Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Day 2 of our trip finds us in Mariposa, California, our home base for a one day excursion to Yosemite.

Our room at The Miner's Inn comes with a gas fireplace and a two-person jetted tub.  Unless you are a tub-hog like me and then it is a one-person jetted tub.  Or in this case, a one-person tub since the jets don't work.

Luckily our room also overlooks a Rite Aid pharmacy since I am still sick and I also forgot to pack an important item - sunscreen.  I could get a sunburn in the dark so a whole day in a convertible and outdoors at Yosemite require multiple applications of at least SPF 50.

David demonstrates a major flaw in our hotel room.  There is a large diamond shaped window between the room and the bathroom that you can see through.  He is standing the in the bathtub mocking me since he knows this development bothers me.

Because we get a later start than intended, we eat breakfast at The Miner's Inn restaurant, the place I managed to avoid the night before.  When we go in there are 3 other people in the whole restaurant.  Not a good sign.  It turned out to be really good.  In fact, it was good enough that at the end of the day we wind up here again for dinner.  Looks can be deceiving.

The drive (with the top down) from Mariposa to the park is a on a two lane twisty highway (again).  David is happy.  I think he is probably imagining himself as Elvis in Viva Las Vegas during the Grand Prix scene.

We studied this map at a gas station by our hotel the night before so we knew what to expect, which is why we planned to get up and go early.  That didn't happen quite as planned since somebody is sick and forgot to pack everything needed.

David did take time out from the road race to let me stop and take pictures from time to time.  "Race" is probably an unfair word, he liked it when no one was behind us.  Some people don't know how to enjoy the scenery.  David used a lot of turnouts to let others get on with rushing their lives away.

We found this turn off on the Merced River and walked across the wooden one-lane bridge.  It rocked when no one was on it and rocked like crazy when cars went across.

You can raft this part of the river.  

Coming into the park, the views become - as David likes to say - majestic.  The first tourist area we come to is Bridal Veil Falls.

It is a short hike from the parking lot to the falls.  You may get a little wet if it is windy, as it was on this day, from the spray.  There were quite a few people walking out to the vista point.  There were also quite a few people stopped in the middle of the trail taking pictures.

David and I have only one day here and he found a guide that tells the "must do" stuff if that is the case.  We are finding one problem early on.  Parking.  The parking lots are very full (it is around lunchtime on a Wednesday) and we are forced to circle several times to get a place.

We also find that all of the bathrooms have a significant line and there aren't a huge number of them in the park.  You better go when you can.

These are composting unisex toilets.  Not for the faint of heart.  It is the first time on the trip that I have been happy that I can't breathe through my nose.

We go to the park store in search of a National Park coin as David is collecting them.  They don't have them and have no idea what we are talking about.  This store surprises me as it is almost a full grocery store in addition to a souvenir store.  David mentions that there are cabins and of course, campers and backpackers, so the store makes sense.  We have our eye on the grill next door for our own lunch.

We find another store down the way that has David's coin so now we can relax and eat.  The grill offers burgers - meat, veggie, and salmon - David has beef and I have - wait for it - salmon.  Not great but convenient and edible.

In the picnic area by the grill, there are a LOT of squirrels.  They are not shy about coming up to your table, even on top of it, to look for food.  This woman is reading the red sign while her daughter tries to photograph a squirrel by offering it food.  It says:
"Keep Wildlife Wild, Our food is not healthy for wildlife.  Never feed or approach them.  Feeling park animals can result in a $5,000 fine."  Her teenage son who is standing to the right of the image says, "GOD MOM!  Don't read it OUT LOUD!"

Of course, the mom doesn't stop her daughter from doing exactly what the sign asks her not to.  A man at another table spit on one of the squirrels who went on its hind legs to sniff near his table.  Some people shouldn't be allowed in public.

After lunch, we go to The Ahwahnee Hotel, another "must see" on the "one-day list".

Once again, finding parking wasn't easy.  The views from the hotel are really nice, certainly better than Rite Aid from The Miner's Inn.

The hotel was opened in 1927.  It is nice inside but after all of the talk we heard, I was a little disappointed.  I expected something more grand.  David said he tried to get us a room here but they were booked until September - this was back in the beginning of the year.

After the hotel we go to find Mirror Lake, also on the list.  David has seen several pictures taken at Mirror Lake and he really, really, really wants to find it.  We find parking on the road and begin the hike.  The first sign we see says 1.2 miles.  The second sign we see also says 1.2 miles.  David wants to take the road but I suggest the trail, I mean this is Yosemite...we are supposed to hike.

And hike, and hike, and hike.

This trail also happens to be the horse trail.  Or more accurately the two horse, many mule trail.  We passed the stables near the trail head.

We hike a long time.  We are both convinced we have gone more than 1.2 miles past the second 1.2 mile sign.  David finally asks someone going the other way and the guy says, "yes, yes, 3 minutes".  David didn't know the man was speaking German before that so I am not sure he understood the question because 10 minutes later, we are still on the trail and haven't found it yet.

Or did we?  There was an area like a river we passed a while back. Maybe that was it?  We circle back because it is getting late, the trail is thick with horse/mule poop, and this is mountain lion country (we were warned as we entered the trail).

We go back and cannot find a place to cross so we hike all the way back on the original trail thinking we never found Mirror Lake.  We do find out later that the thing we thought was a river, was it.  We saw it, just from the wrong side.  

During the hike, I kept up with some one-liners, it gave me a chance to catch my breath, which I need to do fairly regularly since I am unmedicated at this point:
  • If I had on my Jesus shoes, I'd walk right across that.
  • That's when being the front mule is helpful, don't have to smell anyone else's ass.
  • If I bust my ass and land in a pile of mule shit, I am not going to be happy.
  • It could have forked off, then we'd be forked.
  • You took me on a path to nowhere but I love you and would follow you anywhere...except into a den of spiders.
  • Stop!  We've been here so long she's drinking her own pee!
  • If you are caught in the park after dark, a bear will try to have its way with you.
  • There's Rockin' Robin....tweet, tweet, twedlie, dee, dee, dee.
  • Advil and alcohol will loosen that right up.
  • Did you know the mule is the only animal that could go completely extinct and still come back?
I have to admit, the last one was David and I don't know why but it made me laugh so hard I was crying.  Which isn't convenient when you are sick and constantly on the verge of coughing up a lung.

Taking a breather and practicing my tree hugging skills.

One day at Yosemite isn't a lot but we saw everything on the list except two of the waterfalls.  People said one day would make us desperate to get back and spend more time but I don't think that happened for us.  Yes, I would go back.  But since we have been there, we would probably pick somewhere else first, like Yellowstone or Glacier National Park.  

Before I close, here are some more images from our day at Yosemite:

Macro Butterfly

One of David's Majestic Views

The River

An art class sponsored by the park

These signs indicate areas were a bear was recently killed by a car

Tall, Tall Trees

The Future of Yosemite

Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls

Counting the years

Fading Wildflower

Half Dome

Tomorrow we drive back to San Francisco.  We have tickets to the night tour on Alcatraz.  I think David is secretly hoping for a picture of a ghost or two or maybe even to get "accidentally" stranded overnight.  This will be my third tour of the island so I am just hoping for something different.

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