Crescent Meadow, Sequoia

Crescent Meadow, Sequoia
Crescent Meadow in Sequoia National Park, California

Friday, July 25, 2014

Sequoia National Park, California

 Several weeks ago, Janet and I went up to Sequoia National Park in California for a week of camping. It was totally fun and we saw some incredible things.
 Our first day in camp, this bold, juvenile bear decided he wanted to go fishing in the pools right below our campsite. A couple was down at the creek fishing when the bear came by. They ran like crazy up to our campsite and left all their fish and bait down on the rocks. That lady went ballistic, and started jumping up and down, screaming at the bear, and throwing sticks and rocks at the bear in order to keep him away from her fish. Eventually the bear left the area and she retrieved her fish. Later on that evening, the camp hosts told us never throw anything at a bear. Make a lot of noise, bang on the bear boxes, hit pots and pans, but don't throw anything! 
 Our campsite overlooked this wonderful creek, that had swimming holes, natural water slides and warm rocks to dry out on. I went swimming every day, and slowly, Janet joined in, laughing each time the cold water inched further up her body.
 I don't think I have ever seen a prettier spot than this place. I was so happy. Every time we got too hot, we walked down and dunked in one of the pools. So awesome.
 This is our friend, Louie with his sweet little puppy. He had this cool tent that rested on a cot, and he set it up down by the water. This picture is for you, Janet!
 One afternoon, we followed the creek upstream as far up as we could go. At the top, we found a huge swimming hole. That would be my friend Janet, who absolutely loves camping.
 That would be me, looking like a frog while swimming in the ice cold water. So refreshing!
 This tiny cluster of flowers was growing in the middle of a wild rose bush. The flowers are no more than a1/4 inch big. Such delicate beauty, only seen by a few.
 This is another friend of ours, David, who along with his mom, built this Tear Drop trailer from scratch. He used recycled wood he found at a job site, and vintage fixtures and dishes, to make this trailer a masterpiece. We noticed David's guitar leaning against the table, and with a little coaxing, he brought it out and played us some songs. Then me and Janet each took a turn, and then his mom started singing along with us. Great fun!
 One morning this sweet doe walked right up the hill into our campsite. I was sitting near the water and had my camera with me at the time. Lucky day!
 A huge fallen Sequoia tree in Crescent Meadow. To get an idea how big the tree is, look for Janet in her hat, standing at the base of the tree near its roots.
 We took a glorious hike around Crescent Meadow and I enjoyed every moment, even if it did tire me out. I am still recovering from 7 weeks of radiation therapy, and get very tired, but now, I am cancer free! Thank you Lord!
 On our walk around Crescent Meadow, we stopped to peek into this old cabin,  built inside of a fallen Sequoia tree. Tharp lived in this dark, rustic cabin for nearly 30 years, until Sequoia National Park was established in 1890.
 Immediately after leaving the cabin, we passed by this mother bear and two cubs, resting in the trees. It scared the daylights out of me, especially when families with little kids started crowding around. No one stepped off the trail, and the bears stayed under the trees. As soon as she opened her mouth,  I didn't need to be told twice and immediately left the scene.
 Looking up into the trees, and wondering what it would be like to live so long.
 On our hike out to the John Muir Grove of Sequoias, this baby snake popped its head out of a fallen tree trunk. I was pretty sure it was a rattler, and backed away. He never came out, so we passed by and I took this picture of him looking at me, while I was looking at him.
 I have always wanted to see the John Muir Grove of Sequoias, but somehow always ended up at the groves that were closer to the visitor center. On this trip, we took a hike out to the grove and couldn't believe how pretty it was. No fences telling us to keep out; just wide open forest like it must have been when Mr. Muir was alive. Well worth the hike.
 That is me, standing in the trunk of a living giant Sequoia Tree. Pretty amazing trees out there!
"Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
 I love flowers and found this one to be especially pretty.
My favorite swimming hole; happy memories, blissful thoughts.
One last look at lovely Sequoia National Park and a bee photobombing my picture!
May God be with you and bless you with peace, strength, rest and beauty. Susan Little 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Stonewall Peak, Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, California

