Sunday Tom and I got a late start leaving Oakhurst (Yosemite NP) for Lemon Cove RV Park outside of Sequoia NP. Once out of the mountains we passed through miles of open land, cattle country, all the way to Fresno. South of Fresno, we were again surrounded by orchards and vineyards. Miles and miles far into the distance. We wonder about the grapes, it didn’t look like wine country, until we came to Kingsburg and a giant Sun-Maid Raisin sign. All these grapes were going to become raisins. The Sun Maid Cooperative is the largest raisin producer in the world. Turning east at Visalia we began to see orchards of lemon and lime trees. Mile after mile of lemon trees until we came to our campground in Lemon Cove.
Lemon Trees as far as the eye can see.
Our drive up the mountain to the General Sherman Tree and The Giant Forest Grove was both beautiful and a little scary. The grove is located about 50 miles into the mountains from the Visitors Center, traveling on a narrow road with continuous twists and turns. The recommended speed was 15 to 20 miles an hours. It reminded me of some the trips with took as kids through the mountains of West Virginia (Marjean, you remember those.) In the middle of the journey was a section of road work. They opened the road to cars on the hour, first those going up then those going down. We had been warned of this at the visitors center and to arrive near the hour. Now we had one lane to creep across. Was the drive worth it? Absolutely! With the sight of the first Sequoia, I had that open mouth gape of wonder. The trees are magnificent.
To visit General Sherman (named for General William Tecumseh Sherman) a half mile downhill hike was required. Along the trail we were surrounded by these giants, each grander than the last until there he was the General. He is 274.9 feet tall, has a circumference of 102.6 feet and approximately 2,300–2,700 years old, one of the largest and oldest trees in existence. In 2006 the largest branch on the Sherman broke off (6’ in diameter, and 96’ in length) and smashed the permitter fence. It is still there.
For a less exciting excursion the next day we took a drive through the groves of fruit trees surrounding our campground to the Sun-Maid Raisin plant. Taking side roads, we were at times walled-in by fruit trees or surrounded by grape vines. Mile after mile, It was amazing! If you are eating, raisins, grapes, walnuts, pistachios, almonds, most stone fruit, lemons, limes, and many others, they were most likely grown in this valley. We also came across the Monrovia Nursery, acres and acres of perennials, and annuals and shrubs. I have many of their plants in my gardens. We did finally stop at Sun-Maid, no tours but a nice store displaying their products. Another interesting day.
After a day of rest, we began our trek North to Lodi and the Napa Valley.