Victoria B.C – Butchart Gardens, Craigdarroch Castle, Habitat for Humanity Gingerbread Fundraiser and Parliament (December 2019-January 2, 2020)

I decided that since I was back home visiting Washington and had renewed my passport in 2019 that I would take the opportunity to make a visit to Victoria B.C.

Day 1 (December 29, 2019) – I boarded the Blackball Ferry Coho for the 2:30 P.M sailing in Port Angeles, Washington. The day was a little overcast and cold. The hour and a half crossing to Victoria B.C. was pretty uneventful, other than a short stroll I took out on the deck for a few pictures and spotted the tail of a whale. I waited around for a bit hoping I would see the whale resurface but I never did. It was pretty windy and cold to be outside so I wandered back in where it was warmer.

I arrived in Victoria B.C at about 4 P.M and after 45 minutes of waiting in line to get through customs, I was finally on my way to spending 4 days exploring Victoria. Now the last time I was here was about 37 years ago when I (being pregnant with our son Aaron) came with my husband Randy, our daughter Erika, and my parents.

It was quickly starting to get dark so I pulled out my map and my instructions to get to my hotel. I had done my research before I left the U .S as to how to get to my hotel from the ferry…..boy was I off base and it turned into an hour and a half public bus ride craziness, first of all, it appeared to me that I could ride the bus or walk it in about 15 minutes, so I started out walking and realized after walking a few blocks that I was at 700 Douglas Way and my hotel, Island Travel Inn was at 1850 Douglas Way, so I caught the bus and it was my understanding from previous research if I rode the bus I needed to get off at Jackson and Douglas. So I paid my $2.50 bus fare and got on the bus….so we’re traveling along a bit when the driver turned down a different street. I was like … Oh no, this is not right…. I have not ridden the public bus in a long time and I was in a place I was not familiar with and not completely sure of my directions. So after we traveled a couple blocks I asked the driver if this bus would circle back to Douglas?, He said no…..you need to get off at the next stop, walk to the corner of Qudra and cross the street to catch bus #6…..so I did….I get on bus #6 pay my $2.50 bus fare again and I tell the driver where I need to go….he said he was not sure where that was but that I needed to get off at Douglas and View and catch bus #30 or #31 because that is still a ways to walk….so I ask him for a pass since I have now paid $5 in bus fare and for $5 you can get an all-day pass. He gives me a pass, I get off and find my way to the next bus stop. I get on bus #30 and I tell the driver where I need to go….he doesn’t speak English very well and I finally get out of him that I need to get off at Hillside. I get off at Hillside and see the building address is 2610 Douglas…. Really!!! Now I have gone to far….by this time it’s been dark for awhile other than street, traffic and store lights….I’m still in the downtown area and plenty of people out and about. I cross the street to catch the bus going back the other way. I get on the bus and again explain to the driver where I am going and how I keep getting fouled up…the driver says he thinks he knows where my hotel is at. It seems the drivers know cross streets and bus stops, but not so much the addresses and this hotel is not well known I guess…..so we’re rolling along and this lady on the bus has obviously overheard my situation…..she tells me she is staying at the same hotel and will show me the way…….our stop soon comes up, we get off and sure enough it’s just a block and a half from my motel. I was so thankful for this lady and told her she was my angel. So finally I made it to my hotel, my room wasn’t ready so I got a deluxe suite with a Jacuzzi, King Bed, little refrigerator, and two separate sitting areas. This is an older hotel, a bit dated, but clean and decent. What an adventure! 

Day 2 (December 30, 2019) – After a really great nights rest in the very comfortable, huge King size bed I ventured off to the Butchart Gardens by public bus.. ..let me tell you after yesterday’s escapade I figured out the bus system…..so with a little more map quest research I knew which bus to take and I was right….made it there and back with no issues….I have to say I knew that the gardens were not going to be in bloom like they are in the Spring and Summer, but I really thought there would be more colorful winter plants and some flowers, so I was disappointed. Don’t get me wrong it was a very awesome place and I can imagine how gorgeous it is in the Spring.

The Gardens began as a limestone quarry dating back to the early 1900s. Over time the quarry was transformed into one of Canada’s premier garden attractions. The floral gardens were started by a cement contractor by the name of Robert Pim Butchart.

Robert and his wife, Jennie Butchart, moved to Victoria, BC from Ontario, Canada. The Butchart family has carried on the legacy of these now-famous gardens. Jennie Butchart recognized that the mild temperatures and the lush environment was an ideal setting for gardening. Slowly the gardens grew and the Butchart Gardens were born. The Butchart’s received many accolades…… Robert Butchart was given the key to the city and was made a Freeman of the city of Victoria in 1928 and Jennie Butchart was named Citizen of the Year in 1931.

