Thursday, May 22, 2014

Day #16: Let the Parade Begin

Today's Route: Horse Creek Campground (6 Miles SE of Three Rivers, CA) to Buckeye Flat Campground in Sequoia National Park (20 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 725

Continuing where we left off with yesterday's post...

I indeed fell asleep dreaming of those two cowboys, with their tight cowboy butts and their burly cowboy biceps. In my dream, they were wearing only their cowboy hats and their cowboy boots. But I'll spare you the rest of the details.

As for Mister Critter, he managed to crawl a few inches from his hole before he rolled over and definitely called it quits. Rigor mortis had set in.

He's really dead now.

It had been a few days since we had been around a wifi connection, and we couldn't manage to let our faithful blog readers go one more day without a post. So we went in search of Anne Lang's Emporium, in the town of Three Rivers, in hopes of satisfying our wifi needs.

Before reaching the Emporium, we decided to fill up on groceries. A review of the map suggested we may not find another grocery store for four or five days, so we packed up our panniers with lots of food. The market was dang expensive. At $5 a loaf at the normal grocery store, I don't typically buy Dave's Killer Bread, as it kills my early retirement budget. But priced at $5.99 at the Three Rivers grocery store, it was the cheapest loaf on the shelf.

We found the Emporium about six miles up the road from last night's campsite. We hunkered down at a table for a few hours, with some warm drinks in hand. As the town folk came-and-went at the Emporium, we noticed a common theme in the small talk; bad weather was setting in, and snow was forecasted for higher elevations.

Anne Lang's Emporium of wifi.

A couple of lovely, young gentlemen asked us where we were headed. They were interested in our journey, and they expressed admiration for our adventure.

Two of the lovely young gentlemen.

The young gentleman on the right, Arthur Shahzade (aka "Shahz"), asked if we'd be interested in the book he had written, called "Wildflowers of California's Central Valley and Neighboring Sierra." He had written the book after he had retired as a biology teacher.

Shahz was conscientious of the fact that we may not want to carry the extra weight in our panniers, but we figured the weight would be well worth it if it meant we would have our very own signed guide to the beautiful wildflowers we'd been seeing along the road.

Our very own copy, signed by Shahz!

I had been wondering about a flowering tree we had been seeing on the side of the road. As it turns out, this tree was the first species featured in Shahz's book. Sweet!

The Foothill Ash.

Shahz's buddy (the young chap on the left) said he couldn't let his friend outdo him. And so he offered that we could stay at his place, which was a mile up the road. He also gave us the contact info for his son in Oregon, offering that we could stay with him if we passed through Portland.

Thanks, guys, for being our trail angels!

Just a few miles up the road, we entered Sequoia National Park.

Entering Seqouia National Park.

Oh yeah, baby, let the parade of National Parks begin! First it's Seqouia, then King's Canyon, followed immediately by Yosemite. This is what I've been most looking forward to on this trip!

Rain set in just a few minutes before we entered the park. This was the "bad weather" all the Three Rivers townspeople had been mentioning. At the higher elevations, this precipitation would be snow, and snow can close the Sequoia roads at any time.

We planned to stay at a campground within the park, which was just below 3,000 ft, and so we were hoping the precipitation would remain in the form of rain. We donned our raincoats, concerned that they'd be too warm for our climb along the park road. But the drop in temperatures, in addition to being wet, made the additional layer quite comfortable for climbing.

As we biked along the park road, we were drawing a lot of attention from the park goers. "Look at those crazy people biking up this steep road! In the rain!" Alex and I joked that the National Park Service paid us as actors to help churn interest in the wilderness.

When we got to the Flathills Visitor Center, one short mile into the park, Alex grabbed his National Parks Passport Book and made a beeline for the Sequoia National Park stamp.

Alex gets quite fanatical when it comes to adding stamps to his book. To be honest, I think the only reason he agreed to ride along on this tour is because he wanted an excuse to add some stamps to his book. I believe there is a minor major rivalry between Alex and his sisters to see who can acquire the most stamps.

Alex gets his National Parks Passport Book stamped.

I glanced at the books for sale in the Visitor Center's gift shop, and I saw Shahz's book for sale on the shelf. He's a real bonafide famous author! And we were fortunate to have met him this morning! And to have received a signed copy of his book! Woohoo!

Notice the book on the far left of the top shelf.

The ride along the road in Sequoia National Park was just gorgeous! For one, our vantage point allowed us to see over the stone wall that lined much of the route. Looking over the wall, we could see down to the river flowing far below. We're certain most car-goers wouldn't be afforded such views.

A gorgeous view from the side of the road.

The park is perfectly immaculate -- perfectly lush and wild. The road is in pristine condition. There is not a single piece of litter along the route. It is sort of like a ride through Disney. Our National Parks are indeed one of our nation's greatest treasures.

When we arrived into our camp and stopped pedaling, the true temperatures became quite apparent. Before we could put on dry clothes and set up our tents, though, we had to walk across the road to check out a neighboring site that sported a lone tent and a Surly Long Haul Trucker.

Low and behold, we met our first fellow tourist today! His name is Randy. He is also riding the Sierra-Cascades from south to north. We shared stories of the route and the towns we had passed through. He had seen us ride by in Big Bear Lake a few days back, and he had also spent a night at Isabella Motel.

Alex and I eventually needed to excuse ourselves from the conversation, as we were beginning to shiver. We neglected to take a photo of Randy, likely because we figure we'll cross paths with him again on our trip.

I set up my tent, crawled inside, changed into some warm clothes, cuddled up in my sleeping bag in fetal position, and quickly fell into a deep, deep nap. Ah, it felt so good!

Alex was in his tent next door, reading. He asked me what my thoughts were on dinner, not realizing that I was asleep. I was awake now! As it was raining outside, and as neither one of us wished to leave the warmth and coziness of our tents, we decided we'd open a can of vegetarian chili and dine in our own respective homes.

Dining in our tents tonight.

We're hoping the precipitation tapers off so that we can enjoy the beauty of the park tomorrow, in all of its glorious dryness!


  1. One of the reasons I chose the Crater Lake Century last year was the passport stamp! A man after my own heart!

    1. Oh no, another Passport Book fanatic! We rode *miles* off-route yesterday so Alex could get another stamp at King's Canyon. You boys and your stamps!

    2. We boys think any place with stamps for the book is the exact route :)

    3. Yeah, uh huh. [Insert eye roll here.] ;)

  2. Bah, you've already got a spot to stay in Portland!


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