Monday, November 5, 2012

Movin' On

Continuing the account of Friday, October 19, we drove on to Death Valley.  I have a similar picture taken in 1972, but that time we were leaving Death Valley.  We stopped at the first inn, Furnace Creek Inn.  There we discovered that you need reservations to stay there.  However the clerk at the counter was very friendly and helpful. She said they did have just one room that was not taken for that night, we could have that.  It had a King-sized bed, but no view.  We asked what the senior's rate for that room was, and after a few calculations she said, "$300. plus tax."

Well, no thanks.  We thought that was a little too steep to pay for one night's sleep.  She very helpfully called all the other accommodations in the valley (I think there were three others), but there was not a room to be had.

Since it was only 3 p.m. we decided to drive on to Lone Pine, a small town outside the park, on the west side.  We had planned to visit some of the attractions in Death Valley, but this turned out to be a "Drive By" visit.

In 1972 we made a thorough visit to the various interest points there, so we didn't feel too badly about having to skip them this time through.  This second photo shows some of the roadside scenery nearer to the west side.

We reached Lone Pine around 6 p.m. and got a nice room at a Comfort Inn for a little over $100.  The Comfort Inn is two miles south of town, which was probably a good thing, because when we went into town for some supper we found it full of tourists, motels, restaurants and souvenir shops.  There were lots of people roaming the streets, and, of course, a casino, maybe more than one.  But we had a lovely meal at a local restaurant, the Mt. Whitney, and a nice quite evening at the Comfort Inn.

October 20, Saturday
After a good breakfast at Comfort Inn's Breakfast Room, we drove to Bishop, California, where we stopped for some groceries and gas.  We were headed for Yosemite Park, and there is no gas available in the park, so be sure to tank up before you go there.

Here you see some of the colour at the eastern end of the Tioga Pass Road.  I wasn't quick enough to capture the amazing, all orange tree that livened the right hand side of the road.

Tioga Pass Road transverses the park from east to west (or west to east, of course).  The highest point of this road is just under 10,000 ft.  There's no way to keep it open and safe under winter conditions, so when it snows, the road is simply closed to traffic.

The day we came was a wonderfully sunny day, just gorgeous!

The night before I had reserved a room for us at the Yosemite West Gate Lodge on Hwy 120.  So we followed the Tioga Pass road (Hwy 120) and where it split at the west end, we stuck with 120 right out the park gates.  Our hotel was another 12 miles along that road, and it was the closest one to that gate.  What I hadn't realized when I made the reservation was that this northwest gate is quite a long way from the valley of Yosemite, where our dear son #1 lives and works.  But it all worked out fine.  We were at the hotel by 3 p.m., had a lovely large room and a relaxing evening.  Went for a little walk and had a cheese sandwich for supper.

October 21, Sunday
After breakfast at Buck Meadows Restaurant (pancakes, sausages and eggs) we drove into Yosemite to Curry Village where we had arranged to meet DS #1 at noon.  He had previously made reservations for us at a cabin there, and the staff at registration kindly put us through early, so we were able to settle in.

This day was also a lovely, sunny day, so we took advantage of it to go see some of the park.
The main tourist area is the valley itself, where the accommodations are.  They range from simple campgrounds to luxurious hotels.  We were in a fairly simply cabin--really quite old, with two double beds, a dresser and a small bathroom.  Really everything that we needed.

The big scare this summer about the Hanta Virus centered on Curry Village, but the problem was in their newer hard wall tents, which were double walled and provided a perfect habitat for mice who could chew their way into the space between the walls.  That is all being cleaned up, and we felt we were in no danger whatsoever staying there.

One of the iconic sights of Yosemite is this awesome rock face, El Capitan.  Because it was was a lovely day, there were lots of climbers out scaling the cliffs around the valley.

I was able to get a telephoto shot of a small group:

Dear son #1 first came to Yosemite about 10 years ago to climb there.  When he ran out of money he applied for and got work at the garage that services the park vehicles.

Because the roads are narrow and congested the management prefers that you park in the valley and take the free public transportation that they provide.  They have a fleet of vehicles, mainly busses to transport people around the park.

These busses are cleaned and serviced every night and that is what DS began to do.  Because he really enjoyed that work place he took classes and became a tow truck driver there.  Some years later he took training and now is a senior mechanic, responsible for something like 40 busses in that fleet.  He really enjoys being there and was glad to show us around and introduce us to his fellow workers.

I had bought fixings for a meal in Bishop: pork chops, stuffing and veggies.  But when we reached the park we found out there is NO COOKING in Curry Village, so I was wondering what to do about the food.  I had no refrigeration so it needed to be used.  D.S. volunteered the facilities in the "Break Room" at the garage, so that is where we cooked our supper.

One of the fellows has a small George Forman grill and a hot plate, and he kindly helped with the cooking and provided a pan to cook the veggies in.  Supper was ready during the staff's "Lunch Break" around 7 p.m., so we joined them while they ate their meal.  What a bunch of ebullient and friendly fellows!  What a good time we had that evening, getting to know them a little bit!  The finishing touch was watching "Sharktopus" with them while we ate.  (At least, I think that was the name of the movie--it was anyway what that fearsome version of "Jaws" was called.)  We had a rollicking good time with them, and our food problem was taken care of in the best way possible.

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