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Sat May 26 to Fri June 1 Fresno CA–Sequoia NP-Fresno CA

Saturday- We were out the door early to take the dogs to Bethany’s Dog Grooming. We dropped off the dogs, then went to breakfast at Red Apple Café. We arrived at just the right time. We were immediately seated. When we left, the line was out the door.

They served us huge breakfasts and I took enough home breakfast for 2 more days and Bob for 1 more day. We went to Vineyard Farmers Market. It was located in an old, large, grape arbor. We purchased zucchini and strawberries.

We left and tried to find another farmers market, but when we arrived at the site it was an apartment building. We stopped at Von’s for some more items and Kohl’s for a couple of items.

Then we stopped and picked up the girls. The groomers did a really good job. We returned home, ate lunch, and had a quiet afternoon. We decided to go to the Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner. We have been to one before and decided that we will not go to one again. The bread, while fresh, was very blah. Bob had spaghetti with a mushroom sauce which was okay. I had angel hair with a meat marinara. Hardly any meat and the sauce was mediocre. The salad was just iceberg lettuce with a few pieces of shredded carrot. They serve a 3 course meal, with the salad and ice cream for dessert. We both opted for the vanilla which was okay.

Sunday- We left at a little before 10 to go to Forestiere  Underground Gardens $15 ea. senior rate.

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The Garden, in 2016, was voted best underground attraction in the country by Trip Advisor. Also in 2016 it was voted a top attraction by Fodors.  The story was very interesting. The guy who built it, I am going to call him BF, worked on it for 40 years! He emigrated from Italy and wanted to start a citrus farm like he grew up on in Italy. He arrived in New York and worked at digging the subway. He earned the money to travel to California. He then dug ditches in California, earning the money to purchase 70 acres of land in the San Joaquin Valley.This valley grows almonds, pistachios, and raisins. The land has only a very shallow area of dirt before you hit hardpan, the third hardest rock in the world. He had 5 feet of this rock on his land.

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So rather than sell the land, he decided to dig and build an underground garden, planting citrus trees underground. How did he pay for this you might ask? He worked his day job, digging ditches during the day, and digging the garden overnight!

This was a guided tour. We entered the underground garden and our first stop was this courtyard.

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BF planted trees and plants underground. He used these openings in the roof for them to grow. Orange trees lifespan is 60 years, his trees are living much longer.

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These trees are all underground and thriving!

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He grafted various varieties of oranges, and other citrus,  to sour orange trees. The sour orange tree is very sturdy and resistant to infestation.

BF was very religious, so he put in a chapel.

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He even put in a bell above the chapel.

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It is hard to see in the picture below, but this tree has two different kinds of oranges. The edible ones are on the left and the sour ones are on the right.

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He built his home in the garden. There were two of the them. The first one was small and the second was much better. Below is the dining room table. Notice the whole in the center of the table. He had a tree growing through the table.

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The icebox in the kitchen.

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Stove and the table in the back slid in and out.

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There were two bedrooms. Not because he had visitors, one was a winter bedroom with a fireplace for heat and the other was a summer one which was more open,

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Then he also had a patio with a bath tub.

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He put the water up on top of the garden and had a tubing running down into the bath tub. The water would warm all day, and he would then let the water run into the tub.

Below was his fish pond. He would go to the river and catch a lot of fish, keep them alive, then bring them back and put them in this pond in the garden. Then he would catch the fish in his pond, and cook it.

The next picture shows a peak hole. When someone came to visit, they would ring the bell. He would see who they were and might or might not visit with them.

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So how did he deal with rain? He had covers he could put over some of the roof openings. Others he let the rain in, but the floor slopes and the water can drain into a hole.

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He decided late in this process to open up to the public to make some money. He built an auto road into the garden.

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I don’t think I mentioned how many miles of tunnel that he built! There were lots..

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BF really got into grafting and made this one tree with 7 varieties of fruit growing on the tree. The green fruit in the right lower corner was what the issue was. It is a very heavy fruit and it made the branch fall off the tree. This led to an infected tree, and the loss of many of the fruits. This is the tree, but it only has two varieties of oranges growing on it currently.

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Below is more of the road.

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Below are the tools he used to do all this work.

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Ant this piece of equipment is. ..

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BF did not just grow citrus, he also grew carob, and grapes.

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And roses…

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Towards the end, he built a ballroom. Below is the stage.

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The floor is Italian marble which he imported.

So who owns this attraction? It is still in the family. BF, in 1940, contracted pneumonia post surgery, and never left the hospital after his hernia surgery.  He never married ( surprise surprise, he spent all his time working….). The family sold the land, and his brother bought back 10 acres, which is what is now left of the garden. The family maintains the facility.

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We were very impressed with this attraction. The hard work this man did…. he never married and had no children. IMHO, I think he was mentally ill! But then I never knew the man. He was obviously a genius, as he put really smart ideas to work in this facility. He did this whole enterprise, without a plan. No blue prints. He used, to support the roof, any items he could find. There are bed slats and box springs, any type of metal. He was also very religious. There are many instances of 3’s and 6’s incorporated into the building. If you are ever in the area, I would recommend a visit. The story is fascinating!

