Welcome to Sequoia Country, Travelers

Summer is here and it’s time to take off for parts known or unknown – cooler, warmer, more remote, more culture something new and different, or familiar. Where are you going this summer?

Kings Canyon National Park in 2018

Central California may be hot, but there are plenty of cool places to hang out to escape the heat. The Sequoia, Yosemite and Kings Canyon National Parks are all within a few hours driving distances from Visalia, Fresno and each other. Everyone knows Yosemite, but have you been to Kings Canyon and Sequoia?

That’s not all. Kaweah Lake in the heart of the Sierra Nevada Foothills is a sporting destination on the way to the Sequoia National Park. If you get to Three Rivers, CA, you passed it. You can’t miss over one hundred acre-feet of water, though.

Have You Tried Kayaking?

Kayaking on Kaweah Lake

Last year my adorable neighbors, Diane and Selena, treated me to a fabulous day at Lake Kaweah, less than thirty minutes from where I live. Lake Kaweah serves as a reservoir for irrigation, flood control, electric power source, and fishing and boating destination

If you are like me and used to seeing the land only, you might try a different perspective this year and hop into a kayak. Getting into and out of the kayak is a bit tricky, but once you get in, time melts away as the water laps up against the side of the boat.

See my paddle keeping me from going in circles?

The temperature on July sixth was a cool 9o degrees by late morning, so we wore plenty of sunscreen, but didn’t feel the heat. It’s a large body of water, so we had room to roam. Selena took off leaving us in her wake, circling back to check on her mother and me every so often to make sure that I didn’t spend all my time going in circles.

We Could Have Been Explorers

We could have been explorers.

There were so few people on the water when we arrived that we could have been explorers from another era seeing the mountains and foothills for the first time. If you know the history of the area, though, you would know that this lake never existed until Terminus Dam was completed in 1961. Before the Corps of Engineers built the dam, floods devastated the downstream communities. The most one-hundred-year flood in recent history occurred in 1955.

Kaweah Lake Water Levels Fluctuate

Water levels in the lake fluctuate.

You can see the water levels marked clearly on this foothill. There are many levels below what you see here. What you don’t see are the whole trees and parking lots buried under the water.

Last year the water level was high because of the enormous amount of rain we had during the 2017-18 rainy season. In wet years, even though the lake is full in July, the Corps of Engineers makes sure that the dam doesn’t break by releasing water all summer. By September the water levels decrease significantly, although boats still dot the surface. You can see that the water level was near record level last year.

Near record level water in the summer of 2018

During the 2018-19 season, Central California had about eight inches of participation. That’s below the average of ten inches, but not a bad number. I haven’t been up to the lake for a while to take pictures this year, but when the lake is full they let out a lot of water for most of the summer to control for melting snow coming from the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Our canals, which farmers rely on for irrigation, are full this year.

Relaxing Before Disaster Strikes

Watch out! I can’t steer this thing!

Don’t overlook the simple outdoor pleasures near you this summer. Learning and trying new things broadens and enriches your life and keeps you young. However, I’m glad you didn’t see me Selena trying to get me out of the kayak. ūüôā

You’re right, I didn’t help much. Thanks to Diane and Selena who made this trip possible.

Tell me what you have planned for this summer.

Gardening in Woodlake

Woodlake sits at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, forty minutes from Sequoia National Park on a slow day, in the fertile foothills. My blogging friend, Russel Ray, inspired me about weeding today. Someone posted a comment, “Don’t use Roundup.” So here’s my question for you. Which do you prefer spraying or digging?

Your opinion – Spray or dig

I’m weird, I love to dig out weeds. Today I put on my knee pads, got my trowel, and had a funeral for a bucket full of crabgrass roots then drove fertilizer spikes into any remaining villains’ hearts around our peach trees. Trust me, someone buried cement under the inch of topsoil. Around here we call it hardpan.

Here are some of our weeds. It’s Super Bloom year. (I didn’t dig these out today. LOL, most of the weeds I dug were crabgrass!) P.S. Porsche, the cat, loves to weed. I have to wear gloves to protect me from his claws. I accidentally stepped on his tail yesterday, so he gave me some space today.

Community Weeding

This Saturday our Kiwanis Group will clean out the Woodlake Rose Garden. We weed or trim officially once a month. Weeds love it here. Here is what we had last fall. If you live in or around Woodlake, come join us. The pay –you feel so good when you’re done! High levels of serotonin free of charge.


Now the weeds are green and luscious. You can see that everyone working hard together has paid off, but there are some robust weeds in the background and across the parking lot. So I can’t wait to attack them!

