We finally made it here!!
Originally, we had planned to head up the coast from San Francisco all the way to Seattle, then to come back down south further inland, and hit Crater Lake, Lassen National Park, and Yosemite on the way back down, then cross Nevada to Salt Lake City and head up to Yellowstone before home. But, that seemed like lots of unnecessary back & forth driving, which isn’t really advisable in a gas-guzzling motorhome!
So we decided to forego Crater Lake & Lassen for this trip (they’re still too snowy, anyway!), but would NOT have considered our trip complete if we didn’t visit Yosemite. So, we figured out how to get there before heading up to Oregon and Washington. Planning where to stay and still get internet coverage for Chad took all the planning and campground-researching skills I could muster up!! Staying in the park was out (which, after visiting, I feel must be THE best way to experience Yosemite), because our Verizon coverage is nonexistent there. I won’t bore you with all the details of how I narrowed it down, but we finally found a campground that seemed like it would work, and it was only $25/night for full hookups! (Turns out there was NO Sprint phone coverage…the campground actually had a payphone in the parking lot…and the campground’s WIFI as well as our Verizon coverage were VERY spotty; basically not useable.) Chad did the best he could, between the two and working in the nearby tiny town of Groveland.
The other tough part about getting to Yosemite in a motorhome is the roads! We went in on Highway 120 from Oakdale, and right before Groveland the road is extremely curvy and steep, with a sharp drop-off on the passenger side (which gets higher and higher as you go up!) and little shoulder. In fact, on our way out of Yosemite, heading down this pass, two twenty-something guys in a Cooper Mini decided they didn’t want to be behind a big motorhome the whole way down, so they TORE past us on one of the sharp curves, lost control, slammed their little car into the rock wall, bounced, lifted their rear tires off the ground, and thankfully came to a stop without rolling or plunging off the side. It was unsettling watching it all happen right before our eyes, but I was so thankful to see them get out of the car without a scratch. They apologized to us and sent us on our way (which was a good thing, since there was NOwhere for us to stop except right in the middle of the lane).
If you have been to Yosemite, you already know these pictures don’t come close to doing it justice. There is nothing like entering the Valley and seeing the HUGE granite rocks towering above on both sides. We were here at the perfect time of year to see the waterfalls, which tend to dry up later in the summer. We also avoided some of the crowds, apparently, although it seemed busy to me! The weather was perfect—70s and sunny. We spent three days exploring the Valley. We would have liked to drive to Glacier Point, but the road didn’t open until the last day we were there, at noon, and it would have been a 3+ hour trip, which would have taken the rest of our day there, plus we had a 2 hour drive back to the campground from the Valley as it was. We also missed out on seeing the big trees in the Mariposa Grove on the south side of the park, but we’ve seen big trees near Santa Cruz, and hope to still visit the trees in Northern California.
Our first day in the Valley, the kids and I attended a watercolor class taught by a visiting artist, Floy Zittin. There were seven of us in the class, and we sat outside the visitor’s center and tried to figure out how to paint leaves and branches and play with mixing colors. Floy of course made it all look so easy, but I’m sure with a little more practice we’ll all get the hang of it!
Chad stayed behind at Rocky to work the best he could with very little internet, but the three of us enjoyed our four-hour class, our picnic lunch, and then walking to the base of Yosemite Falls.
The next day, we drove back to the park, and drove for miles through where the north rim fire was last fall.
This was just inside the north entrance gate on Highway 120.
Thankfully, the fire didn’t reach the Valley, and we had a gorgeous day to enjoy exploring!
We saw lots of these little critters on the hike to Vernal Falls:
The following day, we took a bike ride through the park, stopping to hike around Mirror Lake.
Keep growing, Little Acorn! Only 100 more years and you’ll be as tall as SOME of these others!
We came across this large area of cairns. Would be interesting to know the story here—who placed the first one?
We all picked out our favorites, and the kids gathered what little stones they could find to make their own.
Spunky Monkey’s was a “mixed media” that included sticks and leaves.
A quick trip to Ansel Adam’s studio on the way out, and then a pic at the entrance gate (we see you, Kilroy):
Goodbye, Yellowstone, I mean Yosemite!