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Published: June 13th 2017
Well dear friends and family the national park road trip has sadly come to an end. We are currently in a motel in the San Fernando Valley to clean the car, wash our dirty clothes and get my nails and hair fixed before returning the car to LAX and flying to Austin Texas tomorrow night. We have racked up 4,800 miles in the last 28 days…that is 7,725 KILOMETRES!!!!! That equates to over 275 kms per day EVERY day for a month. See? I told you we were doing a lot of sitting around. The trip meter in the car says we have been driving for 109 hours!!!!!!!! The car was a fantastic choice for this trip even with the hassle of getting luggage in and out of it every 1, 2 or 3 days. It was comfortable, practically brand new and handled all the twists and turns and long days without a glitch. Fingers crossed we don’t prang it on the way to the rental return tomorrow.
When I last wrote a blog we were headed out the next day for our last day in Yellowstone. We did not get to see the wolves BOO. We drove
all the way out to Cooke City on the off chance we would see the mother moose and her baby that we had been told about. Animal watchers are all so forthcoming with information and knowledge. So, first misleading thing that happened was the name Cooke City. I said to Noel that we would drive out of the park to the city, go to Starbucks and grab a coffee and something yummy for afternoon tea while at the same time looking for signs of the moose. The “city” is a hillbilly hick town with 2 x one bowser petrol stations, a general store, a bakery that was closed and a place to buy junk stuff. Guess what? No Starbucks. We had not found any animals that we had not already sighted (hundreds of bison, deer, elk). We were feeling a bit sad about that however Noel and I did manage to break into song, singing “The hills are alive with the sound of music”, on a beautiful green hill in the mountains and I did get to chit chat with a three year old about some marmots that were sitting on a log, but it just didn’t have the same
feel as checking out a big old wild animal. Would you believe then, that in the very last hour of the very last day in Yellowstone we had to pull over to check a tyre that was making a noise (stone in the tread?) and a lady Noel had been speaking to earlier pulls up next to us and says “There’s a moose over there”. Sure as eggs, it was not THE mummy moose but it was still a moose and Noel nearly wet his pants in excitement. We went home happy that night.
The next day we drove to Pocatello. Before we left the park Noel wanted to see a geyser, called Steamboat, at Norris. Here comes misleading episode number two. As we get to the intersection there is a big blockade saying “road closed” but I had just seen some cars coming out of that same road. Hmmmm. We were tossing up whether to park on the side of the road and walk in on the off chance walkers could get through. After driving on for a bit, Noel decided to go back to the ranger station we’d seen at Norris and ask them why
the road was closed and if we were able to walk in. The ranger (girl) looked like she was 15 years old and tells us the road is not closed but that they put that sign there because the parking lot was full. ???? How about putting a “parking lot full” sign there instead? We drive around the road closed sign and find a parking lot with HEAPS of spaces. Hey, some people have left already. How fortunate. How many other people had driven on like we were going to all because of a stupid misleading sign.
Next day was another long drive to Elko Nevada. On the way we stopped off at Twin Falls and ended up buying Noel a new pair of binoculars (which he needed nearly every day for the previous 3 weeks DAMN) and happened upon some base jumpers who showed their skill in jumping off a super high bridge and not killing themselves. Twin Falls is a really lovely mini city in the middle of nowhere.
The following day was our biggest drive on the way to Yosemite and it was really looonnggg and lonely. Funny thing though, this
is where the third misleading thing was found. We stopped at another hick town called Austin, after a really, really long highway ride (HW305 was 89 miles) and only seeing about 6 vehicles. They are selling t-shirts, and there is also a sign outside on the road, saying “Highway 50. Loneliest road in America” This piqued our interest of course, so we decided to compare it to the 305 that we had just got off. You are correct! It is NOT lonely at all. We passed 76 vehicles in only 64 miles. We kept joking that we were going to report them for misleading the public and profiting from their lies!!!
After 3 long days of driving we finally arrived at a very cool Mammoth Lakes from which we were to access Yosemite for the next 2 days. NOPE. The area has had sooooo much snow over the winter that the Tioga Pass is still under 5 metres of snow and is not expected to open until “maybe” early August. It is normally open from late May hence my decision to shorten our drives from the middle of the country to California by staying on the east
side of this last park. We were bummed but decided that we’d make the best of a bad situation and explore the Mammoth Lakes area over the following 2 days instead. So next morning we go to the ranger station and tell them about our misfortune of being on the wrong side of Yosemite and ask what we can do. Mary Lake? Nope…road under snow. Rainbow Falls? Nope…road under snow. Here? Nope. There? Nope. Pretty much the only thing available for us to do for two days was to walk around the VERY expensive shops at Mammoth (it is a ski resort by the way) and take the gondola up to the top of the mountain for a look only, as there is so much snow up top that you can’t walk anywhere but not enough that you can ski. O.M.G!!!!!! The ranger was really lovely and her advice was to lose our accommodation cost at Mammoth and lose one whole day and drive to the west side to get into the beautiful Yosemite Valley. So we did. Packed everything in half an hour and drove off. Yet another loonnggg day of driving.
Now top tip number
one. If any of you are contemplating going to Yosemite in the school holidays/summer make sure you book accommodation at LEAST 2 years in advance!!!!!! Everything, and I mean everything, was booked out anywhere in, or relatively close, to Yosemite’s west and south west entrances. We ended up getting a motel a two hour drive from the entrance and then it is another half an hour drive to get down into the valley, which is where all the great photo shots are from. The place was chock-a-block full of people and cars. An endless traffic jam going around and around looking for parking spots. There was a sign up saying that there was a two HOUR wait for parking in the Village area. We gave up on that and ventured up to Glacier Point. This was another drama. Now Glacier Point overlooks the valley. It is right there, just above your head if you look straight up, but it is a 30 MILE drive to get 1000 feet above where you are standing. Oh…and 30 miles back too! Car parking at this place was also horrendous. Noel let me out to run over and see the view while he did
laps or should I say half a lap as it was so slow. Then we swapped. After going around 3 times I spy some people getting ready to leave so I stop and put my blinker on and this ranger has a go at me for blocking traffic. I gave him a mouthful about how people were stealing spots that others had been waiting patiently for and how we’d been stuck in the jam for over half an hour and this was my third trip around blah blah. He said “that’s so frustrating” and walked off so I yelled at him “and frustrating for all of us too”. I don’t think he liked this Aussie. Anyway, the day was pretty lousy and I got a bad headache with all the drama and Noel getting the cranks (he absolutely HATES traffic at any time) but we managed to score some beautiful photos and video, which I hope you will enjoy.
So after 13 really long driving days in a row we are now in the San Fernando Valley repacking our luggage, cleaning the car, disposing of our esky, doing laundry and (hopefully) getting my hair and nails done
before flying down to Austin Texas. I look a mess. My nails had acrylic put on them 7 weeks ago so it has all grown out and been chipped and looks dreadful. You would all be ashamed of me. But I just keep hiding my fingers whenever someone is around. And my grey hair…OMG I’m soooooo old. That needs to be coloured ASAP. Fingers crossed I will be beautiful again by the time I get on that plane.
I hope you enjoy looking at our photos and I’ll write again from Texas.
Love to all. Margaret.
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