Category Archives: Education

Sequoia National Park

After we left Boron, California, we zipped (as if you can call it that in the bus) North on Hwy 99 to a campground in Tulare.  We decided to take a day trip into Sequoia National Park, the weather was beautiful and we were excited about getting to see some giant trees.  We left our campground a little later than we had hoped, so we knew it would be basically a drive through experience with only a little while to actually explore on foot.  We stopped at the ranger station after we entered the park and set out with a game plan to walk around the General Sherman and General Grant trees for sure.  We started climbing in elevation through the park and had to stop for about 20 minutes at a road construction site.  Chas and the girls worked on their Jr. Ranger workbooks, the view from where we were stopped was amazing so it made for a nice stop.

We drove to the upper parking lot for the General Sherman Tree Trail, which turned out to be a much longer hike than I expected.  The trail is excellent, but you will be winded after you make it back to your car.  This trail takes you by several of the giants on your way to see the Sherman tree, my favorite was the twin trees where we were able to touch a giant for the first time.  Many of the trees are fenced off so you can’t get close enough to touch them, but a portion of the trail goes right between these trees.  I was surprised to discover the bark is very soft and spongy, not hard like almost all trees I have encountered.  It is so soft, I could see it being very easy to take a nap with a Sequoia as a backrest and pillow.  The General Sherman Tree is the largest tree, by wood volume in the trunk, in the world.

After leaving the General Sherman Tree, we drove into Kings Canyon Park and went to the General Grant Tree.  On our way up the trail, we found the Tunnel Log that you can walk through and explore.  I am 6’5″ tall, and did not have to lower my head all the way through the log.  We hiked around the General Grant tree, I was amazed by the size of the fire scar on the upper side of the tree.  There is a photograph of soldiers in the 1800’s standing at the fire scar, and it looks the same as it did over a hundred years ago.  The General Grant Tree is the 3rd largest tree by wood volume in the world.

Some fun facts about the tree:

  • 1.700 years old
  • 268 feet tall
  • Weighs 1,254 tons
  • Largest Branch is 4.5 feet in diameter
  • First Branch is 120 feet from the ground
  • At 40′ in diameter, it is the widest known sequoia
  • If you hollowed out the trunk, it would hold 159,000 basketballs or 37 million pingpong balls

We enjoyed our drive through the giant trees, seeing trees that large is a very awe inspiring experience.  I could not imagine how the early explorers felt when they experienced these trees for the first time.  The video and pictures we took while in the park do not really express how large these trees are, you just have to see them in person to really appreciate them.

Nothing Boring About Boron

We had planned to stay at the Red Rock Canyon campground after we left Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, but upon arrival we found out it was full.  We decided to roll on down the road and get to California a few days earlier than we had planned.  Since it was late in the evening, we decided to stop at the Gold Strike Casino and stay in their parking lot with several other RV’s.  It is a well lit place to park (you can’t beat FREE for the price) for anyone else coming through the area, and the breakfast buffet was an added bonus.  We pulled out of the casino parking lot around noon with California in our sights.  We decided to make the tiny town of Boron our destination since a Passport America park was located there.  Once we arrived in Boron, we learned the area has a very interesting history.  Edwards AFB is close by, but the main attraction for me turned out to be the Borax mine.

The next morning we got up early (for us) and drove a couple miles to the entrance to the Borax mine.  The speed limit signs were the first unique feature we found as we made our way to the visitors center on the top of a hill.  They show you a short movie that gives you all kinds of information about the discovery of Borax in the area, along with the history of mining and the many uses of different Borates.  I thought Borax was only used for a laundry booster, boy was I wrong.

The size of the mine itself, along with the mining equipment, is a bit of a shock when you first begin to take it all in.  At the end of the movie, the curtain on the back wall opens and gives you a first hand look at the expanse of the operation.  The other sided of the mine is several miles away, and trucks larger than my first apartment (by quite a bit) look like specks driving on the distant mine roads.

 

After the movie and a little gawking out the large panoramic window, we walked through the on site museum learning more about the mining process.  The girls liked having their pictures taken in front of a large chunk of Borax ore.

We walked around the exhibits outside the museum, my favorite of which was the massive tire from one of the trucks.  That single tire weighs in at over 6,000 lbs, and the trucks have 6 of these massive tires on them.  I would love to use one to make the worlds largest tire swing, but it would take more than your average tree to hang it from.  The 20 Mule Team ore carts were another interesting part of the exhibit.  These were actual carts used to haul 20 tons of Borax out of the Death Valley desert to the railroad terminal in Mojave, 166 miles and 20 days round trip away.  The last few pictures in this section are at a park in the middle of Boron where they have one of the Borax hauling trucks on display.  I managed to get a shot of the Scholl Bus in front of the truck so you can get a better idea of how massive these things are.

While in Boron, we happened to stop by 2 other local museums.  The 20 Mule Team museum is in the middle of town, and has a few exhibits you cal walk around.  We got there too late to see the exhibits inside the museum itself.  We did get to walk through the Saxon Aerospace Museum, and struck up a conversation with an awesome couple that helped operate the museum.  We were invited on a private tour of Edwards AFB the following morning, so that will be the next post here.  Stay Tuned…

 

For the Love of Books

When deciding what items would make the cut while putting our stuff in the Bus, our boxes and boxes of books didn’t make it.  They are heavy and take up a lot of space so we decided to bring a few along with plans to donate them along the way as we read them.  We also decided that e-books would be an organized way to get our reading fix in a small space.  We would love to find a good source to get access to lots of e-books for good deal and so far we have only used www.pixelofink.com that lists free and reduced kindle books regularly. We have the free Nook and Kindle apps on our computers and have found the classic books for free but we are still looking for a way to get newer e-books. Sometimes we go hang out in a book store or the book section in Walmart to see whats new.

One of the things we have greatly missed while being on the road is having a local library and being able to check out books/Dvd’s/audio books.  As the girls have grown up, the library has been a place for us to attend programs and meet new friends in the areas we have lived.  The library has been a valuable resource in exploring new interests, gathering information on particular subjects,discovering new authors and reading entire series of books.  We have very much appreciated the amount of savings we have enjoyed by being able to borrow books instead of having to buy each one we wanted to read.  Some of the series that we have enjoyed with the girls are Dinotopia, Magic Tree House, Little House on the Prairie, Junie B. Jones, Sara, Hank the Cowdog and  Julie of the Wolves just to name a few.

We were all very excited to go to the Library here in Kansas and get Library cards to check stuff out for the first time since we left NC.  We got to go to the Library as a whole family because Jody was with us instead of at work like he use to be.  The girls enjoyed having us both available to them so they could get more 1 on 1 time instead of just sharing Momma. Spending more time together as a family is one of the many benefits we anticipated while traveling.  We each left the Library with a sack of entertainment that we look forward to diving into.  We took a picture of the contents in each bag so we could have a visual reminder of what we would need to include on our return trip.

I type this post as Daddy-O and the girls are reading Guinea Dog 🙂 one of our Library books.  What books have you enjoyed lately?