A Royal Trip

It was time to get away again.  But where?  It is not a special weekend or anything like that but it is summer.  Many people out there doing things.  I initially looked at Lake Casitas by Ventura but thought I would look for something closer.  I was able to find a spot at Princess campground near Kings Canyon NP.  We have stayed there before but it has probably been 7 years.  I also didn't want to go very far due to my recent issues with the truck.

We left around 11 on Friday and headed to highway 180 then turned east.  This route is a very long steady climb but nothing too strenuous.  I didn't push the truck much and there wasn't a lot of traffic.  I was able to do 45-55  all the way.  I did notice some black exhaust  coming out at times but no loss of power like before.

We got to our campsite around 2pm.  This spot was adequate, but it was the last spot available to reserve.  The issue with the space was the tongue of the trailer was so high!  Only one other time has our tongue been so high and that was at Red Rock SP (look at the second photo).  But I setup the Rotochoks, the corner jacks and all seemed secure.  Here is what it looked like:

We rested a bit, then had dinner.  We were cleaning up and getting ready to go to the amphitheater show in the campground when we heard someone stating they didn't want to hear any stories of anyone falling.  It was some friends of ours, Don and Renee McDonald.  They were staying on the same loop as us with some other family members.  Very small, this world.

The 7:00 nature show that evening was about birds. It was put on by a Forest Service employee named Diane.  She actually is part of a bird rehabilitation project and has many that she takes care of at home.  She started her talk showing a Red-Tailed Hawk.  The next three birds were Owl's of various ilks.  It was very interesting and she must have had about 50 people where there was seating for 20.  Many of the visitors knew her and have probably been listening to her for years.  After that was over we drove to the amphitheater at Sunset campground where the show started at 8:30.  This was an NPS ranger that was putting on a talk about fire.  This was interesting also but the ranger had a bit of an issue with child crowd control.  We went back to the trailer and watched Soul Surfer.

Saturday the Grant Tree walk was at 10am.  A ranger leads this and talks about the trees.  We went last time also.  This ranger was much better in controlling the children.  Roxie taking a break inside a tree:

 

We stopped at the Grant Grove store but I was very surprised by the price for ice so I thought we would head down to Hume Lake for some supplies.  The prices were better.  We went back to the trailer for lunch.  After lunch we took the Indian Basin trail which is right by the campground.  About 2 miles round trip but pretty easy and a lot of it is paved.  A few of the meadow in the basin that has been logged (those are stumps in the foreground):

 

Came back to the trailer to rest a bit.

We went to Grant Grove for dinner.  We started out in the restaurant but weren't sure we wanted a large meal so we opted for the Pizza 'parlor' instead.  This started at 7pm.  An hour and 15 minutes later we got our pizza's.  This was an issue since we had reservations at 8:30 for a star gazing trip.  Ouch!  We made it on time (across the street) but barely.  The ranger that was leading the tour talked to us about sizes in the universe and they are pretty immense.  She had an example: If our entire solar system (sun and 8 planets) were the size of a quarter, the Milky Way galaxy (the one we are in) would be the size of North America. WoW!

We loaded up in our cars and drove up the hill about 2 miles to Panoramic Point.  Normally this is a location where you can see the Kings Canyon area from a high view (more on that later), but she didn't go that way.  We went down a closed road (in the dark with just a few red flashlights) to the NPS heliport.  Well, she said it was the heliport but we could not see it.  We laid down our blanket and laid down ourselves.  This way we could look up at the stars without straining our necks.  The ranger had a very powerful green laser pointer so she could point out constellations and stars.  We say many different configurations, satellites, shooting stars, planets and the milky part of the Milky Way.  It got a bit cold and Roxie started using the blanket for its original purpose.  It is amazing how much your eyes can truly see in the pitch dark.  After about 1 hour we broke it up, headed to our cars and we were back at the trailer.

