Big and Impressive

Trip Start Apr 20, 2012
Trip End Sep 01, 2012

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What I did
Valleys and Granite Topped Mountains

Flag of United States  , California
Friday, June 15, 2012

It was another grand night for sleeping and we all slept in (well for us anyway) until 7am. Despite the late awakening, we were packed, loaded and on our way by 8:15. Bob was telling us it was over four hours to drive to Yosemite but we were skeptical…. It took us nearly an hour and a half to drive out of the park, mostly because we were driving slowly in hopes of spying another bear and due to the winding roads of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.  By the time we had left the park, we had changed in elevation from over 7,000 feet to under 1,000 as we approached the city of Fresno. Once we were out of the mountains, the phones started going crazy when we started to receive a signal and Tim's, in particular, had over 40 emails backed up from his work account. There were several failure notices, and many emails from work contacts asking how my trip was going, and wondering if I had changed jobs to become an internet salesmen?!?!?!? The funniest, was from the Principal of one of the schools in Rangiora where I had worked, as he wanted to know if he had clicked on the right link to "lose his excess weight?" Well, it quickly dawned on us that Tim's work email had been hacked as there were also several terse and short emails querying what was going on? And, "What am I supposed to do with this?" So, before we could carry on to Yosemite, we used trusty Bob to find the closest Starbucks or McDonalds in order to get free Wifi and try to solve the problem. Well, to make a long story short, there had been sign-ins from Tunisia, Serbia and Latvia…..Tim quickly changed his password and this entry in the blog serves as my humble apology to all of you who have been affected by spam from my work account.
Problem solved, and after some morning tea, we carried on towards Yosemite Park. We were through the Park entrance around 1pm and stopped at the first picnic ground we found in order to have some lunch. It was then time to carry on to the center of the park, the famous and very well-visited Yosemite Valley where we were hoping to make a stop at the Visitor Center. We drove steadily up and into the Sierra Nevada Mountains again before turning and dropping into Yosemite Valley. Tim had been here once before, but had forgotten the sheer scale and grandeur of this valley with its high exposed granite topped walls, the large waterfalls cascading down into the valley below and the emerald and shimmery green meadows at the base of the valley. This view as we dropped into the valley surely is a large part of what has made this park so famous. The most famous rock tops are called El Capitan and Half-Dome. One of the waterfalls that cascaded from the top with a steady stream, spray and plume of water is meant to be the 4th highest waterfall in North America. We stopped lots and took pictures, and just had to have KaMate pose on the valley floor with El Capitan rising in glory behind him. This is also the part of the park that almost every visitor feels compelled to drive through, gaze at, photograph and generally block traffic in. We parked in one of multiple car parks near Yosemite Village and since we couldn't quite tell how long a walk it was to the Visitor Center, waited patiently with the masses for the free shuttle. Well, once we boarded that and rode to the Visitor Center, we felt a bit silly as it was all of a 10 minute walk back, which we happily took when the time came. We cruised around the exhibits in the Visitor Center and then watched the 25 minute film called "The Spirit of Yosemite". What we took from this film was that Yosemite was the first protected wilderness area in the USA and became so in 1864 by the signing of a paper by none other than Abraham Lincoln. The original land parcel was quite small compared to today's park and the enlargement came about as a direct result of the visits, drawings and writings of the famous naturalist and outdoorsman, John Muir. He came back to the park every year for over 40 years and it was inspiring to see him quoted all over the park. How cool to come from a National Park that had the largest tree in the world, to one that was the first in the USA, we are lucky indeed. 
After the visit to the valley, the video and purchase of postcards and badges, we climbed back into Odie and began to climb steeply out of the valley and on to our (pre-booked) campsite at Crane Flat. Good 'ol Odie started the day at 7,000 feet, dropped to 1,000 and then climbed back up to our campsite tonight at over 6,000 feet, she sure is working hard and performing well. It was another stunning drive and the only disappointment of the day is that we ran out of time and daylight to make it the extra 40 miles to the Toulomne Meadows that were compellingly described in our National Parks book. At 9,000 feet there is a series of alpine meadows and lakes that were meant to be stunning. Never mind, we will have to find more alpine meadows and lakes later in our journey. We did, stop and watch a trio of mule deer feeding in a small meadow and made it to one lake that Jess photographed while the first spits of rain in several days danced around our car and head. We made it to our campsite by 5pm, pitched the tent amidst thunder claps and light rain and, true to form, when the tent was fully erect and ready to handle water from the sky, the rain stopped. We had a nice dinner of ravioli, with smores and hot cider. We also enjoyed a little "bush tv" as we like to call a fire. It happened thanks to the kids gathering some firewood. A bit of a play after dinner and into the tent and writing in journals for the kids. Tomorrow we head to San Francisco for two days of exploring the famous city.
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