No Giant Sequoias were harmed

. . . in the making of this campsite. The big stump was there when we arrived. There was one twice as big just across the road.

Zachary and I recently returned from a California road trip. We spent most of it  camping, hiking, swimming, and canyoneering (including a crawl along a lovely cold cave stream) in Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. Awesome places, and much less visited than Yosemite.

We saw a lot of big trees. Really big. We almost saw bears–while we were pitching the campsite in the photo, two bears strolled through the campground, a small and almost unoccupied one near the end of the long and bumpy road to Mineral King, a high alpine area that ended up being my favorite part of Sequoia. We heard about the bears later from the other camper there; we had apparently been too busy untangling our tent poles to notice.

One of the best parts of the trip was the evening we climbed Divide, across a dusky gulf of air filled with swallows. (I thought with a chill of the Eyrie in the Vale of Arryn.)

After leaving the parks we headed to Marin and Sonoma counties for Z’s high-school reunion (oh, the stories I heard!) and a stroll down memory lane as Z showed me various places he’d lived. Then we drove up the coast through the redwood forests–more big trees!–and eventually home.

The worst part of the trip was when the car’s AC crapped out on the first day. Most of the time we were okay without it, but our itinerary required us to make two long traverses of “the valley”–and now I fully understand, and share, the contempt with which that phrase is usually uttered. It was 106 in Fresno when we passed through, and the whole region is as bleak, dusty, and cheerless as the Plains of Mordor. But the mountains and the coast more than made up for it.

Actually, that may not have been the worst part of the trip. My publisher went out of business while we were on vacation–but that’s another story.

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