The fall is wine harvest season, so I’m returning to Paso Robles, where we spent part of a fabulous 10-day California vacation.
During two previous trips to the state, hubby and I visited Sonoma, Napa and Healdsburg wine regions. When planning and mapping out last year’s driving route, we realized Paso Robles would make an excellent two-day stop between Big Sur and Sequoia : Land of Giants.
Located in northern San Luis Obispo County along California’s Central Coast, Paso Robles is an agricultural community with a rich history. Over the last few decade, it has shifted from producing almonds and alfalfa to wine.
Winemakers in the region have cultivated the soil and used the climate to their advantage. Today, Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux-style blends are a staple of the area. Along windy backroads or around a quaint downtown park, there are 200 wineries!
In addition to its wineries and vineyards, Paso Robles is also known for its olive groves, oak dotted hills, and small town charm. It’s where world-class food and wine meet cowboy chic! Lodging options abound, ranging from historic inns and luxury resort, to rustic vineyard escapes. Pour yourself a glass of wine and visit with me.
Returning today to our September 2021 California vacation and visit to breath-taking Kings Canyon. It was the second of a trio of national parks we explored — beginning in Sequoia: Land of Giants and ending in a three-day Yosemite Vacation.
Did you know that Kings Canyon is the deepest canyon in the US? It’s gorge reaches up to 8,200 feet; thousands of feet deeper than the Grand Canyon in Arizona!
A scenic road cuts through the park ‘s wide canyon, and along the Kings Rivers. In addition to its famous grove of sequoias, there are forests of pine, fir, and cedar, a rocky river valley, waterfalls, lakes, a marble cavern, and expansive meadow. So much of nature’s wonders to see and experience!
Apparently the most common way to “see” Kings Canyon is to simply drive though on Generals Highway —with a stop and short hike at Grant Grove Village. But then, you’d miss the spectacular vistas and deep river valley along the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway!
Instead, hubby and I dedicated an entire day and overnight to Kings Canyon National Park. That allowed us time for the amazing roundtrip drive into the canyon itself, with time to explore the richness of the deep river valley.
While vacationing in California last September, we spent two days and nights exploring neighboring Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Depending on how you look at it, we were either very fortunate (my view) or unlucky in the timing of our visit.
Much of the state was experiencing drought conditions. That was quite evident during our days wine-tasting in dry and hot Paso Robles. All the ranch and grazing land looked brown and parched. On September 9, 2021, there were severe thunderstorms. More than 200 lightening strikes occurred within the two neighboring parks! Fires were discovered the following day — as we arrived in Sequoia National Park.
We had left Paso Robles early, for the three-hour plus drive to Sequoia. Fortunately, our day and overnight at the park lodge proceeded mostly as planned. But, by the time we left for Kings Canyon, the fires had exploded –closing the park entrance, lodge and highway behind us!
By December 2021, Sequoia and Kings Canyon were devastated by the KNP Complex and Windy fires. As many as 2,380 giant sequoias burned to death, or are expected to die within several years! Mr. Buzz and I are heartbroken by the destruction of those majestic trees.
But, I also feel blessed to have been among the last people to have seen the sequoias, redwoods and parks before the fires. Let me share them with you.
Last September, Mr. Buzz and I spent half of our California vacation exploring the bountiful natural wonders of three National Parks, including Yosemite.
After deciding it was too early to reschedule our pandemic-cancelled June 2020 Ireland trip, hubby suggested California. That March 2021, he had snagged two nights in September at Yosemite’s Ahwahnee Hotel, the crown jewel of national park lodges. We built our entire vacation around those nights. First, we worked backwards, booking other park lodging in Kings Canyon and Sequoia.
Due to the continued uncertainty of pandemic conditions in 2021, we only booked the lodges and other accommodations that were fully cancellable. Several months later — and fully vaccinated —we felt confident enough to book direct flights. Then hubby filled in the rest of our stays at B&B’s and hotels in Monterey, Big Sur, Paso Robes and San Francisco.
It was wonderful to be outdoors, without a mask, enjoying all the mountain fresh air! After having the park closures of Sequoia and Kings Canyon right on our heels, we were relieved to arrive safely in Yosemite with the scent of smoke and fires behind us.
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Hi! I'm Debbee, a maker of all manner of things, who likes to incorporate themes into craft projects, holiday and seasonal decor, table settings, and parties. My friends call me, the Queen of Theme lol!
Home is the suburbs of Pittsburgh, but I also enjoy exploring the world with my husband. We raised two wonderful sons and are now early retirees.
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