The first stop on the .08 mile loop is the “Fallen Monarch, ” a thousand-year-old Sequoia Tree that is more than just a big old log lying on the ground. The Fallen Monarch has lived through different periods of history with a unique past. No one knows when this giant fell but is was hallowed by wildfires so that when it fell, it became a tunnel that you can walk through. We do know that a couple brothers who were loggers….the Gamlin brothers found shelter in this tree. It served as temporary housing for them from 1870-1872 while they were constructing their cabin not far from the Fallen Monarch. Soon after the Gamlin brothers moved into their new cabin the tree became a gathering place and soon became the local saloon and hotel with table, chairs and even a homemade chimney that extended out the tree’s bark. Later in 1876, the chimney was used as a cookstove and the trunk of the tree as the stables for 32 horses of the US Cavalry.
The General Grant Tree has a volume estimated at 46,608 cubic feet, weighs over 1,250 tons, is 267 feet tall (the height of a 24-story building), and has a diameter at a base height of 29 feet. The General Grant Tree is young by sequoia standards at around 1,700 years old and is still growing thicker. The General Grant Tree is the world’s third-largest tree (General Sherman Tree is the largest) with the broadest base diameter of any sequoia at 40.3 feet. The General Grant Tree is a significant tree for all of America. In addition, to being “The Nation’s Christmas Tree,” The General Grant Tree is a national shrine in memory of the men and women of the Armed Forces who have served and fought and died to keep America free. The General Grant Tree is America’s only living shrine. The tree is of course named after Ulysses S. Grant, the victorious Civil War General, and America’s 18th president”.
As you continue up the trail you come to the Gamlin Cabin. The cabin is over 140 years old and has been reconstructed and relocated three times. “The cabin was built in 1872 by Israel Gamlin, who with his brother Thomas filed a timber claim to 160 acres within the Grant Grove. They lived here until 1878 while grazing cattle in the mountains. After General Grant National Park was established in 1890 the cabin was used as a storehouse by the U.S. Cavalry who patrolled the park until 1913. Later it became the quarters of the first park ranger station”.
Next on the trail loops is the Centennial Stump. The Centennial stump has a diameter of 24 feet and an interesting history. “This tree was cut in 1875, and a 16-foot section was sent to the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876. Only the outer shell was exhibited, the parts being reassembled after shipment. Eastern people refused to accept the exhibit as part of a single tree and called in a “California Hoax”. It took two men nine days to chop down the tree. Its upper trunk is the scarred log downslope from the Grant Tree. Ladies from a nearby logging camp used to conduct Sunday school services for their children upon the stump”. The “California Hoax” was a sad finish for the 1,800-year-old tree, it would be 14 more years before the grove received permanent federal preservation as a national park”.
Today was my day off from work so Jill (the market and gift manager here at Grants Grove) had decided to go see the movie about Elton John called Rocket Man in Clovis. In the meantime, we had two new J1 young men who had arrived to work here from Turkey……Cim and Demir. Nhmet who is also from Turkey had already arrived and has been working in the lodge for a couple of weeks. They are between the ages of 18 and 21 and are living in one of the cabins where I had first lived when I got here. They also have no transportation to get around, so we took them with us to town so see the movie, go grocery shopping and had dinner.
Rocket Man was a great movie……anyone who grew up listening to Elton John music through the ’70s, and ’80s will appreciate this movie. Elton John was an amazing, talented musician and singer, he was very eccentric and flamboyant, but when you see this movie and grasp an understanding of his childhood, the craziness of being a star and those who took advantage of his weaknesses and his fame brings the music he sang to a whole different level of understanding about music and his life. So if you get a chance to see it, you should. I do not think you will be disappointed.
So what is a J1 and why are they here? In essence, the J1 is the J1 Summer Work and Travel (J1 SWT) visa which allows 3rd level full-time students completing degree level courses work in the USA for 4 months between May 15th and September 15th. Participants can opt to travel for a further month (up to October 15th) depending on the reopening date of their college and SEVIS compliance. The J1 SWT is also a cultural visa and all participants are required to undertake as many cultural activities as possible during the summer. J1s are hired to work in many of our National Parks to help fill the staffing needs over the busy summer/tourist season.
