Thanks to some computer help from Gene's son Bruce, we were able to score two nights in a Yosemite Park campground (cost: $20). So we filled the fuel tank and headed out from Vallejo Sunday morning (9/16). It was cool when we left the Bay area, but as we proceeded across the Central Valley the temperature rose into the high 90's. Crossing the Valley, we drove through lots of farms, made possible by irrigation.
When we got further east (away from the rivers) the landscape became dry and rolling. There were some cattle, but lots of empty-looking land.
We followed California 120 into the mountains. There was a long stretch of very twisty road perched on the side of the mountain. We climbed to over 5,000 feet before things leveled out a bit. After going through a tunnel, we came to a viewpoint where we got our first look at Yosemite Valley in the distance.
Then the road descended to about 4,000 feet. Yosemite Valley is deep and narrow, following the Merced River. On either side are granite walls that rise sheer for 3,500 feet. It is an area almost unique in the world.
The floor itself is covered with tall pine forest, so the only place you get a good view of the walls is in the occasional meadow. The iconic symbol of Yosemite is Half Dome, which can be seen from most places in the valley.
We checked in to our campground, which was almost at the base of Half Dome. The Park Service provides a free shuttle service around the valley to minimize auto traffic. Judging from the parking areas, if they didn't the whole valley would be in gridlock during the high season. We parked the motorhome for two nights and used the shuttle to go where we wanted to.
Monday morning we caught the shuttle to Yosemite Village, where we got some information at the Information Center, visited the Ansel Adams Gallery, and got some drinks and trail mix from the store there. Then back to the campground to check on YumYum, who didn't seem to be welcome much of anywhere.
Gene had checked the Village area with his hot-spot finder and found about 15 active hot-spots, all but two of which were secure. There was an open one called Free Yosemite --- goody! So when we went back to the area we took the computer. Unfortunately, Free Yosemite only provides information about Yosemite, you can't get online there. The other open hot spot required a password, so once again we were frustrated in trying to get online and write the blog.
There is a small museum with artifacts from the local Miwok Indians. They did incredible basket work, weaving watertight baskets in which they cooked their acorn-meal mush using hot stones. They also did beautiful work involving tiny beads. The Park Service has also created a sample of a Miwok Indian village. The homes the Indians lived in varied, depending on contact with whites, but they used a temporary shelter that looked like a teepee made out of incense cedar bark that would be good for about two years. There was also a community building and a sweat lodge.
On the way back to the campground we stopped at a bridge that provides perhaps the best view of Half Dome. It was certainly popular, with photographers crowded around and shooting with everything from an iPad to a Hasselblad. Naturally, Gene had to join them.
A full day --- though much of it involved shopping and viewing man-made items you could see in a city. But enjoyable nevertheless. Next morning (today) we broke camp and headed for the coast. On the way out we stopped to take some pictures of El Capitan.
While doing that we were made aware of one or more climbers on the face of the cliff. You could only see them with binoculars. One of the activities that you can do in Yosemite we had no desire to partake of.
Driving to the coast was pretty much the trip in run in reverse We took a different road out of the park, one that was not so hairy. So we are finally back near the coast. Tomorrow we go in search of sea lions.