Our first view of the Grand Canyon made the drive all the more worthwhile.
We arrived in the dark so it wasn’t until the next morning that we got to the South Rim. We camped at Mathers campground, in the park. It was surprisingly busy for the time of year. At this elevation in February (5000 feet) it was the coldest we’d been in months. Maybe years. There wasn’t as much snow as Sequoia but the air felt quite icy and it was much colder. Definitely in minus territory. There were so many people rugged up and huddled around camp fires as we drove in. We spent most of the night in the ‘lounge room’ in the back of the van.
My desire to see as much as possible had us driving across California, through the Dust Bowl, nipping through Nevada (skirting Las Vegas for now) and finally into Arizona for the Grand Canyon. We stayed at some nice campsites along the way.
We drove down a long and windy steep hill into Lake Isabella. We really gave the breaks a bit of a work out. There are quite a few national park campgrounds in the area, one of which is free during the winter and is on the shore of the lake.
We passed a campsite slightly up a hill overlooking the lake then drove down through Lake Isabella, which seemed like a rather grim town and arrived at the Dam Campsite. It was also very grim and seemed a little unsavoury. It was very exposed to a strong cross wind and seemed quite unsavoury.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
After seeing the majestic California Redwoods in Big Sur, Barry and I were enchanted enough to brave the cold weather in search of more big trees in Sequoia National Park.
With only a week left in California, Barry and I opted against staying in an affordable (and possibly grungy) hotel room in San Diego or Los Angeles and hit the road on another US Road Trip.
We considered and quickly rejected hiring an RV. We thought it would be too stressful to drive something so big and too restrictive in terms of where to park along the way. But transport and accommodation in one was too appealing to give up on. A little internet research revealed small campervan/mini RVs for rent in LA. Yes please!
We came across two companies that fit the bill: JUCY Rentals and Escape. Both basically provided the same thing, a refurbished Dodge ‘Caravan’ where the back seats converted to a double bed, with a roof tent on top and a sink, stove and fridge in the back.
JUCY vs Escape – How to Choose?
What to do with a day in San Diego. First of all, you ask the lovely Jolene, who has lived in San Diego for years.
Jolene, who I haven’t seen for more years than I care to count, kindly sent me a long list of options.
- If it’s nice weather, the beach on Coronado Island (our experience of California is all nice weather!)
- The USS Midway (an aircraft carrier)
- Cabrillo National Monument for nice views of San Diego and cool tide pools if you visit at the right time.
- Balboa Park with it’s zoo, museums, botanical gardens and nice architecture
- Border Field State Park
- The Mexican border