After the death of Jennie Butchart, the gardens fell into despair. The grounds were left unattended until 1946. It was then that Ian Ross, the grandson of Jennie Butchart and his wife, Ann Lee Ross, brought the Butchart Gardens back to life. In order to help with the costs, they began charging admission and generating revenue from their seed and gift store, as well as the Benvenuto Tea House.

The gardens are open year-round and you can see hundreds of different colors and varieties of flowers.  During the holiday season, the Butchart Gardens are decorated with Christmas lights and decor depicting the 12 days of Christmas. I had arrived at about 2 P.M in the afternoon so I stayed till the evening to see the lights. Here are some photos I hope you enjoy.

Day 3 (December 31, 2019) – Rain was in the forecast for today so I made plans to be indoors and go see the Craigdarroch Castle which turned out to be amazing……so gorgeous and so much history. Craigdarroch is a four-storied stone mansion that wow’s you the minute you see it, it sits on a hill in an older, nice residential area overlooking Victoria B.C.  You pay an admission fee in a modern building just a short walk across the driveway from the castle. Tickets are at $14.85 for adults, $13.85 for seniors (I don’t know what the senior age is…..I completely forgot to even ask and paid the adult ticket price), students 13 or older $9.75, children 6-12 $5.35 and a family $36.00 (2 adults/seniors and 2 students/children).

The castle was built by wealthy coal baron Robert Dunsmuir during the reign of Queen Victoria and is now a National Historic Site. Visitors are able to have a glimpse of privileged life in the 1890s.  You are met at the front door by a guide who gives you a self-guided tour brochure that takes you through all rooms on each floor. The tour starts on the 1st floor and up the front formal staircase. On each floor, you are able to view reception rooms, bedrooms, and studies that are furnished, with a portion of the furnishings being original to the home. The woodwork and stained glass in the formal areas of the home are so amazing and beautiful. The view from the top floor at the top of the stairs gives you a panoramic view of the city of Victoria. Once you reach the top you are then directed down the stairs to the backside of the house where you will find a few servants quarters, the kitchen, pantry, and storerooms which are still in the stages of being restored. Robert Dunsmuir died April 1889, 17 months before the home was completed. His widow Joan and a few family members lived in the home for a short period of time, but eventually, it was abandoned since none of the children wanted the home. For a time it was used as a residential school and a military hospital then was saved from ruin by the government and opened for tours.

After my day at Craigadorrch Castle and being a little soggy getting to and from the bus and castle I stopped for a late lunch at a restaurant just across the street from my hotel called the “White Spot Caledonia” which was pretty good. I got a small caesar salad with a toasted turkey sandwich, fries, and a soda. I went back to my hotel room to watch some TV and just relax as it continued to rain. It was on my mind that being in was New Year’s Eve I had wanted to check out the “Wonder of Lights” exhibit that was just a block and a half up the street from my hotel, but with it raining I did not really want to go out and I was feeling so warm and cozy in my room. I had relayed this thought to my daughter as we were texting……she said: “Mom you went to explore and experience what is there, so you best go check it out”……I pondered on it a little longer and the rained had started to let up so I went. Centennial Square in downtown Victoria was transformed into a holiday wonderland. There were themed light exhibits, light tunnels, and a 40 foot live Christmas tree that was decorated. When I arrived around 7 PM it had recently just stopped raining, it was still early and so there were not very many people out….it was all free,  soft Christmas music playing and people walking around, and taking pictures. I did not stay long, I just wanted to check it out and see what it was all about and take some pictures……. and that was how my New Year’s Eve wrapped up as I then walked back to my hotel and hunkered down for the night.

Day 4 (January 1, 2020) –  Happy New Years Day……Today there was no rain and a nice day to be outside, so off I went to the 11th annual Habitat for Humanity Gingerbread fundraiser at the Parkside Hotel and Spa. I had run across this event when I was looking on the internet for things that were happening in Victoria while I was here and this was free and sounded interesting so I went and checked it out. It was a small venue that featured Gingerbread exhibits that were created by professional and amateur bakers. This year’s theme was “Building a Diverse Community.” Habitat for Humanity Victoria brings communities together to help families build strength, stability, and independence through affordable homeownership.

Across the street from the Parkside Hotel and Spa was an interesting old church…..The Church of our Lord….It was not open to go inside but there was a historic marker out front that said that this building was constructed in 1875 for the Reformed Episcopal Church. This building is one of the finest expressions in wood of the Gothic Revival Style in Canada. The architect enhanced the building’s Gothic character by exploring the advantages of board-and-batten siding to reinforce the vertical thrust of its pointed roof, pinnacles, and spire. Inside is a Gothic Hammer beam ceiling that spans the broad open space to provide an unbroken view of the apse and pulpit. I really love old buildings, and churches with their history, and architecture.

