Monday, April 25, 2016
Mon 25 April - Three Rivers, CA - Great expectations but a very different day
We had large plans for today - to see the worlds largest living tree, General Sherman, and climb the Moro Rock in the Sequoia National Park.
Firstly a little about the worst motel of this trip. Let it be an unnamed motel in Three Rivers. The room cost was about the same as all the others that have stayed in but:
- the motel was stuck in a 1970's time warp. Layout, TV, telephone, furniture etc. Small, 1 chair only and no table. Cheap wood paneling. It looked like no maintenance at all has been done for 40 years
- half the power points in the room didn't work. We ends up unplugging a lamp to get power.
- wifi stopped functioning and when Di tried the old push button phone to call someone she found the phone did not work either (so why have the handset there?)
- nobody seems to work here before 8am
"Breakfast" started at a late 8am (6am or 6.30am at the other motels we've been to) and was coffee, very sweet pastries and some slices of oranges.
That's it. No real milk just coffee mate. We gave up and went and bought breakfast provisions (bread and milk) at the supermarket and returned and picnic'd in our room.
The furniture is what we used outside yesterday and breakfast was good. We will repeat this for the next few days.
The weather forecast for the mountains was rainy. Still, we set off anyway into the Sequoia National Park. When we asked at the entrance station the ranger said she did not think it would snow but agreed the cloud was quite low. The Weather Channel said something different but we persisted to get up there.
Now the road is a typical windy narrow mountain road - lots and lots of curves as it climbs more than 5,000 feet. And this is what we soon faced. Very low cloud.
We persisted... Or Hans did as he was driving.
This vista point made us laugh. A poster of what we were supposed to see versus what we did see.
Walking 20 paces from our car you can tell visibility is poor.
Then it got worse! And started to snow. Ok, this was now bad news for us and we just became tense and anxious. Hans was driving at less than 20km an hour, the road continued to climb and wind around the mountain and we figured we had at least 10 miles to go. So we turned around. It was not fun anymore. We can try again tomorrow when it is predicted to be cold but sunny.
On the way down we had to stop a few times for a break as Di gets car sick in these types of roads, and then she drove (which helps her manage it).
Finally we arrived at the Kaweah River and stopped at this restaurant for a hot drink break.
Lovely location by the river.
We sat at a table near the window and watched the river. The menu did mention bears and we really hope we see one on this trip but nothing today. We did joke at the idea that the tables and chairs on the rock in the middle of the river could be for a few bears. Mama bear scoops out a fish for the cubs who sit patiently at the dinner table. Would be so cute to see!
The Kaweah River appears to be at full flow at the moment. We then drove through the town of Three Rivers and headed to the local lake/dam.
The trees, and other things, are under water as the dam level is high at the moment. And they are letting it fill further. Good fishing apparently - Bass and Carp and Trout.
We stopped at another location, the local campground, and found some of their sites are also underwater.
Further along there was the local marina for houseboats and it just looked great, so we decided to visit it.
We had to laugh when we got closer. We saw this sign, just before a boat ramp.
Down on the marina we chatted to a young lady working there - about the houseboats, fishing, their season etc.
The costs for acquiring a houseboat and keeping it at the marina is all remarkably cheap compared to Australia. You can buy a houseboat for less than $10k and moor it here for about $1,500 a year.
And we had to ask about the road sign above. The girl explained that last summer someone had driven their car into the water, still towing their trailer! And despite the sign then being up because others had driven into water before. We laughed and shook our heads.
In a big storm a few years ago the whole marina and all houseboats broke loose and ended up on the other side of the dam. We saw the wind moving it all around and back and forth while we were there so we could easily imagine it.
We imagined it would be great fun to hire one of these with some mates for the day. Apparently you have to be 18 years old to hire one but are allows to drive one from age 13.
Soon we were back on the road driving to Exeter, a local orange growing town that we had passed yesterday. We thought it might be worthwhile to explore it and that it may be a good place for lunch. And yes, it was both.
On the way in we saw this diner called East Meet West which had several cop cars in front of it. We know that cops know the best value places to eat so we looked around town but ended up coming back. East Meet West was an American/Thai food diner.
Today East lunch special was KungPao Chicken with soup and spring rolls. Di was dubious because we've not had much luck with Asian food in USA but Hans was persuasive and we tried it.
Oh joy oh joy - the KungPao Chicken was excellent. We were sooo happy! Plenty of food and less than $10 each. What's not to like?
The owner was a charming Thai man who has been in the U.S. since 1973. He was funny and we got chatting about travel and food and the local oranges. He asked if we had tried an Exeter orange (which is a navel orange). Apparently this town is the navel orange capital of the world. He grows his own Exeter oranges in his backyard and he gave us one each to try. Very juicy.
We then strolled through the main street of Exeter. To us it looks like the town has money. Agriculture is big business here and murals on the buildings celebrate this.
This Exeter mural is not one for the feminists... The boss is a man and all the packers are women.
An enjoyable afternoon but time for us to had back to Three Rivers and to our motel.
With such a big lunch we opted for the same dinner as last night. Which was salami and crackers. And beer for Hans and shandy for Di instead of red wine.
Again, we sat on the outdoor deck as the weather improved after a mid afternoon dumping of rain.
Yummy and relaxing yet again but we will need to try one of the local Three Rivers restaurants for dinner tomorrow.