Another run at Yosemite

Instead of going back into the ever popular Yosemite Valley, I followed California Highway 120 east.   After driving through quaint little mountain communities like Groveland and Big Oak Flat, I approached the beginnings of the signs of the very large rim fire in September.

Pulling off to take a picture in one of the side road pull-outs, a U S Forest Service guy quickly pulls up in an official truck and tells me I can't even stop there to take a picture.

"I can't even take a picture??", I asked.

"No, you have to go another quarter mile to a designated area."

I didn't want to argue with him.  How long have foresters been armed with assault weapons?

That was pretty much the way it was all along the next few miles until I got officially into Yosemite National Park.

I had never been on Hwy 120 east, traveling north of the famed valley.  Admiring every pull-out, I often walked down little trails when I saw other cars parked.  Really, I wanted to see waterfalls but this time of the year, I was lucky to see water at all.

At one point I took a little hike to the stream bed for the source of the iconic Yosemite Falls. Yep, it was dry as a bone and hard to imagine it flowing in the spring.

Again, stopping often, I was always amazed at how a seed from a tree could find it's way into a crack in all that granite and make itself a home.

Passing by the eastern side of the Yosemite Valley, I saw on one of the information stands that there was a lake a couple of miles on east.

Tenaya Lake was a pretty sight coming down from the peak at Olmsted Point.

I kept inching on and found myself in the Tuolumne Meadows before figuring out it might be time to turn around   This little part of this stream was just full of little 7- 8 inch trout.  Within weeks, this place will be 6 feet in snow.

On my way back, there was a couple of vehicles parked on one of the wide spots,  so I slowed down and pulled over to see what the attraction might be.

Up on the side of the huge rock, I thought I saw a movement.  Taking out my zoom lens, I focused in on what turned out to be one adult male and two smaller females, one of which (if not both) were merely children.  Thinking to myself, this is insane, I watched quite a while.  After all, I was 20 years old before I knew there was anything taller than the Louisiana State Capitol building in Baton Rouge.

As a matter of perspective, the first shot is of the rock itself.  The people are barely visible but are in the exact center of the photo.

As I watched, I realized they were about to rappel down.

The male went first, then the two girls after him.  Judging from the size of the helmet on one, this has to be a kid in the 8 or 9 year old range.  Not sure if you can zoom in or not. Just click on the photo and it should enlarge.

Watching two kids do this made me think that hitting a ton on a motorcycle or going into a cave underwater with a shark was very mild in comparison.

Apparently it wasn't that big of a deal to some because another truck pulled up, the guy and girl got out and looked for a moment then began pulling out their own ropes and equipment.  No thanks, I'll stick to level ground, thank you.

On stopping at the gates at Yosemite, I saw a sign telling me that everything but the actual valley parks would be closing November 1, so I'm glad I got a chance to visit that part of Yosemite.

Determined to find some evidence of fall colors, Yosemite left me with this parting shot.


Another California Weekend

Instead of flying back home, the company was gracious enough to fly Ms Darlene out here to see me. It wasn't like her arm had to be twisted because she truly loves the west coast.  She now proclaims she loves mountains more than beaches and oceans...but we'll see.

Friday night, we were in San Francisco to do a lot of people watching.  Each big city has it's uniqueness and San Francisco does not disappoint.  Attractions are never ending; from the colorful characters on the street to the panhandlers and various sideshows performing for tips.

(clicking the photos should increase size and resolution)

One of our plans was to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge.  After what seemed to be an endless amount of driving around near the bridge we finally managed to land a parking spot.  Putting the maximum amount on the parking ticket, we struck out, headed north, stopping several times to look in awe at the bridge structure, the people on the bridge and the sites of the bay from the bridge.


The bridge is 1.7 miles across one way and has endless traffic from both directions.

After our hour and 45 minute walk across and back, we headed back to downtown to see and be seen.

As the evening came, a different crowd appeared.  As you might imagine, the night covered a lot of the dirtiness and the colorful lights changed the atmosphere.

After a short fireworks display, we made our way to the East Bay back to our hotel.

Sunday, we headed over to South Lake Tahoe stopping along the way to take a few pictures and just enjoy the mountain air and wilderness.

Monday (a vacation day for both of us) we decided to drive around the lake stopping occasionally for refreshments and the obligatory gawking at a few of the overlooks.  I won't bore you with the facts (Google gives wonderful info on Lake Tahoe) but the place is absolutely beautiful.  Yes, the water is (still) that blue. Absolutely!

The Aspens were just changing into a yellow gold and when the sun hit them just right, you'd think they were hooked up electrically.

Just gorgeous.

This time, we did not see a lot of wildlife.  There were a lot of squirrels and a couple of deer but not near what we had observed in Yosemite.

However, they promised bears...I wanted bears!!

The glory of this place is just never ending...as long as you can stay away from the tourist traps.

If you ever get a chance to take a couple of days off for the drive, just do it.  You will love it.