Published: October 19th 2008October 19th 2008
California road trip part 3: Yosemite
Yosemite, another one of Americas national parks was our next destination. As we crossed the hills from Death Valley into Owens valley we could see the Huge Mountains of the Sierra Nevada where the park was. We headed North and camped for the night in the foothills near Lone Pine which was a beautiful site but which quickly reminded us that high means cold and we were only going to get higher. We carried on up the valley to Mono lake which is an inland salt water lake with it's own unique eco system which can't support any fish but does support a huge amount of brine shrimp that serves as a food source for many types of migrating birds. We took a walk along the nature trail there and learned about this unique habitat and viewed the strange calcium rock formations which were exposed when the water level fell after nearby rivers were diverted away to provide water for the expanding Los Angeles population.
After lunch at the Woah Nellie Deli, the road led us high up into the mountains towards the park entrance and we closely watched the car's display of
the outdoor temperature as it fell during our climb. We had expected that the campsites would be quiet as summer was over but we were surprised to find out that all the camps in the valley were full and our only option was to camp at a site a bit higher up which had no facilities and was at the end of a very long and winding road. As it was late in the afternoon we had no choice and so headed there and gathered as much firewood as we could to try and keep us warm as the darkness fell. We just about managed to stay comfortable at night by wearing most of our clothes and woke early to head down into the valley for a hot shower and breakfast at Curry village. It was only after we had warmed up a bit that we were able to appreciate where we were, From the floor of the valley, sheer cliffs of granite rose 3000 feet on either side. The views were amazing and it was great to see in real life, the scenes from the Ansel Adams photos that had made us want to come here in the first
place. We hiked up one of the trails to see the Vernal falls and althought the views were good, the falls themselves were fairly tame as most of the melt water had already gone. We had decided not to spend another night in the park so had to make a whistle stop tour of the rest of the valley to make sure we could get to the nearest town to find a motel. We drove up to the Glacier Point viewing area which gave us an amazing panoramic view of the whole valley below. As the sun began to set, we headed down the hillside and arrived in the small town of Merced and were glad to find a motel with rooms available and celebrated with a delivery pizza.
After a long lie in our comfy warm bed, we drove through California towards the wine country of Napa valley which we were glad to find was at a much lower altitude and therefore a lot warmer. We drove past many wineries and vineyards as we drove to the camp where we were to spend the night. It actually looked like were somewhere in the middle of France rather than
Yosemite car park
Excuse me deer, have you seen my car?
in the USA as a lot of the winery buildings had been modelled on French chateaus.
In the morning we visited another "Old Faithful" geyser which actually went off more regularly and more predictabaly than the one in Yellowstone, but wasn't as big. We then drove over into the Sonoma valley, another wine producing area where we stopped to try a few at a small tasting shop. They were all delicious but mostly way out of our budget and didn't come in the 5 litre boxes that we had aquired a taste for while camping. We carried on towards the San Francisco bay and found a campsite near the water which had signs advising us to store all food in the storage cupboards provided. On previous sites we had been at this was normally because of bears but at night we found out that here it was more to do with racoons and paid the price for not putting a lock on the cupboard as we woke to find all our marshmallows had been thieved. The bananas and apples had however been overlooked.
There are more photos below