If you look at a map of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Eastern California, you'll notice that the majority of the mountains are protected by three national parks and the lesser designation of protection called national forests. The three parks are similarly sized; Kings Canyon and Sequoia, which are adjacent segments of the Sierra Range, are together larger than Yosemite.

Jane and I are on a routine drive from Yosemite to Kings Canyon. On a warm spring evening, we stop off at one of those mountain restaurants. It's owned by a mixed family of American Europeans and Thais.

The fact that this restaurant borders Yosemite and is nearly four hours from any city of consequence implies certain things - the credit card machine isn't working, the chardonnary is Charles Shaw, which sells for a dollar and ninety-nine cents at Trader Joes and tastes what it costs. The floorboards creek, the chairs are like from the high school auditorium.