Trip Start May 08, 2006
Trip End May 06, 2007

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Flag of United States  , California
Friday, June 2, 2006

After the hustle and bustle of the city I wanted more than anything to get away from cars and buildings and the endless columns of people clogging up the sidewalks. City life is exciting, and it's easy to get caught up and swept along by the energy that they produce, but the same energy begins to wear you out after a while sending you running for the nearest tree like an LSD-ridden motorway protester.
I never knew it living in Salisbury, but I am a country bumpkin through and through. My original plans to live and work in London when I get back are beginning to wane slightly, although you can be sure that I won't be basing myself in Smallsbury.

I left San Francisco thinking of the stunning scenery that Yosemite National Park would undoubtedly unfold to me, but before my visit I had to check into the Yosemite Bug hostel in Midpines, about 30 miles away from the park itself. Buses provided the transportation to and from the park, and I caught one at 8:20 the next morning.
Unfortunately, due to a rock-slide blocking the main road into the park the 30 minute journey took closer to 3 hours. There wasn't a lot to see at first although where there was an occasional gap in the trees, mountains and valleys provided a tantalising glimpse of what was to come. No picture could have prepared me for the view as we rounded another corner. Mouths all over the bus were gaping wide as a huge sheer cliff of granite rock came into view, changing colour from white to silver to grey as it shimmered in the sun. Two climbers sitting over the aisle from me looked at it as if to say "What the *!@# are we thinking". It would take them 3 days to climb it. Opposite it, another came into view not as tall, but equally as impressive as the first. I could now clearly see the valley - ripped out of solid stone by a glacier of immense proportions, hundreds of thousands of years ago.

As we descended into the valley itself the striking panoramic views gave way to waterfalls hundreds of feet high on either side, and cliff faces standing higher than the bus roof would allow us to see. It is at moments like this that you feel at your most insignificant.

Thanks to the rock-slide I only had 5 hours to explore so after finding the visitors centre, map in hand, I proceeded to Vernal Falls, which turned out to be considerably less impressive than the surroundings leading to it (hence the lack of a picture of it). After that I proceeded to the Mirror Lakes which provided plenty of stunning vistas. The weather was beautiful, the views were breathtaking and, on the Mirror Lakes trail at least, the tourists were scarce.

As incredible as it was, I couldn't help feel a twinge of sadness at the way the park had been so shamelessly commercialised. A village lies right in the centre of the valley with a road network used extensively by Americans in their stupid trucks big enough to fit in 12 Texan families after they've all eaten a 20oz steak and 17 bowls of onion rings. Free shuttles provide transportation to all the major points at regular intervals, but whoa betide any poor fool that has to ride on public transport.

One day I shall return, camping in the park and spending many happy hours hiking up steep trails, but I hope that by that time they will have banned the use of cars and made everybody ride bikes. Oh how I will laugh at the Big Mac chomping, monster truck driving fools then *evil laughter*.

Well I stayed at the hostel rather longer than I thought I would. The surroundings are quiet and beautiful, the travellers are great and the staff are superb. This is truly the best, most stress-free hostel I've stayed in so far - and it has allowed me to work on my harmonica skills (or lack thereof) out of earshot of unsuspecting victims. The few days I stayed there refreshed and revitalised me with a new-found energy and enthusiasm that was all but lost in San Francisco. The Grand Canyon would only provide me with more of the same.
Right now, as I sit in Flagstaff listening to Hope of the States I am looking forward to San Diego and the gorgeous beaches associated with it. I'll try and get the Grand Canyon review up soon but I've had writers block the past few days (just like a real pro) so I'm not promising anything. Until then...
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