From there I walked up Belleville Street that runs in front of the Parliament Building. The very beautiful and grand BC Parliament Buildings sit on 12.5 acres of land on the waterfront of downtown Victoria. The building was started in 1983 and completed in 1897 but details, refinishing, additions and upgrades were ongoing right up until 1915. The parliament building was designed by 25-year-old architect Frances Rattenbury, a “Free Classical” Romanesque and Renaissance style. Rattenbury and his crew used local material, resources, and expertise. At night the 500-foot long building is illuminated with thousands of light bulbs.

I walked a little way along the waterfront on Government Street, sat on a bench for a while to people watch and admire the view of the Parliament Building, The Harbor and the Empress Hotel.  Fairmont Empress Hotel commonly referred to as The Empress is one of the oldest hotels in Victoria, it sits in downtown Victoria, facing the city’s Inner Harbor and also was designed by Francis Rattenbury. The Empress Hotel has been a symbol of Victoria since its opening in 1908 and has hosted Kings, Queens and Hollywood stars from around the world.

I next made my way to the nearest bus stop and caught the bus back to my hotel and stopped by a small mom and pop Chinese restaurant you could eat in or take out. I ordered chicken chow mein to go and it was very filling and good.

Day 5 (January 2, 2020) – Today I was up early, checked out of my hotel, caught the bus to the Blackball Ferry Coho to catch the 10:30 A.M sailing back to the United States – Port Angeles, Washington. The hour and a half sailing back was again uneventful and that concluded by adventure to Victoria B.C.

 

Olympic National Park – Hoh Rain Forest (December 2019)

On my trip back home to visit my family in Washington, we (my daughter, her boyfriend, and his 3 children ) decided to visit the Hoh Rain Forest in the Olympic National Park as they live only a two-hour drive away. For the 30 plus years, I and my husband had lived with our kids in Washington we had made a few trips over the years to the Olympic National Park, but we had not been to the Rain Forest. I think with working, raising kids and the fact that we lived in Gig Harbor, WA another two hours further south made for a 4-hour drive just one way.

I was really excited that we were going to the rain forest, the weather forecast was for rain which is not surprising since the Hoh Rain Forest gets as much as 14 feet of rain a year, along with the fog and mist which adds another 30 inches of rain, making this one of the world’s lushest rain forests, and designated as one of the wonders of Washington State.  So we packed some lunch and off we headed about 9 AM this Saturday morning. As the morning progressed the rain held off and some sun actually started coming out.

Some of the most common trees that grow here are the Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock (Washington’s official state tree), which can reach heights of over 300 feet and seven feet in diameter. Most of them are covered with huge clumps of hanging moss and ferns. Moss is an epiphyte, which is a plant that grows on another plant without harming it as opposed to a parasite. Epiphytes get their moisture and nutrients from the air, rain, fog, and debris that accumulates around them.

We arrived at the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center at about 12:30 P.M. and took a look at our map as to the different trails we thought we wanted to do. We decided on the most popular trail….”The Hall of Mosses Trail” is a 0.8-mile loop. This trail proved to be just right for me since I have bad knees. Walking through this trail was absolutely awesome and beautiful, it’s like walking through a living, green cathedral.  The best time to visit the rain forest is when it is damp and raining because that is when the moss is the lushest and greenest. The rainy winter and spring seasons are also the best times to see the Roosevelt Elk that live in the area since they move to higher elevations in the summer. The best way to share our day is through my pictures, hope you enjoy them!

After our hike, we ate our lunch that we packed and started heading back home…..our timing was perfect as within about 10 minutes of leaving it started to rain. On our way out of the park we stopped and got some pictures of this beautiful herd of Roosevelt Elk…..Olympic National Park is home to the largest unmanaged herd of Roosevelt Elk in the Pacific Northwest. Named for President Theodore Roosevelt, they are the largest variety of elk in North America. The Hoh Rain Forest is one of the best places to see these amazing animals. They are non-migratory herds that stay in the Hoh Rain Forest area throughout the year as they feed mainly on ferns, shrubs, and lichens from the rain forest, as well as the meadow grasses.

Our drive back took us through Forks, WA  where the “Twilight” story took place. We stopped at the Visitor Center just outside of town where we got a “Twilight” map of Forks and saw “Bella’s Trucks.” Next, we stopped in town to check out the “Forever Twilight” collection at the Rainforest Arts Center. The space is small but it’s pretty cool, you can view the authentic on-screen costumes that were worn,  authentic movie props used by the actors, a backdrop for photos, fan quilt, and other interesting memorabilia.

And our last stop of the day was at Madison Falls. Madison Falls was a short paved walk through a lush forest from the parking lot. At the end of the paved trail is a viewing point where you are able to see the falls drop 40-50 ft into the creek below which runs into the Elwha River just across the paved road opposite the parking lot. The Elwah River is a 45-mile river on the Olympic Peninsula and runs into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roaming around the Pacific Northwest-WA (November 2019)

This post is about some of my roaming and wanderings that the Pacific Northwest has to offer. Many of you who know me and who have been reading my blog know that before I started my nomadic lifestyle I lived and raised a family in the Pacific Northwest of Washington State for almost 40 years. I still have family there and so I, of course, get back to spend time with them.

