Hey, all! Hitting you with a quick update at the beginning of the work week.

I flew back into San Diego last Sunday, and it’s been a whirlwind. I had a really heavy workweek, and then headed out.

While there, I reconnected with my friend, who insisted I see a few more local sights before departing. We hit up a park on Lake Murray, because the weather was just spectacular. There’s a bazillion ducks and geese (and ground squirrels?) that just follow you around, there.

And also visited Balboa Park, where there’s a bunch of cool stuff like the San Diego Zoo, a botanical garden, etc. Because I went in the evening after work, I didn’t partake in much, though it was nice to stretch my legs in the setting sun. I also grabbed some Russian-Georgian food at Pomegranate. I really, really love eating.

The following day was a big driving day — I woke up at 6am and just gunned it, spending almost 14 hours driving about 523 miles. I was Northbound, on a mission because I had finally gotten in at a camping reservation for Yosemite National Park.

As I’ve mentioned before, with covid, national parks have changed their guidelines, and like Zion (and Mammoth Cave and Carlsbad Caverns, come to think), Yosemite is requiring a prior reservation to be able to even get into the park. Unlike these parks, I found, Yosemite releases its day pass tickets one calendar week in advance, at 8am PST. That means, my commitment-issues ass missed out. I was about to just give up on going entirely. HOWEVER! In my desperation Googling, I found an amazing website, campflare.com, where you can put in for a campsite, and if there’s a cancellation, they’ll email you. I spam-entered Yosemite’s parks, and after some trial and error (the spots are gone immediately once you get the email), was able to secure a campsite at the Lower Pines campground, enabling me a three-day window to explore Yosemite.

Therefore, to make it there with as little night driving as possible, I had to drive like a bat out of hell, and didn’t want to miss my desired destinations on the way: namely, both Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks.

I visited Sequoia first, which is easily accessible and mainly a drive-through kind of park: as the lady at the gate assured me, you have like a 1% chance of getting lost in there. Upon entrance, I was greeted with scenery like large boulders, creeks and rivers, and mountains stretching into the distance with steep scenic drives.

As you continue through the park, the trees get… bigger. Taller. And then, more massive. Almost unbelievably so. I had seen the redwoods in Northwestern California last year, but as a friend of mine put it: the redwoods are tall, the sequoias are wide. And they are! Just driving through the giant forest, you can pull over and see random trees like these –and get out and hike among them. It’s really, really cool. And it smells amazing.

I made a small hike to the General Sherman tree, the biggest tree on Earth (by volume, that is). At its base, its circumference is 103 feet. The tree is estimated to weigh 1,385 tons. Yeah, it’s a big guy.

I also checked out the General Grant tree, which is second place. It’s just over the border into King’s Canyon; the parks are connected. I really liked the trail here because there is a felled sequoia that you can walk through and just really take in the massive grandeur.

I made the drive into King’s Canyon, but didn’t go all the way down to the end of the canyon because I was in such a time crunch. That said, it’s a beautiful park, and decidedly uncrowded, which is a plus considering just how crowded Yosemite is, not to mention hard to get into.

I definitely plan on returning.