After three days climbing Mount Whitney, the group hobbles through Sequoia National Park on part three of our 2006 California trip. Unlike Death Valley and Mount Whitney, Taylor is responsible for the text from Sequoia.
We made our way south down Hwy. 395, around the Inyo National Forest, around the southern tip and up the western side of Sequoia National Forest, and up Hwy. 99 to Visalia, CA. Visalia was a fitting spot to stop because in the morning, we could wake and pounce straight away on Sequoia National Park – a mere seventy two mile hop. Visalia was also just far enough from the park to remain unaffected by its touristy high prices. While in town, the group ate at Something Fresh Restaurant and attempted to get a good night’s sleep at a cheap, inhospitable Days Inn. Let me qualify this by saying that we were dead tired and disgusting. We had spent four nights camping, one night in the desert and three nights in the Sierra Nevada. Our collective body odors created such a putrid stench in the Jeep Commander that it remained even after rolling down the windows and adorning the rear-view mirror with one of those little blue winter-fresh deodorizers. This is the state we were in when we reached Visalia, when we reached the Days Inn. Even in this revolting state, even as walking talking biology experiments, we found the Days Inn to be unpleasant and strange, strange in a bad way. Highlights included: one arrogant receptionist, one inoperable air conditioner, one operable yet leaking air conditioner, one fully soaked floor from leaking air conditioner, one strange maintenance man (instead of giving us another room, they gave us a maintenance man), one temporarily broken TV, a mildew smell that overpowered our B.O., a foreboding sign that warned of impending death by chemical inhalation, a stockpile of what looked like old air conditioner carcasses by the side of the building, and a very bizarre scene where three chairs and a BBQ pit encircled an AC – all under a tree. It was a wreck, but it was cheap. We checked in, showered up, and dined at Something Fresh Restaurant – Visalia’s saving grace. The next morning I rose early to wash and dry clothes. I collected laundry from the guys and drove the Commander to the nearest Laundromat. It wasn’t until I loaded three washers with clothes that I realized that I had no detergent! Luckily, there was a convenience store next door with detergent. I returned with clean clothes for everyone, and we headed into Sequoia National Park.Before leaving the park, we squeezed in a tour of the Crystal Cave Caverns. After the tour we began our trip back to Vegas, with pit stops in Bakersfield, Calico Ghost Town, and Barstow. In Vegas we checked into the Paris Hote, did some shopping, and found a cheap watering hole to squander or remaining cash. The next morning we took a dip in the hotel pool and slogged over to the airport to return the Jeep Commander. The trip was over, and it was probably for the best – we were all spent.