This past week, my family has been on a journey.
We are delivering our Airstream to Mendocino County, California to establish a temporary affordable residence for a few weeks at time throughout the year. The story on that is long and I need to write another post about it and the purpose behind it. That is coming soon. But for now I have this mini episode.
Driving to see General Sherman
On the way to Mendocino, we decided it would be cool to go to Sequoia National Park and see the biggest tree (by volume) in the world, General Sherman. It was a beautiful partly cloudy afternoon at a nice fifty two degrees as we approached the entrance to the park. On the way, we saw "Chains required!" and "Stop and rent our chains!" signs. Being from Montana, and seeing zero evidence of snow, we ignored the signs. We thought there was no reason for chains on this nice day.
Well, it turns out that they are required to be in the car to enter, and we turned around to go rent chains. We were miffed. The chains were useless and needless, and we knew it. This was literal highway robbery.
We got the cheap twenty dollar Wal-Mart chains for the low-low price of one hundred dollars as our lovely local saleswoman confirmed that yes, there was no need for them but it was required. We had our overpriced useless chains and we were on our way!
The One Hundred Dollar Private Park Experience
We entered the park, and we drove for about half an hour. Up up up. There were so few people! Where were they? How is the most populous state in the US not taking advantage of this wonder? Then it hit us. The website has a million warnings about snow. It even goes so far as to advise planning your trip at another time. I know it can snow hard up there, I saw it, but being from Montana it had seemed silly. Till now. We were benefitting from the fact that the majority of people are too scared to learn how to drive on snow and ice. We realized that fear would likely make them make a silly mistake, and all the warnings and the expensive chains set a barrier to entry that most weren't willing to deal with.
We went on and on, all the way to the top where General Sherman, the world's largest tree, lived. Yes, there was snow on the road. The most heavily sanded and well plowed snow I have ever seen. The traction was impeccable even in rear wheel drive in a big truck. That forest with few people in it is a magical place. I highly recommend going there in the off season. Just make sure you stop and get cheap chains first.
I guess the moral that I am dancing around is that it doesn't take a whole lot of motivation and bravery to become the person who gets the Private National Park Experience. Marty Neumeier says it even better. "When everybody zigs, zag."