Almond harvest is complete for another year so it was time to take a break. During the harvest I dreamed of riding to southern Utah for a week of exploring the many parks in that region, but now I remember all the projects that I planned to complete before the winter rains begin, so the week of riding turned into a two day trip to Kings and Sequoia Parks. On Monday we we made a quick run down the freeway to Madera and then rode Highway 180 to Kings Canyon and on to the end of the road. After a brief walk through the trees at Grantís Grove, we headed down the Generalís Highway where we enjoyed a beautiful display of autumn colors. Our destination for the evening was the Sequoia Village Inn in Three Rivers were we stayed in a cute little cottage for the night. On Tuesday we could see that the clouds were very low in the mountains and the forecast was for cold windy weather in the parks, so we changed plans and made our return ride at a much lower elevation. We had fun on several great roads in the foothills, including Dry Creek drive, Dunlap Road, Elwood road, Trimmer Springs Road, Watts Valley and Burrough Valley Roads, Toll house and Auberry Roads.
On Auberry road we were in a fine mist with the temperature at 38 degrees, at which point my wife informed me that we needed to see if it was warmer at a lower elevation. In the town of Auberry we got some hot chocolate and then headed toward the freeway and a quick run for home. As we pasted Friant Dam the winds begin to pick up, and by the time we got to the intersection with Highway 41 we were being banged around a lot by the wind. Being around a lot of cars on the freeway when the wind is blowing is not fun, so we decide to take a right on Highway 41 and go back up in the hills toward Oakhurst. As soon as we started up the hills, the wind calmed down and we had a pleasant ride up 49 to Coulterville and then home. The last few miles were pretty rough too, as we got to the Turlock lake area the winds were howling pretty hard making it a more than exciting finish to the ride.