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Published: October 19th 2016
We have packed so much into the last week, that it almost feels as if time has come to a stand still. Or at the very least, has lost its ability to fly. This time last weekend, we had just arrived in Truckee, a small commuter suburb to the glamorous Lake Tahoe, a summer and winter playground for the rich and famous. And we were preparing to celebrate Oliver's 10th birthday in the company of a family that Greg, Em and the kids had met in Vietnam over 7 months ago.
And a wonderful weekend it was with very generous hosts Ryan and Cammie, and their children Sage and Indi. Companions of their own age were just the ticket for Amy and Oliver and made for a splendid birthday celebration. Ryan and Cammie showed us all the sights of the beautiful Lake Tahoe which included the lake itself and a wonderful hike up a very high mountain where we had marvellous vistas and experienced a very high country trek. I must say the grade was a lot steeper than I would have attempted if left to my own devices, but I was promised spectacular views from the top and surprised myself
at the ease with which I not only went up, but eventually came back down. We were well up in the snow country, and there was enough on the ground from recent falls for the children to engage in some rather rough snowfights.
A trip to Reno was an unexpected pleasure on Oliver's actual birthday as there was a trampoline adventure park there which proved to be the perfect "event" for a 10 year old birthday celebration. The 40 minute drive to Reno was through a delightful valley/pass through which not only passed the 6 lane highway on which we travelled, but a river, a two-track train line and some kind of interesting wooden walkway structure the purpose of which was we know not what. As there was nowhere to stop on this drive, unfortunately photos were not possible. On the return drive at sunset that evening, the most spectacular cloud formation filled the sky. We were informed that this sort of cloud formation is unique to the Sierra Navada mountain range. Pizza at a Truckee locals favourite spot ended the birthday celebration on a high, but tired note.
From Lake Tahoe we drove down the western side of the
Sierra Navada Mountains and into Yosemite National Park via the Tioga Pass. There was a storm and change of weather threatening and forecast for later in the week, so we made haste lest we actually miss out on seeing something or even worse, were unable to return by said Tioga Pass to exit the park and end up on the eastern side of the mountain range which is where we needed to be to continue our journey east into the Majove Desert and beyond.
This journey into Yosemite is one I had I commenced 38 years ago but never actually completed thanks to a road accident that put our whole family into hospital in Orange County out back of San Francisco way back then. So it was with much excitement and anticipation that I found myself finally arriving in this amazing place.
What can I say about Yosemite. I am certain that you all, my readers, have good knowledge about this place, if not from personal experience and visiting, then at the very least from reading, watching TV, documentaries and the like. I too had certain expectations about what I would find there. But as I have been known to
write before in my blogs, nothing ever turns out to be quite what you imagined or expected. And Yosemite certainly blew my mind. Lots of adjectives come to mind. Spectacular. Stunning. Beautiful beyond expectation. Yawing vistas. Incredible mountains with peaks and ridges of drama and colour. Magnificient trees, pines of many varieties, fabulous groves of bright yellow going orange aspens and oaks. Acorns all over the ground. Pine needles everywhere. Walking in pine needle showers. Shadows, bright sunlight, deep forests, open meadows, babbling brooks and streams, reflections, deep valleys, scary roads winding their way up and down dangerous and sharp cliff faces. Bonsai trees growing out of every possible nook and crevice on sheer cliff faces. Talls trees reaching for the sky and competing with every other tree around them. Soft forest floors carpeted in pine cones, pine needles and red soil. Squirrils of many and various varities darting and diving across rocks, logs and up and down trees. Deer peering at humans through thick foliage, or sometimes wandering carelessly through huge crowds of tourists bearing cameras. People everywhere ... did you know that 4 million people visit Yosemite every year? And most of those in a summer window of
about 3 to four months. So many people in the Yosemite Valley ... taking free shuttle buses hither and thither. Or like us renting bicycles and setting off to explore various paths in a slightly easier way than on foot. Motorhomes, large, medium and small. Campers, cars, vans, motorbikes. Cameras ... more cameras, park rangers wearing their distinctive yellow ranger hats. Cliff faces dotted with dare devil and adventure seeking climbers scaling the cliff wall heights of El Capitan and Half Dome, the two most well known landmarks of this spectacular place. We were even treated to a view of a helicopter Search & Rescue which lasted the best part of our Ranger-led Wildlife Tour on our last afternoon there. Our ranger was much more excited by the helicopter and its flight and hovering so close to the face of the wall, trailing a long rope with first a person (presumably medical assistance) and later bringing the injured party out of a ravine close to the wall of the mountain.
I think I will just let some of my photos speak for themselves. They hopefully will convey the beauty, vastness and grandeur of this place better than my words.
spent three nights and almost four days in Yosemite. We were warned that the weather was to change on Friday, and that the Tioga Pass Road would be closed for the season on Sunday. We drove out on Saturday, and were greeted with a sight to behold ... all the mountain peaks along the way had been dusted with a light sprinkling of snow, the first of the season. We camped last night at Silver Lake, still at an elevation of about 6,500 feet, and it rained and blew a gale all night. And today, as we drove alongside the Sierra Navada mountain range on the eastern side, we drove in bright sunlight and gradually had to shed layers of clothes down to T shirts because of the heat. But the mountains to the west of us were cloaked in a heavy, dark and ponderous layer of cloud. It has been snowing on the top of the range for the last 24 hours and all roads in and out are well and truly closed.
Last night we were cold and had every piece of bedding possible covering us. Tonight, it is hot. We are camped at Lone Pine, a small
town that is the gateway to Death Valley and the amazing Majovie Desert. And this is where we will head tomorrow. We are to all intents and purposes camped in a desert tonight ... on an amazing rocky landscape the like of which I have never seen before on a plain that runs right up to the foothills of the mountains. It is called the Alabama Recreation Park and as the kids said at dinner tonight, its like an enormous open air adventure playground ... full of rocks to climb, jump on, and off. The sunset was spectacular and sunrise will be something to behold too. And so my adventure continues ....
You will note that I have a perchant for black and white photos at the moment ... I hope you enjoy my pics. I also hope you will forgive me if my photos are not in the order in which the journey took place, or the text of this blog reads. Public Wifi is not always easy to work with and I have decided to cut my losses and go with the fact that most of my photos have uploaded and are simply included. Enjoy.
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