Thursday, July 16, 2009


Dave sings in a men's competitive chorus and his international competition was in Anaheim over the 4th of July weekend this year so we took a little road trip. Dave loves to drive and he especially likes to drive his truck. So halfway to Anaheim, which should take appx. 5 1/2 hours, (remember this number, we will do some math at the end of this post) Dave suggests we take a driving detour up and over the hills around Palm Springs. I don't happen to enjoy adding hours onto a road trip just to see some pretty scenery, but this was Dave's trip and I relented and agreed to take the scenic byway. The road takes off out out of the barren desert valley and winds up and up and up. It was a little disappointing that we were adding an hour to our trip just to get a more majestic view of the barren desert. However, after this point, the road twisted right up into the pine trees and high mountain meadows and the cutest little towns you ever saw. Definitely places that would be fun to return for a weekend in the future. The only problem was that instead of taking an extra hour, it was taking an extra 2 hours and Dave had to be in Anaheim for his first chorus rehearsal at 8pm and we were cutting it close. So we wound back down the far side of the mountains on a narrow and motion-sickness inducing road and barely made it to town on time. Dave had the next two days full of rehearsals and so I planned on lounging in the hotel room. That plan got boring after the first half day. I found there is very little to do in Anaheim if you are not planning to do anything Disney related, but I did find a little place called Oak Canyon Nature Center in the Anaheim hills. I felt very brave navigating the freeways (I don't like driving Dave's huge truck much anyway). And I actually made it to and from without incident. I am actually a pretty good navigator, though Dave claims I'm not. We had quite a heated "discussion" on that topic during this trip. But who is he to judge? (just because I'm his one and only navigator when we drive . . . ) Anyway - I am reminded again of the beauty that is not found in our hometown neighborhood. This was a 50 acre nature center with a bubbling brook running through it and miles of hiking trails. One hiking trail was named "Tranquility Loop", but the main flaw with that area was that there was a day camp being held for 2nd graders right in the center of the loop. Now, I love the sights and sounds of 2nd graders, but 'tranquil" it was not.
The next afternoon, Dave got away from rehearsals for a couple of hours so we visited the Muzeo Museum, Monsters and Beasts Exhibit. It was a little bit cool, showing Hollywood special effects and animatronics.
We did succumbed to the pressure of a Disney event. The convention center where Dave's events were is literally right across the street from Disneyland so we ate a couple of meals in the restaurants of Downtown Disney. Goofy was everywhere. The last day of the the competition, Dave had already performed and it was the finals for the quartets. They are fun to watch, but Dave talked me into 'ditching' and taking yet another road trip detour. Have I mentioned that I really am not a fan of driving extra hours for the sake of driving extra hours? He had been wanting to go up to Sequoia National Park which is up north of Bakersfield (which is 3 1/2 hours north of where we were . . . . THREE AND A HALF HOURS! . . . ONE WAY!)
We hadn't planned on this side trip ahead of time, so we had no hotel reserved for Friday night. We called and got a list of little hotels that are in the little tiny town of Three Rivers which is at the entrance of the park. It was 4th of July weekend and there were no vacancies anywhere. But one woman said "I have a friend that has a bed and breakfast and probably will have an opening". So we called. "Yes, we can accommodate you, but we are way off the road, and there is no phone service once you get into town, so call before you get to town and I'll have my husband meet you down at the restaurant/lounge and he'll drive you up here. We are way up the canyon, beautiful view, etc, etc, you'll love it". We were about 45 minutes later than we thought we'd be, it was 10:30 pm and while waiting for us, the husband had been drinking quite a bit. The drive up the this alleged Bed and Breakfast was on a dirt road behind 3 locking gates way up into the canyon. We then realized: 1.We told no one we were taking this side trip. 2. We have no phone service 3. We are being let into the unknown hills 4. We don't know the name of this Bed and Breakfast 5. We don't know this man, don't even know his last name 5. If we die, no one will have a clue where to look for our remains. (Actually, only I was thinking these thoughts. And I was trying to keep them to myself because I was kind of freaking out.)
This place was what I would call communal living. It was a cabin in the woods that had random bedrooms for rent. There were guests cooking in the kitchen, others hanging out in the living room and now we were thrown into the mix. It was the most awkward situation I could even imagine. The bedroom we were given had no air circulation so we had to sleep with the window and the door open to keep from sweating to death all night. And did I mention there were random people sharing this house? It was like a public motel without a front door. I was sleeping (trying to) with people walking up and down the hall right past our bedroom. Seriously awkward. And the breakfast part of the "Bed and Breakfast" was bring your own groceries and feel free to use our kitchen. We had no groceries so we had no breakfast and we were heading up into the park, not back down the hill into town, so we started out the day hungry and went forward with our day in the park.
Sequoia National Park is amazing. We got a little education in forestry while we were there. Sequoias are shorter than the Redwoods, but have the more massive trunks.
This picture was hard to get with only us in it because this is the biggest tree in the world, therefore the biggest attraction in the park. Being that it was 4th of July weekend, it was crowded and the area looked like this:
Then we drove up to the higher areas and hiked up to an overlook site. I made sure this picture was taken against the snow capped mountains in the background so it would appear we really hiked a great distance, but it was only about a 20 minute hike to the top from where we parked.
The drive through the park is absolutely gorgeous. When you drive to the bottom of the hill, the trees end very abruptly, then it's on to crossing the hot barren desert again.
We left at 3:30 pm, and we hadn't eaten a thing in almost 24 hours. There's not a snack bar or even a vending machine anywhere in that park so we were glad to be back in civilization. I said I'd be willing to take this little road trip detour as long as we left California at a reasonable time. We had to be back home for Sunday morning, and I told Dave I really didn't want to be driving until 3 in the morning. We left the park late afternoon and so true to his word, he got us home at 2:45 a.m.
We drove by a big nasty fire in or near Parker AZ at 11:30 pm, but couldn't find anything in the news about it the next morning. And I thought we'd miss all the fireworks, but surprisingly also in Parker, they do their fireworks display in the middle of the night in that little town. The town's fireworks program ended at 11:40 pm. Either they started very late, or they had a grand 3 hour show!

Our original driving plan: 11 total hours of driving for a round trip drive to Anaheim. Our actual driving total: TWENTY TWO HOURS of driving in a truck. I'm getting a written guaranteed travel plan from Dave next time we leave town.


Lauri said...

You're a good sport. Dave wouldn't have like my road trip to Utah last week. I made a 15 minute stope in Kanab for a 10 hour drive. My motto is GET THERE QUICKLY

Cathy said...

So very funny! I'm so glad we all did not have to go on a search for you all from your wilderness "bed & breakfast" adventure! I guess you still have to "pack a lunch" for some areas these days! So how did the competition go?

Cynthia said...

Not as good as they had hoped. They were 16th place out of about 30 chorus groups. Their performance scores were in the mid 80's range (out of 100 points)which is good, but there were just a lot of choruses that pushed themselves up into the 90 scoring range. There are usually not many over 90. There are about 800 choruses all over the nation that try to get into this competition, so if you see it like they are 16th out of 800 choruses, it sounds better.

Megan said...

That's a crazy trip! Your thoughts would have been the same as mine heading up to the cabin compound. Glad you made it home safe and sound!

Suzanne Barker said...

You've had some wonderful adventures this summer!