Voices from the Road

Two city girls, a national park road trip, and a sequoia treasure

It’s in Miramonte, California, when I round the curve at the top of a canyon in the pitch-black night. To my right is a wall of sequoia trees that appear high enough to reach the stratosphere. Even with my high beams on, the moon is the brightest light in view, shining down onto what seems like an endless highway. 

With every climb in elevation, I can feel the tire air pressure expand on my tiny Scion XB. At about 2,000 feet, the GPS loses signal en route to our lodge, 20 minutes from our destination. With my nerves on edge, I look over at my sister in the passenger seat, whose eyes are wide with excitement. She glances over at me, puts her hand on my knee, and says, “This is so cool! Don’t worry, sis. It’s your birthday! We’re almost there.” 

This scene was unlike any of my birthday trips in the past. The typical big cities abroad or beachside naps, with a detailed itinerary for each day, was my preference. However, this year was different. I’d recently moved to California, and after reading about national parks in the state, I knew I had to seize the opportunity and plan a weekend road trip. 

So I invited my sister to join me, and we prepared to explore Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia national parks. As newcomers to wilderness travel and road trips, we didn’t exactly know how to prepare or what to expect. But, we did our research, made a plan, and set out for an adventure. With our anticipation fixated on the parks, the most memorable moment during this trip was our journey to a little lodging bed and breakfast called The Apple Place. Let me start from the beginning.

Not quite according to plan

It was the morning of my birthday, and the April air greeted us with a chill. The night before, we had arrived at Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort in Midpine, California. It was a quaint mountainside lodge with cabins among oak and pine trees just off the Central Yosemite Hwy 140, about 20 miles from Yosemite National Park. The drive into the Sierra National Forest was breathtaking. We couldn’t pass up the chance to stop and take pictures along the Merced River before moving onward. 

You see, we’d only planned to spend half the day visiting the Yosemite Valley Loop Trail’s top sights before heading to our next destination, The Apple Place. My sister discovered the bed and breakfast when searching for hotels near Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park. Former guests left compelling reviews, so she decided to book it for a night. But, things didn’t go quite according to plan. We stayed longer than expected, and check-in at The Apple Place was approaching. We called the owner, Judy, to share our estimated time of arrival and hit the road.  

It was about 4 p.m. when the strong, sweet smell of oranges filled the car along California SR-180. To our surprise, we were driving through Reedley, a town nicknamed “The World’s Fruit Basket.” It was amazing. Again, derailed from our plans, we had to pull over and capture a couple pictures. It was approaching dinnertime, and we weren’t sure how much longer we had to go. Since we didn’t have a birthday cake, we made a quick pit stop at a gas station and got creative—fixings for my favorite meal, nachos.

Before I knew it, it was dark. My sister called Judy to let her know our whereabouts before the phone signal dropped. Miramonte is a tiny community, deep in the forest at an elevation of over 3,000 feet. Being city girls, we were entirely out of our element. To say the drive was unexpected would be an understatement. My sister helped with navigation and music to calm our nerves. We would have made it sooner, but I took my time ascending the mountain. Then finally, at around 8:30 p.m., we made it! When we pulled up to The Apple Place, it was so dark we almost passed it. Judy was kind enough to allow us to check in, and we settled in for the night to make our nachos. But, there was one problem. There was no kitchen.  

Where is the kitchen?

At sunrise, I was up and eager to see our surroundings. The room was everything we expected. Cozy, warm, clean, and peaceful. It felt like home. We got up to make coffee, but there was no kitchen, even though it was listed on the website. We got dressed and prepared to step outside to thank Judy. The air was fresh, and in the sunlight, the sequoias were more like gentle giants. It was an incredible sight. Sweet and soft-spoken, Judy expressed her concerns about our arrival and was happy to see that we made it safely. We chatted a bit about our itinerary. Then we asked, “Where is the kitchen?” She laughed and directed us to the backside of the property, and there it was! 

A full outdoor kitchen right next to our room, with a beautiful view of what used to be an apple orchard! We made nachos for breakfast, drank coffee, and raved about our incredible experience. It was a delight. Shortly after breakfast, Judy and her husband Steve bade us farewell, and we packed our things to complete our journey. It was indeed the highlight of our trip, and we’ll never forget the little treasure in Miramonte. If you ever get the chance, please visit!  

Chanel’s trip

Meet the Roadtripper

Chanel Tate

Chanel is an avid traveler and creative strategist living in Chicago. She loves national parks, obscure destinations, gym gains, crocheting dolls, and organizing taco crawls with friends. She believes that life is full of beauty, endless possibilities, and should be lived to the fullest.