We took Friday for some rest and relaxation after the very tiring drive down from Tahoe (I believe I mentioned it - 166 miles in 5 1/2 hrs for a 30 mph average speed). Our other friends from the Mexico experience, Gunther and Candace joined us on Saturday, delayed by a couple of days with a broken radiator fan and serpentine belt while crossing the Mojave Desert (could have been very bad!). They made it to Bakersfield, CA and a Cummings service center. A computer readout of the engine parameters showed that the engine temperature had reached a high of 255 degrees F but the engine block had no cracks or other damages as a result of the high temperature. Did you know that the radiator fan on their Cummings engine is made of PLASTIC! Maybe they all are. I'll have to check my CAT. It's hard to believe that a critical part that is exposed to high temperatures and "road missiles" (aka rocks thrown up into fan) would be made of plastic. Another way for the RV industry to save weight and money I suppose.
Friday, before Gunther and Candace arrived, Bruce and Karen and Carol Ann and I drove over to Evergreen Lodge, just outside of the National Park on the road to Hetch-Hetchy (more on Hetch-Hetchy after we actually visit the place). The Lodge is set way back in the Ponderosa Pines and is quite an upscale resort. There are over 80 nicely appointed cabins, a very "serious" restaurant, a nice tavern with "pub grub", a general store, large game room with computers for internet, a civic center that hosts classes, speakers, movies, and other group activities, a children's playground, an outside dining and dancing area, live bands, and a swimming pool. Everything is well camouflaged by the pines so it doesn't appear to be a very large place. We had a great lunch on the patio and enjoyed a nice mountain breeze while we took our time eating. I'm not going to say it was expensive as, so far, everything we have encountered in California is expensive!
On Saturday morning the four of us drove over to Groveland, CA for the annual 49'er Festival and Chili Cookoff. We spent a few hours there enjoying a very good bluesy, southern rock band (name unknown, unfortunately) and looking through the many vendors tents to make sure we didn't miss out on anything we needed. We bought a couple of T-shirts and some homemade jelly and then had lunch at the Iron Door Saloon, the oldest, continuously operating bar in the state of California. It's been going strong since the 49'ers and the Gold Rush.
Yesterday the six of us rode, very comfortably, in our Chevy Traverse into the park and toured through the Yosemite Valley, which is just one of the 4 or 5 very distinct areas of the 12,000 square mile park. I took a few shots of El Capitan, Half-Dome, and Upper Yosemite Falls (very little water this time of the year) although the lighting was not right. We ate lunch at the Grill in Yosemite Village then watched a movie in the visitors' center about the seasons in the park. After the movie we browsed through the Ansel Adams Gallery located next to the visitor's center. Gunther pointed out an Ansel Adams original that had a $30,000 price tag on it! I went over to look at it and noticed that the $30,000 did NOT include the frame! They also had reproductions of the original print for $30 and I hate to say it, but I couldn't tell the difference. Certainly not $29, 970 worth of difference! While there, I did reserve a place in next Tuesday's 4-hour photo walk called "In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams". I'm looking forward to the experience. For those of you wondering who Ansel Adams was, he was a very famous landscape photographer, especially noted for his photos of Yosemite back in the first half of the 20th Century.
Each afternoon we gather under the pines for the "cocktail hour", which is not necessarily limited to one hour. We have become friends with 3 female ducks and a couple of Stellar Jays that have us tagged as a soft touch for a free meal. Two of the three ducks will eat from your hand. All of them, ducks and Jays, will walk around beneath your chairs and feet looking for handouts. I've been feeding them dry cat food! It's probably better for them than some of the processed food we humans snack on while enjoying a little taste.
After lunch today we are driving south in the park to Glacier Point, a high vista that provides an impressive panorama of Yosemite Valley. In the days to come we will go across the northern portion of the park (Tioga Road) and out on the eastern side to visit a couple of near-ghost towns, Brodie and Lee Vining. There will be a lot of extraordinary scenery en route.
Here are a few shots I have taken in and around Yosemite so far:
|From "Rim of the World" Vista|
|Tree Above Rainbow Pool|
|Upper Yosemite Falls|
|El Capitan on left, Half Dome in center|