Partial shutdown and Christmas 2018

Christmas 2018 was spent at the foot of the Sequoia National Park in California, just a couple of hours drive from Los Angeles. We got in to see the General Sherman Tree, passing snow on the road. The tree is a giant sequoia tree and while not the tallest or the widest, but no other tree surpasses this tree’s combined weight (1,285 metric tons) and height. Its circumference measures 31-metres, and is 84 metres tall. You get a crick in your neck just looking at it (the information point said that it is like a mouse looking up at a 6 foot person would be the equivalent of a 6 foot tall human looking up at the tree and no photo that I took will ever get the base of the tree in, the top of the tree and a person in it! But we all tried, including the kind gentleman who took this photo!

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Sadly though this would be the only journey we would make to the Sequoia National Park as it snowed up in the mountains on Christmas Eve.

 

On 27 December we tried to make it to Kings Canyon National Park, but the weather and a President thwarted us.

To be honest the weather thwarted us before Trump, but POTUS didn’t help. IMG_0861

You see, there was a partial shutdown for federal employees because there had not been a vote in Congress to approve a raise to federal employees salary. POTUS wanted a freeze on their pay. Neither Congress nor the Senate found a way forward and therefore a shutdown occurred. National Park staff are federal employees. The shutdown worked in our favour on Christmas Eve as we didn’t have to pay to get into the park, but the staff weren’t there to keep the parks running, and due to the snow, there was no guarantee the roads would be gritted. Having got to the entrance of Kings and finding that the visibility was non existent we returned back to our AirBnB at Three Rivers.

It was also our first time staying in an AirBnB. We had booked through AirBnB when we went to Cambodia, but had stayed in hotels. This time, it was someone’s house. When booking it I had asked the owners to buy us a turkey just after Thanksgiving so that it could be frozen and left for us for Christmas. They duly obliged and we had a delicious turkey on 25th December. But that Christmas Day while I was cooking I made sure that Martin didn’t just sit around waiting for his dinner to be cooked. And I did that by clogging up the waste disposal unit. Thankfully with a coat hanger, youtube videos and whatever other tools we could find, Martin proved himself to be a plumber extraordinaire. Lunch was not delayed, Martin earned his dinner and I breathed a sigh of relief. It isn’t until now that I can truly relax over how stupid I was!

Of course the holiday started in Disney for Eleanor’s birthday. It was the last one in my Disney collection having been to them all. Martin and Eleanor couldn’t say that until Disneyland Tokyo October 2019. Disney at Christmas is magical. Jetlag meant that we had some early starts but that works in our favour as the only other people up at that time of the morning is people with young children! They don’t want/can’t go on all the rollercoasters so getting in as soon as the park opens is in our favour.

A couple of days in Disney we then went to downtown LA, and were not impressed with it at all. We had tickets at the Walt Disney Concert Hall for a sing along Christmas which got us more in the Christmas mood. We visited the Wilshire Grand Central, at 73 stories high, it provided a great view over LA, but it isn’t the greatest tall building we have done. I also left the hotel to go to a pharmacist at night, the short walk (about 10 minutes there and back) left me feeling unsafe. I hadn’t felt like that in a city before and even though nothing happened, I was glad to be back in the hotel.

To see the new year of 2019 in (I am so behind in the blogs!) we were in Santa Monica. I don’t think we saw midnight but Santa Monica was definitely more family friendly than downtown LA had been. We walked along the pier, and cycled (tandemed) while Eleanor roller bladed all the way to and back from Venice Beach. So like this new year, where we have spent it on the beach, we are wearing considerably less clothes New Year 2019, than what we wore in 2018!IMG_0213