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.

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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.

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 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

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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.