As I mentioned Nhmet, Cim and Demir are all from Turkey and attend the University in Istanbul and are majoring in Engineering. Nhmet and Cim are pretty quiet and they do not speak English well. Demir is 21, speaks English very well, is very social, very educated and knowledgeable. It was very interesting to talk with him as we went about our day and the differences in our cultures. Shopping was overwhelming for them and us…..so many choices of foods and the fact that in Turkey they do not have much processed food, they don’t have the big shopping centers and grocery stores as we do, they have small markets everywhere. Most people in Turkey do not have cars as they are very expensive…..Demir said most girls won’t date you if you do not have a car, because having a car means you have wealth. He lives in a high rise flat, they have mass transportation…..bus, train, etc he said. After two hours of shopping, we were exhausted but we all wanted to relax and get a bite to eat before heading back to Kings Canyon so we opted for Apple bees where we could sit down and where a variety of food options were available. Demur really liked the place, thought it was very nice. Nhmet and Cim ended up not eating….they do not eat Pork and so there was a discussion with the waitress whether various foods were all cooked on the same grill, which they were so they choose not to eat as they were concerned that whatever they ordered would have come in contact with Pork. Demur chose to try a hamburger which he liked……he had a very candid discussion with Nhmet and Cim about trying new foods. After making the hour and a half drive we finally arrived home at 10:30 PM. I quickly put away the few groceries I had and went to bed. It was a fun day.
Gosh it has been forever since I have blogged and I have really missed it, and now I am just that much farther behind in catching up on everything. Well after spending a year and three and a half months in Phoenix, AZ I finally left. After I got back from my six-week road trip at the end of September 2018 it was just a really rough time for me. While I was on the trip I had some car issues that I was able to temporarily fix so I could get back to Phoenix. Once I got back I had the shop I was working for do some major fixes and repairs to my car which took three weeks and $2,800.00….I have had mixed emotions about this job as time has gone on…..I’ll try and share the frustrations as well as the blessings as I do some catching up in my blogging. So for starters with my car things could have been a lot worse…..I had access to the company truck if I needed to run to the grocery store, not having the money upfront to put into my car I was able to make payments on the repairs and have my car back on the road to use. The reason it took three weeks to fix is that it took over a week to just get the right bracket I needed that helps hold your transmission to the frame, along with the motor mounts which I had to have replaced, the arms and an oil leak. Having to drop the transmission while the car is sitting on the ground on jacks and putting it back in is a pain in the butt for the mechanic and time-consuming……so frustration number one is our shop not having a lift…..even though one was purchased at the Richie Brothers auction but was never put in so, therefore, more labor went into the job which cost me more money even though I also got a 10% employee discount.
By this time the holidays were approaching and the holidays are always hard for me. I was invited by a couple of friends to spend Christmas with them, but I just did not want to. Christmas is for families and I just felt I would be the third wheel and feel out of place. I did have a Thanksgiving dinner with my friend Susanna and Endel which was nice. For Christmas, the shop was going to be closed for a few days so I made plans and reservations to go to Las Vegas, but at the last minute I caught a terrible cold and my head was hurting so badly I just could not even make the 4-hour drive, so I stayed home and nursed my cold through Christmas and New Years and then I was all well. The weird thing was I had not been sick in the last couple of years and out of the blue I catch this crud which took two weeks to get over and now here I am 5 months later and have not been sick again. There was a reason, I will never know that I was not to make that trip.
So I got through the holidays and the new year 2019 started…..I was feeling really down and depressed. I just was not happy working at the shop, things were going downhill and very frustrating. I no longer knew really what my job was any more or even what I would be doing each day. There were weeks I was working 25-30 hours a week. I needed to be working 40 hours a week, I was barely making my bills and my debt to the shop was getting paid very, very slowly. I was on an active search for a new job…..nothing was really popping out at me that seemed like a good match. I went on one job interview that I thought would be good, but that was a joke. I had to take some random, abstract test and if I passed it then I got an interview….well I did not pass it. So as February rolled around things were gearing up in Phoenix for the Spring Training games that would start the end of February. I got on the Delaware North job website and was looking at jobs (this is the same company I worked for at the Grand Canyon), well lo and behold there was a cash room position at the Maryvale Sports Complex for the Milwaukee Brewers just 10 minutes down the road. I applied for it and in just a couple of days, I was called in for an interview and hired on the spot. I was so excited because I would be making a few dollars more an hour than I was at the shop, it was part-time so it would fill in the empty holes that had sprung up working at the shop and it would get me away from the heavy depression and unhappiness that was going on at the shop. Those 5 weeks working at the ballpark was just what I needed and I had an awesome time. I will write more about my time and experience there on a separate blog post. In the meantime, I was still looking for something long term after the spring training season ended and with only one week left I was on the Delaware North job website again and ran across a position for a Cash Auditor at Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park. I right away applied and within two weeks I received a phone call and had a phone interview with the HR department and then the General Manager. I was hired on the spot and was asked to get to Kings Canyon as soon as I could. So within 5 days, I had my motor home ready to go, new tires on my car dolly, my car loaded up and left Phoenix behind. I took three days to travel, stopping the last night at the KOA in Visalia to see and visit my friend Chris who had been living in her travel trailer for several months helping out family in the area and it happened that she was pulling out the next morning to head for Southern California, then Arizona and on to South Dakota. I was really glad I got to see her. The next morning I made the last leg of my journey up to Kings Canyon on April 10th.