Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Portugal - California 2004

Deeper into Kings Canyon

I felt no particular need to get up at the crack of dawn although, in truth, there was once again quite a bit of ground to be covered. I had the by now customary Holiday Inn Express breakfast and was ready to check out by about 1000 : quite a slow start by my usual standards. I filled up the car in the village to avoid any stressful moments while driving through the park, where such facilities do not exist. (I have horrible memories of once coasting down a mountain pass in Colorado with the needle flat on 'E' - not recommended driving technique!) I began by retracing the previous day's route along the General's Highway. With the usual few stops along the way, it was lunchtime by the time I got to Grant Grove Visitor Center.

After a short break, I headed along the rather functionally named Kings Canyon Scenic Byway, a dead-end road some thirty miles long, winding its way down into the canyon itself. It was another spectacular drive and, perhaps not surprisingly, quieter than the General's Highway. Once on the valley floor, the views were breathtaking. When I got to Road's End (another rather unimaginative name!), I had no option but to turn round and come back again. This time, towards the end of the road, I took one of the little side roads to visit Hume Lake. The lake was pretty enough, but I was surprised by the amount of development : the area played host to a sizeable school camp facility. While allowing city kids access to this type of country seemed a fine idea, I had been expecting something a bit wilder and more natural and therefore, somewhat guiltily, I felt disappointed.

By now it was around 4 in the afternoon, so I felt the need to press on. I retraced the previous day's route to Fresno and onto Highway 99 for the short drive north to Merced. Finding the latest Holiday Inn Express could not have been easier : it was right next to the freeway and indeed I had spotted it on my way south. This one was again based on a motel-type layout, but had some nice touches including a warm welcome from the staff, the offer of a wake-up call (declined) and a welcoming coffee and cookie (accepted). I had dinner at the next-door branch of Carrow's.

Thursday 23 Sep

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