FIERO MARINE LIFE CENTER

IMG_4029

I stopped one day at the Port Angeles waterfront and checked out the Fiero Marine Life Center. The facility is very small and the young woman who was volunteering that day was so full of amazing information about all the sea life that I ended up being there for about an hour and a half. There are about 5 tanks containing various marine life that are fed directly by seawater from the Straits of Juan de Fuca. The natural water flow keeps the habitats at exactly the right temperature and provides the food source the habitats feed on.

I enjoy the Sea Anemones with their beautiful colors, they are among the most colorful creatures in the ocean that range from purple, red, green and white. Their bodies consist of a stalk that ends in a flattened disk with a central mouth surrounded by tentacles. Anemones are carnivores and will eat fish, crabs, and anything else that swims within reach.

I found the Pacific Hagfish to be disgusting looking but amazed at the by-product it produces that is used in consumer products. It lives near the ocean floor and excretes huge amounts of slime in self-defense, so when a hagfish feels threatened, it releases hagfish slime, a protein-based, jelly-like substance from slime pores that run the length of its body. This slime is a thick glycoprotein excretion called mucin. The mucin is made up of long, thread-like fibers. These strands, which are arranged in bundles called skeins, are thinner than human hair, stronger than nylon, and extremely flexible. When the skeins come into contact with seawater, the glue holding them together dissolves, allowing the slime to expand rapidly. It is said that one hagfish can fill a five-gallon bucket with slime in only a few minutes. This gooey material has a surprising number of uses…… Hagfish are already used for making products such as “eel-skin” bags. The strong, flexible fabrics made from hagfish slime could replace petroleum-based materials like nylon which would be more durable and environmentally-friendly.

There are many uses that are being researched…..such as protective gear like safety helmets and Kevlar vests, airbags in our cars, lightweight strength and flexible car parts. The U.S. Navy is currently working with hagfish slime, hoping to create a substance that can protect divers from underwater attacks, fight fires and even stop missiles.

PORT WILLIAMS / MARLYN NELSON COUNTY PARK

Little remains of Port Williams which was once a thriving commercial port on the bay of the  Strait of Juan De Fuca near Port Angeles, WA.  In 1944, the waterfront with beautiful views was renamed Marlyn Nelson County Park in honor of a Sequim born Navy sailor who died from wounds in the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Nelson was 19 years old and a 1940 graduate of Sequim High School. He was an engine room mechanic on the battleship USS California. A monument bearing his name and a photograph was erected at the one-acre park in 1999.

DUNGENESS LIGHTHOUSE

Operating since 1857 at the tip of Dungeness Spit, the Dungeness Light Station was the first lighthouse built in the Washington territory. Once towering 91 feet, the upper portion of the light station’s brick tower was removed to deterioration in 1927 and is now 63 feet. Living quarters were added and modified over the ensuing decades to accommodate lighthouse keepers, who often lived at the lighthouse with their families, and an armored marine cable bought power to the light station in 1934. The light station and 80 acres surrounding it were designated a National Historic District and placed on the National Historic District and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.

PUGET SOUND SPOTTED SEALS

I drove out to the spit in Port Angeles and found some spotted seals hanging out on the logs on the bayside of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. If you did not have binoculars or a camera like mine that zooms in I would never have seen them and they blend in with the logs. These harbor seals are protected under the federal Marine Mammal protection act and Washington State. Their populations in Washington State have recovered since the 1970s. Here are some pictures of the seals, the harbor and the Straits of Juan de Fuca.

More miscellaneous photos I took while wandering

 

 

Washington State – Family Visit (November-December 2019)

After leaving Kings Canyon National park on November 4, 2019, I made my way back to Washington State to spend some time with my kids and grandkids. I always have a great time with this crew of mine…..Here are some of our adventures:

Within a couple days of my arrival back in Washington, I rented an Airbnb for the month of November……it allowed me space to have my grandkids spend time with me, cook, and hang out with them without being so cooped up in my motorhome.

