Friday, June 20, 2014

General Sherman and the Midnight Ride

Tyler wasn't free to leave the conference until after lunch on Thursday afternoon. We had some time to kill, but there was a nice pool at the hotel that we hadn't used since we were so busy playing at Disneyland. We set aside the morning to swim. The pool was nice and we only saw a few people the whole time. They had complimentary life jackets which were really nice for the littles. Pearl, Daisy, and even Ivory could swim around without any assistance. It was a little cool in the shade but everyone had a good time.

The slide opened later in the morning and everyone had a turn before we left.

Their favorite part was the hot tub. Since the hotel was so tall, the sun didn't reach the pool before we had to leave. Chilly.

Too soon it was time to check out. We packed up all our stuff and said goodbye to our rooms. One more look at the fantastic view. (Thanks for the picture, Tyler.)

I took a picture of the floor because it was cool and we were at the end of a long hallway. We walked across these swirls many, many times.

All the kids are ready to go.

We checked out at 11, but Tyler wasn't ready until noon. So we watched TV in a waiting room. Some random guy came along and gave the kids a balloon animal that he didn't want to take in his car. Thank you. I guess we'll just take it in ours. I took a picture because I was pretty sure neither the monkey nor his bananas would make it through the long car ride.

We left just after noon and we had a LONG trip ahead of us. We were driving to Santa Rosa to see family, but that was a good 7 ½ hour car ride without any stops or detours. And if you are driving with Tyler, you already know there is going to be a detour. Tyler had looked over our route before leaving Utah and decided that we should visit the Sequoia National Park and see the largest trees in the world. (I say largest, but they aren't the tallest. There is a distinction between the two.) It wasn't exactly 'on' the way, so I told Tyler that we should make that our interesting thing to see on that stretch. He grudgingly agreed. He said it would probably only be 45 minutes out of the way. But in vacation speak that is short for let's-drive-around-windy-roads-for-four-hours. 

A long drive is a long drive, but it is made more uncomfortable when one has heartburn. Tyler was feeling very disagreeable as we drove north. Early on he asked if we kept antacids in the car or brought any with us. I said unfortunately not. After four hours of driving north we stopped and bought a few supplies, one of which was antacids. Tyler was not very happy when he opened the glove box to put them in and found....antacids. All those torturous miles with antacid only two feet away. I may have deserved the withering look he gave me.

We arrived at the park around 6pm. We were a little discouraged because we couldn't see any big trees yet. (I correctly predicted that they would be quite a ways into the park.) We paid $20 to enter the park. (Ouch!) The guide at the entrance said, “Yep, just continue down the road. In about an hour you'll come to the largest tree called the General Sherman. He has his own parking can't miss it.” We were given a map and sent on our way. I was in charge of the map. I was a little concerned. An 'hour' on the road map only took us a third of the way on the route to the northern exit from the park. If you do the math, that means two more hours, after the tree, just to get out of the park, and then four more to reach Santa Rosa. But we had already paid our money and we had come all this way. Might as well make the most of it.

Gotta stop by the official park sign.

The road was very windy and went up in elevation very quickly. Check out that view. Gorgeous.

Here is proof of the only meal we bought on the trip.

We drove and started seeing Sequoias. They sure are big suckers. They are distinguished by the fact that they don't taper much towards the top. They just grow straight up like a column. Like the guide said, we reached the parking lot around 7pm. There was a handicapped lot, but we figured that wasn't where we should go. (For future reference, you will save yourself about 45 minutes parking there. But we had all the time in the world. What's another 45 minutes?) We continued on to the other parking lot, where we found a trail that would take about ten minutes to hike. Oh look, deer to greet us.

The trail was very nice. There were bathrooms at the top and plenty of benches along the way. (Looks like our 20 dollars has been well spent.)

It was all downhill to the tree, but that makes a bit of a steep climb coming back, but it didn't bother the kids at all. I think it was nice to walk and stretch a bit after being in the car for so long.

Tyler went over to see the 'Twin Trees.' They are pretty high up there.

Now to see the main attraction. The General Sherman tree, named after General Sherman, of course. It really is a big tree. Pearl is holding a gigantic pinecone as well.

