Well, hello again! It has been a while. I spent the last few months finishing up school and have the additional certifications I need to advance in my career. It has been a lot of hard work and sacrifice, as education usually is, but I have learned a lot and I am grateful for the opportunity.
We were able to get away for a few days for my sweet baboo's birthday in May. It was a milestone birthday. We went to Yosemite, where the waterfalls were beyond spectacular this year! I have never seen so much water in the park. It is Bill's favorite place in the world, so it was a great way to ring in another year of health and happiness.
Here is Bridal Veil Falls. The parking lot was flooded and we had to wade through ankle deep water to get to the pathway. Liesl loves to get her puppy toes wet so she was all in. Trying to take this photo was a challenge. The water was so intense that I was literally standing in a cloud. I could not see to take the photo. So I just pointed in the direction of the falls and hoped for the best.
We do love our National Parks, and so the next day, we decided to drive a couple of hours to go see King's Canyon and Sequoia National Park. There were a lot less people at these two parks and you get the sense of being a lot more remote. Dogs are not permitted on any of the trails in either of these parks, unlike Yosemite, which we did not find out until we got there. We were happy we went though and took Liesl around some paved parking lots in the park.
King's Canyon and Sequoia Nation Park are HUGE! This is King's Canyon. Absolutely stunning view! King's Canyon is home to the third largest tree in the world, a Giant Sequoia, named the General Grant tree. The Giant Sequoias are magnificent trees. When I was in elementary school a hundred years ago, back in New Jersey, I remember a teacher talking about these giant trees. I remember hoping that I would one day see them for myself. I am so glad that I did.
This is a giant Sequoia which fell on its side. I could easily walk through it with several feet of clearance over my head. I believe it was during WWI that horses and people were housed in it as shelter. You can see the silhouette of another person at the other end of the tree.
This is the General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park, it is the largest tree in the world, though not the tallest. It is 103 feet around and grows an additional 4 feet each year. You will notice how tiny the people look next to it. It is awe inspiring, as are the trees around it. It lives in the Forest of the Giants and it is breath-taking to be in the forest of these trees. They are so beautiful and magnificent. I felt this tremendous feeling of peace and tranquility there. Visitors seemed to keep their voices low in reverence. The General Sherman Tree is estimated to be between 2,300 and 2,700 years old. Even so, it is not the oldest tree in the world. It is pretty awesome to think of all of the world history that has occurred during its lifetime.
The path down into the Forest of the Giants is about half a mile. There are no doggies allowed, so Bill and I took turns going to see it, knowing that we would probably not ever return to these particular parks (still so many others to see). Bill went first and I wondered what was taking so long for him to return. Liesl and I had done a couple of laps around the huge parking lot, which still had a lot of snow. Bill returned almost an hour later, and I made the trek. The walk is downhill and I remember thinking, "This is going to be no fun on the walk back up this hill." I was not even kidding. The Forest of the Giants is at an altitude of 7,000 feet. There are signs everywhere advising you to take the walk back to the parking lot slowly. I could literally hear my heart pounding in my ears at several points. Not good. I walked slowly back to the parking lot, stopping at the benches to rest. Bill, who has a replacement aortic valve, said he stopped at every single bench to rest. Yikes! We were glad that Liesl was not permitted on the trail because with her little heart valve problem, we would have ended up carrying her up that hill.
We are really glad we had this adventure. It was amazing and we got to see these amazing trees. They have stood as silent sentries over two millenniums. We have to do what ever we can to preserve these amazing trees and these amazing parks so that many future generations may experience them, too.
One last note. It is an absolute bargain to visit a National Park. The admission is generally $30 per carload for a week's entry. If you are over 62 and a United States citizen, the National Park Service offers a lifetime free pass to enter any National Park with up to three of your closest and dearest friends to enter any park, for the rest of your life. This is for the initial cost of $20 and can be applied for on the National Park Service website. Other free passes are available for US Military. Now that it is summer, get out there and see these national treasures!