Here is my cute little Airbnb in Port Orchard, WA along the waterfront of Sinclair Inlet across from the Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, WA:

Hanging out with Grandma making Christmas ornaments, and painting name letters

The Bug Museum

Harborside Fountain Park

 Puget Sound Naval Museum

  Rock N Bowl

 

Ice Skating

Thanksgiving

Roaming around Gig Harbor

Christmas Lights

Seeing Friends

Kings Canyon National Park – End of Season November 2019

Well here it is November 4, 2019, and my 6 month season at Kings Canyon National Park has come to an end. Today was the day I was pulling out and heading to Washington State. I had spent the week packing things up in my motorhome for traveling and today I was up early to do last minute things and get my tow dolly connected to the motorhome. I thought I had it all figured out and I pretty much did, but there always seems to be a hang-up here and there. A few days prior I had managed to pull by hand my tow dolly out of the brush where it had been sitting since arriving here back in April. A few of the rental trailers had been picked up by the rental company so the two spaces next to me were empty and made it easier to pull the dolly out and place it in the empty spot next to me. My plan then was that I could just pull my motorhome out of my spot and then back up to the dolly and hook it up. Well, my motorhome is 34 feet long and for some reason, after several attempts, I just could not seem to get it backed into the position I needed. I was close but just not where I really wanted to be, so I decided that maybe I could just pull it by hand to line up with the hitch on the motorhome. Well, I just did not have the psychical strength to get it moved and pulled by hand to line up correctly and in fact, it ended up rolling kind of sideways into the backside of the motorhome. No worries no damage. Knowing I was not going to be able to do this by myself I called up a couple of my guy co-workers, but they were working and involved with a year-end audit so they could not leave. I called my co-worker Andrew, who is the restaurant manager. Things were slow so he was able to help me out. He had the muscles to get the dolly moved to where we needed it and between us, we managed to get it hooked up on the hitch. My next obstacle was since I had been there one of the power lines was lower than it had been before due to some work that had been done over the summer, so Andrew kept a watch as I pulled out and up the hill that I was not going to catch the top of my motorhome on the wires…..Yea!, I cleared the lines. The next obstacle was just getting down the rutted out dirt road that was always a mess to drive even our cars on. I just took it really slow and easy so that I didn’t rattle and shake everything out of the cupboards in the motorhome. I made it down to the flat area of the parking lot where I had parked my car the night before. I knew Andrew had to be getting back to work and I thought I could load my car myself. So I proceeded and was able to get the car pretty much loaded by myself…..this was really the first time I was doing it by myself as the previous few times since I have been towing the car I have had help. I was doing good till I was at the part where I had to place the tire webs over the front tires and just wasn’t sure about if I was placing them correctly. About that time two of our girl co-workers came by in the company truck and asked if I needed help…..I was debating whether they could be of any help when I saw Rick our housing manager. I told the girls thank you but I thought Rick would proably be able to help me, so I got Rick and YES, he was so much help, he actually gave me good tips and got me all setup and the car secured for travel.

I made my last rounds stopping off at the Market, the Trading Post, and the Restaurant to say my last goodbyes to everyone. It was bitter-sweet. My time at Kings Canyon was amazing but also had its frustrations. I was ready for a change and ready to get back to Washington to spend time with my family. I made so many good friends at Kings Canyon and I knew I was also going to miss them a lot.

I was finally pulling out about 12:30 P.M. made my way down the mountain which is all downhill for 57 miles from Grant Grove Village to Fresno, CA. I made it to Stockton, CA by late afternoon where I was meeting up with a friend who lived there to have dinner, visit and stay overnight. It was great to catch up with my friend and take a good break from the day of just trying to get loaded up, on the road and driving. I stayed overnight at the Walmart parking lot.

November 5th – This morning I was back on the road knowing I needed to get the air checked in my motorhome tires before I went to much further. After sitting for 6 months at Kings Canyon I knew they were a bit low and you just can’t get air in your tires anywhere. The tires are much bigger than car tires so I needed a truck place. In Lodi just off the freeway about 12 miles from where I had stayed at the Walmart, there are several truck services, so I got off at the exit and spotted a truck tire and wash place that was an easy pull in and out. Pulling a tow car I can not back up so I always have to be thinking ahead about getting in and out of places pretty easily.  I parked alongside the road and walked into the place of business to make sure they would be able to help me out and sure enough, they could. There were no other trucks being serviced so I was able to pull right in and get taken care of. My tires were a bit low just as I thought…..all tires were checked including the tow dolly tires. I was not charged at all, but gave him a tip for the service and helping me out. So off I went, hopping easily right back on the freeway. I drove this day till I stopped at a rest stop about 4 PM just outside of Weed, CA as it was getting later in the day, I don’t like to drive in the dark and did not want to be driving over the Siskiyous in the dark.

November 6th – I made it through the night just fine although it was cold. One of the things I have going against me right now is my propane heater and my generator does not work, so I have no heat when I am on the road and its November…..Brrrr! I bundle up a bit more, put on my gloves, turn on the front dash heater but it’s not really made to heat up all the space in the motorhome, but it does a good enough job after a while that I am fairly comfortable. Today I drove a few hours and stopped at a rest stop at about noon for some lunch and to get a shower while the temperatures were warmer. I proceeded on my way and stopped again for the night around 4 PM just a couple hours before Portland. OR.

