Exploring is Rewarding

3 Jul

Snapshot 2009-07-02 22-49-10

We love to go for drives.  In this age of high gas prices and global warming, just going for a long drive isn’t necessarily the most responsible thing to do but dang, we really like to just go for a long drive and see what we can see.  On this trip to Sequoia National Forest, we drove down Kings Canyon.

Kings Canyon was discovered by some Spanish monks who were looking for a good site for a mission.  They named it for the three kings who visited Jesus after his birth.  That’s why it’s not King’s Canyon . . . it’s the Canyon of the Kings.  Anyway . . .

This is a seriously beautiful place.  Leaving the main section of Kings Canyon National Park, you drive along the rim of the canyon and then make your way to the bottom along the river.   Kings Canyon is deep and steep and very beautiful.  The river is spectacular — particularly at this time of year when the snow melt is still flowing out of the mountains.

It’s a pretty scary drive.

If you’d like to see pictures of our trip to Sequoia, click here.  I put them up on Flickr and there is a really nice slide show feature.  I love it.  I know it’s lazy but . . .

Highlights of the drive included . . .

  • seeing an American Dipper at Grizzly Falls.
    We stopped there to see the falls.  There were rocks (there are lots of rocks in the Sierras).  The kids wanted to climb them (they always want to climb rocks).  Something happened and Gage ended up falling and hitting his knee (he didn’t want to hear that climbing on rocks comes with that risk!).  I sat (on a rock) and comforted him while Ruthie and Greg walked over to the falls and Ruth discovered the joys of the mist that comes off a waterfall (she was soaked!).  After Gage felt better, I walked over to look at the falls and right away saw a dark bird fly right into the waterfall.  I knew right away what it was but before I could get my camera on it, it was gone.  It came back again but again, no picture.  Still, it was so exciting to tick that lifebird off my list.  I’ve been wanting to see one since reading about Julie Zickefoose seeing one.
  • having a close encounter with a Mule Deer.
    Not all highlights are good experiences although this one does end well.  After we had lunch along the Kings River, we drove out to the end of the road.  Highway 180 ends deep in Kings Canyon, deep in the Sierra Nevada mountains.  As we drove along this quiet road, we were checking out the scenery around us, not driving too fast but not poking along, either.  All of a sudden, two mule deer leaped out in front of us.  Greg braked as hard as he dared and the 2nd deer almost made it out of our way.  We clipped it with our right front bumper in its hind leg.  The deer was a young buck.  We stopped and sort of sat there for a few moments.  The car that was behind us, pulled up next to us and told us that the buck had run off and run back towards them and crossed back over the road and was in the bushes next to us.  I got out and, after checking the car, I walked over and found the deer.  He was quietly eating in the bushes.  He heard me and walked away.  I watched him put weight on all 4 legs.  I think he was fine.  And . . . no damage to our car either.  Amazing.
  • picnicking next to the river.
    I had packed a picnic lunch and a full cooler of sodas and water.  We got a picnic table right next to the river, under the trees.  We were able to back the car up to the table and could leave the door open for Ruby to participate in our lunch too.  The food was delish but standard picnic fare — sandwiches, chips, pickles, carrots, snap peas, cookies.  Something about the day was wonderful.  We ate while being watched carefully by a pair of Steller’s Jays.
  • Boyden Caves.
    Halfway down Kings Canyon, we stopped at Boyden Cave.  We didn’t plan to tour but we wanted to get the info for a future visit.  Outside the little gift shop, the management had a series of comfortable chairs set up right along the river.  We plunked down there and watched the river go by, swallows swirling over head.   So amazingly relaxing.

Taking a drive into an unfamiliar area can be wonderful or it could be delightful.  This drive was beyond delightful.  If you ever get to Sequoia, take a day and drive down Kings Canyon.  You won’t regret it and be sure to say high to the Dipper!

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