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  • Writer's pictureNicole Olsen

Let the Real Camping Commence

Today we hit the road and put the coast behind us as we head inland to the mountains. Today also means saying goodbye to Dad, who sadly has to go back to work (womp, womp). But for Jeanne, the boys and I, our adventure continues with our first stop in Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park where we will be meeting my sister Amy and her family for a week of full blown camping.

We are headed to the mountains to sit among the giant sequoia trees. Here there is no electricity, no wifi, not even showers, but no one seems to mind. It is so beautiful here, and we have great company and great food (thanks to Amy and Howie). Besides who needs a shower when there is a beautiful mountain lake that is crystal clear and refreshing. I could float there for hours while I look up at the mountains with my kids just an ear shot away splashing, screaming, and jumping off the small ledge like cliff divers in training.

In the morning we make breakfast, and the kids play in the hammock, or climb the giant boulders, or ride their bike to the new secret hideout for kids only. After breakfast, we play DJ; everyone gets a turn to choose a song. Then my niece, Ava, requests the “Tia Nikki song” which is, of course, New Kids on the Block, “You Got It.” From there it turns into the Amy and Nikki show, with all our favorite childhood songs.

We introduce the kids to Ace of Base, Spice Girls, and the Fugees. We teach them how to line dance, swing, and two step to Allen Jackson’s “Chattahoochee” and all the Shania Twain, Dixie Chicks and Deanna Carter best hits. We get a few eye rolls, but in the end, no one can resist the beats of the 90’s.

By afternoon I am itching to explore the park, and I take the crew on excursions to see General Grant the 3rd largest tree in the world. It is an incredible 40 feet around and 1,700 years old, only halfway done with its 3,400 lifespan. We climb through the hollowed out remains of fallen sequoia trees, even turning one on a hillside into a thrilling slide.

We drive from the top of Kings Canyon to the bottom. This canyon is even deeper than the Grand Canyon with waterfalls falling from incredible heights to a raging river down below. We stop periodically to admire the strength of the river as it roars through the canyon. There is a waterfall at our next stop, and the kids stand beneath it as it sprays them with the freezing snow runoff.

The river is far too fast to swim in, but at the end of the road, we find a beach where it widens just enough for the kids to dip their feet in and play in the sand. Asher and Cole are determined to figure out the technique for skipping rocks, and by the end of our trip, they have mastered the feat. The sequoias, pine, and birch trees keep us cool. While the kids play, the adults sit and admire the emerald green water contrasted by the white granite mountain above.

In the evenings we eat the amazing meals Amy and Howie provide, roast s’mores and share stories. We only see each other once a year, but it is like no time has passed. Soon it feels like it is just a normal weekday beneath the stars.

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