We stopped at  El Michoacano Mexican Restaurant for lunch. I cannot tell you how great our meals were! They were the best Mexican we have had in a long time!!

We went downtown to look at the Fresno Water Tower.

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And the historic Arch.

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Monday- We traveled southeast on Hwy. 41 to Hwy. 99. We exited the freeway onto Hwy. 198 and traveled to Three Rivers, just outside of Sequoia NP. We arrived at Three Rivers Hideaway RV Park to find that they did not have our reservation. The guy at the desk, said they could accommodate us. Huh, we made the reservation and had a confirmation! Thanks for doing us a favor…This is a small RV park with no amenities. We have no internet or phone service. We can get texts. The park has internet, open and free, but it is intermittent and very weak ATT. No Verizon.

We settled in and Bob took the towels to the one washing machine and dryer. I did laundry in the MH. We had a quiet evening at home

Tuesday- We left early and drove into the NP using our “Geezer” Pass. The pass is saving us $25 per day at each of the NP’s that we enter!

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Our first stop was at the Foothills Visitor Center. We immediately found that there is construction on the road, with up to 1 hour delays, and we had to leave in 3 minutes to make it to the construction site, way up the highway…

So we went back to the car and took off. The visitor center is at 1700 ft. The next area was at 6409 ft, so obviously, we traveled uphill! We reached the construction area and had to wait about 7 minutes. The road, on the outside, was being replaced/upgraded. It was a single lane for 2 miles. We drove through, then it was another 9 minutes to the Giant Forest Museum. We looked at the exhibits, but were not impressed by anything there with the exception of the trail of blocks which represent how big a Sequoia would be on the ground. It was impressive!

We found that they have a free shuttle, so we hopped on the #1 shuttle to the General Sherman Tree. The shuttle, which runs every 15 minutes dropped us off at the trail. We walked up to the tunnel tree.

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Then continued on to visit the General Sherman tree. it is the largest tree in the world, by volume. The top is dead, so it will not grow taller.

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Its hard to get a picture of a tree which is so large, but the picture above shows it from a distance.

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We hopped back on the shuttle and went to the Lodgepole Visitor Center. On the way, the shuttle drove past the Lodgepole Campground. We had tried to get reservations there, but were unable to do so. We are really glad that we did not, as the drive in would have been terrible, although coming from the north, as they are not allowing longer RV’s through the construction. Also, they have had 8 bear attacks in the last 3 weeks, with bears trying to get into the cars, trucks, tents etc.….

We ate our picnic lunch at the table outside the Lodgepole building. We went in and watched the video on bears, which was very interesting.

Then we hopped back on the shuttle and returned to the Museum and raced to the car. We drove back down and got in line to go thru the construction. We arrived in time and waited about 5 minutes. We traveled through the construction area. Now we did all the sites that we had missed on the way up. Our first stop was at an overlook. We could see Moro Rock and the valley.

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Above is Moro Rock. It is hard to see, but there are people on the top of the rock.

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We continued to Hospital Rock. This was a site is where an Indian village was located. We walked across the highway to the rock. To the right, there was the kitchen. It was in the shade, and in the rock, you can see the holes where the women ground the wheat for flour. It must have taken centuries to develop these holes!

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Under hospital rock there were petroglyphs.

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We left and traveled back to the Foothills Visitor Center and used the internet at the facility. Both of us checked our emails and FB. We left the park and traveled into town. We went to the local ice cream parlor/candy store for some ice cream. Everything is made there and it was excellent! It was 65 degrees in the park, but felt warm in the sun. It was 98 in Three Rivers at the RV park. We returned to the happy dogs and had a quiet evening.

Wednesday- Our destination was to be Kings Canyon NP which is north of Sequoia NP.

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Due to the construction, we decided to travel outside the park. We turned west and traveled about 5 miles to Hwy. 216. We traveled through orange and lemon orchards to Hwy. 245. We followed Hwy. 245 to Hwy.180 and the entrance to KIngs Canyon NP. I would never travel Hwy 245 again. So glad we were not in the motor home! The road surface was good, but the road zig-zagged up into the mountains. It was more twists and turns than what was in the park. The best explanation I can give you is it was many miles of curvy Lombard Street in San Francisco! It took less time, but more gas! The views were beautiful, if you had the time to look at them!

We arrived at the gate, passed into the park, and went straight to the Grant Grove Visitor Center. We stamped the passport, and drove east on the Kings Canyon Scenic By-way. We drove all 32 miles, out to the “Roads End”. It was a spectacular drive with rocky canyon sides, a fast flowing river and two waterfalls.

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Our first stop was at the General Grant Tree. It is the third largest tree in the world, by volume. There was a 1/2 mile walk around the area. On the trail, first there were several exhibits prior to the General Grant Tree.

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Below is the same tree as in this exhibit picture. You can walk thru the tree!

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The Sequoias are very sturdy. The live through fires as you can see the damage in this tree.

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This is Centennial Swamp. The tree was cut down and parts were shipped to the World’s Fair. Easterners did not believe that there were such big trees in California. They thought it was a hoax, so the Californians sent the parts of this tree to the Fair to show them. The Easterners still did not believe them…

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You can see right through this tree!

