Thursday, April 5, 2012

Where have we not been?

This is going to take some full mental capacity for me to remember where we've been this last week or so.  I suppose we left Ridgecrest to drive to Sequoia National Park where we found the one and only free campground in the park but soon discovered that it was 10 miles down a one way, narrow, windy road that eventually tunneled through lots of overhanging branches and trees that proved unfriendly to our bikes and general 10'6" height.  At least it was free!  And Curtis spotted this little guy in the river:

Too squirmy for a good photo

We went into the park the next day and had a rather abbreviated driving tour since most of the park was still closed for the winter and/or under construction and the rest was under 5 feet of recent snowfall which meant no hiking for us.  We were at least able to see the biggest tree "General Sherman" and spot some other rather huge trees along the drive.

And here's Tunnel Rock where the old road into Sequoia used to go.  Clearly the truck would not have fit.

So next we drove to Yosemite, which may just be my favorite place of the whole trip.  It's certainly the best national park.  Even the drive in was gorgeous:

The orange on the hillsides is all california poppies!!!

We drove in super early to the park so we could get a nice hike in.  Again, most of the park is still closed but we timed our visit perfectly for all of the huge waterfalls to be gushing.  But first I should mention how I had to lift my jaw up off the floor when I caught my first glimpse of El Capitan:

The morning light was at the worst angle, but maybe you can just pretend this captures how huge it is

One of the falls on the way in

Ok, back to our hike into Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls.  Like I said, it was the perfect time of year; those falls were moving!  I think Curtis even got a little concerned when I ventured too close to the edge.

On the way up

That's vernal falls behind us

Half dome!

Liberty cap to the left and nevada falls far off

Here's Vernal from above

And Nevada

We camped out in the park that night where we got to use the telephoto on some friendly neighborhood robins.  This one made me laugh as it struggled to finally get this worm:

No bear sightings despite the bear boxes and warnings plastered all over the place.  I was a little disappointed.  We left in the morning back through the valley and caught some better views of El Cap from the other direction:

Our next destination was to get a better look at those pretty poppies so we headed out to Hite's Cove and after a very short hike got to see this:

Would it be silly if that little hike was the highlight of my trip?  They were so pretty!

Anyway, our next destination was Napa to see some wine country and maybe take a tour or two but plans changed drastically in part to a) pouring rain and most importantly b) my 101 degree fever.  That was the real kicker.  I had managed to hike into those poppies, but things went downhill rapidly after that.  The twisty, turny roads didn't help my throbbing headache and carsickness all day so by the time we arrived in Napa and managed to find a hotel room at a reasonable rate I was shivering with chills and mostly nonfunctional.  Curtis pointed me to the shower after which I curled up in bed with a cold washcloth on my cooking brain and didn't emerge until the next morning.  So needless to say, there are no Napa photos.  Besides, I should have realized that the vines are bare this time of year.

My fever broke overnight so we took the soggy driving tour through Napa valley in the morning and detoured down the San Francisco to see the Golden Gate Bridge.  We even got to walk out on it a little ways until the blustery winds turned us around.

Then it was all coast from there.  We drove up route 1 for the rest of the day, stopping at a state park to camp for the night.  It rained as soon as we arrived so we waited to explore the beach until morning:

We made it to Redwoods next and took time to do a few little hikes to get a closer look at the giant trees:

This guy passed in front of us on the road

Clearly "Big Tree" is rather big

The park meanders from forest to coastline so we spent quite a bit of time just driving through until we found our pretty campsite for the night.

And met this cool little dude

We finally left California on Tuesday morning for Oregon where we knew of this great mountain biking area near Glide.  Has anyone checked the forecast for the entire pacific northwest lately?  Not exactly mountain biking weather.   I think we'll have to reschedule that for another time in some warmer weather.  Instead, we had a beautiful drive in along the North Umpqua river (which is my new favorite river ever) and got to see this cool spot:

There's a river coming in from the left (more brownish) and a river coming in from the right (more green) that collide and then spill off into one river.  pretty cool, huh?

Other than the beautiful green rivers and moss everywhere, our best find was a free hot springs on the national forest land.  It was just a short hike in and we got to soak in the hot springs all afternoon overlooking the river with a light rain coming down.  Much better than mountain biking anyway :)

The next day we hiked in to see some waterfalls where when we stood in one spot it was raining, while 50 feet away it was snowing, and across the river the sun was shining.  Only in Oregon!

Toketee Falls

Green rivers are the best

Columnar Falls

And Surprise falls 

So that's it!  We journeyed over to Bend this morning to check out the downtown and now we're in Corvallis staying with a friend and are so happy to be warm and dry for the night!  We'll set out for the coast tomorrow and will be in Portland this weekend before we head up to Washington for a few days.  

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