After the quick decision of deciding Vegas was a little too hot for us to stay, we skipped out on the climbing and started driving towards the coast. We decided heading into California was a better plan. The beach would be hot, but we could cool off. OR we could just head straight up into the mountains. Well, we found out some of our family would be in Rancho Cucamonga to celebrate our brother-in-laws birthday, so we headed down there. We hung out with them for a day down there and the weather was MUCH better than we had experienced the last couple days. After visiting for a bit, we headed to the mountains.
Neither one of us had ever been to Sequoia or Kings Canyon National Parks. We made it to Three Rivers and found a nice spot near the lake to post up for the night. The campground just down the road was $30 a night, but we found plenty of roads and spots right by the lake that were free. That was a no-brainer! We ended up staying in Three Rivers almost 3 full days! It is a tiny little town, but its awesome and all the people are very friendly. The way we afford to travel on the road full-time is by hand making custom jewelry (carteohandmade.com). We usually set aside one full day to work on orders before sending them out, but had received a lot of orders that week. So one day turned into 2.5, but we were ok with that because we had a nice place to park and play. After finishing all our work, we headed into Sequoia National Park.
Sequoia is a cool park! Its not as hustle and bustle as Yosemite, Joshua Tree, Zion, etc. So it was nice to have fewer people and have the whole place feel a little "slow pace." There are some incredible trees, larger in diameter than our entire van lengthwise! And they grow SO tall. When we were there, it was really foggy and kind of darker outside and it added this mystic feel to the groves we explored. Coming directly from the 90 degree flat, red desert into the windy, foggy mountains roads lined with Giant Sequoia trees was a really big change and we loved it. We explored all day and headed into Kings Canyon National Park over the pass.
Kings Canyon, we thought, was even better! Even fewer people, and still some beautiful trails! There is a place we think was called Redwood Canyon. It was just a small dirt road turn off when driving through Kings. A couple miles down this winding dirt (muddy) road, you arrive at a parking lot which serves as the trailhead for a few different trails, all of which are insanely beautiful. The trees we saw on that road, that parking lot, and those trails were the best out of both the national parks combined! We probably spent over an hour just driving down to the parking lot because of stopping to take photos. So. Many. Photos. We spent the night in the park at the only campground that was open at the time. We had actually planned on exiting the park and just posting up in the national forest areas, but right as we were about to leave, it started DUMPING snow! Tons of it! So we posted up in one of the campgrounds instead. It was a very peaceful night. We cooked some up some green thai curry with chicken and potatoes and rice. Mr. Heater makes a wonderful little heater called the Buddy. It is probably our best friend on a cold night. Being in such a small space, it only takes maybe 10 minutes before we are toasty inside. So we slept full, and warm inside our van, while it was dumping snow outside.
In the morning we opened the doors for some cold, fresh air. We sat on the bed just looking out. It was beautiful to see the contrast of the red bark and white snow. Really a super beautiful place! We had a lazy morning just walking around with Lotus and enjoying the snow. Usually we hate snow. We usually hate cold temperatures as well. But this morning was different. Neither the snow, nor the cold was bothersome. We really enjoyed it and stayed as long as we could just there in the campground, talking and playing.
We have some relatives just outside of San Francisco we were on our way to visit, and after enjoying the snow that morning, started slowly heading that direction. We stopped to have lunch and catch up with some old friends in Fresno (only one hour from Kings, but MUCH hotter) and then continued on towards the coast. Over the next couple of days, we spent our time just hanging out on the beach and driving the coast North along highway 1. We refer to this entire area as Big Sur, even though we realize Big Sur is just a small little part of the coastline. If you have never been to this area, go! There are some beautiful beaches and rugged coastline. You drive right on the coast the entire time.
We met up with another friend who told us he would be out there rigging some midline/waterlines (slackline) over the water. We had an awesome two days with new friends, walking lines, rope swings, tentsile tents, and other shenanigans all over the ocean! It was super beautiful and way too much fun. Its always a good time to bust out the gear and rig some wiggly string! Thanks to everyone out there, we had a blast meeting and hanging out with you!
We had another work day (thank you everyone for your orders!) making jewelry in a Safeway parking lot in Monterey, California. It took us all day. In the midst of working so hard, we failed to take Lotus out frequently enough and she ended up not being able to hold it anymore. We found a wet spot on the bed. I felt terrible for forgetting to let her out, but also super frustrated that we now had to find a laundromat open at 11pm to wash all of our sheets and bedding so we could go to sleep. It was a long night....and lesson learned.
We hung out with my sister Lanae and her husband Dan for the weekend in Palo Alto. They have a 3 month old baby (our niece) that was fun to spend time with! We headed into San Francisco to check out the city and visit Alcatraz. We also stopped in and toured Google at a couple different locations. It is a busy place! Tons of people! It was cool to experience that, coming straight from some naturey areas into a bustling city. Lanae and Dan know the area well and took us around to some great eats and some nice trails in Palo Alto before we headed out of the city towards Yosemite. This post is long enough and there will be more to come on Yosemite next week haha! Stay tuned!