Wednesday, July 13, 2011

June 2010 Vacation Cont'd: Yosemite-Day One: Orientation

After a stunning lead-up to Yosemite National Park, we were starting to get excited.  If it was this pretty on the way to Yosemite, Yosemite itself must be amazing.  And it was.

We came in on the eastern side of the park, from Lee Vining (see map below, point A), and even though it was toward the end of June, there was still plenty of snow and ice floating in the water.  After about half-an-hour of driving, we caught our first glimpse of one of Yosemite's famous landmarks, Half Dome.

Wait, where is it?

Oh, okay, got it.

Along with Half Dome, we saw some more impressive cloud formations.  

So, after this, our first official sight-seeing stop in Yosemite, we wound our way down into Yosemite Valley (point B).  Somewhere along the way, we detoured and found the sad remains of a forest fire.

Upon closer inspection though, it was clear that this area was making a comeback, slowly but surely.

By the time we got into Yosemite Valley (map), it was nice and warm and not snowy.  And packed to the gills.  Oh my God.  I hate people in my wilderness, and this place was swarming with them!  Seriously.  The area is beautiful, but once you get into the heart of the valley, where all the lodging, shopping, and food is, it is absolutely stressful.  Maybe the newly implemented park and ride program will help with some of this, but I think it is still going to be chaotic.  If we had driven straight into this (i.e., entered the park from the west side), I think our whole trip would have been tainted.  I don't know if we would have even come back the next day.  (Okay, we totally would have because they have sequoias, and we wanted to see those, but otherwise, we totally wouldn't have come back.  Maybe.)  

It was sort of late in the day by the time we made it into the valley, and we needed to figure out where we were sleeping that night, so we didn't spend a lot of time looking around, but we knew we wanted to come back the next day.

Let me take a minute to say this:  Accomodations in Yosemite are no joke.  You had better have a plan if you are going there for a visit, at least during the peak season.  There was no lodging available in the park, AT ALL.  We ended up having to drive almost 30 miles west to the town of Mariposa (point C), and I think we literally found the last room that they had avaialable in town.  There were a few sketchy looking motels along the way that we didn't bother to check with, and they may have had some availability, but I'm guessing not.  The upside was, we really enjoyed Mariposa.  It's a cute little town, and we had some awesome pizza from the the Pizza Factory.  I appreciate a place that doesn't mess around with their toppings.  I ordered pepperoni, olives, and mushrooms, and you couldn't even see the pepperoni for all of the olives and mushrooms!

Tomorrow we'll go back into the park to check out the trees, and you know I love me some giant trees!  
(If you're like me, you'll go crazy combing through this post, trying to figure out what point D corresponds to.  It doesn't correspond to anything.  I just had to put that in there as a waypoint to get my route to come out correctly.  I apologize for any distress this might have caused!)
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