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{ Sequoia National Park } { Wuksachi Lodge } { Wolverton Barbeque }

The boy and I finally saw each other last night. We woke up early on Day 2 to start our five-hour drive to Sequoia National Park. It was an uneventful ride with a quick stop at a Starbucks for cofee and a truck-stop style sausage and egg breakfast at Denny’s outside of Fresno. At the gas station across the street, I bought a bag of Lay’s Chile Limon chips and before we reached Kings Canyon National Park, we picked up a couple pounds of freshly-picked and ripe nectarines, peaches and pluots (also known as Dapple Dandys and Dinosaur Eggs) from the Blossom Trail Fruit Stand. We also bought several bags of pistachio and almond nuts to munch on. Amazing what a difference there is when the fruit is picked ripe from the tree; fruit in the supermarket never explodes with sweetness the way these did.

We drove by Kings Canyon National Park and were both appreciative of the fresh smell of nature. It’s definitely something one craves when living in New York City. In Tulare County, the curvy roads were fun to drive with the tall redwoods and pines towering over us.

We spotted our first giant tree at the entrance gate of Sequoia National Park. I bounced on my seat as I finally got to experience what I had only seen in National Geographic magazines when I was a child.

We checked in Wuksachi Lodge and moved our luggage and food to our deluxe room in the Silliman building. We were warned to be bear-y careful as bears roam the area especially at night.

After the sun came down a bit, we started our stroll along the Big Trees Trail. Reading the exhibit-style explanations along our route, we learned plenty about the trees. Redwoods and sequoias are in the same family but are different species. The redwoods, sequoia sempervirens, are the world’s tallest tree. The sequoias, sequoiadendron giganteum, are the world’s largest in terms of total volume of wood and only grow in the west slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The trail skirts around the Round Meadow, as if the sequoias were guarding the flower beds in the middle. No sequoias grow in the meadow because the moisture level here was excessive and limited gas exchange from the trees’ roots. Any seedlings that sprouted here would die early. We also saw a lot of trunks with burn scars. The rangers perform controlled fires in the park to help the trees to reproduce. The bursts of heat from the fire help the sequoias open their cones and release a spray of seeds, as well as open up space within which young seedlings could take root.

After our ecology lesson, we drove to the Moro Rock and climbed all four hundred steps to get a panaromic view of the Great Western Divide and the high Sierra canyons.

The trail is only a quarter-mile trail but the steep granite steps certainly made us feel like we were climbing more. After Moro Rock we stopped by the Auto Log, a short pathway cut on top of a fallen sequoia to help visitors like us compare our cars to the size of the giant trees. If that is not enough to inspire awe, the Tunnel Log found at the end of Crescent Meadow Road provides another example of the scale of a normal sequoia.

A tunnel was cut through the fallen tree to allow cars through. On the way back to our lodge, we said hello to General Sherman, the largest living thing on earth. We split our time trying to figure out how to fit the entire tree in our camera’s viewfinder and swatting the mosquitoes that bombarded our arms and legs.

By the time we ran back to our parked car, we had several shots of what is the official Christmas tree of the nation and about five insect bites each. We later learned that the tree was named by cattleman James Wolverton in honor of General William Tecumseh Sherman, under whom he served as a lieutenant during the Civil War. In fact, a lot of the sequoias are named to honor military leaders in the latter part of the 19th century.

We hadn’t eaten a complete meal all day so it was very good timing that the Wolverton Barbeque started shortly before dusk and just after we had finished our day of sightseeing. We had driven by earlier to buy tickets to the all-you-can-eat buffet. A few hours later we were back, armed with a spray bottle of DEET. For the next hour, we ate barbeque ribs and chicken, burger patties, coleslaw, potatoes and grilled corn. We also bought Corona beers to match.

We sat on one of the picnic table set-up with a huge umbrella and enjoyed the backyard view of Wolverton. We sat in the glow of the late afternoon sun, sipping Coronas, and satisfying ourselves with barbeque ribs and chicken, burger patties, coleslaw, potatoes and grilled corn. We couldn’t have asked for anything more, especially after the all-American apple pie.

Sequoia National Park
Highway 180 to Kings Canyon National Park from Fresno
Highway 198 to Sequoia from the town of Visalia

Wuksachi Lodge
Sequoia National Park

Wolverton Barbeque
Every Wednesday during the summer season, starts at 5:45pm
Tickets can be purchased at the Wuksachi Lodge

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