Another day in paradise: Sequoia National Park and King’s Canyon

It just wouldn’t be a Harrison vacation unless the weather sucked and in keeping with tradition, this year’s California trip did not disappoint. Or, actually, it did disappoint, and the weather sucked. While Tennessee baked mercilessly in 100 degree heat, northern California could not buy a ray of sunshine. Troy and I detoured from Yosemite for a day to see the giant sequoias that populate the aptly-named Sequoia National Park. Sadly, they were hard to see.

A canopy of giant trees or the poster for the next Twilight movie: Sequoia shrouded in fog.

Giant sequoias are giant. It’s hard to define giant until you’re standing next to it. Rest assured, these are big fucking trees. Even if the fog was so heavy you couldn’t really see them.

Troy standing inside a fallen sequoia at Grant's Grove in King's Canyon National Park.

Perhaps you missed the white stuff on the ground. They call it snow. In June.

General Grant Tree. In snow. In June. Guess that's why it's called the Nation's Christmas Tree.

I desperately wanted to make a snow ball and hit Troy in the face but he said if I did, he would wrestle me to the ground and shove snow down my cleavage and then I would be really wet and cold.  Having some experience in ignoring threats like this to my peril, discretion won out and I stayed (reasonably) dry. Every giant tree is named after a Union general or other Yankee. I suppose this is because the trees were set aside during Lincoln’s tenure, but it could also be because Yankee generals really wanted to have something long and giant named after them to make up for other shortcomings. Sequoias have really soft, spongy bark and they make crappy wood for building anything because it splinters. Lincoln had to save them from wholesale slaughter because, even though they could really only be used to make pencils, our ancestors had the social conscience of fleas and would have cut them down to make mulch because they could. I am amazed sometimes that we survive as a species despite ourselves.

Troy and I at the world's biggest tree (General Sherman) which we could not really see and now neither can you. This is a crappy vacation picture to be sure.

We finally decided to drive to the far side of King’s Canyon National Park and were rewarded with sunshine and warmer temperatures. We saw no one. This has to be the most deserted park we’ve been to. This would have been a totally awesome place to see Bigfoot, but I was again denied. No ‘squatch for Jean this trip. Just a waterfall:

Grizzly Falls, Kings Canyon National Park. I don't know why they call it that. They have no grizzlies here.

Trekking through the Everglades: flora and fauna

The two single most glorious words in the English language that pertain to outdoor activites for me are the words “sea level”. (Side note: the best single word is “spa”). Troy typically takes me hiking in mountains where I wheeze at high altitude or fry in the deserts. This time, we decided to visit the Everglades. I had never been to Miami or Southern Florida and my vision of the Everglades was derived from that episode of Miami Vice where Crockett and Tubbs travel to the Everglades to grab some guy who did not want to give testimony in a trial. Since Miami Vice also served as the basis for my vision of what a hooker looked like until I moved to an area that had actual hookers, I should have known that Miami Vice was not precisely concerned with accurate depictions.

Crockett and Tubbs reenact Deliverance in the swamp

What the Everglades actually looks like is an endless sea of grass with some islands of trees here and there:

The world's biggest sea of grass

I had a list of animals I planned to see while in the Everglades:

1. Bear

2. Panther

3. Python

4. Alligator

5. Crocodiles

6. Manatees

7. Bigfoot

I did not get to see a bear. I did get to see bear shit, thus answering the question “Do bears shit in the wood?” Clearly, they do:

Definitive proof for the doubters

 I also did not get to see a panther (I did see panther tracks), a python or Bigfoot. I was especially hoping to see a python and Bigfoot fighting in a swamp and I was on the lookout. Bigfoot has a long documented history in Florida so I was pretty sure I’d get at least a glimpse of a hairy man-beast. Alas, the only hairy man-beast candidate I saw was running an airboat tour.

Troy stares at me like I am an alien when I ask him questions like "If a panther and a bear had a knife fight, who would win?"

I did get to see crocodiles and a lot of alligators. I am pretty sure Troy planned to feed me to them, but they seemed pretty placid and not all that interested in us.

Allligator at Big Cypress not being interested in eating Troy