After a lovely day at San Diego Botanic Garden (see my review here), Arianne and I concluded the day by preparing for our upcoming trip. And so, early in the morning, we began our week-long California road trip! The first day of the trip did not turn out anything like we had planned. Sequoia National Park, roughly a six hour drive from Oceanside, was our camping destination. Unlike over the weekend, the weather was gorgeous. I was particularly impressed by the clouds that day. Arianne did the driving the first day, leaving me free to gaze around in wonder and even snap pictures through the car windows. The landscape prior to reaching Bakersfield, along the portion of highway termed ‘the Grapevine’, provided some great photo opportunities.
On the way to Sequoia, we drove through Bakersfield (although throughout the trip, I referred to Bakersfield as Baskerville – preferring the names from the fictional world of Sherlock Holmes.) It was a lovely day, and looked like it’d be a perfect night for camping. Especially for Arianne’s first true camping trip! As we began to climb the mountain, we approached foreboding clouds.
Before long, the sunny California weather gave way to snow! Within ten minutes the scenery shifted from a hot, summer day to a winter wonderland. Right by the side of the road, in front of a charming farm, we came across two snowmen. Although we had resisted stopping to play in the snow up til that point, we had to cave at the sight of the snowmen. Before too long, another couple also stopped to see the snowmen, and was gracious enough to get a picture of us together.
The patches of snow slowly thickened until the mountain was covered in a blanket. Since there were several hours of driving left, we never suspected that the park itself could be snowed in. All along the way, we couldn’t help laughing to the references to Hot Springs, a town of California near Sequoia National Park. We stopped at the Hot Springs Elementary school, which was surrounded by pastures. Several horses were grazing among the snow and, despite my best efforts to attract their attention, seemed perfectly content.
Once again, we ran into the nice couple from earlier – seems like our adventure plans from the day matched up pretty closely. When we entered the park, several feet of snow surrounded the entrance sign. Perhaps the most ironic of the signs was the ‘moderate’ fire danger for the day. For some reason, I have a feeling that it hadn’t been updated in a while (ha ha).
At that point we suspected that the park might be a bit snowed in. Nonetheless, there was no need to turn around just yet. And so, we continued driving into the park. The road had been cleared for a good distance, and we drove right up until the road ended in a snow drift. I found a shovel outside the ranger’s office, and while we considered shoveling out a camping spot, I don’t think even the military grade camping equipment would have made for a comfortable first camping experience for Arianne. In hindsight, I suppose it might have been advisable to check out the weather beforehand. Considering the beautiful weather at the beach that morning, I hardly expected the weather to so radically different just a few hours east. Considering we went from the sunny California shore to several feet of snow in one day, and to the vast desert the next, I suppose I know for my next trip this summer that California weather can be highly variable depending on the part of the state.
Although the snow may have foiled our camping plans, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I have not seen so much snow in many, many years and it provided many laughs on the trip. We did backtrack and attempt to cross the mountains via an alternate route and reach Lake Isabella, but all the roads were buried under several feet of uncleared snow. We stopped in several small towns, and picked up several hilarious anecdotes from the locals. In the end, I didn’t end up getting to check “Bucket List #34: Marvel at a Giant Sequoia” off of my list that day as planned, but to my pleasant surprised I did get to complete one entry!
Continue on to read about Bucket List #244: Eat an orange I picked myself or about my trip to San Diego Botanic Garden the previous day. All entries from the trip can be found under the label California trip.
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