Tuesday morning we started driving south along Hwy 1. It was a beautiful, scenic drive along the coast. We hopped out of the car in Half Moon Bay in order to spend one more morning by the ocean. It was a lot chillier than we had expected, so we thought swim suits wouldn't be very fun. We were wrong!
The area was beautiful and I think we were early enough that not too many other people had arrived yet.
The birds in this photo were big pelicans. They flew right over us a few times and looked nearly prehistoric.
The kids loved chasing after the waves again and it didn't take M2 long to become soaked to the core. This was one of M.G.'s favorite stops of the trip. It was so peaceful and beautiful, I think we could have spent all day here.
M3 got close enough for her toes to get a little damp and then retreated to play in the sand.
Once we walked back to the car and got the kids cleaned up we grabbed some lunch at Sam's Chowder House. After lunch it was time to get back on the road. We drove along the coast for quite a while, enjoying the view. When we cut inland we drove past a lot of big farm operations - I'm sure a lot of our fruits and veggies come from that area.
The weather got hotter and hotter as the day went on and we were all fairly worn out by the time we reached Fresno that evening. We decided on Denny's for supper. It was a kind of a surprisingly fun stop - it was "kids eat free" night and they were excited to have pancakes for supper.
Wednesday we were headed to Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks to see the giant sequoias. This was another of the big spots that almost everyone was looking forward to seeing. More giant, old trees! (Except for M.G. - "More giant, old trees?")
Sequoias don't grow as tall as redwoods, but are much bigger around. They can be up to 40 feet in diameter with bark up to 3 feet thick! (redwoods vs sequoias) They only grow from seeds that need to be extremely dry before they germinate and the trees can live up to 3000 years. They are resistant to decay and fire. We saw trees with large scars from fires that had gotten to the tree, but the tree was still living because it was able to arrest the fire on its own. We also saw piles of sawdust from when trees were cut down decades ago because it hadn't decayed yet.
The trees looked practically fake.And there was something about this park that made me feel like we had stepped back into the '70s. All we needed was a Volkswagen mini-bus.
|M2 and I inside a hollowed out tree.|
We have a whole series of a very serious looking M.G. from this park. Not upset or anything, just straight faced. I think they'd be included in the liner notes for her CD release or something.
|This was the bottom of an uprooted tree.|
It was a lengthy, but beautiful drive through the two parks. There are a very limited number of entries and exits to these parks. We entered on the northwest side and then made our way through to the southern exit. There was some road construction in the park that paused once and hour for cars to pass through. We had our picnic lunch in the car at the construction point that day so that we'd be ready to drive when we could.
It was a long, hot afternoon drive across California. We saw quite a few Joshua trees as the landscape turned to desert. The kids were excited about eating supper at Barstow Station, a group of restaurants and stores built inside old train cars.
Finally we made it to Las Vegas, where we had a reservation at Circus, Circus for the night. (I think that room was our least expensive and most cigarette-smelly of the trip.) It was after 10 PM when we pulled in and M.G. was out cold in the back. We tried to wake her to see the strip all lit up, but she was sound asleep. M2 and M3 were very excited to see all the lights and people. M2 really likes big monuments and he thought it was wonderful that we saw a pyramid, Statue of Liberty, Eiffel tower, and pirate ship.
At check-in time the older two were zombies on a lobby bench while M3 danced to the music. We had a lot of distance to cover the next day and none of the circus activities start until 11 AM, so we decided to keep the kids up for a little longer.
Then we waited to watch the free circus act, an aerial silk artist. The kids were mesmerized, although I'm sure that it being nearly midnight was part of that.
|Waiting for the circus act.|