Memorial Day 2013

Since we are now on a more normal (read: more like the rest of the world) schedule for Roxie we have to take advantage of the 3 day weekends as they come along. This was just such a weekend. I had a hard time figuring out where we might go. I know I wanted a reservation but didn’t want to be too far. We wanted to be able to get there on Friday evening so we had a full Saturday of fun and adventure.

I called on an old, reliable friend. Princess campground near Grants Grove of Kings Canyon National Park. I checked reservations about 3 weeks prior and there were about 10. The next day about 8. Oh boy! Better get one. I did. Now that we have a longer trailer the spots are a bit harder to find. However they had one that claimed to be 45′ long. I’ll take it! However, I didn’t tell Roxie we were going until the week before. I wanted to surprise her a bit. There is a running joke that we never go camping on the major holidays. This used to be true when she didn’t work and I could take of whatever time I wanted. We would never go camping on Labor or Memorial day, we would go the weekend before or after. This was very advantageous to us when we were able to get reservations at Yosemite one year when our 4 days STARTED on Labor Day.

Roxie worked until 4:30 on Friday afternoon but due to her diligence over the week and pre-packing, we were able to get away at about 4:50! Fantastic! Princess is 70 miles away from home but there is a grade of about 5% that goes for about 15 miles. I had been having some electrical issues with the truck (discussed in the next blog post) so I started it with some trepidation. The truck performed just great up the grade even though Roxie thought I was going too fast since she was on the downhill side of the road with no guardrail. We made it to Princess just about 7pm.

The space at Princess (#7) was long as advertised. It was an easy back in to get there and a quick setup, especially when you don’t have hookups! We just made some sandwiches for dinner, watched a movie on the MBP and then settled in for a nice sleep. Aaron and Paige were supposed to come visit the next day.

I don’t know what it is but sleeping in that cocoon is so much easier than at home. Might be the closeness, the quiet or knowing you don’t have to work the next day but we slept so good that Aaron woke us up knocking on the door at 10am! That was good though, we shouldn’t sleep the day away.

We took the loop road down through Hume Lake and back around to Grants Grove. By that time it was time to eat and we had lunch in the restaurant there. Next stop was a walk around the Grant tree loop. It gave us a bit of time to spend with Aaron and Paige.

Here is the requisite shot of the General Grant tree:

Gen Grant Tree

A shot of grandma and granddaughter in the Gamlin cabin:

Paige and Grandma

Aaron and Paige by the fallen tree:

Paige and Dad


Paige and Aaron headed home after we got back to the trailer. It was nice to have them come for a visit. We will have to take Paige with us on one of these trips. Maybe on Labor Day…

We rested a bit at the trailer and Diane Ganner (the Bird Lady) walked by, telling people about her amphitheater program about birds. We had seen her before on our last visit to Princess but we always like to go to a program, especially if it is in our own campground. Diane stated that this was her last season doing these presentations and that is a sad thing. She truly enjoys what she is doing and does it very well. Here is a shot of her and one of her rescue birds:

Diane The Bird Lady

We didn’t have time to get to the amphitheater program at Grants Grove that evening but that was OK. We cooked some dinner and watched another movie.

Sunday we decided that we wanted to take a hike around Hume Lake. We had been there many times before but had never done it. We made up a lunch and headed off. This Memorial Day was strange in the sense that things did not seem as busy as we think it should be. I know that the Hume Lake campground was fully booked but Princess was not full.

We started the Hume Lake trail around 10:30. It is 2.6 miles round trip. The trail is very easy and flat except for a bit of up and down near the dam. We walked around the lake counter-clockwise. As we were walking I asked Roxie if it would be weird if we ran into someone we knew up here. We walked a bit farther and ended up by the beach that is near the inlet from Ten Mile creek. Luckily there was a restroom at the beach so we could take a little bathroom break. We were walking up a hill to the bathroom and waited for some guys to bring down an inflatable kayak. One of them said, “Come on up Roxie”. I did not recognize the person initially but Roxie did. Turns out it was some friends that we have not seen for a long time. We spent about 30 minutes visiting before we continued our trek.

A lot of people fish in Hume Lake. They are along the bank and out in boats (non-motorized). Between the beach and the dam there were numerous fishermen. Many of them had caught fish also. As we approached the dam I did not know how we would get by it. I guess I was expecting a HUGE dam like the ones I grew up around (Shasta, Whiskeytown, Claire Engle). This was not huge since the valley below was not huge either although they did have a nice bridge across part of the valley. Essentially we did some small switchbacks down, across the bridge, and some small switchbacks up.

The dam turns out to be the world’s first concrete reinforced multiple arch dam constructed in 1908 and still in use now. The designer, John S. Eastwood, designed some 16-18 of these dams and none of them have failed. Here is the Wiki on Hume Lake. Here is a pic from below the dam and then looking across the top:

Hume Dam Face Hume Dam Top

And a view of Hume Lake from the dam (facing west):

Hume Lake


We were on the home stretch now! Lunch was awaiting us back at the truck. We got back, got our chairs and lunch and plopped down in a picnic area to enjoy a bit of a rest after all that exertion! We returned to the trailer and partook in our favorite trailer activity. A nap! I said I wasn’t going to take one but I did anyway. We really did nap too! We slept until about 7pm!! The amphitheater show was at 7:30!

Dinner had to wait as we drove the 7 miles to the Kings Canyon campground where the show was. We didn’t know the subject but it doesn’t really matter. We just like going, listening and learning. Since the presenting ranger was first stationed at Mammoth Cave NP AND he was a geologist the subject was: Caves! We knew about Crystal Cave in Sequoia NP and Boyden Caverns in the National Forest nearby as we have been in each of them. But we did NOT know that in the two NP’s there were more than 300 caves! One of them is over 20 miles long and they are still discovering parts of it (Lilburn Cave). Here is a pic of the ranger (with the required beard) and some of his Junior Ranger helpers, the boy was very outgoing:


We had a very late dinner that PM and a late movie night and probably went to sleep about 1 or 1:30 AM(!). But we knew what the morning brought. Time to get ready to go home.

Here is a shot of our trailer in the spot (#7 is nice and long!):


Almost forgot one last shot. Roxie always gets cold wherever we go, sometimes even in the summer. She had to get this hat to keep her ears warm:


Another enjoyable weekend. Next post about some truck/trailer weighing and truck electrical issues.

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!