It is hot out there, in the middle of the desert but in our mind, we are still somewhere green and high up between Yosemite and the Sequoia National Park. We have added more gems to our memory box: majestic valleys, huge waterfalls, blue birds flying under the canopy of giant Sequoias, bears footprints and the smell of warm pines.
In Yosemite, we camped in front of a waterfall and surrounded by a silver cliff for two days. Maxim and Callum were not impressed by the very basic facilities (three bare walls, a tent roof and camp beds). Yes, no TV, no computers and worse of all, no coffee machine... How will we ever survive...
Then, they discovered a whole group of children to befriend and a lazy river, perfect for little boats made of bark and leaves. They also worked out how to melt the perfect marchmallow at a real campfire with all their new friends during an improvised party. We had long chats with our new neighbours (the kindness anf generosity of californians never ceases to amaze us ) who showed us how to make smores (a sandwitch of biscuit, chocolate and fire melted marchmallow) and showed us Saturn in a telescope. We walked in cool forests and in the spray of waterfalls (massive thanks to the melting snow). We learned to store all our food in bearproof boxes and had squirrels exploring our car for a forbidden morsel. We happily sat under the sun and under the stars watching Maxim and Callum, having the time of their life.
After three sunny days and two cold nights, we left this amazing place to admire another nature's wonder, the giant trees of the Sequoia National Park. No rough camping this time, we stayed in Montecito lodge, designed for families. For three days, we felt as if we were cruising without moving, high up (7000 feet) in the Sierra Nevada, in the middle of a pine forest. We went on organised hikes while Maxim and Callum learned the art of Archery at the kids club (they were the only kids). We enjoyed healthy food that was included in the package, with lots of fruits and veg and best of all coffee available all day long. There were long tennis table games, heavy soccer tables sessions, books devored on a comfy sofa, songs and smores at campfires and still not a TV in sight...Maxim and Callum could have stayed here for 3 months, the staff said they would have keeped them as little helpers if they had been a bit older...but we would have missed them too much... And those trees those massive towers of red bark, 12 meters in diameters, standing 40 meters high on their mazes of underground roots...we craned our neck to admired those slow growing peacefull beings wearing the names of american generals. Sometimes, they grow so much that their roots system cannot support them anymore, so they fall (there is some kind of a life lesson there) and lay there for centuries protected from insects by their tanin. Their trunks have being used as shelters by indian tribes, soldiers and their horses. They are part of the American history and protected from greedy loggers who keep on asking "do you really need such a big forest of it, surely just a few trees should be enough" Will they ever win...
We left bear country without having seing a single one of them (apart from Mister Bear Beau Tom in Castro, but that does not count) knowing already that we were going to miss the clean fresh air and abrupt landscapes.
Then, suddently we were back on long highways in the company of trucks. Our landscapes are dry and cruel, with hills covered in windmills instead of pines, field of stones instead of flowers and lonely trains instead of shiny rivers. Grand Canyons here we come.