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ArnoldLand
Written By: OC Fotoguy
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Monday I left Port Isabel/South Padre Island, Tx.  My maroon by a monsoon in Louisiana was behind me.  South Padre Island worked. I got to watch the crazies at the college kids Spring Break, plus a spoonbill flyover!  I headed for Big Bend, but found out the school kids of Texas were swarming there, so postponed that in route and turned northwest to Deming, N.M.  After driving 500+ miles I found my two favorite restaurants there were closed.  Then I enjoyed “Wonder Rocks” a campground in Coronado National Forest on the Az. N.M. boarder amidst towering rocky peaks, “kind of like camping in a high-walled soup bowl.”  An absolutely gorgeous place, I stayed two days, regrouped, and got my game plan together.  I headed for Arivaca, Az., enjoyed birding east of there, ate chili breakfast, found a new (for me) camping spot just outside Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge with more birds and few people, then headed towards California’s Sequoia trees.  On the way from Cabeza Prieta to interstate US 8 a Border Patrol Agent at one of the check points, saw my Ocean City Sticker on my bumper, and told me there’s a sign in Sacramento, Ca., that says Ocean City is 3,353 miles away at the other end of US Rt. 50.  I told him there’s the same at the O.C. end!
I’m in Visalia, Ca., deep in central California, now.  Everything is completely new to me here.  I stop at new spots each year, but they’ve always been between ones where I’ve been before.  Here I’ve never seen so many farm crops I had no idea what they were, saw what must’ve been groves of date palms, oil wells (never knew Ca. had oil), huge windmill farms, and passed many factories I had no idea what they were making.  All of that was on a freeway going 65mph!  I’m deep in Arnoldland, land of the fruits and nuts, where gas and most stuff costs more than anywhere in our country.  I saw gas prices from $2.39 to $3 close together and I had a good meal last night for a reasonable price and MegaMart let me park there all night.  It was 50 degrees at 8am, and I doubt if I can find a campsite at low altitude in Sequoia National Park, National Forest, or National Monument, (yeah, there’s one of each), so I’ll be making a MegaMart’s parking lot home for a couple days.  I have a propane heater that’s labeled “inside safe,” but I hope I don’t have to use it. I want it to be in warm weather!
I know the Sequoia Trees are on the west side of the Sierra Nevada Mts., which have an altitude of 3-10,000 feet.  What a place - trees taller than most buildings and they don’t get that tall till you’re in a mountain at 6,000 feet here in California.  That’s why I came here, to see a Giant Sequoia Tree; that was my goal.  Of course they were a most flabbergasting sighting, but to me seeing a bear or panther is more thrilling, but sorry, here is not my style.  I want to stay a while, find a nice spot to park my nest where there’re trails to enjoy the wildlife and scenery that’s nearby.  Sequoia & Kings Creek N.P. are mostly at 6-8,000+feet altitude, which means it’s too cold to be there and camp (park my nest) overnight, plus there’s snow on the ground.  I’m not interest in being cold!  I decided I was going to see a Sequoia Tree and I did it.
I returned to a MegaMart in Visalia, Ca., each of three days I was there and walked to the restaurant district about a mile and a half away to eat my evening meal.  Yeah, I’d have rather been up there amongst those trees, but it would’ve been just too cold at night.  Was it worth the drive and the effort?  Absolutely!  Will I do it again, probably not.  The locals in Visalia recommended that I go on to the home of Old Faithful, since I was so close as they said, but I rejected their suggestion.  I knew Yosemite N.P. was several hundred miles farther north and at high altitude, it would be too cold to camp; so it would be another drive through, not the way I do things.  I want to be there and enjoy for several days or a week without moving my vehicle. 
The trees were immense, a great memory, but from here I’m headed east now.  I wanted to do it and I did, but the idea of these Adventures is to be warm; I wasn’t there, especially if I’d camped up in the mountains, so going to Yosemite was out of the question!  Being warm is where it’s at!  My next overnight place will be Kelso Dunes in the Mojave Desert and on to Big Bend N.P., Tx.; both will be hot.  That’s the ticket in the winter!!!
 
Bob R  o.c.FotoGuy
more photos @ picasaweb.google.com/o.c.fotoguy2009
& facebook.com/OCfotoguy
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