We started by waking very early in the morning. It was a bit chilly at 38 degrees. After a warm breakfast we were off to the park. We had been warned that if we did not arrive in the park by 8am we may not be able to find a place to park. From the RV park to the entrance was an hour drive. So we were up, packed, and out the door before 7am.
The drive to Yosemite is great. Large valleys with rolling hills. Most with trees but several places were damaged from the fires with enormous trees that had burned both standing or fallen and the ground gray with ash for 1,000s of acres. Just around a bend of the road, we would be back in thick undamaged forest.
The view of Yosemite for the first time was amazing. The drive in passes through thick forests and along deep drops into valleys. Then you pass through several tunnels and one of them ends with your first view of El Capitan and Half Dome in the distance.
The Yosemite valley is stunning. To look up at granite cliffs thousands of feet high is difficult to describe and made us just stare. The road runs the length of the valley.
El Capitan is an impressive mountain. It is a enormous unbroken rock and just over 3,000 feet above the valley floor to the top.
We then passed Bridalveil falls. All the falls are small in the autumn. It was still impressive. The falls drop 620 feet. Water drops so far that is seems to sway back and forth as it drops.
We reached the parking area for our hike and this was what greeted us at the entrance.
In some ways the bears are smarter than the humans visiting the park. They have learned to recognize food packages and how to pull a door open. If they see something interesting or smell food they will tear open the door.
Today we focused on a long hike to Vernal and Nevada falls.
From the parking lot, we hike Mist trail to the top and then back down John Muir Trail.
At first the trail is paved and a continuous steep climb of 400 feet in elevation gain for the first 8/10th of a mile. Beyond that the trail is steeper and less established.
By the time we got to Vernal falls the climb was another 1,000 feet of elevation gain. Then on to Nevada falls for another 2,000 feet of elevation gain. The total length of the regular trail to the top is 3.4 miles and a total gain of 3,400 feet. But instead of the 6.8 miles of the regular route the total for us was 9.4 miles because we took the John Muir trail down. Our phone Alltrails app showed that the total of elevation changes, going up and down rises and falls on switchbacks, was 10,216 feet. The highest point is on the top of the Nevada falls and is 5,907 feet of altitude.
Vernal falls drops 317 feet. Nevada falls drops almost twice as far at 594 feet.
Along the hike we had some incredible views.
The trail is very different from the paved less than 1 mile. In total the hike is up 600 granite steps and up steep grades of gravel and rocks.
The trail became progressively harder.
Lets zoom in to show just how far we had already climbed and how busy the trails are here.
Our first views of Vernal Falls was impressive.
Two people can be seen at the bottom of the 3rd photo. It will give you an idea of the size of these falls.
The view from the top of the falls was impressive. It was our view while we had lunch.
During lunch we were pestered by this squirrel. Obviously people had been feeding him and his friends who were also coming up to people. He was not happy that we did not feed him anything.
All the wildlife we found on the hike were unafraid of people.
Our first view of Nevada Falls was from directly below Liberty Cap a 7076 foot mountain.
As we moved around Liberty Cap we could see the shear lines in the rock that extended up the side.
The view from the top of Nevada falls was fantastic.
Time to start the hike back down the John Muir trail. We had some great views of the Nevada falls and the mountains on that side of the valley.
Lets see if we can zoom in and show just how small we felt.
We saw several waterfalls on the hike, but the best ones were Bridal Veil, Vernal and Nevada. We were in view of Half Dome almost all the time and could see Mt. Broadrick, Grizzly Peak, Liberty Cap, and several others on most of the hike.
We were never really alone on the trail. If we did get a time when we were not within 100 feet of another hiker, it was noticed and very rare. Most of the time we were within 20 feet of others.
As we started back from the trailhead to the truck we had two deer walk out into the road and path.
Exhausted we returned to the RV. It was a great hike and we were able to check off one more “Bucket List” item.
Heading to Yosemite
We will arrive at the RV park near Yosemite today. We have both wanted to see Yosemite from our early childhoods. Being so remote cell signal is rare to non-existent. We may not be in touch for several days.
We will definitely not be alone in the park. Ever! Even though October has fewer visitors than the summer months the normal number of visitors in October is over 10,000 per day.
I know we will have 100's of photos and will post the best ones as soon as we can.
Five years ago the sale of the farm was completed and we moved fulltime into an RV. Wow so much has happened over the last 5 years. It was very difficult at first and we have learned several lessons.
1. A home is who you live with and not an address.
2. We found we can live very well in under 300 square feet.
3. It is possible to "lose" something in under 300 square feet.
3. We had lots of things that were far less important than we thought. In the process of downsizing we found items we did not even remember owning.
4. Multi use items are more important than items that only have one purpose. From the tool chest to the kitchen cabinet and drawer it is better that something be useful in many ways than for only one purpose.
5. We found that not having space to keep things freed us from wanting to buying what we did not really need. Our rule is that if we buy something then it replaces something else. Buy a shirt then discard one....
6. Instead of buying and collecting things, we have no room for, we instead spend our money on making memories and visiting family.
We found out that, Yes, there is a geyser like "Old Faithful" in California and it is only about 30 miles north of where we are camping. It is much smaller but is very regular in its eruptions.
We traveled with Phyllis to see it. It was small. It reached heights of 50 or more feet. We could walk very close to the opening. The area where we could stand was about 30 feet out from the geyser.
The pattern for eruptions after a 20 or 30 minutes of silence would be a bubble and splash for about 2 minutes. Then there would be a pause and after several more minutes, it started erupting which would last as long as 5 minutes. If we got down wind, it would get you wet and the smell of sulfur would be very strong.
There was a very good explanation of geysers and details on the way this one functioned.
