Big Sur - or should that be Big Smoke....

Trip Start Jun 14, 2008
Trip End Jul 05, 2008

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Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, June 26, 2008

We set the alarm for this morning so we have time to shower before breakfast at 8am.  We had breakfast along with an English couple who were also touring in the area.  Our meal consisted of fruit, cereal and toasted muffins.  Our host also regaled us with tales of his travels around California.
We left the ranch at around 9am and headed back into Yosemite National Park.  We were doing the Yosemite Valley loop road on this part of the trip and we found the road in straightaway.  We were lucky in that we got there early because we were always able to find somewhere to park.  Our first stop was at Bridalveil Falls.  It was a short walk to the Falls and totally worth it - the falls came over the top of a cliff at least 150ft high.  The spray went quite far but made a nice cool shower.
We moved on from here along the Southside Drive through meadows and passed to our right the Cathedral Rocks.  We didn't really have a very good view of these because of the smoke but I certainly got an idea of their size.  We continued along the road before pulling into a parking lot and catching the free shuttle to the visitor centre.  In the visitor centre we walked around an exhibit of how Yosemite was formed over millions of years.  I then walked around the shop and got my National Parks Passport stamped.  Walking out the back we found the Indian Village.  Parts of this are still used by the Native Indians for various ceremonial purposes.  Other parts are for exhibits only though, including various 'tee-pees' and sacred stones.
After browsing through here we had a wander passed the little shops (read 'post office, café and artist's studio' for shops) and then got on the bus back to the parking lot.  Only we got on the wrong bus and had to go in a loop and come back before getting back on the right one.  We got back in the car and headed back out.  We stopped at El Capitan for some photos, but as usual the smoke obscured the top of it.  This was out final stop in Yosemite before heading out to our next destination of Big Sur on the west coast.
We travelled along the highway, stopping at Mariposa for gas.  Mariposa was a small town, part of the Southern California gold mines, and was very 'sleepy'.  The guy in the gas station was quite amusing, if not a little peculiar.  We continued on our way, stopping in Merced for a McDonald's.  We took a few wrong roads trying to get out of here (Sacramento all over again!) but finally managed it.  As we got nearer to Big Sur the smoke got increasingly thicker, and when we got on Coastal Highway 1 at Monterey we discovered that the road was closed at Big Sur due to the forest fires.  We travelled down it nonetheless and finally arrived at Fernwood Resort at 6pm.  Tim checked us in to our tent cabin and even moved us to one next to the river.  The tent cabin was literally a solid tent with a door and mesh windows.  It had nothing inside except the beds (benches covered with plastic mattresses).  We had to hire a sleeping pack (sleeping bag, pillow, sheets) for $5 so this was a pretty cool camping experience.  Anyone who knows me well, will know how much I like my hotel comforts but I did actually enjoy this!  The restrooms were in another building a short walk away, but we were not brave enough to use the showers, not least because of the bugs flying around in there.  Ergh, I hate bugs...
We got our things ready for bed and for the next morning whilst it was still light (as there was no electricity) and then headed up to the bar to grab some dinner.  We stayed in there for a while, watching baseball and putting music on the jukebox.  At around 9pm we headed back down to our tent - took a while to find in the blackness!  Other campers had fires going but we just headed straight to bed - snug in our sleeping bags....
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