September Sierra Soujourn

We returned on Wednesday from a trip through the Sierra Nevada Mountains with our son Jesse, his roommate James and their friend Tim from our church. They are all interns at the LA Dream Center and wanted to enjoy some time off together before James returns to Texas at the end of the month. We picked them up on Friday and brought them home to do a little laundry before heading out on our trip.

Saturday morning, we picked up our rental van from Hertz for which we got an amazing deal. We left around 10 am and headed north on US 395. We stopped in Lone Pine at the Interagency Visitor Center and ate a few sandwiches. We stopped a few miles later at Mazanar National Historic Site. Manzanar was a Japanese internment camp where Japanese-Americans were forced to live after World War II began because of fear that they might sabotage their own country. It is a sad part of our history, but one that everyone should know about.

After leaving Manzanar, we traveled north to Big Pine and headed up into the White Mountains to see the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. We stopped on the way up the mountain to see rain falling along the Eastern Sierras. At an elevation above 10,000 feet, the temps were quite cool when we arrived. We were able to see the newly reopened Schulman Grove Visitor Center. We left the visitor center and headed back down the mountains and north on 395 to Mammoth Lakes, CA where we had a condo reserved for two nights. Jesse and Renee cooked us dinner.

We enjoyed a great breakfast prepared by Renee and Jesse before heading to Devil’s Postpile National Monument just a few miles away. It was great to see it again after last seeing it when I was only 12. Tim and James wanted to see Rainbow Falls, so I joined them for the 2.5 mile trek. It was a little warm hiking back through a deforested area recovering from the Rainbow Fire. We returned to the condo for lunch and the guys changed into their Steampunk attire for our trip to Bodie State Historic Park.

Bodie is a ghost town from the gold mining era of California history that is now a state park. It has been preserved in a state called “arrested decay.” Which means, they don’t allow it to fall down, but don’t make improvements to it either. The guys enjoyed this place a lot as they posed around various antiquities and explored the abandoned town in their Steampunk garb. We managed to capture plenty of photos before they closed the park at 6pm. We stopped along 395 on the way back to the condo to take photos overlooking Mono Lake.

Monday morning, we cleared out of the condo and headed back north on 395, turning left crossing up and over the Tioga Pass into Yosemite National Park. We stopped at the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center before heading to Yosemite Valley for lunch. We ate sandwiches at the base of El Capitan with Bridalveil Falls across on the opposite side. We headed south and stopped to take photos of Half Dome and also of the whole Yosemite Valley before taking CA 41 south out of the park toward Fresno. We made our way through Fresno and stopped briefly in Clovis for gas and groceries. We arrived at the beautiful Victorian-style home in Squaw Valley a few miles from Kings Canyon National Park. It was a magnificent place to stay and quite a peaceful respite from our travels.

Tuseday we were off to see the Giant Sequoias of Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. We stopped at General Grant Grove to see the General Grant Tree, the 3rd largest tree in the world. Tim remarked that the size of the trees was “stupid”. We traversed the winding road over to see the General Sherman Tree, the largest tree in the world. Jesse decided he would wear a paper bag over his head for the remainder of our time at Sequoia National Park drawing plenty of strange looks from other visitors. We climbed the 350 steps to the top of Moro Rock before stopping at Giant Forest Visitor Center. We relaxed that evening in the hot tub at the rental house.

We traveled home on Wednesday and took the guys back to the Dream Center on Thursday afternoon. Jesse had a great time as did James and Tim. Renee was outnumbered by all the testosterone in the van, but coped with it well. It was a great trip and something we will all remember fondly.