This geyser could stop if there is an earthquake that closes the cavern or blocks the passage to the surface.
We enjoyed just watching it erupt and waiting to hear the sound of the building pressure.
After visiting the geyser we were hungry and drove back through Calistoga to find a very nice Italian Restaurant.
I had never seen a sign like this before. I think that the fact that the building had stood since 1890 should give it some credit for being a survivor of many earthquakes.
And this sign attracted some attention too.
Visiting with family over these days has been great and we have enjoyed our time spent talking and sharing. Grandma returned home Tuesday morning. We know our time here has almost ended and we will miss Phyllis and Peter.
We visited Muir Woods. The walkways and paths work their way between huge redwoods. They are tall and the forest is thick so we were in shadow almost the entire time.
Our parking pass for the park was from 1:30-2pm, so we had lunch in Sausalito and walked along the bay until closer to our time slot. It was very strange having to get an appointment to visit a park. Not only did we have to pay for our parking but all the earlier times were "sold out". It is a very popular park.
Let me zoom in some.
Wow, the fog is very thick in the city.
Time to go to the park. We have some very curvy roads to drive on first. Our daughter, Phyllis, is an excellent driver.
We made it to Muir Woods. It looks really nice.
Click on the above photos to get the corrected views.
Let's go for a "little" hike. The Canopy view / Lost creek / Fern trail. The trail is about a 2.7 mile loop with an elevation gain of 650 feet. Gramma insisted we should go and she would walk the the flat trail along the creek. We would meet 2 hours later at the visitor's center.
As we drove back from the park the fog was moving in fast and thick off the ocean.
The guy on the bike was insane. My diagnosis, he was going faster down the road than we were. We never caught up with him again.
When we got to the bay, it was obvious that the city was completely socked in with fog.
We had a lot of fun walking in the forest.
Something we learned is that rose bushes were placed at the end of the rows and other places in the fields. It seems that rose bushes and grape plants are susceptible to the same diseases and pests. If the workers notice the rose bush is having problems it alerts them that there is a problem in the field. Pretty neat.
There were many beautiful flowers at the winerys.
Wine Tour in Napa.
We took a trolly tour of Napa. The trolly visited 4 winerys and the driver was a great narrator.
He had a lot to say about the area. The cost of homes in the area are insanely expensive. One area of Napa is Yountville. A mobile home already on a lot costs 500k with a $1,300 rent for spot per month. A nice restaurant in the same area has a 6 month waiting list and average $400 for lunch and $900 for dinner plus $1000 for a "good" bottle of wine. Obviously we will not be having dinner here and are very glad that lunch was included on the tour.
We learned that almost all harvest is by hand. Very little can be automated except crushing and separating seeds.
Hey, how about a couple of jokes from our driver, Leif.
"To the right you see grape vines that seem to sparkle and those are where we get Sparkling wine. Okay, actually, they are shiny reflectors to scare birds".
"As you can see the next field has boxes at the base of the vines. Of course, we get Box wines from here. Actually the boxes on the base to stop bugs from damaging the new bases before they are strong enough to recover."
They were corny jokes but we all laughed.
This is what we see in almost every field. Acres of grapes waiting for the perfect time to be harvested. We were able to try them and they are very sweet.
The 1st winery was the Pestoni family winery.
They had some very nice wines to try.
2nd. white hall winery, tour and lunch. The tour was interesting and we were able to see a lot of the process and equipment.
The last photo is of the figs growing near the tasting area. The lunch was very nice.
3rd. Cosentino Winery
4th. Andretti winery was our last stop. Yes, that Mario Andretti. We missed him by one week and he was signing autographs.
We had a lot of fun and learned more about wine and how it is grown.
It was great to visit with everyone. Mom was not really sure about the meal but Grandma and I thought it would be an adventure. We all decided that we would get a spoon full of everything to make sure that it was not too spicy we could not eat from that bowl.
Bau Luang Restaurant in Albany was great. The one curry dish was a little spicy. The beef, chicken, and pork in the different menu choices was perfectly cooked. We ordered 7 or 8 dishes plus rice. It seems that Thai food is now a possible choice when we go out for dinner. I think Mom liked everything at the table. We enjoyed getting to know their friends, Tek and Kie.
Visiting San Francisco
We had a fun and exciting visit to San Francisco. I drove Phyllis's minivan and she and Grandma, Shawna, and I visited the city. Yes, I drove the streets of San Francisco. Wow! It was different. This is the "hilliest" city in the country. It is amazing to look, while waiting at a stop sign, and see the hill in front of you rise so far that there is no sky in the your view without leaning forward and looking up.
We started by crossing the bay bridges. They are very large and cross very high over the water. Traffic was wild even though we did not start in until after 10am. They are both 10 lane bridges. The second is a double decker bridge. The top level is all in bound lanes to the city and the bottom level is leaving the city. After leaving the bridges we turned back to see where we crossed.
We passed several trolleys but this is the only picture we were able to get.
The first stop was Pier 39. The pier is a group of shops and restaurants. But the main attractions are the Sea Lions and the view of the the bay.
Alcatraz is easy to see from the end of the pier.
It was fun to walk into many shops. Lunch was great.
Next stop after the piers was Lumbar Street. First I get to drive the hills of San Francisco. Yea! It was great. No other place have I ever driven was close to the steepness of these hills. For some reason the others in the car were not able to get pictures while I was driving the hills. They said something about heights and how steep the hills were. It did not bother me at all. It was just one more adventure.
We drove to the bottom of Lumbar Street to take pictures. It was just too long a line at the top for the drive through the street.
Next The Golden Gate Bridge. Driving over that bridge was another first for me. We stopped on the other side at a park to look back and take a few pictures.
We are a couple who have started on a new adventure...