29th Jun 2012 - 30th Jun 2012
Yosemite was another place that M’Lady and I had visited long ago, separately and at different times of the year – she in late Spring, when the waterfalls were in full flow, and me in late summer, when not much was flowing at all!
We intended spending a couple of nights near Yosemite and take the whole day visiting the National Park. It is possible to stay in, or just outside the park itself, and I recall from my previous visit that there was little else on offer. However, my experience of this, very rustic, accommodation meant that there was no way I was going to try and repeat the fun!
The nearest place of any note with accommodation is Oakhurst. We arrived mid-afternoon, checked a few hotels and settled on the Best Western. This place got mixed reviews on t’Internet; one person complained that the rooms were dark brown and another commented that the sheets and towels looked grey. Both were absolutely right, but everyone (including us) agreed that the place was clean. What no-one mentioned was that, instead of the usual framed pictures hung over the bed in the guest rooms, these had the pictures actually painted onto the wall. Quite extravagant for what was basically a roadside motel we thought.
Choice of eateries was, to put it mildly, limited. Options included three (empty) Chinese restaurants, two pizza joints that got mixed reviews, or a Take-Away-With-Seats that came highly recommended. Suffice to say that we ate there both nights and very good it was too. Not just the food, but friendly staff (and good beer)!
Oakhurst is about 14 miles south of one entrance to the Park itself and so, after a scrumptious breakfast of rubber scrambled eggs, weak coffee and cheap toast, we headed for the South Park entrance. Not quite up to the standard of US1 along the California coast, but fine if you like driving 14 miles uphill through pine forest following motor caravans driven by people with a fear of turning the steering wheel. After the park entrance, more winding road through more pine forest before we reached the Valley itself.
Yosemite Valley is quite small compared with many of the parks we’d been in, and the scenery is completely different. From the valley floor where we spent the first part of the day, you’re at the bottom of soaring granite cliffs and can wander various trails with the occasional view of some of the domed rock formations for which Yosemite is famous. If our visit had ended here, the photos and this text would have said, ‘spectacular’.
The guiding literature suggested that, for a completely different view of the park, the visitor should drive to Glacier Point, and so, at the end of the afternoon, that’s what we did.
For the most-part, this journey was so-so – more pine forest and therefore not much to see. Until we arrived at Glacier Point that is. This view of the Valley some 3000ft below really is ‘spectacular’. In my mind, we had definitely saved the best ‘til last!
Glacier Point was the site of an hotel from around 1872 until it burnt down in 1969. It took the National Parks Service until 1997 to ‘rehabilitate’ the area after deciding that they were going to reduce development in Yosemite. If my translation from Bullshit is accurate, that means, “It took almost 30 years of legal wrangling before the private owners of the hotel site were forced to give up their land”. There is a long description of the history of Glacier Point on the Web’s Favourite ‘Pedia, so all I’m going to say here is that we are very glad that the place now open to the public, with lots of walkways and excellent views over Yosemite.
And so, happy and extremely impressed, we set out on our 31 mile return trip along the winding road through the trees to Oakhurst and our waiting barbequed ribs – not to mention my couple of cold beers and her half-pint of chilled Sauvignon. I kid you not; Todd’s Ribs serve wine in the same size plastic cups you get for beer - and they fill them up! Apparently the quality of the wine was good, but it does ruin the elastic in your legs... Hic!