Roger here... Being the careful person (chicken) that I am, I decided that driving the motor home across the Sierras would not be a wise thing to do. We could see the lights of Fresno at night from the east side of the mountains, and knew that the city was just on the other side of the mountains. BUT, since the only feasible quick route to the west (The Tioga Pass through Yosemite) was closed earlier in the week due to snow, and probably a nail-biter anyway, I (we) decided to drive a couple hundred miles out of the way to arrive safely near the entrance to Yosemite in the small town of Coarsegold. So, we drove all the way to the south end of the Sierra Nevada on gloriously uncrowded roads, headed west toward Bakersfield, and then headed north on a crowded, deteriorating, semi-truck-filled California freeway to Fresno.
The scenery going into Bakersfield was outstanding -- bright yellow mountains (foothills?) covered with bright green trees, tall grass, and windmills. It was disappointing to discover the smog in the San Joaquin Valley as we got closer to Bakersfield. We thought it might be a wildfire; but, no, it was smog. (Dianne here: the smog surprised us, because we only expected to see it around L.A.)
After passing through Fresno, we exited the freeway (and the smog) and headed into the boonies. We thought we would be on a good two-lane road and that the traffic would let up. We were half right. The two-lane road was in much better shape than the freeway, but the traffic was intense -- our first introduction to the infamous California drivers. We were tail-gated for most of the last 20 miles, even though we were going the speed limit in a large box that does not stop easily. There were several lanes to pull over to let people pass, but when I did, NO ONE would let me back onto the roadway. Screw-em. They would just have to tail-gate.
When we got to the road for the campground, Sacajawea, our GPS, told me to go another quarter mile. She was wrong. She often is, but sometimes she is right. I never know when she is right. This time Dianne was right. Frustrating. I need to always tell myself. listen to Dianne, not Sacajawea -- unless, of course, Sacajawea is right.
We turned around in a casino parking lot and finally made it to our destination, Escapees Park of the Sierras Co-op, only to find a gate that we did not have the code for. After a few minutes of what do we do now, someone came through the gate from the other side, we quickly drove through, and found a paradise. We'll talk more about this wonderful Escapee Park and its friendly residents in a later blog. On to Yosemite.
We plan to make several trips into the park during our three-week stay, so there will be lots to see. The park entrance is only twenty plus miles from our campsite, but much further time-wise. We decided to divide our first visit into two parts: the big trees, and the jaw-dropping high-altitude views. Big Trees Today.
Leaving the motor home: Camera - check. Cell phone - check. National Park Pass - check. Full tank of gas - check. Hiking belts with water - check. Portable cooler with lunch - check. Sweatshirts -- oh, we forgot those.
When we left the campsite at 8:30 in the morning, it was 65 degrees and climbing fast in the hot sun (forecast 95 degrees in Coarsegold). When we got to the Mariposa Sequoia Grove inside the park (after climbing a few thousand feet), it was 49 DEGREES. We can't see the trees unless we hike to them. Do we tough it out in shorts and t-shirts? Do we buy VERY EXPENSIVE sweatshirts in the gift shop? The sun is out. Let's just go. Good decision, because the trail, as all trails in the west, was straight up. Pretty soon, we were sweating in the 49-degree weather.
I have seen Sequoias before, but I forgot how massive (almost scary) they are. I am sure that leaning against the trees will help them stay upright for a few hundred more years.
Dianne, pretty in pink, is on her way to walk through one.
A nice man with a British accent took our picture in front of the largest tree, the Grizzly Giant. It is impossible to understand the whole picture by just looking at the base of the tree - or at the top.
So Dianne made a short video (from top to bottom and bottom to top) of a pair of trees fused for hundreds of years named The Faithful Couple. (It's really short, but it's impossible to take still photos of an entire tree! -- D.)
(Dianne here: Tourism is alive and well in Europe and Asia. Roger and I were in the minority with our American accents).
The Whippet Picture of the Day is entitled "Jasper Naps after Doing the Dishes!" He seemed to really get into licking the paper plate that once held a steak. He also seemed to like paper!