Thursday, November 25, 2021

Three National Parks, One Road Trip

Trip date: May 2021

After my fall road trip to California's redwood forest I was even more interested in visiting the Giant Sequoias on the other side of the state. I decided to do a spring road trip, this time visiting Sequoia National Forest, Kings Canyon National Forest, Yosemite National Forest, and Lake Tahoe. Unlike the redwoods, I had never been to any of these places!

With the world still dealing with the Covid pandemic I felt this would again be a safe way to explore, and made my plans to revolve almost entirely around outdoor hiking and exploring. As an unexpected bonus I was able to get my vaccine a month before my trip so I was fully vaxxed when I left.

Day 1. Seattle, WA to Ashland, OR - 480 miles

My first day would consist of an almost 8 hour day of driving. That's a lot for me, I prefer to keep things around 5 if possible. I stopped in Portland on my way to Ashland and had a nice lunch and catch up with a friend. 

I was on my final hour, driving over Grant's Pass when all of a sudden my BMW lost power. I was able to get over to the side of the road (semi trucks everywhere!) and call BMW Road Service. They connected me to Medford BMW and I was able to persuade the service guy to let me bring the car in first thing the next morning after explaining my situation. Luckily the car was driveable, although still acting strange even after a "re-boot". Definitely not how I wanted this big solo 2-week road trip to start!

My first night stay was at the Lithia Springs Resort, just outside of Ashland. Friends had stayed there just a couple of weeks prior and really liked it. It seemed a little silly to stay at a hotsprings resort for just one night, but it was actually cheaper than the Best Western I had originally booked!

Knowing that the on-site restaurant was not open because of Covid, I stopped at Blue Toba for some Indonesian take out before I checked in. Once I got into my room I made a quick change into my suit, grabbed a chilled wine spritzer from my cooler, and hit the natural springs hot tub. After the stress of the car, this was exactly what I needed. Never mind the warning on the spa gate that bears had been sighted in the area recently!

I was so happy to be staying at this gorgeous little retreat. Natural spring water is also in all of the rooms so you can take advantage of it in the shower and bathtub. The grounds are gorgeous and my room was huge and very comfortable. 

Also my beef rangdon from Blue Toba was super good but VERY spicy! 

Day 2. Ashland to Sacramento - 308 miles

I was up early in order to be at the BMW dealership by 7:30am. I had to arrive before the first appointments so they could squeeze my car in for diagnostics. I was out of the dealership by 10am only $120 lighter and they included a car wash! Thank gawd!

Before hitting the road to Sacramento, I stopped at Lithia Park in Ashland and did the easy loop hike around the creek. This was such a great suggestion made by some friends of mine, highly recommend if you are in Ashland!

I had about a 5-hour drive and it was a gorgeous sunny spring day for it. Unlike the last time I drove past Mt. Shasta and couldn't see a thing because of forest fire smoke, this time it was directly in front of me until I passed her.

I stopped again just past Shasta to do another short hike at Hedge Creek Falls. It felt good to get off of I5 and get into a little nature for about 30 minutes.

By now I was starving so I stopped at an In-n-Out burger in Redding. As I sat outside eating my delicious burger I couldn't help but notice that there were a lot of cowboy-looking guys also grabbing a bite. One of them who was chatting with me mentioned something about moving cattle that time of year. My BMW looked a little out of place next to all the big dusty pickups in the parking lot!

I arrived in Sacramento and checked into the Inn Off Capitol Park. The hotel was fine but the location and the $12 overnight and secure parking made it great! I originally planned to do a little walking tour around town since it was my first time there, but it was crazy HOT and a cool beverage sounded much better.
I walked over to The Snug and had a couple of absolutely lovely drinks. This cocktail bar had been on my list to check out for quite some time, and even though the inside was closed due to Covid, the patio, service, and cocktails were wonderful. Highly recommend!

I walked to The Waterboy for dinner, checking out the neighborhoods as I went. Sacramento has some beautiful old houses!

My dinner was great and the service was really good. I was a little confused as to why they were able to have indoor seating and most of the staff went unmasked. But since I had my vaccine I was still feeling ok with it and enjoyed my goat cheese salad and duck breast entree. 

The next morning I did a big walking self-tour of the city. I strolled past the Governor's Mansion, spent some time in the Rose Garden, and absolutely adored all the trees and plants on the Capitol Mall (they say there is plant species from every place on the globe!). 

Then I made my way past the court buildings and walked around the grounds of Leland Stanford Mansion before heading to the Tower Bridge and Old Sacramento. 
There's a lot to see in Sacramento! I thought it seemed like a super nice city and could definitely have fun spending a couple of days there. But I had a national park to get to so I walked back to my hotel (after hitting 10k steps before lunch!), loaded up the car, and hit the road.

Before getting on 99 South towards Fresno I stopped at Corti Brothers for a sandwich. This had been a recommendation and what a stellar one it was! Corti is a HUGE Italian grocery store and their deli is very popular with the locals as I could see from the line of business folks, policemen, parents with their kids, etc. 

I thoroughly enjoyed ½ of my sandwich at one of the highway rest stops on the way to Sequoia National!

All photos from Ashland and Sacramento here

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