We spent one more day in Chula Vista, enjoying the park by the bay, watching the ducks, and preparing to move. It was hard to say goodbye to such a lovely RV place, but we had to be on our way.
We retraced our steps, or should I say our roll, through the L.A. area and spent one night at the pleasant Valencia Travel Village, north of the metro area. It was a large park with a lot of long-term residents, and a nice spacious area in the back for transients like us.
Our space was next to the rig of a motorcycle enthusiast who brought in a couple of friends after a ride. Mike joined them for a beer and a cycle-chat, while I met the wife and her two adorable dogs, a pair of Wheaton terriers. Meanwhile, the cats relaxed inside; they were taking these moves more in stride now.
The next day, we headed north again. We had reserved a space at the Sequoia RV Ranch, just outside Sequoia National Park. This place was extremely rural compared to where we'd been before.
It was a nice change to get back to more rustic surroundings, although it was very dry and dusty due to the extended California drought. Also, the limited electrical capacity in this park would throw us back to older RV habits. To use the microwave or the hair dryer or the hot pot, turn off everything else. And FORGET about air conditioning!
We weren't going to be at Sequoia very long, and our hiking legs weren't the best, so we would be sticking to the shorter, more popular trails like the General Sherman Tree.
The General Sherman Tree is the largest tree in the world by volume; that is, it has the most wood in its trunk of any living tree. Halfway down the trail there is a brick "footprint" which matches the base of the tree. It has a circumference of 103 feet!
Another short popular hike is the climb to Moro Rock, a big hunk of granite sticking out of the forest. The elevation gain is only 300 feet, not a big climb, but there some interesting wrinkles. An impressive system of steps and ramps was built in 1931 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, one of the many New Deal projects that we still enjoy today. Sadly, though, the view eighty years later is usually obscured by man-made haze.
Oh, and gee, maybe this sign should be at the BOTTOM, no? ----------->
We visited one more nearby place, the "Tunnel Log". This 275' tree fell over in 1937, blocking the Crescent Meadow Road, and rather than cut up the entire tree, the CCC carved a tunnel in it for cars to pass through. There is also a bypass road nearby for taller vehicles.
As we drove out of the park after our visit, we got a look at Moro Rock from the bottom.
Our destination for our last day at Sequoia was Crystal Cave. I've been in love with caves ever since a childhood visit to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico; perhaps I was a bat in a previous life. We had purchased tickets a day earlier at the park main office; interestingly, tickets are not available at the cave itself. The road to the cave is narrow and winding, ending in a small parking lot. There's a booth where you check in and wait for your assigned tour time. They have a few souvenirs for sale, so Mike bought me a little stuffed bat to add to my collection.
Finally it was tour time. The guide gave us a lengthy talk about what not to do in the cave, then we all had to step into and out of a vat containing a disinfectant solution. Apparently there is an ailment called "white nose syndrome" that is killing cave bats in the eastern U.S. and they are proactively trying to prevent its spread to western bats.
After all that, the group started down the steep half-mile path to the cave entrance. I watched all the younger people pass me by and disappear down the trail. Needless to say, I was last to arrive at the bottom.
The cave entrance is protected by a metal gate formed to look like a spider web. Seemed appropriately spooky.
The cave is small but lovely. Many of the formations looked like melting icicles. There was one interesting moment in the tour when the guide turned off all the lights. You can't imagine how dark and silent it is in a cave!
We exited the cave mouth and relaxed for a moment by the pleasant waterfall outside the cave entrance. Then it was time to face the music -- the steep hike back up to the parking lot. There were many, many rest stops.
After a picnic lunch across from the bank of porta-potties, we made the long drive back to camp, where we found all the kids relaxing.
That evening was our last in camp. We took a short walk down to the stream that runs through the park and talked to a few of our neighbors. Along the way, we encountered Ruby, an adorable dog whose guardians were camped just across from us. Ruby was a real sweetie and clearly enjoyed RV life.
The next day, we headed for home and made the four-hour trip without incident. It had been a good shakeout cruise for our new land yacht. When we unpacked the kitchen, we finally found the missing tortillas, which had fallen into a gap behind one of the cabinet shelves (another thing to repair). They weren't green, though -- just squished.
Postscript: one thing we learned on our maiden voyage is that lugging around a tow-dolly for the Lexus is not going to cut it. It adds a lot of extra work and time to Mike's chores each time we move, and it creates a storage problem in small RV parks. But trying it was a successful experiment because it proved to us definitively that we want a flat-towable vehicle for future travels.
So...we went out and bought the Ford C-Max and Mike equipped it with a tow-bar. You can read all about THAT project here. We're all set for the next trip! Meanwhile, Mike is enjoying the new car. It's a plug-in hybrid with a 20-mile battery range. Mike loves getting around 70 miles to the gallon.
Additional information Mike has written for the prospective C-Max owning-and-towing audience: a treatise on everything Ford doesn't tell you about flat-towing, and how to deal with issues; and the step-by-step procedure for putting your C-Max into flat-towing mode.