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Posted by on Nov 24, 2012

From the Highest Peak to the Lowest Valley

 

We drove away teary-eyed yesterday to start the first leg of our USA road trip after a heartfelt Thanksgiving with Dave’s family in Yosemite.  We were so thankful for getting to share our favorite place on earth with our family, especially our nieces and nephews.  Their excitement upon seeing Yosemite Falls and the big trees in Mariposa Grove brought huge smiles to our faces.  Our Thanksgiving dinner was hosted by our friends and cousins who have graciously opened up their Yosemite home to us for the past five years.  It was incredibly emotional night as we took a walk down memory lane remembering all the amazing times we have had there.  We are already looking forward to coming back to the house when we return to the states.

Thank you to our Turkey Day hosts…for even letting us paint their garage walls!

The first stop on our trip was to Sequoia National Park.  We have spent a lot of time in Yosemite, but have yet to explore the more southern Sierras.  Our time was limited considering the drive from the park entrance lasted an hour as we climbed close to 6,000 feet to reach the Giant Forest of Sequoia trees among other landmarks.  The road was twisty and stomach wrenching.  We saw at least two people pulled over getting sick!

Our first stop was the 350-step climb to the top of Morro Rock.  At an elevation of 6.725 feet, the 360-degree views of the Sierras was purely magical.  “Woooww,” was the common exclamation as people reached the summit.

Summit of Morro Rock

Before heading out of the park, we had to get a few glimpses of the redwood trees.  The gigantic trees line the main road in the park, General’s Highway, and lead to General Sherman’s tree.  General Sherman’s tree is the largest tree in the world as measured in volume.  It’s 36 foot diameter base is the foundation for a tree that stands almost 275 feet tall.

Me with General Sherman’s Tree to my right, Dave just enjoying the Giants.

For a two-hour visit to a massive park, we did pretty well.  The park is already on our list of places to come back to after our world travels.

We ended the night after 3 more hours of driving up and down mountain passes to reach Kernville, California.  Yes, we may have only stayed in Kernville because it’s home to Kern River Brewing.  A couple of beers were definitely necessary after our day of mountain driving.

It was pitch black when we arrived at the Kern River Inn so waking up to see the Kern River cutting through the green mountains in this small resort town was a welcomed surprise.

After visiting Sequoia which is home to Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous US at more than 14,000 feet, we will traverse to the lowest point in the US at -282 feet in Death Valley National Park today.  We’re looking forward camping for a few nights and exploring this park of huge extremes.

So far so good!