Our dream is to restore the garden to its former beauty.

Hope you all have a happy weekend. If you want to help us on Saturday, drop by the Woodlake Rose Garden between 8 and 11 on Saturday morning – March 23, 2019.

How to Enjoy the Ballarat Botanical Gardens

If you go to Victoria, you HAVE to take the hour and a half train from Melbourne and visit the City of Ballarat Botanical Gardens across the street from Lake Wendouree.

Rated 2 Out of 73 Places to Visit in Ballarat

Australia trip #17 Jo’s Monday Walks, Cee’s Which Way Challenge

If you go to Victoria, you HAVE to take the hour and a half train from Melbourne and visit Ballarat.  Ballarat Botanical Gardens

The hurried bustle of Melbourne changed in minutes once we left the station.

Ballarat Botanical GardensSoon the brown landscape reminded me of the Central Valley of California, where I live. Not much changed during the hour trip, and it sped by so quickly you would not have enjoyed the picture.

Ballarat or Bust

Yes, the 1850 Australian Gold Rush happened in Ballarat. We approached the golden gates at lunch time so our hostesses, Carol’s sister-in-law and niece, took us to lunch at Pipers by the Lake.

Ballarat Botanical GardensManny, my traveling bear, always says, “I’m never hungry, but I can always eat.”

Notice he liked pasta. I chose pumpkin soup. Australian pumpkin anything is fabulous, and Pipers did not disappoint. In retrospect, I probably should not have opted for the hot soup. The afternoon temperatures soared into the late nineties.

After lunch, I was ready for a nap, but these energetic, climate-time-adjusted women got Manny and me up and on our feet. Weather of almost any kind melts me, but the beauty surrounding the restaurant spurred me on.

Ballarat Botanical GardensAfter some quick photo ops on the Lily Bridge decorating Lake Wendouree, donned in my Stabilisation Shoes (spelled the Australia way, pronounced stable-I-ZA-shun), I was primed for a long walk.

I longed for air conditioning. Instead, we walked down the block a bit and along Lake Wendouree. There really are black swans, so, in spite of the heat, I began to catch their enthusiasm.

Ballarat Botanical GardensSoon we crossed the western side of the street to the City of Ballarat Botanical Gardens. Rated #2 of 73 things to do by Trip Advisor, my guides Mandy, Katie, and Carol could not have made a better choice of introduction to Ballarat for me.

It’s only a few minutes’ drive from the Central Business District¬†of Ballarat, abbreviated as CBD, to find Pipers and the Gardens. BTW, when you visit Australia, realize that you also have to know all the acronyms and nicknames for common words.

The Gardens are divided into three zones. We spent most of our time in the central Botanical Gardens, which you will see when you scroll down. One Australian website referred to the central area as a Victorian pleasure garden.

Ballarat Botanical GardensOn either side of the park entrance, there are open parkland buffers known as the North and South Gardens. On this summer day, families and lovers lounged on the cool grass under the shade trees.

The pair of marble lions situated just inside the gates began guarding the entrance to the garden in 1893.

The Gardens celebrated its sesquicentenary (150 years old) in 2007.

The South Gardens

Practically every Australian park I¬†toured¬†honored their soldiers in some way.¬†The Ballarat Gardens feature Australia’s Ex-Prisoner of War Memorial, designed by local artist Peter Blizzard. Opened in 2004, the 130-meter long granite wall has the names of 35,000 Australian Prisoners of War etched into it, 8,600 of whom died and are buried on foreign soil.

Ballarat Botanical GardensTeacher, Carol determined that I would LEARN everything about Australia during this trip. She took it easy on me right after lunch as we strolled along the moving POW memorial. I guess she hadn’t learned about all 35,000 names either.

However, when we marched down Prime Minister Lane, it was a different story. Carol told me about the first, the best, and the worst Prime Ministers.

Here are some Wiki-facts to test your memory for the quiz at the end of this post.  Prime Ministers Avenue is set within Horse Chestnut Avenue. Alfred Deakin founded the Federation of Australia Deakin and served as the first Federal Member for Ballarat and the second Prime Minister.

I tried as hard as I could to memorize all the names, faces and fun facts as she enthusiastically told me about each one. TC History Gal should be good at this, right?

Ballarat Botanical GardensThe flat pathway through the shade of beautiful trees on a quiet afternoon caused me to zone out.  I enjoyed the experience of being in a new place with hospitable people. Conversations buzzed around me like busy mosquitoes. Speaking of mosquitoes, the tiny insects may have had their way with this Prime Minister.

Ouch!

