake, just in case it got sticky elsewhere and it was definitely worth the detour.

Hume Lake

We spent a very happy couple of hours lunching and fishing.  Not that we caught anything – the fish here just weren’t interested.  But we did get to see lots of very large tadpoles up close and could paddle in reasonably warm (well, just not so cold it made your head hurt) water for a change.  The only sounds were the wind in the trees and the water rushing down the granite into the lake.

We headed back to the hotel via the Giant Forest and then went round the Big Tree Trail as the Big One does like to read information signs!  We had the whole place to ourselves which was just perfect and meant we could read the signs without other people getting in the way.

Before we left Sequoia National Park for the California coast on Tuesday, we wanted to have one last visit to the Giant Forest for some more pictures – big trees and little girls – and then on to Moro Rock to show the girls what my lovely husband had seen at sunset a couple of days before.

Big trees, little girls

We got some pictures by giant trees before going to the Big Tree Trail where we saw some more people with their car stuck in the snow.  To be honest, there is so little snow around it is hard to imagine how 2 cars could be stuck in the snow in such a short space of time but out jumped my lovely husband again, to the rescue of some more (different) Germans.  They were very grateful as there weren’t many other people around to help.

Half an hour later and the Germans were free but we’d run of time to go to Moro Rock.  There are road works in the park on the main road going South and they are only letting traffic through once every 2 hours, so off we raced to the road works.  When we got there they are able to give us a precise time they would let traffic through and it’s 40 minutes – nearly enough time to visit Moro Rock so we take the chance and go.

We were only going to take the girls up the first 100 (of 400) steps as it is very steep and a long way up for little legs.  However, they, as ever, had other ideas and are very determined little people.  We got to the top of the first 100 steps and they were raring to get to the top.  It is cloudy and they could see that if we climb a little bit further we will be above the clouds which is every exciting.  Up we climbed, realising that we were running close to the wire on road works timing but the girls were so excited that we couldn’t say no.

Above the clouds at Moro Rock

It was a long way up and the steps were a bit tricky in places but both girls made it to the top very quickly and we overtook several people on the way up.  They weren’t quite so happy at the top – it was a bit scary, particularly as they both insist on skipping about the whole time and as you can see the barriers weren’t really childproof at all…

We rushed back down the steps, jumped in the car and joined the back of the road works queue just in time to make it through.  Phew – a 2 hour wait would have not been much fun with the girls!

The road took us down into the bottom of the canyon and out of the national parks.  The landscape changed almost immediately and we spent the next couple of hours driving through much flatter land.  Firstly through green agricultural land with orange groves and the smell of jasmine, which normally I really like but after an hour of smelling nothing but that was pretty sickly!  Then the landscape changed again and the surroundings became almost desert-like:

Eventually we reached the coast and were greeted with this beautiful sight:

First glimpses of California coast

It was not long before we had settled into our hotel room in Cambria (the Sand Pebbles Inn) with a view of the sea, grabbed the complementary buckets and spades and headed off for some time on the beach.  The girls have not been content to have a day without a sandcastle since we got on holiday – they’re going to find going back to Houston very hard!

Sandcastles in Cambria

We had dinner outside, overlooking the beach and watching the sunset whilst drinking margaritas (us, not the girls!) – just perfect.

Perfect, that was until we got back to the hotel (which was truly lovely) to find that the waves came crashing onto the beach with such noise that the girls kept waking up during the night.  If I’d heard those sorts of waves whilst staying in St Mawes in Cornwall I would have been rushing to get up the hill above the Percuil river as quickly as I could, but here it was a perfectly normal night.  No wonder the people who run the hotel don’t stay there at night…  A truly beautiful place though and the noisy night gave me lots of opportunity to watch the stars and the sea, so not all bad at all.

 

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