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  • Writer's pictureBonnie Coffey

Volleying in Visalia, CA

Over the valleys and through the cacti to our Airbnb we go.... From Phoenix to Visalia we had a long day's drive, but sights like this kept us awake on the nine hour stretch.

Have you ever watched Bull Durham? It's one of my all time favorite movies. Remember at the end when Kevin Costner playing Crash, told Susan Sarandon playing Annie Savoy, that he's thinking about becoming a manager for a minor-league team in Visalia? That's the only time I had ever heard of the California city of about 133,000 people. It is home to the Rawhides, a "high-A" minor league baseball team of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Unfortunately the Rawhides were playing away games while we were there, so no stadium nachos with fake cheese and jalapeños for us this time.

Visalia has also earned the distinction of being one of the most productive single agricultural counties in the nation. There are lush orchards and healthy fields full of fruits and vegetables everywhere you look. There is a small airport in Visalia directly adjacent to the courts, which is a fairly busy little strip. It was the reason that I was unable to get a drone shot of the pickleball courts (drones are restricted from airspace around airports). A small price to pay for safety though. I thought seriously about getting up in a small plane to get some shots, but strangely enough, I actually was too busy playing pickleball to go do that. For those who know how much I love aviation and airplanes, it tells you how addicted I've become to this game!

After two days, we were exhausted, but elated, over finding such great play and fun people in Visalia, CA! We played three times in two days, three hours each time - can you say cooked, toast, wrung out like an old dishtowel! Our bodies were screaming "You're too OLD to be doing this!" Ky and I both have selective hearing though, and we didn't hear them until we got home after the third session. Sleep couldn't come fast enough!

a·mi·a·ble /ˈāmēəb(ə)l/

adjective Having or displaying a friendly and pleasant manner. i.e. Visalia Pickleball Club

I might sound like a broken record, but pickleball people are friendly folks. Visalia is more! This was definitely one of the most amiable groups we've come across.

Some of the lovely and friendly ladies of Visalia - Johanna, Mary & LaDonna

There were all levels of players on the eight lighted courts. Everyone on the courts seemed to get along and play with every level on the first day we played, and the most advanced players got their needed group play as well on the second day. I'm guessing it has something to do with having such an awesome ambassador, Johanna Coyne. She reached out to me when I posted our original plan for our road trip on Pickleball Forum, and she suggested that we should come to Visalia. I'm so glad she did, and I'm so glad that we accepted her invitation. Fun times!

Swag Swap - she now has a great shirt from the Pecos Pickleball Club and I have some things to take to Alamo!

Lest you think all we do is play pickleball and drive, after our marathon playing, we took most of a day off from playing and we drove, but we stopped near Lake Kaweah. I flew my drone and Ky rode his mountain bike by the lake for awhile.

It was only about 45 minutes from our Airbnb in Visalia to the entrance at Sequoia National Park. Hiking is also one of our great pleasures, and we would love to come back and do longer day treks sometime in the future. The beauty and fresh air and the remarkably large trees (as in, the largest trees in the world), are definitely worth a visit. Photos just can't make one understand the scale of these mammoth ancient trees. They make the other trees look like matchsticks!

General Sherman - the world's largest tree by volume -

General Grant, the world's 2nd largest tree by volume and America's Christmas Tree since 1926.

If you go:

There is a very active Visalia Pickleball Facebook page where you can find out current schedules.

Fee: Free

Next stop Alamo, CA

Happy Volleying from Visalia!

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