 On a trip to Stonewall Peak in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, my friend Janet and I encountered such beautiful wildflowers and greenery, even in the midst of the drought in southern California.
The roundtrip mileage is only 4 miles, and it is a fairly easy trail that is very well marked. The only drawback, the trail goes straight upward, all the way to the top! In the heat, that can be a little difficult. I brought my spray bottle and cooled down in the mist.
Here is Janet, about to be swallowed by a giant rock!
Along the way we had such gorgeous views of Lake Cuyamaca, valleys, purple mountains in the distance and a few trees.
 When you get towards the top of the peak, a stone staircase gives you the courage to keep going.
Windy at the top, much cooler and easy to climb.
A 360 degree view of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park is the reward for those who push on and don't give up. Very windy at the top, but fun. We ate our lunch, sitting on a small bumpy ledge, and just basked in the view.
 This was my first time returning to the Laguna Mountains, after the 2007 wildfires burned through southern California. Many living things survived the siege and new growth is blooming everywhere. 
That would be me, a tired but happy hiker at the top of Stonewall Peak. I have had a rough go this last year, but as of this week, I am officially in remission,  a full-on, breast cancer survivor!!!!!
So happy, so grateful to God, so wonderfully looking forward to life.
The spectacular view of Lake Cuyamaca from the top of Stonewall Peak, in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park in southern California.
 One last look at the Laguna Mountains, dead trees, huge boulders and a bit of green! God bless you all and may God give you the strength to survive!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Tucumcari, New Mexico and Arizona

One of the reasons I love road trips is all the quirky places you see along the way. In New Mexico, I stopped at Tucumcari on old Route 66, and found some odd little stores, gas stations, motels and restaurants. The Blue Swallow motel guaranteed 100% refrigerated air!
I was actually disappointed Watsons wasn't open. It looked like it would have some great BBQ!
I never did find out if the gas pumps actually worked in this place.
 The Palomino was open for business, but I preferred sleeping in my car, which at times can be an experience in itself. On this trip I encountered a crazy women in a rest stop bathroom, a helicopter landing in the rest stop parking lot in the middle of the night, street sweepers nearly sweeping over my car at Walmart, a very forward trucker with an attitude, as well as some very nice people. In spite of it all, I do enjoy listening to the rain on the roof of my cargo box and looking out my tinted windows at the world around me!
I doubt this café gets much business.
This place seemed to be the classiest. Farewell to Tucumcari!
My last stop was in Prescott, AZ, to visit my friend Cynthia. We had a fabulous time shopping in town, eating out at Roses Italian Restaurant, attending a huge worship event in the Town Plaza, and endless cups of coffee and sharing our thoughts, prayers, fears, ideas and friendship.
I fell in love with Cynthia's little white dog, Harry. I tried to persuade her to let me take him home, but she wouldn't have any part of it......goodbye little Harry!
I have always loved the desert, and found this part of Arizona to be especially beautiful. 
 Wild flowers were beginning to bloom around the rocks and boulders.
This was by far the most exotic desert flower I have seen, and grew in great bushes along the highway.
 Clear skies showcase the spectacular views.
 The dark bushes had been burned, most likely in that huge fire last year where 19 Arizona firefighters were killed. Made me sad, especially since I knew my son Jon was fighting fires down in  the San Diego area that had been raging near my home.
Fragile white poppies with thorny stems and leaves hosted a variety of bugs in their yellow centers.
 Saguaro cactus had white flowers blossoming at the very tips of their limbs.
I don't want to see one more curios shop as long as I live.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, Kentucky and Tennessee

I really enjoyed camping at the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area located between Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake. My campsite was in Lake Barkley, and was absolutely beautiful; trees everywhere, views of the lake, a great lodge to sit and drink coffee and wonderful people to visit with.
 Lake Barkley is an enormous 58,000 acre reservoir, and was filled with people fishing off their boats, on the shores and off the docks.  I walked this little path near the lodge that followed the lakeshore.
My campsite on Lake Barkley with a view of the lake. My first site was down in the woods and I was the only one down there. Lacy, the campground manager, so graciously moved me up to a lakeside campsite where real people were camping.
That would be me standing in front of my car at the campsite!
When I wasn't at the lake, I was exploring the Land between the Lakes. Everything was so pretty. These two pictures were taken at Cedar Pond, a small pond near the main road.