Ballarat Botanical GardensMaybe it was because their names were etched in gold, too light to read. It certainly was not the hot pumpkin soup. Needless to say, Carol may have struck out on this teaching venture. The good news is that if you want to know the Australian Prime Ministers, they are listed here.

The Center Zone

Opened in 1995, Bob Clark donated¬†two million dollars to build the Conservatory to honor¬†his Grandfather Robert Clark ‚Äď co-founder of The Courier newspaper.

To the north of the roundabout stood the heritage statuary pavilion. This historic-looking building housed the Stoddart Statue collection. The group of statues consists of 12 white marble figures from Italy donated by Thomas Stoddart in 1884.
Vandals exist even in Australia, and they damaged the statues. So after nearly 120 years of roaming free in the 99-acre park, the figures crowded into to this pavilion home in 2002.
Ballarat Botanical GardensRebekah flirted with us while trying to keep fresh in her hot summer garb. I sympathized. It felt warm enough to me to wear different clothes. Maybe not that open, though!
Ballarat Botanical Gardens Modesty stood serenely behind her glazed window. She allowed us to glimpse her beauty beneath her sheer drapes. Judging by her straight, slim toes, she was pretty foxy in her day. But she did not look like she had much of a sense of humor.

The Conservatory

North Gardens

I read that the remains of a zoo dot the North Gardens. Either we did not visit that, or I fell asleep under a tree, and a lion ate me.

Link to This Post!

If you have been to Ballarat and have written a post about it, feel free to¬†link an article in the comment section. I don’t know about other readers, but I’ll check it out!

Ballarat Botanical Gardens
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Quiz

Who was Australia’s second Prime Minister?

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Where Can You Find Amaryllis Blooming in May?

Amaryllis-Blooming Beauties at Running P Ranch

Woodlake, CA is the land within the magic circle, a protected valley surrounded by the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Running P Ranch in Elderwood hosts weddings in a setting of flowering amaryllis.

According to experts, amaryllis is the easiest of flowering bulbs to make bloom.  Indoors or out, and they flower from late December until the end of June. In early May amaryllis plants flaunt their beauty.

Amaryllis BloomingMy friend Katherine Traugar respects people who know the name of plants, so this tidbit is for you, my friend. The amaryllis bears the botanical name Hippeastrum.  These flowers make showy Christmas gifts, but outside in a natural setting, they stand out among other spring beauties.

Amaryllis BloomingNestled against the western fence in this wedding setting, they rival the bride’s glowing beauty. The flamboyant blooms make amaryllis popular and in demand worldwide. ¬†Besides various shades of red and salmon as¬†seen¬†in Elderwood, they also come in white, pink, and orange as well as striped and multicolored varieties.

Amaryllis Blooming

Prepare to Plant

If you want to plant these South American flowers, first place the base and roots of the bulb in lukewarm water for a few hours. ¬†To store them keep the bulbs at a¬†temperature between 40-50 degrees F if you can’t plant them right away. But keep them away from apples.

Plant

Plant the bulb up to its neck in a nutritious potting compost, taking care not to damage the roots.  Firmly tamp down the soil after planting.

Blooming Period

Amaryllis plants flower seven to ten weeks after planting. Plant bulbs every two weeks to achieve continuous bloom.

For more beautiful flowers visit May Dreams Gardens

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What Do You Get at a Travel and Adventure Show?

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Santa Clara Travel and Adventure Show

Marketing Travel and Adventure Ideas to Vacationers

Nearly fifteen hundred vendors and five hundred travel agencies represented tourist attractions around the world. They marketed events and attractions in their corners of the world at the Santa Clara Travel and Adventure Show on February 11-12, 2017.  Potential tourists from the San Francisco, Santa Clara County area packed into the Convention Center to plan their summer vacations.

Chambers of Commerce and city representatives from across Tulare County meet monthly as the Sequoia Tourism Council. This body proposes ways to promote tourism in Tulare County. Part of this promotion is to attend three travel shows across the state. The first show is in Santa Clara, followed by the Los Angeles Travel and Adventure Show, completed by the San Diego show.

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My left arm is not deformed. I’m holding our 2017 Visitors’ Guide, “Find Your Awe.” Chris Brewer donated the treasured 1892 Atlas of Tulare County on my right.

It was my privilege, along with four other representatives from Tulare County to attend the Santa Clara show. We set up our booth in the California rows ready to greet visitors and pass out free Sequoia Tourism Visitors’ Guides. We urged our neighbors from the north to come to Tulare County.

