New Year

Sunset down the street from where we are staying

Happy New Year everyone! Everyday is a day filled with new starts and new opportunities but there is something about the new year that makes the fresh starts more exciting. Like these 365 days are blank pages in our life book for us to fill.

Our new campsite

We are going to be filling up our book with California adventures. We are currently in Northern Cali, in a small town between San Francisco and Sacramento. We are going to be here for a little while, what a little while is we have no idea. It’s not that we don’t enjoy the traveling RV life, it’s because we love the traveling RV life. With our new jobs here, we will be able to be 100% debt free very soon so no more loans and that will give us more freedom to live the traveling lifestyle we love.

Hiking the Oregon Trail

When we left Grand Teton in October, we stayed in Fort Hall, Idaho for a few weeks to help out a friend that owns a boat shop. It was pretty chilly in Idaho already so the only exploring we did was to hike a part of the Oregon Trail. The fascinating part is the area we hiked was one of the more dangerous portions on the route. The area is home to Native Americans and Massacre Rocks State Rock has narrow pathways due to large rock formations and Native Americans would hide and ambushed the travelers. An alternative route was made and many would go out of the way on the alternative trail to avoid that area.

Car camping!

One of the best decisions we have made since our move here in October was getting a small SUV. We have talked about it for awhile now and since we will be here awhile and have a lot of Cali to explore we thought why not!? Here we are, three months later and we put 3,000 miles on the SUV and have explored seven new areas in two states, including my (Jennifer) first ever camping trip!

Campsite

I (Jennifer) LOVE trees. Like, really love them and it’s been my dream for a long time to see the Sequoias/Redwoods. Brad planned out our first Cali adventures back in October and it was to go see the Sequoias. We drove to Tuttletown Rec Area to camp over night and when we got there it was dark already. The friendly ranger directed us to her favorite camping spot (along with hiking tips for the next day) so when we woke up the next morning, we were surrounded by deer and our campsite overlooked the lake. It was so quiet and peaceful and a place we will definitely return to. It was a great first car camping experience and it makes us excited for our next camping experience.

Sequoias!!!

We drove on to see the big trees at Calaveras Big Trees State Park. There are two areas there to view the trees, one is the North Grove which is a popular 1.6 mile loop and the South Grove, a 5.4 mile trail. Since we got there early, we decided to hike the longer trail first and we are so glad we did. We had the whole trail to ourselves and were able to take our time seeing the massive trees.

We quickly learned that viewing these big trees is not like going into a forest and bam, you are surrounded by all these big trees. Sequoias (and redwoods) are special and grow in groves, like they were just randomly lightly sprinkled in the forest. We had to hike over a mile before we saw our first Sequoia and oh my, it was beautiful! Words and photos cannot describe how big and impressive these trees are. The best part is the bark is squishy, like the trees just want to be hugged. ☺️ And we hugged them, at least the ones we could walk up to as some we couldn’t get to.

Snow covered sequoia

For Christmas we decided to return to those big trees and it was perfect! We didn’t have any snow on the road and we finally got snow minutes from the park. Again, we got to the state park early and only the North Grove was open. But since it was early still, we got part of the trail to ourselves and found another trail that overlooked the trees all to ourselves. After the hike, we went into the warming hut for hot chocolate and hot cider, run by volunteers. We might not like living in the snow but we sure love to visit areas that are snow covered. Snow brings a sense of peace and new beauty to the area.

Hiking in the snow

Since we saw the inland sequoia trees, we decided to see the other famous trees in Cali, the costal redwoods. We went to Henry Cowell State Park as this park has a small loop trail around many redwoods. Just like the sequoias, redwoods are just lightly sprinkled within the forest and are easy to recognize. The redwoods were very impressive with their height and the bark color was so distinct. We both would love to see more of these trees during our time here in Cali.

Redwood tree

One of the reasons we picked the smaller redwood park was because it’s right outside of Santa Cruz, a popular beach town. After seeing the redwoods we headed down to Santa Cruz and it was a crazy busy beach town with shopping, restaurants and a boardwalk. We didn’t stay long as we wanted a more quiet beach to visit so we headed down to Panther Beach down the street. The tide was low so we were able to climb around some rocks and walk the beach. We grabbed dinner and when we went back to the beach to watch the sunset, the whole area was foggy and we couldn’t see anything. It was so weird how quickly the weather changed.

Panther Beach

What’s the difference between the sequoias and redwoods? Excellent question!

Sequoia on the left. Redwood on the right

Sequoias: The world’s largest tree in volume. Grows to be 250 feet tall, has a wide base, the largest is 40 feet wide. Grows at elevation between 4,000-8,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada. The oldest Sequoia is 3,200 years, weighing 2.7 million pounds.

Redwoods: The world’s tallest tree. Taller and more slender than Sequoias. Can reach up to 370 feet tall. Grows only along the coast of Northern California. The oldest redwood is 2,000 years, weighing 1.6 million pounds.

When first writing this blog post I thought I would write about all our experiences over the last few months but that will have to be saved for the next blog post as this post is long enough. New Year resolution: at least one blog post a month. Till then and Happy Trails everyone!

Sunset at the campground

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