While not quite as famous as the Sequoia’s Morro Rock or General Sherman Tree, Tokopah falls is one of the highlights of the park. From the Lodgepole campground, it’s a short hike along the Kaweah river under the pines and towering granite monoliths to reach this impressive waterfall.
In Sequoia National Park, Moro rock serves two purposes. It’s an obvious centerpiece to the park, towering over the Three Rivers valley and visible for miles around in all directions. But despite the imposing size of this massive slab of granite, it’s also an easily reached viewpoint that can be accessed with just a few minutes of hiking from your car, with views that project all the way to the other side of the Sierras. Unless you have a massive fear of heights or its closed for the winter season, Moro rock should be on your hit list for any visit to Sequoia.
On May 9, I received my B.S. degree in Computer Science! Back when I was starting my senior year of high school I never expected to be out in San Diego for college, and I especially never thought I would pursue a degree in Computer Science of all things! College was a great time; I felt like every year was extremely different. Freshman year everything was new and exciting, but the highlight of my time in college was certainly studying abroad in London my sophomore year. Junior year was my time of experiencing the biggest shift in growing up (a necessary evil), and senior year was busy but ultimately a blast since I lived across the street from the beach. For the most part I enjoyed all my classes, and I am a little bit sad to be done attending them (for now?).
I decided to stay in the San Diego area for the near future…working as a software engineer. I start my job in June, but Joe and I are heading off for a Europe trip first (my graduation present to myself). Here are a few pictures of my graduation. Thanks to all of my family and friends who made the weekend so much fun!
Have you heard about the sharing economy? It’s the latest and greatest phenomenon spawned by the internet, and is all the rage now that social media is old hat. Sharing economy businesses all have a common thread in that they allow users to make use of some excess in their life. Want to rent out a seat at your dining table every time you cook an extravagant meal? You can do that. Got an empty closet that someone can use for storage? It’s now rentable with a few mouse clicks. Have a guest house and live in San Diego? Say hello to your new vacation rental. While none of these activities were technically impossible before, but thanks to the web and the presence of companies that aggregate the things to be shared and ensure accountability for the sharer and the borrower, it’s now realistic for everyone to participate. We jumped into our first foray into the sharing economy with great success.
My life is pretty data driven. If there’s a numerical way to evaluate something, I like to explore that. Sometimes this earns some well deserved eye rolls, when I do things like calculate how much it costs per hour to own a kayak. Of course, we all know that people can be all over the spectrum when it comes to this sort of analysis. I don’t think any of you readers are like this (I mean come on, this is Optimizing Adventure after all), but we all know someone on the opposite end that will go buy toilet paper in a 4-pack at the grocery store each time they need it without a second thought. Funnily enough though, I’ve found one specific area where everyone is data driven.
It’s no secret: if you want to see a showcase of the most beautiful terrain that our country has to offer, you can’t do much better than pointing yourself toward a National Park. Often overlooked for the more well known Yosemite National Park, Seqouia and Kings Canyon National Park is the other reserve set up to showcase the beautiful Sierra Nevadas of California. You enter the park north of Bakersfield, as you drive through the town of Three Rivers which is strung along the North Fork of the Kaweah river.
Do you believe in ghosts? Can’t say I do, but I can tell you that a ghost tour is an awesome way to learn about history. When you go on a ghost tour, you aren’t presented with dry facts that you could stare at on Wikipedia. You get tales full of colorful details, presented with theatrics and a certain ambiance that a typical history tour, book or website just can’t deliver . There’s nothing like a chilling story to help your eyes peal back the onion of modern development and imagine the history that 150 year old buildings have seen.
Southern California isn’t a place you’d associate with skiing, especially this winter. The dry and warm winter we’ve been experiencing leaves hitting the slopes far from the mind – so most people are surprised when I tell them that Kendall and I have been taking several day trips to ski just two hours drive from San Diego. Southern California isn’t typically known for much else than beaches, so few know that SoCal actually plays host to serious mountains.
As we’ve discussed before, one of the best parts of San Diego is that the urban sprawl has left many canyons and peaks free for us to enjoy between patches of development. This applies to North County even more, where most of the newly minted communities have been constructed to include open space from the beginning. Such is the case for the Double Peak trail in San Marcos. Lucky residents of the Twin Oaks Valley neighborhood, where the hike starts, have wide paved paths that are far more substantial than the sidewalks in most communities, and these paths were in wide use when we came along. You start out walking by Discovery Lake, a small fishing pond surrounded by oak trees, walking trails and benches. Climbing uphill towards the Double Peak summit, you pass nicer and nicer houses through the neighborhood trail system, until you leave the development behind, thankfully exchanging the paved trail for dirt.
75 degrees. That’s what the thermometer is reading as I type this in San Diego, in January, at only 10 AM. California should be deep into winter right now, but we’re not – and that’s obvious everywhere from this sunny cafe a few miles from the beach, to the mountains that should have snow. In our quest to teach Kendall how to ski (more on that at some point), we’ve been visiting Snow Valley, a small ski area on the road up to Big Bear Lake, only 2 hours from my doorstep. Last time we were up there, the mercury climbed above 60. I was burning up in a windbreaker and a t-shirt. If it weren’t for their furious overnight snow making, they’d make a much better business as a water skiing venue. “Well”, you might be saying, “big surprise that you aren’t making snow angels in Southern California. Go find some real snow”. But the big guns aren’t faring well either.