Tuesday, June 20

June 13, 2017 - Day 2

Our first full day at Big Trees State Park. Milo woke up first, around 4:40am. He had to go to the bathroom, and while peeing against a tree, he asked what time it was. I reluctantly told him 4:40. He immediately said, "Oh, so it's 6:40 at home." Which meant he was up for the day, which meant Olive would hear him and be up shortly after. Sigh. My wonderful husband got up with the kids around 5:40, and I managed to doze until 6:30. Still didn't want to get up. It was cozy warm under the covers, and outside was COLD. Andrew said it took close to an hour to get the fire started because everything was damp.

We had bagels and sausage (toasted over an open fire) and bananas with peanut butter for our breakfast. Fun fact: my kids need tons of protein at breakfast or they fight.

Everything that was at all scented had to be kept in the bear-proof box. Apparently bears will eat soap and sunscreen in addition to your hot dogs and marshmallows. For that reason, we were glad it was so cold that night. All our food in the bear box was basically at fridge temperature. Our Jucy van had a little fridge drawer, but we were told when we picked up the van that it only had about 10 hours of cold before it would start to run the car battery down (incidentally, this totally contradicted what I was told by customer service a couple weeks ago, which was that the fridge ran on a totally separate battery from the car so it couldn't run it down). We didn't have a cooler or ice with us. The only ones we saw at Walmart were way too big for our limited storage space while driving, so were just hoping to make it work for a couple days by keeping food in the bear box during the cold nights and only turning the fridge on during the day.

Since we were all freezing that first morning, we decided to turn on the car's engine and run the heat full blast for a little while to A) warm us up, and B) charge the fridge. It seemed better to chance it with the bears during the daytime in a semi-busy, populated campsite than to let all our groceries rot in the bear box during the day. The heater raised everyone's spirits, so much so that I didn't even mind being the jackass who ran the engine for 20 minutes.

With groceries in the fridge, we set out to do some exploring. The kids basically ran up a mountain. We came back around down the mountain toward a trail, which ran by this beautiful clear stream. Our plan was to go to Jr. Rangers at 10am, but no such luck. Apparently Jr. Rangers meets Wednesday through Sunday in the summer, and it was Tuesday. Dang.

Our first big sight was The Big Stump. It was aptly named. Just so huge. I can't even imagine how immense the tree would have looked when it was still standing. It was starting to warm up by this point, and the gorgeous scenery and the warmth of the sunshine was so uplifting. I need more of that in my life: that temperature, that sun, that view. That feeling.

We decided we'd go back to our campsite, pack a lunch, then head out to our big(ish) hike: the North Grove trail, a 1.5-mile easy trek, which we expected to take between one-and-a-half and two hours to complete. I had printed out a guide of 26 fun facts and info for the trail that corresponded to 26 marked posts along the path. I loved it. So much history, nature facts and things I never would have noticed on my own. The kids really got into it for the first 10 posts or so, then were Over It. That didn't stop me from reading each one out loud, though!

We stopped at a bench for lunch close to halfway around. It ended up taking us close to three hours to hike the whole thing. It was all so awesome. Crazy beautiful. This was honestly one of my favorite places I've ever been. We saw so many big trees, so many that by the end of the trail, the kids didn't even seem to care anymore. Yeah yeah, another sequoia redwood. So what? I was still impressed. We saw a teeny baby bird peering out at us from a nest inside a hollowed out fallen tree. We saw the tree that had the tunnel carved through it that just fell over last year (and some dude mansplained it to me).

After our hike, the kids chilled out at our campsite and ran around and played. After we felt rested, we went on another short exploration. This time the kids wore their Crocs so they could play in the little stream we saw earlier. They got wet and a little muddy, but they didn't think the water was too cold. I'm fairly certain it was too cold for me, but they are much tougher than me.

After a hot-dog dinner and s'mores dessert, we played a few rounds of Skip-Bo, then with full tummies and tired bodies, we were all off to bed.

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