Trees, Oranges, and Tamales

Trees, Oranges, and Tamales

After a quick breakfast at Cafe Smitten in Bakersfield, California it would be time to see a third/fourth California national park: Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. To start, a peanut butter and chocolate bar, real good black coffee, and National Park guidebooks.

And a quick bite. The Vegan Burrito has chickpeas, sautéed mushrooms, spinach, avocado, and tahini. 

Though it may sound like Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks are two different parks, they sit on top of each other, require only one admission fee and share a map. I don’t know that anyone could visit one and not the other as their boundaries and their attractions blend. Teeming with life and lush green, both differ greatly from Joshua Tree and Death Valley. But the looming mountains and rocks still command your attention. With the haze of a heatwave, landscapes had a muted painting-like look–like a projected, faded backdrop or a worn out mural painted on the blue sky.  At the lower elevations, scratchy grassland crisp in the baking sun.

Rushing rivers enter the landscape, a crisp motion-y green that looks so delicious in the summer heat. But these rivers are dangerous. Several have drowned in them recently, according to the parks’ website. 

Grizzly Falls, which are outside the boundaries of both parks within the adjacent Sequoia National Forest (to make things even more confusing), is a great spot to cool down. A refreshing mist pummels you as you gaze upon its beauty. How wonderful to see the basic Elements play with each other: Earth, Water and Wood.

And speaking of Wood, the giant Sequoias certainly steal the show. These immense trees rise from the Earth with a girth that baffles and excites. How on Earth can they be this big? Below, I wrap my arms around a Sequoia for a hug, but it barely notices.

The tree kings

It was very difficult to capture their size. 

Underneath one and looking up…

It was a joy to see trees after two days in the desert. 

This is the largest in the park, the General Sherman Tree

Taking a quick stop in the orange groves on the way back. 

The Peaks restaurant in the Wuksachi Lodge offered a Vegan Field Roast, but it was booked for hours, only offering those who stay in the lodge the opportunity to make reservations. So after a day of exploration in the parks we made a mad dash to make it to Case de Tamale in Fresno for their vegan tamales. These were such a welcome last-minute discovery. Delicious, refreshing Aguas frescas.

I got the sweet corn (on the left) and a spinach and artichoke. Requisite rice and beans were lard-free and ready to be devoured swiftly.