We were home for a week after arriving back from Arizona, before embarking on another journey. This time, we headed for Northern California. First stop was the Sequoia National Park en route to Lake Tahoe.
The Sequoia National Park comprises of over 600 square miles of forest, scenic meadows and mountain peaks. But the real attraction for us, was to see some of the largest trees in the world, specifically, the giant sequoia tree which are apparently unique to California and Oregon.
The jewel in the Sequoia National Forest is the ‘General Sherman,’ widely regarded as the tallest living tree at present. Standing an impressive 275 feet (84 meters), General Sherman also boasts a trunk diameter of 36 feet (11 meters). Comparatively, in New Zealand, we have giant kauri trees, our largest and most well-known native tree. The kauri are mainly found in the subtropical northern part of the North Island, of which the largest of them is known as ‘Tane Mahuta,” (translated from Maori as “lord of the forest”). Tane Mahuta stands at over 168 feet (over 51 meters), with a trunk diameter of over 45 feet (14 metrers).
After a couple of hours in the Sequoia National Park (I know, a couple of hours in the park just doesn’t do it justice), we headed north for Lake Tahoe. Along the eastern side of central California, is the Nevada Sierra mountain range. Densely forested and featuring rugged, impressive mountains, the ‘High Sierras’ contain some of the most popular destinations in the U.S, of which, Lake Tahoe is one.
We were blessed to be given the use of a cabin for a few nights by a neighbor. The cabin was situated on the Truckee river, which runs along the northwest side of Lake Tahoe. At over 6,000 feet above sea level, Lake Tahoe is beautiful body of water, surrounded by pine trees, and is the highest lake of it’s size in the U.S. Tahoe is a very popular tourist destination and past events such as the 1960 winter olympics has increased it’s popularity as a resort.
One of the key attractions for Denise was the actual Ponderosa Ranch. Situated near the northeast shore of the lake, where portions of the TV show, ‘Bonanza‘ was filmed. Sadly, the ranch was bought by a local property developer in 2004 and was subsequently closed to the public. A high fence now conceals most of the ranch, so we couldn’t take clear shots of the famous Cartwright house.
Film Crew on the set of Bonanza at Ponderosa Ranch, Tahoe in the early 1960’s.
The closest shot we could get of Ponderosa Ranch. The Cartwright family home is mostly obscured by the trees.
Other highlights of our few days in Tahoe was the impressive view overlooking Emerald Bay and the gondola at Heavenly village. We also took a day out to visit Virginia City – a historic gold mining town in Nevada, which was initially prosperous in the 1860’s. Much of Virginia City has been carefully preserved, so when you visit, you literally feel as though you are stepping back in time. With over 100 historic buildings, complete with the furnishings of the time and the original boardwalks, the town bustles with activity. We took a tour through an actual old gold mine that is accessed in the back of the Ponderosa Saloon.