Sunday started a bit slower and we thought we would take a walk around the campground.  However, when we went by the amphitheater there was a talk starting.  So we stopped and listened to a talk about bats.  Lots of questions by the kids.  We then continued our trek around the loops of the campground.  I wanted to go to Panoramic Point in the daytime so we headed there.  We stopped at the Grant Grove complex and had our lunch.  I must confess, we hung out at the Grant Grove complex for another reason.  They had WiFi there.  On our trip I found out that my Uncle Stan had passed away, he was 92.  By getting my voicemail (no cell coverage) via Google Voice I was able to find out.  I was also able to call via VOIP to get more information.

Panoramic Point was much different in the light of day.  It was a bit of a trek up the hill to the viewpoint but this is what we saw:

We had plans for one more hike.  A trip to see the Boole tree.  We made a detour to Hume Lake again (you can see it in the picture above) to get a bit more diesel.  I wanted to make sure I had enough to get home.  So off to Boole tree!  It was about 2.5 miles offroad by the Big Stump Meadow.  We drove out here one other time but this time we kept going.  Some cows were wondering what we were doing:

 

We got to the parking lot and saw only one other car and a couple getting ready for the hike.  The hike is a loop of 2.5 miles.  To the right, 1 mile away is the tree, to the left 1.5 miles is the tree.  We decided to do the 1 mile first, just in case we didn't want to do the whole loop.  Off we go!

The trail started off by climbing.  We went along a bit more and it climbed again.  Finally it started climbing some more!  It leveled out a bit and then it really climbed.  More so that the first part.  It was shady and there was a breeze.  If it wasn't so, we probably would not have made it.  But we started it so we trudged forward.  Finally we crested a hill and saw the trail split.  We were there.  There were a lot of trees around the Boole so here is a shot of Roxie in front of it:

 

It is hard to show the immensity of these trees in pictures.  Here is a try:

There were a lot of bugs messing with us so we didn't spend too much time there.  We went back to the trail split and had to make a decision.  Go back the same way or continue on the loop.  We opted for the loop because we figure we can't climb much higher.  Fortunately we were right.  We were able to see one last glimpse of the tree on the way back:

 

The trail started a descent, pretty easy and we were feeling pretty good.  We passed the couple that passed us going uphill.  We only passed them because they stopped to eat something.  About 1/4 mile down the trail we heard some birds really complaining about something in the trees ahead and to the right.  I was curious about it.  Pretty much all the way down the downhill we saw tracks in the sand.  It looked like deer and possibly a coyote.  Roxie was afraid about bears.  As we came closer to the freaking-out birds, we heard some bigger noises coming from trees.  Something was moving around in there, something big and breaking branches.

That was all Roxie needed.  I stood still and looked to see if I could see anything.  Roxie was already running down the trail leaving me there.  She wondered aloud if I was crazy staying there.  I thought she was crazy running from an unknown animal that could be a predator.  She thought bear, I though some type of deer.  She wasn't stopping, I wasn't moving.  After I could see, I decided to catch up to her.  I did so but I did not run.  We continued on a bit and found a gate through a fence of barbed wire.  Now I knew what it was.  It was a cow and there were hoof prints to prove it.  Roxie is still not convinced.  We continued down the trail.

We ran into some more cows and they were very afraid of us.  They shot down the hill, breaking through branches with the same sound that we heard earlier.  We were very happy to get off the trail and sit down.  We were beat.  We went back to the trailer to rest.  Roxie did a little stir fry and we watched Red Riding Hood outside in our lounge chairs.  At 8:30 we went to Sunset campground to see the campfire program on, ironically, bears.

As we walked to the show, Roxie had to make a detour.  I could hear the ranger asking if anyone knew how to help with the computer and projector.  I stayed back and watched who would step up.  One lady did and I was happy.  However, by the time we got down there the issue was not resolved.  I went into the booth and helped out.  Together we got it working for her.  It shows you never get away from your profession.

We retired to the trailer and knew we had to go home the next day.  Back to the heat, routine and everything else we do.  A few more shots before we left (first one proves that I do put the awning out!):

Until next time!

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