Thursday, November 19, 2009


Since arriving in Coarsegold we have made three trips to Yosemite National Park. The south entrance is only 26 miles away and it is less then sixty to Yosemite Valley and Glacier Point. What they don't tell you is that as the crow flies the distances are about half that but the road is a twisting turning highway that climbs over 4000 feet. It took nearly two hours to get to the most distant points. That said, it is a trip that is very much worth the time and one we could make again and again. The above picture is from Tunnel View and is one of our favorite spots. The views you get of El Capitan, Half Dome and Bridalveil Falls are exactly as they would have looked to the first people to enter the valley hundreds of years ago. Other than the road you drive to get here there is no evidence of the changes that humans have made in the valley.
Our first trip was to Glacier Point where, at over 7000 feet, you can see from the valley into the Sierras. The valley to the left leads to Mirror Lake with the ever present Half Dome dominating the scene. A few days before our visit rain and snow fell in the mountains so Vernal and Nevada Falls on the right had more water than is normal for this time of year.
From Glacier Point we hiked two miles down through the forest to Union Point for a different view of the valley. The rocks sticking out on the right are the ones you often see in old pictures with tourists standing out over the valley 3000 feet below. This spot is now closed but there are plenty of other places where you can stand on the edge.
Looking from Union Point at the Merced River and El Capitan. This was a great time of year to be here because there were so few people. At one viewpoint there was only one other car in the parking lot.
On our next trip we went to the visitors center in the valley and did a couple of short hikes. Above is Bridalveil Falls reflected in the Merced River. The pictures, as usual, can't capture the beauty of this massive place. As the sun moves across the sky you could sit in one spot all day and watch the changing shadows cause the view to change before your eyes.
The water of Bridalveil Falls turns to mist before is reaches the creek on the valley floor.
We visited the Ansel Adams Gallery where he displayed his work in his in-laws' studio and enjoyed looking at his many famous black and white photos. We thought of buying an original but realized we did not have a place to hang it in the motorhome. The price tags that range from $15 to $32 thousand might have had more to do with our decision. We were inspired enough to use the magic of Picasa and make a couple Adams-like pics. Obviously, this is as close as we will ever get to the real thing.
This is Yosemite Falls, the tallest in North America, looking across the valley from Union Point. On our third trip we hiked the 2700 feet, 3.6 miles, to the top of the falls. We started out bundled up in several layers of clothing with the temperature reading in the mid-30's. We were not on the trail a half an hour before we were shedding our clothes like someone who had a losing hand in strip poker. We warmed up quite quickly with the exertion of the climb and the rising temperature and by the time we reached the top we were in our shirt sleeves. The trail follows the lower line of trees along the cliff face left of the lower falls and then climbs through the trees to the top. The views were just spectacular.
A little bit of nature we saw along the way.
On the top we got into a little snow and now I know why I don't want to take Nanc where there is snow. The seat we had for lunch had a fantastic view.
The picture on the left is Yosemite Creek just before it plunges over the wall. The bottom pic is the ledge where you can look down on the falls and the valley. On the right the water goes over the edge.
This is looking from the top of the falls at the Sierras and Glacier Point where we were on our first visit. Glacier Point Road and Tioga Road, which travels to the east side of the park, were closed for the winter because of snowfall on our last visit.
One last look at Yosemite Valley as seen by Ansel Adams. Again, quite an awesome place!!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sierra Vista National Scenic Byway

We love to find roads that are off the beaten path and the nearby area offers several. The Sierra Vista National Scenic Byway starts near Oakhurst and rises to over 7000 feet before descending into North Fork some six hours and 90 miles later. About a third of the trip was on dirt roads and even on the paved portion it was slow going. The lady at the visitor center advised we take extra food and have a full tank of gas and this advice was right on. On the entire ride we only saw about ten vehicles and there were NO stores or gas stations. What we saw was beautiful vistas of forest, meadows, lakes and mountains.
Nancy Atlas holding up the Globe Rock.
Looking up at the bare rock we climbed to get a great view of the surrounding area.
The view from the top of the Sierras, forest and Jackass Meadow in the forest.
Nanc on the descent.
Arch Rock is not very impressive after the many arches we saw in Utah.
The snow covered Sierras. This is about as close to snow as we want to get.
The streams are running very low after a long dry summer.
Mammoth Pool is also down because of the drought.
We saw a sign along the road that this was a controlled burn.
Near the end of the scenic byway we found we were at the exact center of California. With so many extremists in this state it is surprising to find it does have a center.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Coarsegold, California

We are now at SKP Park Sierra in Coarsegold, California where we plan to stay a month as long as the weather cooperates. So far it has been great with cool nights and sunny days with temps near 70. Our stay did not start off very well as after three days we were told the owners of the lot were returning and we would need to move. During the move I backed into a tree and cracked the rear cap of the motorhome so we will need to find a body shop to repair the damage and have it painted. Needless to say we were totally bummed:( All that said, this is a very nice park located about thirty miles from Yosemite. There are over five miles of internal hilly roads that are a great workout while walking. It is a great place to watch the wildlife with hundreds of birds and squirrels and even a few tarantulas. It must be a paradise for woodpeckers because they are everywhere.
BUMMER :( :( :( :(
Some of the critters we have seen and a tree with woodpecker holes with acorns stuffed into them.
We went to the Tarantula Festival that is a celebration of this local favorite. They had all the usual festival food, vendors and entertainment. There was one booth with a display of these creepy crawlers where they are trying to raise public awareness of how beneficial and harmless they are. I even got to let one crawl on my arm, but Nanc passed.
As you know we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary while here and we thank you all for happy wishes. We had a wonderful home cooked meal of our favorite, linguine with clam sauce. This is the second year in a row we have stayed home to celebrate rather than going out for a fancy dinner. One of the great things about this lifestyle for me is getting to enjoy more of Nanc's cooking. She has always been a wonderful cook, but when we were working we ate out every day because it just took too much time to prepare a meal when getting home so late.
We went to Sierra National Forest to hike in the foothills. It was over eight miles and we only saw a couple people the entire time. The trail and old fire road lead to a fire tower that offered beautiful views of the surrounding mountains, lake and forest. Being in places during the off season gives us a chance to escape the crowds and enjoy nature.
Bass Lake in the Sierra foothills.
In Oakhurst we saw the teabag party bus on there cross country trip to take the country back to the 18th century. After taking the picture I did a u-turn and parked in front of them and blew the horn so they would see my Obama sticker. If I had remembered we still had our health care protest signs in the car we would have done a little on the spot demonstration. On Saturday I drove Nanc crazy by switching between football games and the House debate on C-SPAN as the Democrats passed the much needed health care legislation. This is only one step in the much needed left direction.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Blog Contest

We are asking for your support to help us win a contest on the web site Road Trip Journal. Our blog entry on Crater Lake is in the running for the month of November. You can go to the site here click on Enter The Survey Here and vote for the Crater Lake, Oregon entry. The winning article and one voter will receive a $100 gas card. Please vote and pass this on to your friends and family. Thank you for your support.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

40th Anniversary

It was forty years ago today. Back then Nanc was the one with the long hair.