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This was us at the far end of the tree you can walk thru. We traded taking pictures with some Canadians.

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The drive thru the mountains and canyons was spectacular.

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Below you can see the road traveling thru the canyon.

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Below is 10 miles creek.

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We stopped at the Conflict Flat Campground and Picnic area for our picnic lunch. This was our view. It was a pretty little park. The Convict part of it was that they had convicts from Alcatraz who were brought here to work. They earned a dollar a day for 6 days a week. It was hard to escape this area, and they usually did not try because the cost of catching them was taken out of their pay. Also, they only used lifers and long term convicts for this work. 

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Below is the Kings River. It was a raging river!

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Below is Grizzly Falls.

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The end of the canyon.

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Below is the second waterfall, this is Roaring River Falls. It was pretty loud!

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It was only 2 more miles to  Roads End. This is Grand Sentinel at 8518 ft.

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When we reached the end, we turned around and drove back. We turned onto the Generals Highway, and returned through Sequoia NP. At this point, we had used most of our gas, and we were getting a little bit nervous about fuel. We had started in the morning with almost a full tank, and now we had less than a quarter tank. There are no gas stations in the NP’s. Fortunately, the area between the parks is a National Forest, and there was a gas station. Gas was $3.99 gal, so we only bought 3 gallons, enough to get us back to Three Rivers.

We lucked out and arrived just in time to catch the 3:30 drive through the construction area. We returned to Three Rivers, (temperature 102!) and had a nice dinner at home. Then we took the dogs and my computer and went to Lake Keweah NP. It is right on the highway and since we have the geezer pass, it was free for us. There was phone service and we were able to connect to our Verizon. I was able to download all 196 pictures from my phone! We ran a little bit farther and stopped for gas. $3.65/gal. Gas in the town of Three Rivers was $4.09 gal. We returned and had a quiet evening at home.

Thursday- We left a little later today, but still caught the 10:30 trip through the construction. We went immediately to the area we had missed on Tuesday. We stopped at Auto Log. They used to park cars on this log.

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Then continued on to Tunnel Log. There we are driving thru….

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We continued on to Moro Rock. We had looked at this from 3 sides. Bob walked up the 356 steps and took these awesome pictures. I went up the first 60 and looked right and left and said, no way, I don’t like heights!

I returned to the car while Bob continued up. Here are his pictures.

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The steps farther up become very narrow and built into the rock.

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Glaciers

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We went to Crescent Meadow for our picnic lunch. It was about 12:15, so we raced down the hill to catch the 12:30 trip back through the construction. We returned to the MH, walked the dogs, then went in search of internet/phone connectivity. Bob called the Elks Lodge in Fresno and we are returning there tomorrow for one night. This give us a chance to grocery shop and get more (less expensive) gas, before we leave for Yosemite on Saturday.

We returned to the MH and stopped at the office. We asked for a refund for tomorrow and the gal gave us one. She said that she could sell the site tomorrow. When we returned to the MH, Bob noted that she had refunded us $49. We had only paid $40 for the night. So he went back to the office and told her, taking the receipts. She said that was okay, she would get it when she sold the site tomorrow, no problem. Wasn’t that nice!  We had a quiet evening at home.

Friday- June 1- We have been on the road for 8 years today! Wow, time sure flies!!

We packed up and got ready to leave. When Bob went to the tow umbilical, he noticed that it was broken. So I drove the car behind the MH. We wanted to leave early, as it was going to be in the high 90’s again today.

We back tracked west to Hwy. 99 and turned north on Hwy 41. It was an easy drive. We arrived at the Elks to find that our assigned site, site 9, was occupied. Hmmm. The guy Bob has spoken with at the Elks very obviously has memory problems and hearing issues. So we were not too surprised. Site 6 was open. So we went into the Lodge. The guy must have asked us 6 or 7 times the length of our MH. He walked out with us to take a look. Then told us to pull into site 6. It turned out, the folks in site 9 had just pulled in some time overnight and not paid or had a reservation. They were not there. The rig was a longer, 42 to 45,  than our 40 footer.

Site 10 was also open but we could not fit in that site as it was too short. So into site 6 we went, and it was reserved for someone else.

We set up, ate lunch and Bob worked on the umbilical, checking everything he could check. We went to Walmart, Total Wine, and Bank of America for quarters (laundry). Bob had looked at Walmart for fuses for the umbilical, but they did not have the one we needed, so we stopped at Auto Zone.

We returned ( the guy with the reservation had arrived in a smaller Class C MH, and fit nicely in site 10) and Bob put in new fuses. It still does not work. The MH lights work, so he does not know what is wrong. He looked for  some dealers in Sacramento, and they were already closed for the weekend. We will have to find cell coverage on Monday and schedule an appointment.

The Elks guy had invited us to the dinner at the Elks this evening. After last week, heck NO! We went to Texas Roadhouse for a cheaper, much better dinner, with good service and no wait!  We stopped at Costco for gas, $3.33 gal. This Costco also has diesel on a few of the pumps, with signs that say no trucks over 40 ft.

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