 I followed the path all the way around the pond; so quiet, so peaceful.
 Eastern Bluebirds are all over Kentucky, yet at one time were struggling to survive. The introduction of bird houses helped the birds nest and rear their young without the competition of stronger birds.
Every time I tried to get close to the birdhouse, the bird flew at me. She looks like a gray moth in the picture. Very protective, good mommy.
The Homeplace is a settlement on the Land Between the Lakes that shows how a typical working 19th century Tennessee farmhouse operated.
The workers dress in period clothing and do all the work around the farm; planting, cooking, caring for the garden and farm animals.
 The quilts on the bed were hand-made by the women who work at the Homeplace. No sewing machines were used! The lady in the doorway is real, and works at the farm. She and I had a nice long talk while she made a rug and I recovered from the heat.
 There are 16 log structures on the farm that are the real thing.
The insides are furnished in period furniture and décor; all very cool.
This little pig actually climbed up into the feeding trough to eat and still managed to look sweet.
My sister Dorothy was the only one to notice this strange short horned steer with two heads and eight legs. She laughed so hard I thought she was going to have heart failure and go to steer heaven. It took me a while to get his pose, which is why they were probably staring me down. Love you Dorothy! 

After the Lake, I drove up to the Amish community in Marion, Kentucky. Brilliant yellow flowers blanketed the fields, while puffy gray clouds filled the sky.
It rained on and off all day, but that didn't stop me from enjoying this Amish community. The most wonderful thing I saw was a young boy about 12, bombing the hill on his roller skates. He had his head down like the Olympic Skaters do when they race, and had his hat in his hand, pressed against his chest like a shield. His hair was flying back as he raced down the hill, just like my boys did, only they used ultra modern skateboards. 
A barn door was open and I caught sight of the black buggies they use instead of cars. I saw Amish folk walking in the streets and driving their buggies, but I didn't dare take their picture.
Various farms have goods for sale; baked goods, plants, rugs, furniture, saddles. Everything handmade. I bought a beautiful oak and hickory magazine stand at one of the farms, strawberries at another, and cheese bread and pumpkin cake at one more.
A typical Amish farm; clean, white, lots of green grass, gardens and animals.
 On Sunday it was Mothers Day, so I drove up into the Ozarks in Arkansas where my Redneck friend Mike calls home. The hills are so green, probably because it is always raining!
I took a wet, muddy  hike out to Pedestal Rocks, where flowers mixed in with all the greenery.
 Beautiful, convoluted formations have eroded from the cliffs, creating these rocks.
I not only saw them from above, but had to climb down the rocky hillside to see them from the bottom.
Balanced Rock; a formation that reminds me of similar formations in Arches National Park.
On my way down the mountain, I stopped in old general store built in the early 1900's. On the counter was a huge bouquet of these pink honeysuckle flowers. The lady behind the counter proudly told me how her husband had picked them as a gift for Mothers Day! I found the honeysuckle growing wild in the hills.
Inside the old store is the original post office they used back in the day. Deer and elk heads were mounted on the walls along with all kinds of strange antique tools.
 My last stop was at the Illinois Bayou. I couldn't resist parking and walking down the steep trail to see it up close. One couple was fishing and a group of boys were horsing around at the other end.
 These boys ranged from 5 to 19, and were having a ball swinging on the rope into the river and pushing each other on and off the one inner tube they had.
Boys will be boys, no matter where they live. I wanted to jump in with them, but I didn't have my swimsuit. It made me so happy just to watch them, and remember how much fun I had with my boys growing up. A great way to spend Mothers Day since I was so far from home. Love to all of you, my family, friends and those friends I haven't yet met.

Copyright©2009 Susan Little, All rights reserved. Use of photos requires written permission.