November 7th – Today I drive the rest of the way to Washington close to my destination of Gig Harbor arriving about 7 PM. I drive to Port Orchard, a small town about 15 miles outside of Gig Harbor where I can park at Walmart for the night. My son lives about a half-hour away so he and his girlfriend come to see me and welcome me home. I stay the night in Port Orchard but the temperatures really drop during the night and it’s very cold without any heat.

November 8th – This morning I called my son and talked to him about how cold it had gotten during the night. My son talks to the homeowners where he lives to see if I can bring my motorhome to their place to park and hook up to electricity for the night….I am so grateful as they say that it is fine. I have an Airbnb reserved in Port Orchard on the 9th for a month, so I just needed to get through one more night in my motorhome. I drive out to the Key Peninsula and my son helps me get parked and all settled in. I am happy to be warmer.

November 9th – It rained during the night and I awake to some drizzling rain. I spend a few hours getting some things packed up and loaded into the car that I will take with me to the Airbnb that I think I might need and some of my scraping book stuff to work on while I am staying there. I borrow a car from my son’s girlfriend since mine needs to be worked on. I head out about 1:30 and pick my grandson up from high school at 2 PM. He is going with me to the Port Orchard Airbnb to help me unload the car and get set up. Check-in time is 3 PM…..We get to the Airbnb, meet up with Shannon the host who was very nice. The cottage is just as awesome and cute as I thought it would be from the pictures that were posted on the website. The cottage sits at the front of the property near the road with a circular driveway between the cottage and the main house which is on the waterfront. The cottage is blocked from street noise and view by a row of very tall Juniper trees….its a lovely place.

 

 

Kings Canyon – Last Trip to Cedar Grove October 2019

October I took my last drive to Cedar Grove. This post will mostly be pictures, as I have shared most of the information about the area in my other posts. As much as the Sequoias trees are amazing and beautiful, Cedar Grove in Kings Canyon was my favorite. I love rivers and waterfalls and I loved seeing the changes that took place over the season of the landscape and water flows. The heavy spring runoff that made the rivers and waterfalls swell so high in Spring was beautiful and amazing…..but I loved just as much coming back over the Summer and Fall as the river and waterfall levels receded and I was able to see what laid beneath all that roaring water. So take a ride with me on my last trip and I hope you enjoy this beautiful landscape as much as  I did.

271763643

385418469

633344181

1133012352

1251106013

1859808982

IMG_20191027_082648

 

IMG_20191027_084046

1949217665

IMG_20191027_084134

IMG_20191027_085546

IMG_20191027_091521

IMG_20191027_092402

IMG_20191027_093153

IMG_20191027_094344

IMG_20191027_094545

IMG_20191027_094649

IMG_20191027_204434_319

 

Roaming Kings Canyon & Sequoia National Park with my daughter – September 2019

My daughter, Erika came and spent 5 days with me in September……It had been years since she and I had been able to have one on one time, so it was a really special time for us.

Our first day of exploring was to Sequoia National Park General Sherman Tree. The General Sherman Tree is the largest in the world at 52,508 cubic feet.

I never saw a Big Tree that had died a natural death,” John Muir wrote of the giant sequoia. “Barring accidents they seem to be immortal, being exempt from all diseases that afflict and kill other trees. Unless destroyed by man, they live on indefinitely until burned, smashed by lightning, or cast down by storms, or by the giving way of the ground on which they stand.”

Muir’s observation remains generally accurate. Giant sequoias can live for over 3,000 years, outlasting all of their mixed conifer forest neighbors. What is it about giant sequoias that allow them to persist through millennia? Surprisingly, a major factor in the longevity of giant sequoias is a chemical called tannin. The tannin, present in high concentrations in sequoia bark, gives the sequoia resistance to rot, boring insects, and fire.

It is difficult to appreciate the size of the giant sequoias because neighboring trees are so large. The largest of the sequoias are as tall as an average 26-story building, and their diameters at the base exceed the width of many city streets. As they continue to grow, they produce about 40 cubic feet (one cubic meter) of wood each year, approximately equal to the volume of a tree that’s 50 feet tall and one foot in diameter.

To avoid toppling over, sequoias lose branches, weak branches make for long-lived trees when they are attached to a stout central trunk and has the ability to grow new branches in its old age.  What this means is that during extreme storms, branches will fail but the tree itself is likely to survive.

This is what happened to the General Sherman Tree during the New Year’s storm of 1978. Powerful winds howled through the tree-tops, threatening the very existence of this ancient organism, but before the tree could be uprooted, one of its huge branches failed and crashed to the ground.

With a diameter of over six feet and a length in excess of 100 feet, this branch formed a huge “sail” during the storm, catching the wind like the sails on a square-rigged ship.

General Sherman - we think this is the branch that broke offGeneral Sherman - Broke tree branchGeneral Sherman BranchGeneral Sherman - The tree branch broke the fence when it fell and broke

German Sherman Loop

Our next stop was Big Tree Loop……This1.5 mile paved trail was great! A beautiful meadow, large trees, and boulders.

