|Kings Canyon (above) & Sequoia National Parks|
|Nancy INSIDE a 1,000 year old giant Sequoia tree!|
Windfall is safely moored at Taboga Island, Panama while waiting for our return, and doing well according to friends living at Taboga keeping an eye on Windfall for us. (Thank you Susan and Chuy at Taboga Moorings!)
|The "General Grant" Sequoia|
|See Mom...I DO own a coat! It's ONLY 34 degrees in this picture!!|
The next day we drove 2 hours to the Kings Canyon National Park and the nearby Sequoia National Park. What a treat this was to be driving in the mountains once again and among the huge redwoods. Sam enjoyed the crisp 34 degree fresh mountain air....and hearing Nancy ever-constant complaint of "Roll that window up! It's freezing in here!"
We were lucky to beat the winter weather, at the 7,000' elevation the only snow was in the Sequoia shadows. Driving the forest roads are always an adventure this time of year, you never know what wildlife you'll see crossing the road.
We're getting emails from cruiser friends, Rick and Sue from New York, who's boat Moonshine is moored in El Salvador and they're excited to head south to Panama! We're anxious to see Rick and Sue, along with our Australian friends Peter and Cheryl from Stolen Kiss also moored in El Salvador. And, come to find out, they're all on the same plane to El Salvador! Nancy and I spent a wonderful week touring Guatemala with Rick and Sue, we will be anxious to be "tour guides" while they're in Panama.
|A beautiful cold water stream, frozen with ice on the rocks|
|A great day for a drive in the Sequoia forest|
|This gives you a better perspective of the giant Sequoias!|
|Hey watch this... HOLD MY BEER! |
Walking the aisles at the local mega-stores, factory outlets, and super-malls was a bit overwhelming for us "land-locked" cruisers. Compared to the "island stores" we've grown accustomed to shopping have placed Nancy and I in a state of "shock." Since being "back in the states" we've noticed how many TV advertisements are forcing you to buy-buy-buy, and how tense our bodies have become from the noise, traffic, and hustle and bustle of everyday living. It's a far cry from our quite laid back "cruising life" aboard Windfall. Yes, we're both homesick for Windfall and warm Panama too.
To see the huge Christmas inventories stacked to the ceilings, clothing hung in rack after rack, and electrical signs blinking "Big Discounts" did little to increase our already low Christmas Spirit.
One night we drove through the largest Christmas Tree Lane in America located here in Fresno and only a few blocks from our hotel. At over 2 1/2 miles long, and completely funded by volunteers and donations, the 89th annual Fresno Christmas Tree Lane really helped put us back in the Christmas spirit.
It was a crisp cold star-filled evening as we entered the beautiful cherry lighted street, colorful twinkling lights crisscrossed the street from tree to tree, and with homes decorated beyond the normal. With windows rolled down and heater turned on "HIGH", we tuned the car radio to cheery traditional Christmas music. We slowly motoring down the street in line with family cars filled with young children wide-eyed at the twinkling lights.
I can clearly remember as a young boy in the 1960's and sitting in the backseat of my parents car, dressed in PJ's and wrapped in warm blankets, so excited and wide-eyed watching the colorful Christmas lights slowly pass with our noses pressed to the frosty car windows. Some houses went all out with with spotlights pointed at decorations scattered across the lawns and rooftops. Cars slowly cruised the colorful streets, stopping at the houses with blinking twinkle lights, flashy eye-catching reindeer cutouts, and hand painted Santa plywood characters with packs slung over their backs and filled with presents for good little boys. I remember how warm and comfortable that backseat felt as my eyes grew heavy and I snuggling deeply into the soft handmade blanket my grandmother made for me.
My father had a wonderful Christmas tradition he did each year for all the children, and grandchildren. Early each Christmas morning, being a farmer, he would hurry our to the barn and scatter a bale of hay across the field to leave for Santa's reindeer. Sure, everyone leaves Santa milk and cookies, but Santa's reindeer need a snack too!
Then, Dad would drag his feet in the gravel to make two "sleigh tracks" where Santa's sleigh landed on the gravel road leading to the barn - which in our eyes was definite hard proof there really IS a Santa! Of course, besides the sleigh tracks and hay eaten by reindeer, there was even more solid "proof" there really is a Santa... Dad was always quick to point-out the reindeer's hoof marks left in the mud around the scattered hay! Yep! Right there n the mud was indisputable proof!
I have to admit, it was years later when I noticed Dad's cows, with their muddy hoofs, smiling it seemed, as they slowly chewed that remaining sweet Christmas hay "shared" with Santa's Reindeer! Thank you for the wonderful memories, Dad, we miss you dearly!
Nancy and I extend our warmest heartfelt Christmas wishes to you and your families!