Sunday, November 27, 2011

discovering california with a thanksgiving in the kern river valley

This year we began what I'm sure will become a tradition for years to come.  We loaded up the minivan with Legos and Star Wars Toys and trekked up North about two hundred and fifty miles to my parents' new vacation home deep in the hills of Lake Isabella and the Kern River Valley.  It was great to explore an area of California that was completely new to me.  The kids were ecstatic that snow was only another twenty minutes up the mountain in the outer edges of the Sequoia National Forest.   We did some hiking in the BLM (land protected by the Bureau of Land Management) and climbed the river-polished boulders of the Slippery Rock Picnic Area.  I loved studying the Oak Trees, Manzanitas and pine cones.  Our drive up took us through Los Angeles, over the "Grapevine" and into the San Juaquin Valley before making our way up the mountain East of Bakersfield.  Coming home, however, we decided to go down the Eastern side of the Sierras and drive through the Mojave Desert on Old Highway 395.  It was such a beautiful drive.  I think we'll always go up and down that way from now on.  The Joshua Trees were spectacular and I always love seeing those long, long freight trains that travel through the desert.  I feel like we really took in the full scope of California's landscapes- golden hills spotted by burly California Oak Trees, green river valleys accented with bright yellow Fall foliage and desolate desert pierced by lonely highways and railroad tracks.  I'm very thankful to have had such a beautiful week with my Family and I'm inspired to discover more of California's secret pockets.