“I am not a camper. The thought of hauling my kids along with supplies to feed and house them does not sound like a vacation to me, so I was a bit hesitant when good friends invited me and my two sons to join them for a trip to the Sequoias.
But I was a quick convert when I realized they were suggesting a trip that wasn’t exactly camping. It involved a bare-bones cabin with comfortable beds and electricty, and heated community bathrooms nearby. We stayed two nights in the Grant Grove Cabins in Kings Canyon National Park, about a four-hour drive north of Los Angeles. The park abuts Sequoia National Park and we drove through the latter on our way home, stopping to see Crystal Cave and the General Sherman Tree, a 2000-plus—year-old behemoth that defies description because any word I know to describe insanely huge just isn’t insanely huge enough. Both parks have their share of majestic trees with plenty of hiking trails of various difficulty levels to see them. The cave involved a fairly strenuous hike to get to the entrance and back. I was grateful my kids were long past toddler age.
The entire trip was idyllic. Traveling with another family with kids the same ages as mine meant my two boys, aged nine and 11, had like minded companions. They would pair up with their friends each morning and roam either the meadow below the cabins or the rocky hill above them. The other parents and I let our kids use pocket knives and marveled at how much time they could spend sharpening sticks. It was better than any video game, although they didn’t have much choice. The area is an absolute cellular dead zone. I didn’t get a phone signal in either park, and when I needed to check my email for work I had to walk up to the hotel nearby for its marginal wifi.
Each rustic cabin has a wood stove on its patio and my friends brought a portable gas grill. (Open fires aren’t allowed). We shared meal duties and took turns running to the market nearby to supplement the groceries we’d brought in.
We were lucky with weather and had moderate temps during the days and brisk 40 degree nights, which made the trips to the bathroom as close as I get to roughing it.”