On our trail walk we ran across this beautiful Golden Marmont living in the base of one of the fallen Sequoia trees. He was so awesome!

Another day we took a ride to Hume Lake and to one of the look-outs on the Generals’ highway.

Then a trip to Cedar Grove

10-Mile Creek

 

Kings Canyon River

Grizzly Falls – By this late in the season the river and falls were pretty low, but it had a different kind of beauty from earlier in the spring when they were gushing with water.

On the banks of the Kings Canyon River at Cedar Grove

John Muir Rock and Kings River

Roaring Falls at Cedar Grove

River walk to Zumwalt Meadows – We did not get to walk the meadow loop due to the wooden walk bridge was washed out.

Knapps Cabin

Long before Kings Canyon became a National Park in 1940, George Owen Knapp, a successful businessman from Santa Barbara, built a small hunting and fishing cabin along the banks of the Kings River. The cabin was subsequently used and preserved by the Park Service with the incorporation of the land into the park, and it has since been added to the National Register of Historic Places. The cabin sits about a100 yards off the main road between Cedar Grove and Roads End.

 

 

 

Grant Grove – Kings Canyon National Canyon

Grant Grove Village was my home from April 12th through November 4th 2019 and the hub of our community where we worked, lived and socialized. This post is to share some history of Grant Grove and life here.

map-john-muir-grant-grove

When the Grant National Park was created in 1916 there were already a few primitive cabins and tents around a swampy area known as Bradley Meadow that was being used for guest facilities. Around 1924 a gas station, photo studio, and market were built to serve the increasing number of mostly day visitors. The Park Service wanted to bring the existing businesses with multiple ownership under a single concessionaire who would agree to build new facilities and run everything which happened in 1925 under the direction of Howard Hayes. Rather than build large hotels the park service decided that the new guest facilities for both parks should be rustic complexes of individual guest cabins. Between 1927 and 1930 a new lodging complex consisting of a small lodge and lobby, a relocated cabin to be used as a reading room, 4 new duplex guest cabins with private baths, a new bathhouse, and lots of tent cabins were constructed. Nearby, a separate area known as Meadow Camp already existed and consisted of a group of tent cabins. These were remodeled into rustic housekeeping cabins by replacing the tent-tops with roofs, and a new bathhouse/office was constructed. So by the early 1930s, Grant Grove Village had two separate and distinct guest lodging areas. Cabins from both these areas still stand today.

In 1932 a new store and lunchroom were built along the main park road (Hwy 180). This building remains today and is now the gift shop which was remodeled in 2017. In 1936 the gas station was replaced with a new one which also still stands today but is closed. A restroom was built near the gas station around 1940, it also still exists. Little changed from then until the 1960s when the National Park launched a new program to modernize the National Parks.  Under this new program, a 1960’s style coffee shop was added to the rear of the existing store, and a new Visitor’s Center was constructed across the street from it. Many of the cabins were repaired and remodeled. In 1969 the old lodge was remodeled into a market and retained much of the original design including the fireplace, but in 1993 the Lodge/market burned to the ground and Grant Grove Village lost what was it’s most architecturally historic structure. A new store and post office were built between the gas station and gift shop buildings in 1994.

John Muir Lodge was built in 1998 and is a two-story building. When you enter the lodge you walk into a large lobby with a huge fireplace. Several porches with chairs and rockers make a comfortable place to hang out in the evenings.

The brand new Grant Grove restaurant opened in 2017….the old Grant Grove Coffee Shop was built in 1962 and was attached to the back of the current gift shop building, in the area where the patio for the new restaurant is located now. The historic gift shop, which still remains, was built in 1933 and originally housed both the gift shop and a small lunch counter.

Other buildings looking out from John Muir Lodge – Manager housing units on the left, maintenance and Human Resource buildings on the right.

Snow days in May

Panoramic Point. The narrow, winding, Panoramic Point Road leads 2.3 miles from Grant Grove Village to a parking lot just below the park ridge. There is a pit toilet and picnic tables at the Panoramic Point parking lot.  From the parking lot a short trail leads about one block up to Panoramic Point. From Panoramic Point you see a fantastic view of King’s Canyon and the snow-capped mountains as well as Hume Lake.

IMG_7277

 J1’s ,  Camp-fires and, Outings

The Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) was created as part of the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961 to allow foreign nationals to temporarily reside in the United States and participate in a variety of education or training programs and to promote cultural exchange between the United States and other countries.

We had about 12 young men from Turkey, Russia and, Jordan who came and worked for us for three months over the summer. I became pretty good friends with a few of them and it was pretty awesome to learn about their home, families and, life in their country. Most of them were all students at the university as that is one of the requirements to be in the program and most were studying engineering. A few were studying for business and management degrees. Several of them worked in the restaurant and a few in the market and gift store. Since I was the cash room auditor I had connections with them all as they came on board to get their cash banks and drop their daily deposits with me.