Here is some info. It may be hard to read, so I'll give you the highlights. It is 36.5 feet in diameter. Circumference is 103 feet. Its volume is 52, 500 cubic feet. If the Sherman tree trunk could be filled with water, it would provide enough water for 9,844 baths. That's one bath every day for 27 years.

Like I said, one BIG tree.

On a fallen tree nearby, there were many names carved in. Tyler had just purchased a new knife (after losing the other) so naturally he needed to break it in.

Can you see our name there in the middle?

Nice family shot.

Then we trekked back up to the car. It really wasn't a bad hike. We saw some more wildlife along the way.

The trees are beautiful. Check out that amazing texture.

Then it was back in the car for what was going to be a really long drive. Everybody say goodbye to the giant forest.

We left around 8pm. Luckily the upper section of map was much less windy and the speed limit increased to 45. We made good time and left the park around 9 in the evening. The kids were all snuggled in and sleeping. I was headed to bed myself. Tyler went into shining knight mode and drove into the early hours to get us to the motel. He is amazing! I feel bad that I wasn't there to comfort him at 1:30am when he was stopped by road construction. Or when he plowed over the jack rabbit. (That can't be helped sometimes.) He drove over many highways and finally arrived in Santa Rosa. The good news is that when we checked in (around 2:30am) they had canceled our reservation. (That isn't the good part.) No one had taken the room so it was still available, but as he checked us back in, it didn't register for the previous day. So we weren't actually charged for that evening at the motel. I guess that was a silver lining.

Needless to say, we crashed. I made sure to set an alarm for the morning because I figured we would all be sleeping late. Especially one spectacular man.

A couple items of business that I want to remember:

Tyler did a great job at the conference including teaching classes and building apps. The thing about software development (as every dev will tell you), things don't always work out quite how you planned. Projects are often late and over budget, so you end up with this cram right before deadline—anybody remember finals back in the college days? Well, Tyler's conference app had some great work behind it, but when it came to one specific function, it ran into some issues: the surveys...the dreaded surveys. 

Every class at the conference allows the participants to rate the class and provide feedback—that's pretty standard. What's really cool about our conference, is that there's usually a giveaway at the end, raffled by the survey submissions. More survey submissions = better change of winning a raffle prize, which is generally electronics like iPads and such. So if your surveys suddenly don't appear to be working, then you have a problem. 

On the drive to the Sequoia National Park, Tyler was able to check the survey submissions. Turned out that the surveys were submitting, but the page that told the user that the survey had been submitted didn't work. Tyler, die-hard UX guy, said after the incident, "It didn't matter though, because if it looks like it's broken, it is." Oh well. In the end clients were spamming the survey submit button, just not providing any we ended up getting a LOT of blank surveys. Nailed it.

The last note that Tyler wanted to put in here the kids didn't even see, but it's worth remembering. We stopped to fill up at some town after the Sequoias. It was kind of a strange gas station that didn't have card readers on the machine. Tyler went inside to ask if they'd pump it and he'd pay after. Trust doesn't go far to strangers with out-of-state plates. He ended up leaving the card with them and venturing  back out to fill the vehicle. 

While Tyler was filling up, he was approached by a young woman. She asked if he'd fill her tank, or if he could spare any change. His first response was that he appreciated her situation, but that he'd rather not fill her tank. She retreated to her vehicle. A few minutes later, Tyler thought better of his behavior. He wandered over to her car where she was fumbling with a gas can. "Come on over," he said, and waved her over to the pump. The man at the counter was frantic that somehow Tyler'd been swindled. He filled the gas can, listening to the woman's plight about leaving home, having no money, no job, running from a bad situation. The man at the counter eventually calmed down when Tyler returned to collect the card. "She's trouble, you know," the clerk said. "A little less now," responded Tyler. "Have a good night."

Also, I forgot to mention that on Monday morning we noticed that Pearl had no shirts in her suitcase. Someone ( did not check her bag as carefully as I should have. So we made an impromptu stop at Target to get a couple shirts. I really like the ones I got her and she wears them often now that she is home.

And that puts us safely in Santa Rosa.

To be continued in...Just Kelly-ng Time

1 comment:

¡Vieve! said...

I have always wanted to see those giant trees! It looks so amazing. Glad to hear you guys had a good time.