Day 11 – 2nd September 2008 – Yosemite
Sorry for the late post – Lyn and I have spent the weekend in a friends beach hut at Lyme Regis – a little seaside town about 20/30 miles from us. Its just a lovely little retreat for us – its part of what is known as the Jurassic Coast and has been awarded World Heritage Site Status; famous because of the outstanding earth science interest and fossil finds. Lyme Regis is famous due to the fact that Jane Austin was a frequent visitor and because of Mary Anning who was a fossil collector and made major contributions to early palaeontology – she is credited with the discovery of the first-ever skeleton of a plesiosaur in 1821- her work was fundamental to her science as up until her time it was widely believed that animals did not become extinct. The source of the old tongue-twister, "She sells sea shells by the sea shore” .is credited against our Mary – what a girl! Blimey I’m going off into another trip report – back to Yosemite.
So Day 11 already – just about half way though our trip – how are you all doing - if you’re still with me congratulations on your stamina. Please stick with it as some of the best bits are still to come.
Today we are heading off to Yosemite – we’ve both been really looking forward to this Park – we decided early on that we were going to indulge ourselves in Yosemite (as one of our highlight stops) and so the Lodge at the Falls was our second most expensive accommodation. However, before we enter the Park Lyn wants to visit the Ghost Town of Bodie. So all packed and ready we rejoin the 395 and head north.
Stop off at Mono Lake on the way – beautiful lake studded with spires of white tufa. The lake is apparently 700,000 years old – ah I feel quite sprightly all of a sudden.
However, you can see that its restoration programme still has some way to go before the basin is restored to its former glory.
We eventually reach our turn for Bodie Road – goodness the road had suddenly shrunk – we drive for 10 miles on this side road before it suddenly comes to a sort of dead end – well at least there is a sign that reads “Bodie Historical Park 3 Miles – Very Rough Road” and believe me they were not kidding. The last 3 miles of road has no tarmac surface – in fact it is a very bumpy un-made up surface and the poor old rental struggled – but we made it – shaken but not stirred – it was now difficult to see the rental for dust – it was sort of camouflaged against the road – neat!
Bodie is fascinating – it was founded in 1859 by William S. Body – a gold prospector – the main influx of fellow gold prospectors started in 1876. Bodie became a ‘boomtown’ – its mine producing over $34m of gold and silver. The records state that at one point, there were 65 saloons at Bodie, a red light district and a chinatown. In 1880 the population was recorded at 10,000. It was pretty much a lawless town and it is said that one person got shot every day in Bodie – and he was getting pretty sick of it (no sorry old joke). The last person was reported to have left Bodie at the start of World War II. That was a very busy 80 years.
Today, more than 150 well-preserved buildings remain. Bodie is a California State Park and is maintained in a state of "arrested decay". By the way you will have to pay the $6 entrance fee – your annual pass does not work here.
It is fascinating to look around this ghost town – you can even go inside some of the buildings – the museum holds some of the original artefacts and records. From the pay records it would appear that the Blacksmith was one of the better paid workers, receiving a substantial $6 per day. The original Hearst was also kept in the museum – a magnificent looking vehicle which was used for every burial that took place in Bodie – no chance of the wheels seizing up on that vehicle then.
You will probably need 2 to 3 hours to see Bodie properly but well worth the excursion.
We leave Bodie about 1:00pm and make the intrepid drive back over the un-made road. That negotiated we eventually stop at Lee Vining - we fill up with petrol once again $38 (£20) and pick up a quick snack.
Back in the car for the final run into Yosemite – a bit of The Mamas and the Papas I think that seems appropriate. The drive along the Tioga Pass is incredible – goodness this is a big park no its not it’s a huge park.
Our first stop is Ellery Lake – this lake stands 9,500 feet above sea level but you’d never know it – I didn’t realise we had climbed so far up – we stop for a while and soak up the view.
We continue to stop at various points along the Tioga Pass and then we reach Olmsted Point – that was one – what? - that was one of the places that the man in Mammoth Lakes said we should stop at. We pull over – he was not mistaken - Olmsted Point is on a polished granite dome which has a crazy paving type of appearance. It offers an amazing view looking South-West into Yosemite from where you can view the back side of Half Dome - a marvellous sight?
Make sure that when you are entering the Park from this side that you take time to visit the magnificent sub alpine Tuolumne Meadow – if you miss it and decide to visit later and you’re staying on the valley floor it will be a 110 mile round trip.
We stop at just about every viewpoint on the Tioga Pass – progress is slow but the vista are incredible. It has to be said that Yosemite does have a lot of trees.
Having banked scores of gorgeous pictures we decide to push on to our Lodge – I start to get the impression that Lyn’s enthusiasm for photographing every living and none living thing around us is starting to wane – note to myself – stop taking so many photographs!
There were road works taking place on the way to our Lodge which almost gave our GPS lady an apoplectic fit – we decide to turn her off and find our own way – we get lost and turn her back on again. After a few excursions around Yosemite Village we find our way to the Reception Area – we are told that because of the recent forest fire the electricity company has to replace the cables and they have chosen Labor week to do the work – therefore no electricity will be available in our rooms from 8:00am to 8:00pm for the next 3 days – which coincidently is the length of our stay. Oh….ok! (stunned silence).
Ok we try and park the car – now remember this is Labor week in America and Yosemite is heaving – there are no car parking spaces available – we have to park in spaces reserved for coaches, which we are allowed to do but we have to move the car before 10:00am the next morning - ok that will have to for the moment – we’ll worry about parking properly later.
We find our way to our room and for some reason I can’t open our door – I try and try but it looks as though we have the wrong key – ok I trudge back to reception and explain our problem. A very helpful young girl accompanies me back to our room place the key in the lock (in the door handle which I hadn’t seen) and opens the door – giving me a look which I though only Lyn was able to use – I smile politely, apologise and thank her for her trouble. I avoid eye contact with Lyn!
I realise that it looks as though I am the one always involved with the things that go wrong on holiday but there is a good reason for that – its very similar to the reason why at home I have never broken a plate when doing the washing up.
As there is no electricity in the room we decide to go straight back out and have a look around. Our first stop is the Yosemite Lodge area. This is where you find gift shops, Mountain Bar and Lounge’ The Amphitheatre, The Food Court etc.
We then catch the shuttle and have a look around Yosemite Village – here you can find the Indian Village, The Ansel Adams Gallery, The Wilderness Centre, Yosemite Arts & Education Centre and the Yosemite Museum. Ansel Adams Gallery – uhmmm!
We have a couple of drinks and decide to eat early at the Food Court in Yosemite Lodge. I would be interested to hear what others that have used this facility have to say but we found it a bit like boot camp – the food was ok but it was not dissimilar to our Butlins Holiday Camp and the cashier we happened to use was definitely having a bad day – she was very grumpy and abrupt. I wouldn’t have mentioned this normally but this is the first time since we had been in America that we have encountered anyone who has been less than 100% helpful, cheerful and polite. I suppose it was Labor week – she had probably been working long hours and as I said earlier there were a lot of people to get through.
Anyway, Lyn and I look at the free Yosemite National Park paper and see that at 8:30pm there is a Ranger Programme at the Amphitheatre – all about bears – oh bears – we love bears - this looks good - must go to this. So we kill a little bit of time and eventually make our way to the Amphitheatre – we sit down and wait for the Ranger to appear but unfortunately its only a DVD – that’s a shame I thought we were going to listen to a Park Ranger maybe telling us about a few first hand experiences of bears in the Park. We listen to most of the DVD and then make our way back to the Lodge – by now the electricity should be back on – it was – tomorrow we attack Yosemite in earnest.