A few times over the summer those who worked in the market and gift shop would get together at the market manager (Jill) cabin after work for a camp-fire and roasting hot dogs and Smores. They were always a lot of fun with time to visit, laugh, share stores, listen to music and just bond with each other.

Pictures:  #1  Arse from Russia, #2 Egc, Ahmet & Khan from Turkey #3 Brooke from New York, Oktay and Berk from Turkey, #4 Berk, Oktay from Turkey, Jonthan from San Jose, #5 Diedre from Arizona and Gina from Fresno, #6 Jonthan and Khan

Fire building 101

Took a drive with Ahmet, Oktay and Arse one day in July to Cedar Grove. By this time the river and waterfalls were still pretty full, but less than it was May.

Employee Appreciation Week

Each year for one week in the summer our concessionaire, Delaware North puts on a week of showing their employees how much they are appreciated. Some of the things they did was giving staff names to managers to write us thank you notes, we were fed a lunch out on the court yard, we had daily drawings to win gifts, etc.

Wine Tastings

This summer was the first time that wine tastings took place…..Our restaurant manager, Andrew is a young, new manager that was in his third season at Grant Grove. The tastings were very successful, fun and enjoyed meeting some awesome guests as well as spending time with co-workers. Although I am not a wine drinker I was curious to know more about wines and to try some samples. I found that I definitely do not like red wines. I like the whites and ones that are sweet….but found that wines are not something I see myself sitting down and drinking.

Hume Lake Outings

 End of Season – Saying Goodbye

Visitors

I was blessed to have family and friends come and spend some time with me while I was here this season. Two of my friends from Vacaville and Grass Valley CA came for my birthday in June which I wrote a separate blog post on. My cousin and her grandson came from Sacramento…..Their visit was short and I had to work so I did not get to do as much as I would have liked, but it was great to see them. My daughter came from Washington for 5 days…..We had so much fun as it was the first time in about 20 years I have been able to have just one on one time with her. It was a very special time but I am going to write about that in a separate blog.

My cousin Tammy and her grandson, Hayden

IMG_20190728_171228

 

 

 

 

Turned 60 years…… June 19th!

Well, a couple of weeks have gone by since my birthday and turning the big 60! Wow, where have the years gone? I remember in my younger years thinking 60 was so old and so far away and before you know it here I am 60, but do I feel old? Oh, there are some days I do especially when the body has its aches and pains…….but in my head, I still feel young at heart and I just want to keep on going and going. Turning 60 this year meant that I was not near family and friends to celebrate as I am working and living in Kings Canyon National Park an hour and a half outside of Fresno, CA. Two good friends, Colleen and Teri who live about 5 hours away had been talking about coming up here to visit me, so I suggested they come for my birthday! So the planning started a couple months ago…..they were able to get reservations at the John Muir Lodge which worked out really great because it is right near where I live and work. They were easily able to get a room for the night of June 18th, but there were no openings for June 19th so we kept checking to see if there were any cancellations and looking into other options just in case. The time was getting closer and still, nothing was coming up…..but Teri persisted and called the lodge and low and behold there was a cancellation for June 19th and she snagged it up. We were all so excited and happy about that.

So June 18th finally arrives……Colleen and Teri start out early so they can get here by 11/11:30 so we will have several hours to go exploring on Tuesday. Well, due to traffic, potty, gas stops, and a little site seeing they arrived about 2:30 P.M. I, of course, was on pins and needles as I waited for them to get here…..it was too hard to stay home at the RV waiting so I spent a couple hours at Grant Grove Village near the meadow on a bench taking in nature and texted there where I would be when they arrived.

As I was sitting on the bench I heard a voice ” Were here” I jumped up, gave them both big hugs…..so happy to see them! We got them checked into their room at John Muir Lodge, chatted and let them unwind a bit from the long drive. I first took them to where I lived with my RV in the woods so they could check out my neighborhood.

Our next stop was the General Grant Tree Trail, a 1/4 mile walking loop that is a nice, easy stroll and lots of fun as we checked out the “Fallen Monarch” which was home for 2 years in the late 1800s to the Gamlin brothers who were loggers while they built their cabin just up a ways from the Fallen Monarch. The Fallen Monarch was also used by the US Calvary for a time as a stable for their horses. 

Next on the path was the  General Grant Tree, which is the nation’s only living national shrine. In 1956, President Eisenhower gave the Grant Tree this designation in memory of Americans who gave their lives in wartime. Named after Civil War General and our 18th president Ulysses S. Grant, this 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 base height of 29 feet. The General Grant Tree is the world’s third-largest tree. Then it was off to dinner at the Grant Grove restaurant and the end of Day 1.