[well]This is a guest post, written by Ann’s younger brother, Robert Shrewsbury. Robb and his family live in Minneapolis, Minnesota.[/well]

By Robert Shrewsbury

On a recent business trip to Fresno, California, I had a meeting canceled and found myself with some extra time. I discovered that Sequoia National Park was about an hour away so I took the rest of the day off and headed out to explore. I didn’t know it yet but my final destination was the General Sherman Sequoia tree. I read that it was the largest living tree on the planet and figured it was worth a look. And it was.

The park is beautiful, filled with vistas of snow covered mountains, enormous boulders and rushing rivers. Take it slowly.  The road back to the Giant Forest, home of many awe-inspiring sequoias, is slow and filled with switchbacks and steep drop offs. Don’t fret, you can’t help but go slowly, rarely going faster than 25 mile per hour in your car. There are plenty of pull-off areas if someone is in a hurry and following a little too close.

About 40 minutes from the gates you come into the Giant Forest and shortly after the parking area for the Sherman Tree. Take it even slower. The half-mile hike down to the tree on a paved wide path does not seem nearly as steep as the trek back up.  There are plenty of benches to rest on the way, so use them.  No sense killing yourself when there are so many nice views to take in.

When I got my first glimpse of the giant from a bench about half way down, it didn’t seem that impressive. It looked big, but I’d seen big trees before, mainly in the Costa Rican jungle. Once down to the bottom, you encounter a variety of other massive trees, larger than you have ever seen most likely. As you head towards Sherman Tree, you get the sense of its enormity.  Standing 275 feet tall (statue of liberty is 300 feet) and as wide as a school bus is long, you can’t help but be awestruck.

Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park

Ann’s brother, Robb, at the Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park in California.

This tree is 2,200 years old.  It began it’s life  from a seed sprouted in the time when Socrates and Plato were walking the earth. It has survived to reach it’s current magnificence through drought, cold, flood, and fire. A truly amazing set of circumstances helped this tree become the largest on planet earth.

As I walked back (slowly) I was struck by the fact that someone had to have found this tree. This tree in the heart of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Someone explored by foot, mule or horse this range. What were they looking for?  It is truly amazing the amount of exploration humans have undertaken. What’s next?  What magnificent thing have we yet to find?

As you drive back, if you can switch places with the passenger, as the road takes the driver’s full attention. I can’t imagine what I didn’t see driving on this perfect April day trip.

Unfortunately, I forgot to stop into any of the visitor centers to get a postcard for my sister.


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Daytrip to Sequoia National Park.

Day trip to Sequoia National Park.

  • Just over two years ago, we stopped in Pawhuska to have lunch at Ree Drummond's @PWMercantile. From the person opening the door for us to the folks tending the line giving us water, we felt welcome from the moment we set foot in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.⁣
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But it turns out it wasn't just @thepioneerwoman and her husband, Ladd, who went above and beyond to welcome visitors. No, it turns out what they did was just par for the course in this town that's home to some of the friendliest and most welcoming people we've met in all our travels. ⁣
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So we bought a house there. We got it in part, so we could be a part of the community we've come to love. But we also got it so we could help welcome folks to town and let them know how glad we are they came to visit. Come and see Pawhuska. And when you do, stay awhile.
  • Fried dill pickles are a little different in North Dakota than they are in most other places we've been. Instead of just dipping some dill chips in batter, dropping them in the fryer, and then serving them in a basket with ranch, the folks there take their time and make a dish to remember.⁣
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They start with a dill pickle spear, wrap that in Havarti cheese, then put a wonton wrapper around it all. Then, they fry it, and slice it open just so before serving them alongside a spicy aioli dipping sauce. We had these at a complimentary meal at Outlaws Bar and Grill in @visitwilliston, North Dakota.⁣
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Let's be honest, these pickles are just one of many reasons we look forward to our return to @northdakotalegendary next year.
  • Have you ever had the chance to watch a cruise ship come into or leave port? These massive ships, often 1,000 feet or more long, can maneuver themselves by the dock so gently that you don't even realize you've stopped (or started) moving.⁣
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In Bermuda, we had the chance to watch the Norwegian Escape depart. We watched as she pushed away from the dock, then spun 180 degrees on a point before heading out to sea.⁣
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We've seen ships do this dozens of times. In fact, we've been on ships and have been part of this type of maneuvering dozens of times. And yet, given the sheer size of the vessels, it never ceases to impress.
  • You know you want to. Do it. Just book the ticket and go. At the end of your life, you likely won't remember most of the stuff you bought in 2019, but you will always remember the journey you took and the experiences you had. So enrich your life and go. We've never regretted spending money for a trip.
  • This just might be the sweetest, best pecan roll we've ever had. At the @PWMercantile, they bake these delicious treats daily. Covered in a luscious caramel and finely chopped pecans, these rolls are the stuff dreams are made of. Have you had one?
  • Smack in the middle of Portland, Oregon, we found the International Rose Test Garden. Set on 4.5 acres of land, the garden offers visitors a chance to see 10,000 rose bushes from about 650 different varieties. ⁣
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We spent more than an hour walking the carefully tended paths, snapping photos, and just enjoying the beautiful flowers. Our visit here made us glad that we literally scheduled time on this trip to stop and smell the roses.
  • Set in a renovated middle school in Grinnell, Iowa, Hotel Grinnell is one of our favorite boutique hotels. The owner thoughtfully designed the space and included touches from school including “Hall Pass” key card sleeves, and a bar cleverly named, “The Periodic Table.” We wrote a story on this hotel, you can read all about it on our blog. Link in bio. @hotelgrinnell #hosted @traveliowa
  • Everyone has a happy place, a spot where the world melts away and a sense of relaxation and calm settles in. For Steve, this place is on board a cruise ship, out on open water. He can spend hours sitting and watching the water, the ship's wake, and looking out for other ships. He loves soaking up the sun and fresh ocean air while cruising along on the sea. ⁣
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What's your happy place? ⁣
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