Marketing Travel, adventureTotal attendance was up two thousand to nearly 20,000 visitors in Santa Clara’s 108,000 square foot Convention Center Exhibit Hall. Before the doors opened crowds lined up encircling the auditorium while the vendors put finishing touches on their booths. Presenters and their representatives wove through the lines passing out admission tickets to their events. The show had broad appeal. Young families, retired couples, and out of country tourist groups waited patiently for the doors to open. Once they did, we were so busy we did not even notice when Rick Steves came and went.

Sequoia Tourism Council Booth

As a new tourism vendor, I learned quickly that the broad appeal of Tulare County is the Sequoia National Park. Working with esteemed colleagues, Eric Coyne, Deputy CAO, Economic Development Film & Tourism and assistant Ally Vander Poel from the¬†Tulare County Resource Management Agency taught me much about the film industry and economic development opportunities in our county. ¬†Kelly Evans, the¬†Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park¬†Education Program Director, and Krista Matias, Programs Coordinator for the Sequoia Parks Conservancy¬†shared about park programs available both in and out of the park. Their goal is every fourth grader in the park. Together¬†we handed out Visitors’ Guides and educated attendees who showed an interest in visiting the National Park. As a member of the¬†Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce¬†and representative on the Sequoia Tourism Council,¬†I encouraged the streaming thousands to stop long enough to consider visiting the small to medium-sized towns leading up to the park, primarily Visalia, Woodlake, Three Rivers, and Exeter.

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Yosemite Rock Climbing Wall

Our space was packed. There was often a line spilling into the walkway waiting to sign up to win our basket. People could not move through the main hallway.

Sometimes we migrated across the hall next to the Yosemite Rock Wall to hand out our Tourism Guides. The four of us chatted with visitors as fast as our mouths would go.

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The Sequoia Tourism Crew

Only four hours from either San Francisco, the northern large population hub of California, or Los Angeles, the southern bubble, Tulare County makes a quiet alternative to the hustle of busy city life. So many attendees told us that the Sequoias were on their bucket list. My personal goal was to add our small artistic and historic communities to their schedules.

My opening catch phrase as I stuck my arm bravely in front of the molasses moving line was, “Want a book?” It was hard to refuse those big trees with the tagline, “Find Your Awe.”

If they took the guide, I asked, “Are you interested in history?”

That question stopped people from their mad rush through the booths. Most of them answered positively. It would be unAmerican to say otherwise.

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Krista’s space

If the visitors liked history, I told them that I had something special for them.

Chris Brewer, from the Book Garden in Exeter not only gave us five beautiful books to give away at each of the three shows but collectible colorful fruit box labels. This artifact from the 1940s or 1950s, perfectly preserved in his museum storage, created conversations with potential tourists.

“Do you know what this is?” I asked.

Many of them guessed it was a can label. Their reply opened the door to briefly discuss small towns and the agricultural communities in Tulare County. Sometimes I threw in a pitch to the students about participating in Nationa History Day, California. I couldn’t help myself.

We all tried to slow down the wave of people long enough for them to sign up for our beautiful basket of products from Tulare County. You can’t see all the products inside. You would have loved to win this basket of goods from Tulare County!

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Donations from Chris Brewer, Marily Reese, Woodlake High School, Valley Business Bank and others crammed this basket chock full of treasures from Tulare County.

The three other women in our group focused more on¬†the “Big Trees, the Crystal Cave, the Dark Sky Festival, and¬†other events at the parks.

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Maria Perez, and her friend Madona.

Two of the 94 press members, Maria Perez and her friend Madonna stopped by our booth. I had met Maria online just the week before. We discussed phoning each other as fellow twitter followers from California. Then, we found out we both had plans to attend the Show. Problem solved.

Over the two-day weekend, February 11-12, 2017, we handed out 1,188 Tourism Guides down from 1,540 in 2016. We collected 230 names on two iPads down from 474 in 2016. (OK we talked too much!)

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Sequoia Tourism booth

Our prize winners, practically screamed with delight when they picked up their winnings. And they should have. The basket contained hundreds of dollars worth of Tulare County goods. There were a plethora of items including books, honey, olive oil, a hoodie sweatshirt, a custom clay teapot, stuffed animals, trinkets, office supplies, and candy.

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“This atlas is all I wanted!”

One young woman won the 1892 edition of the Tulare County Atlas reprinted by Bear Books and donated by Chris Brewer.

She exclaimed, “This is the only think I wanted! I’m so happy!¬†This was the best booth here!”

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She couldn’t believe she won! See the Star Fire Fruit label?

Thank you to our wonderful donors for their generosity.

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Thank you, friends, of Sequoia Tourism Council

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