All posts filed under “California

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Sequoia National Park

May 29 – May 30

The Mariposa Sequoia Grove in Yosemite was closed for repair work while we there, so we were excited to get to Sequoia National Park and see some big trees! There were several dispersed camping spots in the forest portion of the park and we were able to set up in a free spot not too far off the main road. When there are no signs and no one else around, we always feel like “Is this ok?”, “Can we park here?”, “How many bears live in the neighborhood?”. It’s weird how much comfort a fire ring made of rocks can bring you. At least one other person has camped there, so it must be OK. There were summer camp buildings kind of close-by, but since it wasn’t quite summer vacation, they were empty. Even if the buildings look cute and normal, an empty summer camp is creepy. The next morning we found some diesel after letting our tank get dangerously low. We also found a 90’s R&B throwback station which carried us through our park driving. Ginuwine’s “Pony” will forever remind me of those majestic giants.

Looking back, I think we were a bit delirious with nature at this point. Everywhere we went inside the park was completely beautiful, but we were excited at the idea of restaurants and laundry. We hitched up and headed south for Los Angeles!

Nothing to see here – just us and a 2,000 year old tree

Would you look at these trees!


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Yosemite National Park & Lee Vining

May 20 – May 29

Yosemite is obviously a ginormous park with tons of very difficult day hikes, but fortunately we can’t leave the pups for more than 7-ish hours at a time. A 5 hour hike is plenty for me, so it works out great. We luckily squeezed the trailer into a spot at Indian Flat campground about 45 minutes from Yosemite Valley. We jam-packed our stay, hiked, saw the highlights and a bear (from a distance)! I can’t imagine how crowded it gets later the summer, because there were already a good amount of people in the Valley and on our hikes. We hiked up to Nevada Falls, drove to the Tunnel View look out, hiked Sentinel Dome. We had a full range of weather while we were there, beautiful blue bird days, rain followed by spooky fog. All were beautiful and I’m glad we were able to experience a few different versions. I throw the word magical around a lot, but it is really fitting in Yosemite. Those waterfalls. It’s magical.

Even though we were delayed in getting started, our timing worked out really well since the road that cuts through Yosemite, Tioga Pass, opened up while we were there. The opening date varies based on snowfall the previous winter. We were staying on the west side of Yosemite, but there are lots of campgrounds on the east side. We successfully made the 2 hour drive across with the trailer and found a GEM of a spot in Lee Vining. The last 10 miles or so before arriving at the campground were the steepest we had driven with the trailer. Once we turned into the campground it started smelling like burnt rubber and smoke was spilling out of the front driver-side tire. It cooled down and was totally fine, but we are now better acquainted with the “engine brake” and “tow mode” settings on the truck.

In our short time on the road, we have learned that problems are rarely without a buddy. As we were setting up, we realized our battery power wasn’t working…no lights, no water pump, no ceiling fans, no good. We’ve replaced fuses before, but that didn’t seem to be the issue this time. It looked like the wires had been burned. The small bolt holding it together had come lose and every time the trailer was jostled around, it was sparking. Lee Vining is super remote, but we couldn’t have been luckier because there was a tiny general store five minutes away that had the longer bolt and nut we needed to prevent it from coming loose again. Crisis averted. After all of that, we decided we would stay for a full week, through Memorial Day weekend. We were parked right along a rushing creek with a mountain in the background for $7 a night! One of the best deals of the trip for sure. We went on so many beautiful hikes in the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains each with its own crystal clear alpine lake. Lakes on lakes on lakes. It was hard to leave, but we wanted to fit in one more park before driving to the coast.

June Lake near Lee Vining

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Hello, California!

May 7 – May 20

After our Bryce Canyon stay, we headed north. We stopped in a tiny central Utah town for a couple of nights for groceries, internet and laundry. Then, found a very cute city park for a night in Provo. We were getting excited at the prospect of being in California, so we drove straight across Nevada to Lake Tahoe. Sorry, Nevada. Parts of the the drive were really pretty.

It was a long straight drive, so I drove a good portion of it. Typically, Chris does the towing and I do the navigating and campground selecting. Our stopover was in a Wal-mart parking lot. Our very first! We drove the rest of the way the following morning. We were about a week too early for the campgrounds around northern Lake Tahoe. Even though it was early May, a lot of campgrounds weren’t open yet. We found a spot in an RV park in Truckee. The town has a cute main street and is surrounded by beautiful hiking and ski resorts. Our trip happened to overlap with our friend Walker’s weekend trip, so we were able to hang out, meet some of his friends, eat elk burgers. It was lovely. After a few fun days in Truckee, we moved to South Lake Tahoe and stayed at campground across the street from the lake. The campground location was awesome – we could see the lake from from our windows. We did some beautiful hikes close-by (more hiking – this was a very heavy hiking phase). There was still snow on some of the hikes – it was really gorgeous. One of the hikes was around an alpine lake that had adorable cottages you can rent in the summer. It all felt like we were hiking around an alpine lake in Austria. It was still pretty cold there and several days of rain were starting up, so we decided to pack up and head toward Yosemite!

We drove within an hour of the park and stayed in a BLM spot for the night before driving to Yosemite Valley the next morning. We had gotten a little ahead of ourselves because we needed diesel exhaust fluid and cell service, so Chris could be a call that afternoon. The garage in Yosemite Valley was out of the exhaust fluid, so we decided to pause our Yosemite plans and go back to nearest town to regroup. This change of plans was completely seamless.

We needed cell service, hard to find in Yosemite unless you are in the middle of the Valley, where all the campgrounds are booked months in advance. We picked a campground nearby to get caught up on all things internet. This campground selection was a bit of a misstep on my part. We wanted something inexpensive, but you have to move away from Yosemite to lower the price. Somehow I picked something an hour and half away and my navigating took us through a field on a road dedicated for tractors. There were some bumps. Safe to say, the mood was a little strained in the truck upon arrival.

The cell service was terrible, the wifi offered didn’t really work. There were lots of bugs at night that gravitated toward our brightly lit trailer. On the bright side, the campground was run by a super friendly fellow and it had the cutest campground bathroom yet. Due to the lack of good internet, we were unable to wake up in the middle of the night and stream the royal wedding. Its ok, I’m over it… In the end, the campground worked out fine and after our weekend stay we were ready for a Yosemite adventure.

They don’t quite have the hang of picture taking

True Love

Pinecones the size of your head!

Cutest Campground Shower

Not a bad view from our detour campground