Leaving Lassen we soon realized that "Putting the Nation Back To Work" translated into many difficulties for National Park visitors. The entire park was tipped upside down with construction. (We began to plan for this since it happened in every park we visited.) We left using a different route than planned and that put us going a completely different direction. After a couple hours on the road, damage control was in order for us to get back on track.
Damage control took the form of Reno, Nevada. What better way to eat, than at an abundant all-you-can-eat buffet. What better way to vacation, than with teaching your child to gamble at Circus-Circus. The Barracuda ate three plates of fruit and won two small stuffed toys in the MidWay. One was given to his baby cousin in Georgia and the other now sleeps with him and is named "Kitty." As far as he is concerned one hour in Reno was a high-light of our trip. Viewing glaciers and constellations from the Rocky Mountains? Pffft. Swimming in the Ozarks? Naaah. Rail-less Hiking in Zion Canyon? Ehhh.
Back on the road, we cut back across California and camped along side the road in Sequoia since both Jules and I completely hit the wall with driving at almost 11:00pm. In the morning, all was well.
Mid-drive, The Barracuda announced he wanted to climb to the top of this mountain; so we pulled over. He was serious in his claims and we figured why not have breakfast at the top. His desire to learn and begin rock climbing is sincere and Jules has the knowledge to teach him. This year his school is allowing funding for us to use rock climbing as PE and will pay for not only gear but gym time. Over the course of the road trip, we tried to climb as much as possible.
From the top we ate, did the sun salutation to welcome the morning, and watched the day warm the valley below. It was well worth driving all night long.
To not repeat previous stupidity, when we stopped at the Ranger Station, Jules took Dae into the visitor center to read all about past indscretions of logging and dendrochronology (Tree Ring Science) while I asked about Junior Ranger patches. The Barracuda had to fill out a rather cool little packet, go for at least one hike, and then pick up trash throughout the park. It was great. This was much more what Crater Lake and all the other parks we would visit had in mind with the Junior Ranger Program. At swearing in, he was reminded to "Promise to not let the past be forgotten through better choices in the future."
As we began to drive through the park, the magnitude of the "trees" we had been talking about soon started to sink in to our son. His eyes were about the size of quarters for most all of the hike. Even living very close to and having hiked through Old-Growth, he had never seen anything like this. Humble was a word The Barracuda now understood.
These were definitely the kings of the forest. When the tree-rings were counted and the dendrochronology assessed, the average age of many of the cross cut sections were close to 3,300 years old.
The idea of this trip was to give The Barracuda a survey course in what amazing natural monuments exist in our nation. When we sat down to think about what that should include, Sequoia was essential. These trees stood as the largest living organisms on the planet for decades (recently usurped by the Honey Mushroom) and can create awe in the most hardened of souls. As Jules stated while hiking, this is as close to a cathedral and religious experience as our family can get.
As we left Sequioa, Jules was fairly sure that little would compare to Sequoia or Yosemite, but he had yet to see Zion.