Return to CA: Packing and Sequoia National Park, Round 2

After a good night’s rest, we went to my mother’s storage unit to unpack and decide what was coming home with us. I nearly had a heart attack every time I heard my wife say, “Awww…” It seemed like a potential signal of each additional thing she’d want to load into the trailer. HAHA! I had made it clear that I was bringing home “just” 500 lbs, nothing more. Thankfully, many of the things that gave her moments of pause were also things that she was able to put back into their box and move on. Later, she said that it was 1:00pm and that she was hungry. “WOW! Has it been that long already?” We had leftover pizza in the car’s refrigerator and took a lunch break. While eating, I opened my Instagram page and discovered that it wasn’t 1:00pm. Her FitBit was still on east coast time; it was only 10:00am. “Early lunch for us!” HAHA!

We continued our work. I taped a piece of paper to the trailer and listed the weights of each item she wanted to pack. The cedar chest was her main want. We weren’t sure if Mom’s desk would fit, but it was easy once the legs were off. Surprisingly, there were four short solid wood book cases that we decided to take home. There were other odds and ends that we boxed, as well as blankets and sweaters that could act as padding. Here’s the list of items that went into the trailer, as well as each item’s weight. Although the list says 365 lbs, there were a few oddball items that didn’t get weighed, which were around 40 lbs combined. Given the 1060-lb weight that I measured when I left Virginia, that still left me below my 1500-lb weight limit at 1465 lbs. It gets better: With the fuel-scarce areas now behind me, I was free to dump about 30 lbs of fuel into the car. Also, I had removed some tools and odd items to make room in the Husky tub for Mom’s fragile things. I didn’t want to carry cargo in the car, but I wasn’t going to die over one 50-lb box in the back seat. That left the trailer at ~1400 lbs. Next, I measured the trailer’s tongue weight. It was 180 lbs, which was too heavy. I wanted it closer to 140 lbs. I shuffled a few things around in the trailer redistribute the weight and got the tongue weight to 160 lbs, which was 11.7% of the trailer’s total weight. I called it a “win.”

I was surprised that we had stuffed the trailer to the gills without exceeding its weight capacity! I was certain those freshly-painted walls would be a mess by the time I got home. But it was also possible that it wouldn’t be too bad since there wasn’t much room for things to shift around inside. We returned to our hotel room, had the rest of our leftover pizza, and then made arrangements to visit my aunt and grandmother. I hadn’t let them know that we were in town since I wasn’t sure how our weekend would look. If I’m honest, my wife easily could have toiled over every item in that storage unit. I was prepared to spend two full days there, with half of it spent napping in the car while she did HER thing. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. We arranged to leave the loaded trailer at Grandma’s place so that we could visit Sequoia National Park the following day (Sunday) without a loaded trailer in tow.

We arrived at the park entrance a bit later than my arrival on Friday. There was a crowd. I had already taken crowd-free photos of the things that interested me. So, our goal was to get up to General Sherman Tree, walk around, and then get out. The stretch of road where I had jackknifed the trailer was completely different this time. This photo shows the pullout where I had parked the car after uncoupling the trailer. The trailer was around the corner and out of sight from here. I brought it down the icy road by hand to this point. The pullout didn’t look nearly this large when it was covered with snow and ice! The roads were completely clear and dry, just as one would expect when a “road conditions” hotline says, “Roads are clear; chains are not required.”

My wife noted that the climb up the mountain was every bit as twisty as Tail of the Dragon, probably more so. I didn’t count each turn in this 19-mile climb. I think TOTD stretches some of their counting in order to achieve their infamous “318 curves.” This road certainly has A LOT of turns and a good reason for its 30-mph speed limit. The fallen tree tunnel road was still closed. That snow will be there a while. So, we continued to General Sherman Tree. There was less snow on the walkways than on Friday, but the snow that had been there had transitioned to ice. We heard a report that a woman had fallen on her back and was awaiting medical transport. We carefully made our descent to the giant trees.

I didn’t mention before, but these trees have a chemical, known as tannin, which protects them from fire and insects. This allows them to live for thousands of years, even through forest fires. We stopped for a photo inside of a burned tree that still stands tall and strong. The same tannin that protects the tree while it’s alive also preserves it after it falls. Some of these trees fell over 100 years ago. I shared a photo of a fallen tree in the album below. When and why this tree fell is unknown. We continued our hike to General Sherman tree.

Again, it’s nearly impossible to capture this entire tree in a photo with regular lenses. This shot shows its width at the base. General Sherman Tree is not the widest, tallest, or oldest, even at 2200 years. But it has more wood than any other tree in the world. See this video to watch a story about other visitors lining-up to have me take their picture in front of this tree. After breaking free from the photo requests, we found our way back to the climb out of the area. My wife does a lot of studio aerobic activity. So, she had an easier climb out of that area than me. Still, the lack of snow and ice allowed me to make longer strides than I had on Friday. I was still tired, but at least my face wasn’t pounding. We descended the mountain, visited a gourmet burger joint for dinner, and then returned to my grandmother’s place to say goodbye and to retrieve the trailer. My grandmother is 94 years old. Her oldest son died just days before my mother’s funeral (Mom was oldest). So, Grandma’s has had a tough six months. I don’t know if I’ll ever see her again.

We spent the night at a hotel near the airport. That gave us an extra hour of sleep since we had been staying an hour away. My wife’s flight was to depart at 6:20am, which meant that she needed to be there by 4:20am (two-hour early arrival is our practice when traveling by air). She was disappointed with her forthcoming 7-hour layover in Dallas. I reminded her that I had eight long layovers ahead of me. 😀 My plan was to drive to St. George, UT, a 576-mile drive. For me, the early departure was welcome! I wanted to return to Virginia via a northern route so that I could pass through more states. I haven’t mentioned it in this series, but my wife collects “Been There” state mugs from Starbucks. She added quite a number to her collection during our last trip to CA. But we were unable to get to any northern states due to snow and ice along I-80 in November. I’m hoping to add more states to her collection on this trip.

I’m also adding to my own collection of states visited. Here is my “States Visited” map after November’s trip to CA. Personally, I’ve been to all states with the exception of North Dakota and Minnesota. This map represents where the car has been. The green states are those which were newly-traveled in 2020. I’ll explain the color codes in my wrap-up post. So far, the only new state to add is Nevada. I’ll color it and other new states in bright blue. What states would I cover next? That depended on how the mountain passes along I-70 and I-80 looked when I got there. I hoped at least one was free of snow and ice. Otherwise, I’d have to return via I-40 again. BORING! HAHA! See the outcome next time…

Ready to Head East,


About Scott

I grew up near Houston, TX and served in the U. S. Coast Guard for over 30 years. I have an electronics background and continue to work in the electronics engineering field. I taught myself the basics about automotive systems as well as how to perform some of my own maintenance (cars and bicycles). I became involved with Amateur Radio and computers in 1995. The explosion of technology has made my job and several of my hobbies quite interesting. My hobbies include Volkswagens, bicycling, photography, electronics, amateur radio, web management, and reptiles. Visit my websites to learn more.
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