March 22, 2008

Sequoia National Park

4 highways 13.5 hours 840 km I went for a ride today. Yeah, I was a bit concerned about driving long. But that was last week. Today morning I woke up early and by the time I headed towards highway US-101 S, it was about 7.30am. The ride was long. But I enjoyed it. It was awesome to drive on the freeways. My car never felt tired; it just kept going. I averaged around 80mph and reached up to 90mph. The roads were very scenic. I could see a lot of green fields and mountains and lakes on the roadside. Driving on the hills was a very new experience for me. With a lot of hairpin bends and sharp turns, it was very challenging. Every 10 minutes I kept thinking "maybe I can stop here and take some photos." The mountain was very beautiful. As the car climbed up, I started seeing some white things on the road side. As usual, I thought of stopping the car to see if that really was ice. But I kept driving in the interest of time. In a few minutes I started seeing ice on both the sides of the road. You never know how happy and thrilled I was -- I was seeing snow! (It rarely rains in the place where I lived the first 22 years of my life; it's a really hot place.) On the top, I saw General Sherman the largest living tree on the planet. It was completely surrounded by ice. I had to walk on the ice to see the tree. It was not very crowded, so I could get near the tree. I touched it, like a kid touching an elephant's leg. It was huge and I felt like lying on it's feet and surrendering to it. I had to return soon, since I hadn't planned to spend the night in the park. So I left the park immediately after visiting General Sherman. Driving downhill was a challenge and I loved it. Again, I thought of stopping in a few places, but didn't stop as I wanted to reach my hotel before it becomes dark. At one instance, I could imagine how Robert Frost would have felt when he wrote "miles to go before I sleep". Driving back in the night was not as hard as I had imagined. Driving a bike on the highways in India during nights is almost suicidal. With all the cars and vans and buses coming with their high beams on, driving a bike is almost impossible. But in the US, even in the freeways we are not supposed to use high beams. That alone made the ride so much easier. I got back in time. And you know what was the best part of the ride? I didn't lose my way -- not even once :-) PS: I have uploaded some photos, if you are interested.

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