Posts tagged California

Yosemite Valley 6/1/17

It’s an hour drive from Mariposa to Yosemite Valley, winding road, one lane bridge, along the Merced River. This may be the rockslide that closed the road, requiring the 1-lane crossing:

We started at the Valley Visitors’ Center, and strolled this native village display, telling the story of the Ahwahneechee people who called this area home (before the Gold Rushers displaced/killed  them):

Morning hike – Yosemite Falls, tallest in the Park (and 20th tallest in the world) drops 2,425′ from the top of the upper fall to the base of the lower fall. You can see the falls from nearly every spot in the Valley:

There’s a lovely Falls View spot (doubleclick any photo to enlarge):

This is a good view of the upper fall to the right and lower fall on the left – the middle cascade can’t be seen from the Valley.

The trail up to the lower falls viewing spot crosses the river, and gets into the spray:

Since Yosemite Falls is mostly snow-melt, the Falls can be completely dry or just a trickle by September. Not likely this year, after the record snowfall in the Sierras. We walked back towards the open valley, and kept turning back for different views of the Falls:

Next trail was across Swinging Bridge to the other side of the valley:

Areas of the meadow valley were flooded, turning sections of the trail into dead ends. And the view of Yosemite Falls just keeps coming:

Across the valley from the Falls is Yosemite Chapel, the oldest building in the Park, from Yosemite Village 1879, although moved to this location in 1991:

We took the park shuttle to the Happy Isle stop, and walked to the Vernal Fall trail. Happy to rely on the shuttles, by the way. Not yet peak season, but the parking lots were nearly full when we arrived early morning. The shuttles get you all over most of the park, without worrying about finding a parking space. There are shuttles from the nearest towns, to get you into the park. Glad to have the shuttles cutting down on the emissions from idling cars – good place to be good to the planet. But first, a picnic lunch along the Merced:

There’s also a starting point for the hike up Half Dome – but the cables were out (like that’s the reason we didn’t do it!):

Onward to the Vernal Fall, all uphill, and a real challenge for my sea-level lungs, just to the footbridge at the base of the waterfall. Lots of stops – and views – along the climb.

The trail continues up to the top of the fall along the Mist Trail – wet, slippery, steep, and dangerous. Lots of signs in the park about the deadly dangers of slipping into the rushing waters. Didn’t tackle it.  Headed back down to the Valley. Don’t know what this “free speech” sign is about, but there were no groups there at the time.

Half Dome from the valley:

On the drive out we stopped at the El Capitan viewpoint. Some folks had set up camp chairs to sit and watch the climbers through binoculars – tiny specks of color and movement against the massive sheer wall:

I’ve never been good with heights, but I still can’t imagine someone looking at this and thinking “I should climb that.” And this guy just did it in 4 hours without ropes.

Long drive back to Mariposa, which has a nice little western town feel. Their Arts Park has this memorial to 9/11. The rusted steel is salvage from NYC’s twin towers:

 

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Bodega to Napa to Yosemite – 5/30/17

Headed into to the town of Bodega, CA, where Hitchcock filmed that scene of the schoolchildren being attacked in The Birds:

The Potter School (1873) is still there, a private residence:

 

Back on the road, with a stop for fruit at a market, right next to the Guayaki Yerba Maté factory – we’ve had that!

One of the great things about racking up miles on the rental car is that we get to search out places to check out to break up the long drives. Santa Rosa is a great stop, where we toured the Luther Burbank Home and Gardens, a national historic site. Burbank (1849 -1926) was born in Lancaster, MA but settled in Santa Rosa and spent his 50 year career as a horticulturalist. He worked to expand the world’s food supply, and introduced more than 800 new varieties of plants — including over 200 varieties of fruits, many vegetables, nuts and grains, and hundreds of ornamental flowers – including the Shasta Daisy. The gardens are free, and lovely:

 

Next stop, The Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus, once the largest stone winery in the world. Gorgeous building, with oranges growing in front, and a crazy corkscrew collection on display:

 

 

Back on the road through Napa Valley, surrounded by grape vines climbing hills or filling fields.

 

The town of Napa has a nice riverfront park, and lots of restaurants – but we hit the supermarket for sandwiches to go.

 

From grapevines to windfarms, until we’re climbing higher:

 

And then Yosemite as the day is waning:

We’re just driving through on a long, winding road to get to our hotel in Mariposa, and stop at an overlook. An overwhelming, my cup runneth over overlook:

The winter’s heavy snows have turned the Merced River and waterfalls (or is it just snowmelt?) high, fast, and wild:

 

Drove through a tunnel to a waterfall at Cascade Creek:

 

An info panel showed this early 20th century ad for 36-hour wagon trip to Yo Semite:

Can’t blame them for enduring a 36-hour drive to see this place – What a planet!

 

 

 

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Bodega Bay, CA – 5/29/17

Drove through rolling landscape towards Bodega Bay. Doubleclick any photo to enlarge.

Spent the windswept afternoon, exploring the cliff-bottom beaches overlooking an assortment of sea stacks – those weird  pillarlike masses of erosion-resistant “rock detached by wave action from a cliff-lined shore and surrounded by water.”

Arch Rock

Goat Rock is huge – connected to the coast by land turned into a parking lot.  This whole Sonoma Coast area has lots of beaches, but not for swimming due to the dangerous rip currents.

Goat Rock

Never saw the seals nesting – too windy to walk all the way. There’s a great Kortum Trail on the cliff-top meadow above the beaches, but the wind was wild. And the views were spectacular:

Next stop, Bodega Head, where there were reportedly pods of whales. I swear wildlife hides when they hear us coming. But more ridiculously windy views:

Drove down around to Hole in the Head, a beautiful beach area where Pacific Gas & Electric began excavations in 1958 to build a nuclear power plant – next to the San Andreas fault. Public protest and opposition to this is considered the birth of the anti-nuclear movement. In ’64, the Atomic Energy Commission gave a negative review, and the project was abandoned – leaving a nice little pond and an apt nickname for this stupid plan:

Ended the night with dinner at Lucas Wharf, where we would have had a sunset view if it weren’t so overcast:

 

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