Deciding to skip the ‘free coffee’ that morning on finding it was a church and would likely come with A Talk, breakfast was a Mexican food truck and was excellent. And off! Winding up to Sequoia National Park is beautiful. Once there, a short stroll down to where an old saw mill once stood leaves you at the Mark Twain stump. Apparently, when the west coasters wrote to east coasters of the size of the redwoods in the area, New Yorkers laughed it off as a joke. Surely a tree couldn’t be that big? Good one. So. They decided to cut down one of these giants and send part of it to New York. Talk about wanting to make a point… The Mark Twain tree was cut down in the late 1800s and part of it is still in a museum in New York. The stump has a circumference of 27.8 metres. That number doesn’t really say how big the tree is – circumference is so hard to imagine, but they had to use a 28 foot saw to fell the thing….
There was a small patch of snow in one corner so of course we built a little snowman, who kind of looked like a panda, and had a snowball fight, before heading on to the next stop: Grant’s Grove. The trees here are ridiculous. The General Grant that the grove is named for is 40 feet in diameter. It’s 290 feet high. I’ve seen it and I can’t even imagine it now, it seems so impossible and wonderful that it’s still standing. It’s believed to be 1700 years old and to weigh about 1254 tonnes. Just unbelievable. But, the best part of Grant’s Grove, was a little squirrel I found in a tree! So cute – he was very busy eating an acorn and it was just wonderful. I loved him.
I again spend the evening at the campsite searching for bears to no avail. Several deer come by to say hello, and there are squirrels everywhere but the bears are elsewhere.
The next day’s goal is Santa Maria to visit my great-uncle. We’re off early because it’s bloody cold and foggy, and while it’s not far it’s a windy road with lots of switchbacks to get out of there. There’s a huge drive through rock at the base of the mountain before hitting a town where I find, and fall in love with, doughnuts made in a waffle iron. OMG. Amazing. And I don’t like doughnuts or waffles really… But this combo is excellent.
I decide now’s a good time for Mum to practice driving on the right because it’s basically a straight line and single lane and figure nothing can go wrong, so we pull over to a camping and picnic site that is pretty…. and underwater. Weird. From there we hit the Nissan store in Santa Maria to get the car checked out after all the brake work coming down the mountain and then head to the novitiate.
My great-uncle is a Priest in Santa Maria, so after spending the afternoon with him and going for dinner it’s early to bed so we can hear him saying Mass in the morning. Now, I haven’t spent much time in church, but it was really lovely to be there and to receive his blessings, and also to hear how much the local community love him as he’s so far away from the rest of the family.
Next… off to see Dewey Weber on the way to Joshua Tree NP!